2014 Toyota Tundra Buy or Wait – CAFE Regulations

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With new 2014 Toyota Tundra coming out this fall, the question on a lot of journalists minds is will consumers by now or wait until the 2016 CAFE regulations start kicking in. This could be a tricky question for some consumers and could have unforeseen ramifications within the industry.

2014 Toyota Tundra Buy or Wait - CAFE Regulations

What should a truck consumer do? Buy now or wait until after the CAFE regulations.

For many Toyota fans, the 2014 Tundra is/was a bust in terms of new power train improvements. And many of these fans are predicting changes in engine offerings and transmission choices in 2016. This makes a lot of sense when you look at past Toyota product improvement roll outs, but it also makes a LOT of sense when you consider the new CAFE regulations will affect 2016 model year vehicles.

In case you didn’t know, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards got a big boost when on December 19, 2007, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act. This act originally set the standard for 35 mpg by 2020 and was the first big step in strengthening the CAFE standards that were first enacted in 1975. In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally switched to a “footprint” equation to evaluate MPG standards. In 2009, President Barrack Obama directed the NHTSA to review the standards passed in 2007 and improve on them as needed. This is where we are at today. Automakers need to improve 2016 model year pickups, by 8-10 percent MPG or be hit with fines.

This begs the question, do you buy a 2014 model when the 2016 model could have significant power train improvements? Or is it foolish to think that the 2016 CAFE regulations will have any impact on the light-duty full-size Toyota Tundra? Will automakers simply use credits from other vehicles to offset full-size truck being over the limits?

We thought we would address these questions in a unique way. Here then is a Q&A with Tundraheadquarters.com editor Jason Lancaster and Associate Editor Tim Esterdahl. Tim asks the questions:

Q. The new vehicles are projected to cost a few thousand dollars more, yet with 8-10 percent more fuel savings (if not more). Payback period could be 3.5 years or so (EPA official said this). Is it worth it to wait and buy a new fuel efficient model?

A. It’s a great question. The trouble with a higher up-front costs isn’t just the cost of the vehicle – it’s the additional sales tax, additional finance charges, and the increased complexity (and subsequent increase in repair and maintenance costs).

As far as Tundra and Tacoma are concerned, now is the time to buy. The new trucks (which might not actually hit until 2018, as Toyota has lots of EPA credits built-up) will be more expensive and probably not any more capable.

Additionally, there’s never been a better time to lease a new truck. Not only are residual values sky-high, but you’ve got a chance to choose between buying your own lease return or a fancy new truck…it’s a smart option for anyone thinking about buying a new truck.

Q. If the new vehicles promise a big MPG increase, could the CAFE regulations cause a downturn in the auto industry (more people waiting, not buying)?

A. Perhaps, only automakers usually respond to cautious consumers by lowering prices, increasing incentives, etc.

Additionally, the economy is expected to be fully recovered in the next year or two, and that’s going to drive sales. People with cash in hand hate to wait.

Q.  Does anybody care about the 2015 models? Why would you buy a 2015 when in 2016 you will probably get the same model with better MPG.

A. I think we’ll see the biggest changes in 2017 and 2018 – don’t think anyone is going to come out with the new product until the very last minute. We might not even see some changes until 2020.

Keep in mind that EPA credits are available on the market (Honda can sell their credits to Ford, for example, to help offset Ford truck sales) and that paying fines might be an acceptable option for Ford, GM, and Ram (at least in the short term). If Ford coughs up $100 million in EPA fines, but sells 600k trucks, that’s a penalty of $167 per truck sold…that’s a lower cost per vehicle than using aluminum magnesium alloy, investing in direct injection, etc.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think automakers are going to pay fines in the long run – but it might be OK to pay fines for a few years. Ram, for example, could just pay fines while Ford and GM hash out the new technology…then sweep in and buy the same technology off the shelf without investing in any R&D. Their trucks aren’t as fuel efficient, but they’re also less expensive, and some buyers prefer them because they’re “simpler.”

So in other words the timeline is still up in the air.

Q.  Are we going to see a slump in cars sales next year with the wait and see approach?

A. Probably not. Consumers buy when they have the money, not when it’s rational.

What do you think? Do you have questions for Jason that weren’t asked? Comment below and he will answer them.

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  1. tonyspin says:

    I am surprised Toyota hasn’t scaled up their hybrid technology to use on their trucks and large SUVs. I am sure they are working on it, but what is taking so long? Lexus has offered the GS450h since 2007, and that hybrid system offers 338 HP. Put that system in the Tundra along with some weight saving measures and LRR tires and 25-30 MPG is a real possibility.

