Toyota Revamps Two SUVs And Aging Tundra With Performance Packages

2017 Chicago Auto Show

The little RAV4 isn’t spared from the upgrades list and now gets better off-road hardware.

Neither of these vehicles are the flagship Land Cruiser SUV, but the Toyota Sequoia and Tundra are two of the largest models the automaker sells, with the Sequoia going up against historically massive SUVs like the recently updated Ford Expedition. The only problem is that the current generation has been out since 2008 (save for minor changes) while the Tundra, a Nissan Titan (also recently updated) and Ford F-150 fighter, has been around in its current guise since 2007. In other words, it’s time for an upgrade.

Reinforcements are predicted to arrive by 2018, but Toyota must do what it can to keep sales up until then. At the 2017 Chicago Auto Show we saw just how this will be accomplished. Minor styling and convenience changes are being rolled out, as are the addition of driver aids under the Toyota Safety Sense wing. Adding to the appeal of the two large vehicles is the TRD Sport Package, which adds styling and performance handling upgrades. On the Tundra the package is available on 4x4 and 4x2 models in CrewMax and Double Cab configurations. The 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 stays intact with Bilstein Shocks and TRD front and rear anti-sway bars added on for a sportier ride, true to the trim's name.

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Outside there are color-keyed mirrors, front and rear bumpers and a color-keyed hood scoop that help the 20-inch silver alloy wheels stand out. LED headlights with a smoked chrome bezel help the Tundra look just as menacing at night. The interior gets a TRD shift knob and unique floor mats to contrast. The Tundra TRD Sport can be had in Super White, Magnetic Gray, Midnight Black Pearl, Blazing Blue Pearl and Barcelona Red Metallic shades. The Tundra line as a whole will see upgrades with a new mesh grille and new LED lighting schemes, both unique to each trim line. In terms of powertrain, the TRD Sport package comes to the Sequoia with the same engine for both rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive models.

A new grille, metallic black mirror cams, 20-inch black wheels, a darkened rear tail light housing, and a TRD badging finished in black satin stand out against the Super White, Magnetic Gray, and Midnight Black Metallic paint options. Inside the Sequoia gets the same shift knob and floor mats as the Tundra along with TRD Sport sill protectors and standard black fabric for all seven seats, although optional black leather captain’s chair seats can be had. New LED lights come standard on all Sequoia models while a trim-specific grille will be plastered on the front end. This is exciting news for Toyota’s larger vehicles but the automaker didn't want to leave the smaller models behind, so it introduced the RAV4 Adventure.

Inspired by drivers with active lifestyles, the RAV4 Adventure comes with an automatic limited-slip differential for front-wheel drive models while all-wheel-drive units get the dynamic torque control unit. The Tow Prep package, which includes a beefier radiator and additional engine oil and transmission fluid coolers to complement the added capability afforded by the heightened suspension, comes standard with the RAV4 Adventure along with trailer sway control and hill start assist. Rounding out the additions are 18-inch black wheels, black headlight bezels, lower body guards, black fog lamp surroundings, roof racks, and large overfender flairs.

Color options are made up of Black, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Silver Sky Metallic, Super White, and one new color for RAV4 models, Ruby Flare Pearl. The interior gets spruced up too thanks to unique trim panels, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a 120V/100W power outlet, door sill protectors, and all-weather floor and cargo mats. The rest of the RAV4 lineup gets optional heated power front row seats, a heated steering wheel, and a wiper de-icer with the cold weather package. As much as special edition models may seem like a cop out to buckling down and building a newer model, they serve to help automakers increase the average sale price at dealerships, meaning customers do bite the bait.

Toyota must keep doing that if it cares to regain its spot as the number one automaker against an ailing (because Dieselgate) Volkswagen that's still somehow ahead of the game. Speaking of more expensive special edition models, pricing hasn’t been announced for either the Tundra, Sequoia, or RAV4 we see here. We should know more as the September 2017 dealership delivery date approaches.

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