What It Is: The next-generation Toyota Tundra pickup undergoing testing near our offices in Ann Arbor، Michigan، with a Ford F-150 chase truck following close behind. While the front، side، and rear camouflage comes as no surprise، the underbody skirting and unique passenger-side rear wheel are of particular interest; more on those in a bit.
Why It Matters: Introduced for the 2000 model year، refreshed comprehensively in 2007، but with only a minor once-over in 2014، the full-size Tundra is a veritable relic in a field of fully modern offerings from all the major players in the segment. Although Toyota kept the Tundra's marketing fresh by routinely updating the variety of available trim packages and TRD editions، it never posed much of a threat to the established segment leaders. Still، the Tundra has a dedicated customer base، and given the comparatively high profit margin of pickups—and the fact that it shares some parts with the full-size Toyota Sequoia SUV—Toyota isn't leaving the segment anytime soon.
Platform: Don't expect Toyota to ditch the tried and true body-on-frame construction that rules the full-size-pickup segment. As for what the lower-body skirting and chase vehicle are attempting to conceal، we have a few ideas. Our most popular theory is that Toyota is working on a coil-spring or air-spring rear suspension to replace its leaf springs، since what appears to be a trailing arm is visible in one of the images. The Ram 1500 uses a coil-spring setup and offers air springs، both of which contribute to its smooth ride. Using a similar setup might lure a few more buyers to the Tundra fold. Other CD staffers theorized that، since the full-size Sequoia SUV currently utilizes an independent rear setup، adapting a similar rear suspension to the Tundra is possible، although it would significantly reduce payload capacity. Finally، it's also possible that the skirting is in place from a previous testing session and the team just left it in place while evaluating the vehicle. That said، our spy photographer told us the engineers were "extremely concerned" when they attempted to get clear shots underneath the vehicle.