  2. tonyspin says:

    I almost forgot about the LS600h, which has over 400 HP. Probably prohibitively expensive for a hybrid truck.

  3. Mickey says:

    Tony is right. They have the technology. It seems that Toyota is waiting till every manufacturer pass them up then they will react. We know Toyota doesn’t want much changes for the Truck but when you already have the technology why not use it. Why are the waiting to come out with the 100mpg Prius? Ford is already pushed Toyota aside and coming out with their 100mpg hybrid. How long does Toyota think the 55mpg Prius will be on top?

  4. DJG says:

    Just don’t understand Toyota these days. They refresh models and don’t touch drivetrains. Meanwhile other companies are constantly upping mpg and utilizing new technologies. Frankly it’s just Toyota being lazy and cheap.
    Ok, they wanted to sacrifice durability and reliability by keeping the same 5.7 powertrain, fine. But can’t you throw direct injection and a few more tweaks of the existing 5.7 to get 400+hp and 2-3 mpg better? You can’t tell me that’s unattainable and will compromise reliability.
    Ecoboost is just a marketing scam, but people are dumb, so it works.
    Time to get creative Toyota, stop being lazy!

    • Larry says:

      DJG

      “they wanted to sacrifice durability and reliability by keeping the same 5.7 power train”

      Just wondering what you meant by sacrificing durability, it is my understanding the 5.7 is a very solid engine. Something new might make it worse. Was this a mistake or did you actually mean to make that statement? Did you really men they wanted to keep the same level of reliability by making no changes. Just wondering.

      To get up to 400 HP, that means burning more fuel, not less. How does that jive with getting 2-3 MPG better. Any truck which adds more power can’t see 2 MPG improvement, thats over 10 percent. We could lean out mixture but that would not be good for engine life.

      Where would that kind of increase come from? Have you any news we many not have seen?

      Power means fuel consumption. The only way to get better millage is to slow down, reduce weight and use smaller engines with out turbos. Adding a turbo allows for additional fuel burn. If there is no turbo, we can’t go faster up grade, pull more or push into wind because we can’t get more fuel into the engine. My current truck only has 150 HP it can’t go 75 up a long grade loaded so it can’t burn as much fuel as and ecoboost twin turbo motor.

      I am with Toyota on not moving too fast. I would rather wait and know things are not being rushed out just because of marketing. A rushed ecoboost type motor could be a disaster. One mistake can be very costly. I agree with most in that direct injection is a logical next step.

      Not sure I like the idea of a hybrid in a truck. Long term that will cost more not less. One failure requiring a tow in and a complex fix will kill any savings.

  5. tonyspin says:

    They did bring out the Plug in Prius last year to compete with the Chevy Volt, but with only 13 miles of electric range compared to 35 for the Volt, it is not doing as well as expected. They also have the electric RAV4, but it is only available in California. I am expecting an announcement from Toyota on a production BEV or EREV any day now, but I have been expecting that announcement for the last 4 years!

  6. Brian J says:

    I think the question is: When measuring the increase in fuel economy for the new CAFE standards, where are we starting from? Do Ford, GM, an Chrysler have a head start, or will they have to increase mileage from where they are right now? If the latter is true, than Toyota is genius giving us crappy mileage right now. If its the former, then they may be hosed. Then again, Toyota has a lot of money. A few million in fines likely won’t bother them too much.

    Larry,

    I see your point in Toyota maybe not wanting to rush new technology to the market and I agree the 5.7 is a very solid motor, but would it be too much to add VVTL and direct injection to allow for more optimal fuel burn thus saving fuel and increasing power on the top end? Also, Toyota has plenty of experience with turbos (remember the 1990s Supra?), so would boosting the 4.0 really be that bad for the Tundra? I think its because they know they can’t get the fuel economy numbers (look at the un-boosted numbers of 16/20 with the 4.0). The 5.7 is available to upgrade with a supercharger with no internal engine modifications. That tells me that they over-built the engine for that purpose. After all, you can still keep the warranty even on a TRD boosted motor. I don’t think reliability is their concern.

    I think Ford is on point: Small displacement, high output engines are the future. Yes, a loaded truck at mid-high RPMs climbing a hill is going to get almost the same MPGs as a comparable atmospheric V-8, but when my truck is unloaded I can get much better mileage than that comparable V-8. For me, my truck is unloaded more than loaded so the better fuel mileage is important to me when the truck is unloaded.

