Toyota Built The New Tundra To Last One Million Miles

Trucks / 27 Comments

Simply by studying an actual truck that's already pulled it off.

Toyota has a reputation for reliability, but the company's pickup trucks carry a special reputation in the lineup. The previous-generation 2007 Toyota Tundra famously clocked one million miles in under 10 years under the ownership of Victor Sheppard, a driver for the oil and gas industry, then again with Aaron Morvant, a hotshot driver who repairs oil refineries. Hitting one million miles in a vehicle is no small feat; in fact, it's enough to get to the moon and back twice (with miles to spare).

To make sure the new Tundra was as tough as the old one, Toyota Chief Engineer Mike Sweers studied Sheppard's truck in order uncover how it survived so many harsh miles. Aside from the driver's side sun visor detent and the odometer (which stops at 999,999 miles), everything on Sheppard's truck was still functioning perfectly.

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Sweers first turned his attention to the bed, the most beat-up body part on Sheppard's million-mile truck. He decided to replace the steel bed with composite (like the Tacoma) because it is lighter, sturdier, and less corrodible material. "Why don't we do what we see in the commercials?" Sweers asked his team. "Drop some bricks in it; maybe drop an empty toolbox?" Toyota says its engineering team did just that, tossing rocks and even a V8 engine into the new Tundra's bed. It survived without major dents.

He then set his sights on the bones of the truck that most owners will never see or think about. The outgoing Tundra's frame was wide at the center and narrowed at the bed. Learning from the outgoing design, the new truck embraces a more linear ladder-shaped frame, which provides a more even weight distribution and improved bed support.

Finally, the Toyota engineering team doubled down on its engineering goals to make the Tundra practically unkillable. "We have to make sure that wherever you take your truck, you can get back," Sweers said. "If you're in the Outback of Australia, you might not see another person for a week." To that end, the new Tundra features a 1.75-inch drive chain that's one-quarter wider than all previous models. "When you increase the width of the chain, your planetary gear, your shafts, everything else has to be beefed up to go along with that."

That's how the new Tundra is able to survive with up to 583 lb-ft of torque being produced by the new hybrid i-Force MAX twin-turbocharged V6 engine. "You can see people with stickers that say the 300,000-mile club, the 400,000-mile club and the 500,000-mile club," Sweers commented. And he expects the new Tundra to start racking up these accolades in no time.

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