Customer testing for the 2024 Toyota Tundra has commenced in the real world, bringing it closer to being available in Australian showrooms.

Toyota Tundras to undergo trial with Australian customers before potential showroom debut

Toyota Australia is embarking on a groundbreaking trial of its remanufactured right-hand drive Toyota Tundra pickup trucks with 300 customers across Australia. The program aims to gauge the vehicles’ viability in the Australian market before potentially giving them the green light for general sale.

The Tundra, originally built in the US, is shipped to Australia before being remanufactured for right-hand drive by the Melbourne-based engineering firm, Walkinshaw Automotive Group. This trial represents the first time Toyota has undertaken such a project, signaling the potential significance of the Tundra’s entry into the Australian market.

The vehicles will be delivered to a carefully selected group of Toyota customers on a $2,500 per month full-service (but subsidized) leasing plan, which requires them to provide feedback on their ownership experience every one to three months. This leasing plan covers scheduled service, mechanical repairs, spare tires, and roadside assistance, as well as comprehensive insurance, third-party insurance, and registration.

In an effort to ensure the remanufactured Tundra meets Toyota’s exacting quality standards and the needs of Australian customers, Toyota Australia has carefully chosen the cohort for the trial from a group of past Toyota customers nominated by dealers, as well as those with experience in towing heavy loads. These customers will lease and drive 280 of the 300 Toyota Tundra evaluation vehicles, while the remaining 20 will be used for internal purposes at Toyota Australia.

Toyota Australia head of sales and marketing Sean Hanley emphasized the meticulous selection process, stating, “[We] went through our network of distributors with a criteria of what we wanted. A cross-section of different driving conditions, whether in the city, country or towing. Everything was done through our network of distributors. So the distributors accepted their expressions of interest and then we went through the customer list and chose from there.”

The trial, named the Tundra Insider program, began in late November 2023, with initial deliveries taking place. Walkinshaw’s remanufacturing capacity currently stands at 50 cars per month, although this will be expanded in the future if the project receives approval for a formal showroom debut.

The remanufacturing process utilizes some components shared with the Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series and Lexus LX, as the Tundra shares its TNGA-F underpinnings with these vehicles. The Tundra Limited, the only specification available for now, is equipped with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 gasoline engine with hybrid assistance, known as the “i-Force Max” system, which delivers a combined system power of 326 kW and 790 Nm.

Furthermore, the Tundra’s all-wheel-drive system includes various driving modes such as Eco, Normal, and Sport, as well as a specialized tow mode for heavy hauling. It comes with a 50mm tow ball and tongue rated to haul 3500kg, but is capable of towing up to 4500kg with the appropriate tongue and ball attachment.

After five years of preparation and testing at proving grounds and on Australian roads, Toyota Australia is eager to gather feedback from customers through the Tundra Insider program. “We know there is a demand for full-size pickup trucks like the Tundra, but we wanted to ensure the local right-hand drive conversion and the vehicle as a whole met Toyota’s exacting quality standards and the needs of our customers,” said Mr. Hanley.

The 12-month trial will be instrumental in determining the Tundra’s fate in the Australian market, and while Toyota has emphasized that it does not expect the project to fail, it will closely evaluate the feedback from customers and adhere to its quality criteria before making a final decision.

As part of the trial, industry expert Tom Fraser from Drive will be conducting a first drive review of the right-hand drive 2024 Toyota Tundra Limited, providing insights into the Tundra’s performance, features, and overall appeal.

Whether the remanufactured Toyota Tundra receives the green light for its showroom debut hinges on the success of the 12-month trial with Australian customers, showcasing Toyota’s commitment to ensuring that the vehicle meets the needs and expectations of the local market. With the potential for expansion in the future, the Tundra Insider program is a pivotal step in Toyota’s endeavor to offer the Tundra to customers nationwide.