Toyota studied million-mile Tundra while developing new model


In 2016, Toyota purchased a 2007 Tundra with over a million miles from its original owner. At the time, the Japanese company explained that it gave Victor Sheppard a new Tundra in exchange for his million-mile truck to help its engineers gain insight on how various parts had held up as they developed the recently-unveiled model. Six years later, Toyota shared insight on the lessons that it learned during this process.

Toyota chief engineer Mike Sweers started by looking for components that showed signs of wear. The driver’s seat was in good condition, especially considering that Sheppard stood 6’6″ tall and weighed 425 pounds when he hit the million-mile mark, according to the firm. The mechanical parts were solid as well: the truck reached one million miles with its original engine and transmission. The two biggest issues found were that the odometer had stopped at 999,999 miles and that the cargo box showed serious signs of wear from years of hauling.

Sweers and his team decided to build the new Tundra’s bed out of a composite material to remedy this problem. It’s consequently lighter and sturdier, and the rust that can develop in scratches, dings, and dents is no longer an issue. Toyota torture-tested the bed before approving it for production; it dropped rocks, cinder blocks and a V8 engine into the back of the Tundra and didn’t manage to leave a dent in the box.

Not all of the improvements that Toyota made to the third-generation Tundra were related to durability. The company also improved fuel economy by replacing the last-generation model’s V8 with a V6 that’s either naturally-aspirated, twin-turbocharged or part of a hybrid system, and it fitted the rear suspension system with coil springs to deliver a more comfortable ride on and off the pavement.

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