Jason Lancaster is the editor and founder of TundraHeadquarters.com. He has nearly a decade of dealership experience buying, selling, and maintaining vehicles, and much of that time was spent working at Ford and Toyota dealerships.
If you’ve been paying attention to automotive news in the last week, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Toyota lost an obscene amount of money in the first quarter – $7.7 billion to be exact. Toyota was quick to point out that this loss is against a $3.3 billion profit in the previous three quarters, resulting in a $4.4 billion loss for the 2008 financial year. (NOTE: Toyota’s financial year ends after the first quarter.) Worst still, Toyota anticipates losing about $5.5 billion for the coming year.
Toyota’s Loss is Big, But Don’t Let Anyone Fool You
photo credit: Andres Rueda
In other words, Toyota lost a lot of money last year and they’re planning on losing a lot of money this year too. Considering the fact that Toyota hasn’t had an operating loss since 1950, this is a big deal. Toyota has taken sweeping action with tremendous production cuts, cost cutting measures, and most recently announcing that they’re going to fire half of their corporate management team.
However, before anyone starts worrying about “Toyota being the next GM,” here’s some perspective:
Before you walk into your dealership to make a new Tundra purchase, it’s worth taking a few moments to consider where the line stands at the moment, how Toyota is faring against the competition in the current industry crisis, and how the economic recession can work to the buyer’s benefit.
Since the 2010 Toyota Tundra has been slightly updated over the 2009, there are some differences to highlight:
– The 2009 model, which is still widely available, is offered in three styles of cab with three wheelbases, three bed lengths, three engines, and three trim levels. This essentially means customers can go from a 236 hp, 4-liter V6 in a standard or short-bed double cab to a 381-hp 5.7-liter engine. Maximum towing capacity in the line is 10,800 lbs and maximum bed length is 8.1 feet.
– Little of that has changed for 2010, but there is a new mid-range power choice, a 4.6-liter V8 (310 hp, six-speed automatic) with the line-topping 5.7-liter V8 offered on the CrewMax Limited models. All other changes for 2010 are cosmetic including billet-style grille, chrome bumpers, door still protectors, and unique 20-inch wheels — all part of the Platinum package.
Consider this a viable bargaining point. It’s highly likely a 2009 model will meet your needs at a potentially reduced price, since inventory reduction has been at the heart of Toyota’s strategy in recent months.
Imagine if someone could track your truck’s every movement, every second of the day, no matter where you were driving in the world. Not only that, but imagine if they could keep a complete record of where you had been and for how long. It sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, but thanks to GPS technology, it’s a reality for any driver.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System, which uses a network of satellites orbiting the earth to provide detailed location information to those with a receiver that can access their data stream. Initially put into place by the US military decades ago, GPS can be used to pinpoint a location with a startling degree of accuracy. Most people are familiar with the use of GPS as a navigational aid, in the form of hand-held or vehicle-mounted systems that combine the positioning service with mapping software to help keep drivers or hikers from getting lost. GPS is also a boon to marine navigation, providing a much more foolproof method getting from point A to point B on the ocean when compared to standard charts. However, GPS can be employed in a few other functions, some of which are fairly cloak and dagger.
Most popular car magazines/publications – such as Motor Trend, Car and Driver, and Consumer Reports – are oriented towards cars. Not trucks, not SUVs, but cars. These car publications often evaluate trucks and SUVs completely incorrectly. Rather than talk about a truck’s towing and hauling capabilities, these publications emphasize “cabin noise” and “ride quality.” While these are reasonable criteria worth discussing, the fact is they’re not that important for your typical truck owner. We’re looking for something that hauls the mail, not something that hauls “the ladies that lunch.”
Don’t get us wrong here – comparisons are best when they evaluate a lot of criteria. However, any reviewer that says quote “Several logbook scribes thought the Tundra was just too big” has no business reviewing trucks (from Car and Driver reviews the Tundra long-term). If you think a truck is bad because it’s big, you don’t get it.
This past Sunday Edmunds.com published a balanced and reasonable review that evaluated trucks on the important stuff – hauling, towing, and overall performance. While we dont’ agree with their conclusions (the Tundra placed 2nd behind the less-than-utilitarian Ram), we appreciate this opinion:
For me, trucks are about utility. I wouldn’t own one unless I had to perform heavy towing and large payload-hauling as we did in this test. Everything else — and I mean everything — can be done with another kind of vehicle. For this reason, I can’t help but evaluate trucks without placing significant weight on those abilities.
That’s a quotation from Josh Jacquot, Senior Road test editor for Edmunds.com. While Josh isn’t a “truck guy” – admittedly so – he understands the criteria that trucks should be judged by. Kudos. This might be the first Edmunds.com review we’ve ever seen that doesn’t make a ton of ridiculous comments about trucks being “too big” or “beastly.”
Here’s what we saw that we liked:
When people think of fine Italian products, the list looks like this:
- Magnificent sports cars
- Men’s suits
- An assortment of wines and cheeses
Please note that “truck” and/or “pickup” don’t appear on that list. Considering that Fiat is going to be a major stakeholder in Chrysler when the company emerges from bankruptcy, it’s time to consider Italy’s contribution to the truck world and what we can expect from a Dodge Ram crafted by Italian engineers.