    I know when I tow that my mileage will suffer. I have to admit that I was surprised when my 5.7L Tundra dropped to 12 mpg pulling only a 1500lb box trailor at 65 mph on the freeway. On that same trip, unloaded, it got the same 12 MPG fighting a headwind, only 19 with a tailwind on the same day. Average of 15.5 mpg on the highway at 70 mph? Not good by any standard. Toyota is not Suzuki…they are not a bit player. They are a major manufacturer in the automotive segment in N. America. A little technology wouldn’t hurt to boost MPG and appease the public while still maintaining quality and reliability.

    • Larry says:

      Brian J

      I have a feeling that this is not really that much of an issue for the long term. With CAFE cast in stone, there is no question that Toyota has things in the works. If they did not, they would be history and they know that. VVT and direct injection must already be in final development and test.

      I still think people are wishing for too much. Like you said most of the time we run with not real load other then the weight of the truck. I drive about 3000 miles a year with a 800 pound trailer and 500 in the bed. For me it makes no sense to all the expense of twin turbo for the 300 miles a year I need to pull loads up long grades here in UT, CO and WY. If I were to get an F150 the simple V6 has more then enough power.

      You mention getting 12 MPG with your 5.7 when towing. My 3.0 150 HP V6 goes down to 12 MPG when towing. On the highway, I don’t really have much trouble going 65 if there is not head wind. So the new non turbo V6 motors which have almost 150 HP more then my 3.0 will be plenty.

      There is no free lunch when it comes to power. I have never understood the need for the big motor which does almost no work 95 percent of the time. I am one of the few who live at the top of a 15 mile grade. With an empty truck I can still run 50 MPH. With a trailer I drop down to 40. It’s never been much of an issue. I just go slower the few times I need to pull loads up a hill.

      If a few year go by and the new high tech motors really have the durability, I will be in but, I just can’t take the chance with that much money until I know for sure.

      I have to say that with a little 3.0 V6 which only has 150 HP, it has run at high RPM a lot of hours in the last 18 years and keeps on going. So maybe the newer, smaller high tech motors are a lot better then I think they are. It just makes me shake when I see a photo of the Ford V6 with all those chains on the front end of the motor. I really wish we could get a small 3.0L cummins diesel with gear driven cams. One of those would be the last motor I would ever buy.

  7. mk says:

    get me 3-4 more hwy mpg in the low 20’s and will sell a lot more. Right now or in near future this year, Toyota tundra will get the worst mpg of the big 3 which is not good news. 3-4 more mpg for some doesn’t matter, but for most it does if you think rationally it is about 20% increase in fuel economy since these trucks do not get over 20 mpg right now. 20% better is A LOT if you think that way.

  8. Shawn says:

    I get high teens low 20s for mpg.
    It’d called how ya drive..

    We all have great ideas, yet Toyota is the one in the auto business.
    You dont tell them how to ” build” a truck.
    And I highly doubt they will tell you how to do your job.

    • Larry says:

      If Toyota wants my 35000 they better listen to how I want them to build my truck.

      There are many things on new autos and trucks which serve no real function and the only reason we have them is because we buy what we are told we want instead of refusing to buy what we don’t want.

      There are trucks being sold all over the world and what we have here in the US does not match what the rest of the world has access to.

  9. mk says:

    No way can I ever get over 20 mpg on the hwy even driving 55 mph level roads no winds ideal conditions. I have gotten 20 but never over that ever with 5.7L DC tundra stock 4wd. I suspect if was 4.6L or 2wd, then I could get 21-22 hwy. mpg though.

  10. Mickey says:

    mk the 2wd will do it.

  11. Jerry says:

    As tonyspin has stated, Toyota already has a great hybrid that they can use. Toyota has also had an 8 speed tranny since 2007, which is used in Lexus, and in case you think Ram uses some special “truck 8 speed” it doesn’t. I’ts the same Z 8 speed used on compact cars in Europe.

    1: Adopt Toyota’s own 338 H hybrid powertrain, 2: Mate it to Toyota’s own 8 speed transmision, 3: Add grille shutters, 4: Add air suspension to lower the truck on the highway (easy to achieve, partner with Kilderman like Ram did, Kilderman which already manufactures Tundra suspension in the aftermarket). 5; Achieve ~30 mpg highway and 27 city (hybrids get really good city mileage).

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Jerry,

      The question remains though, if you were in the market for a new pickup, would you buy a 2014 Toyota Tundra or wait?

      -Tim

  12. mk says:

    Good question Tim, all depends if I got a great deal on my 2012 tundra again around 27-28K trade in, why not? If the dealer low balls me like they have in the past, then will skip it and wait. Will depend on pricing as well since rumors claim the 2014 tundra will be marginally increased but I bet it won’t be and will be just like every year price increase of 3% about amounting like usual to a 1,000 dollar price increase like all mfgs. do every year. My identical 2007 DC cost 27K, 2010 30K, 2012 32K all at dealer invoice pretty much so equals about 1K increase every single year.

    Personally, for what they did to the 2014 tundra which is not much just cosmetics inside and out, it better not be 3% increase but am sure it will be. I really was expecting the tundra to go crew cab 6 1/2′ and also for sure 2-3 more mpg but neither happened so am disappointed will be looking into once out the 2014 chevy crew cab 6 1/2′ bed once out come June/July probably.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      MK,

      It’s going to be interesting how this Fall unfolds in the full-size truck market that’s for sure. I do think it is a little premature to make a decision on what you will buy. We will wait and see.

      -Tim

    • Larry says:

      6.5 foot box?

      Just wondering why so many find this configuration appealing?

      In years past this type of vehicle was the “Chev Suburban” type thing. A people mover which also had room inside to transport some cargo and it can tow what I consider to be heavy loads like 10,000 pounds.

      When I go on a trip I usually have so much stuff in the back of my truck it’s full and I have the 8 foot box. Coolers, dry boxes rolled rafts, oar etc etc.

      What I am hearing is the the Tundra is more desired because of it’s visual appeal which is fine but then, why the monster 5.6 motor which, many seem to think is still underpowered.

      Most Tundras I see are luxury models, not the kind of thing I would put a dead moose in the back of. So it kind of seems that it’s logical for Toyota to not rush an upgrade since the work load of Tundra trucks is well within it’s current configuration.

      Just wondering why so many like the really short bed trucks?

  13. Mason says:

    I agree with Jason that most truck buyers don’t wait for special things to happen, they buy it when they need it.

    • mk says:

      I wouldn’t say for me anyways buy it when I need it, but if it happens a great deal comes in where the dealer sells of course at dealer invoice to me and I get 1-2 grand trade in over the competitors like NADA above average/near excellent trade in price, I’m going to jump at it ONLY IF they can get me the truck I want not loaded to the max with extra gizmos like on a limited, at least for me.

      Although the service dept. sucks where I bought it from, the sales guy was like saving me over 3 grand vs. the other Toyota dealer in town so that convinced me to jump at the 2012 tundra they just got in on their lot.

  14. Mike S says:

    Why would Toyota be in such a hurry to bring a new Tundra to market? The truck is so disappointing it would have to be addressed from the ground up( starting with the joke of a frame)
    With the miniscule market share Toyota could really care less about the Tundra. That said being a long time Toyota owner I would never buy a Tundra in it’s current configuration.
    No 6.5′ bed on the Crew Max, no Tundra for me.

    Toyota and Ford are working together on a vehicle assist power train similar to what the Prius has for it’s trucks. It looks like Ford will bring it to the table with the new 2015 F150.
    Toyota will continue to lag behind. It’s a shame Toyota didn’t hire the right people or someone who knew anything about trucks.
    How hard would it be to build a better, more dependable truck than a Ford, Chevy or Dodge?

    Right now Ford has it all over Toyota with the F150, EB IC troubles and all.

    • Mickey says:

      Apparently you don’t read too much. Why does the Tundra has the highest “RESALE” value? I wonder if it has to do with dependability? Look it up since 2007 the Tundra has the best resale value. At least Toyota doesn’t claim bogus towing numbers……..

      • Mike S. says:

        Toyota’s have always had the highest resale value. Nothing’s changed there Einstein. Show me where I said anything about resale value?
        Looks like someone has an issue with reading comprehension.

        Read the article. I see nothing there that would make me want an outdated, poorly designed from the frame up vehicle with nothing more than a refresh on it.

        Like I said earlier, No 6.5′ bed on the Crew Max and I’m not even looking at a Tundra.
        I’d rather have a F150 EB, IC troubles and all.

        • Mason says:

          Read the link I gave. There actually are several changes. Toyota’s V-8 is excellent, they don’t need to change it.

          • Mike S. says:

            No engine update, No 6.5′ bed on the Crew Max…………..no real upgrades anywhere. Smoke and mirror refreshes if anything which hardly addresses the treasure chest of short comings the truck has.
            No thanks.

  15. Mason says:

    @Mike S

    See this article:

    http://www.tundraheadquarters......er-tundra/

    As for the Hybrid; Ford developed it’s own Li-ion hybrid system, that for the most part gets better mpg than Toyota’s hybrid system. I doubt Toyota will use the current Prius system on it’s trucks if it wants to stay competitive.

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