Tundras sell very, very well in New England, as well.
I thought this was funny...
Back in 2005, I shopped for a new truck. Smaller trucks, with a minimum
6' bed, 4WD, and "1-1/2" cabs fit my personal needs best. If I could
get it, I'd love a longer bed, but none are available in the US. I test
drove Rangers, Tacomas, Frontiers, Canyons, chose the best truck for me
and bought it.
About 9 months after I bought my truck, I noticed that Dodge Dakotas
were still made! I had totally forgotten that Dodge made a smaller
truck. <G> I drive by a large Dodge dealer several times daily, but
the front yard was always lined with Hemi-Rams and Magnums!
I doubt the Dakota would have changed my final results, but I thought it
silly that a serious truck buyer wasn't aware the truck existed. What a
I doubt it would have. I had a '98 Dakota extended cab with V-6,
really liked it, but found myself needing the bigger back seat and
somewhat more tow capacity. Looked at a new Dakota with a full crew
cab, but found that in order to get the tow capacity I needed, I would
have to go to a V-8 and have dismal MPG, both in town and highway. So
looked at all those you mentioned, ended up with a '07 Tacoma, best
fuel efficiency and tow capacity in the class (for a V-6). That was
when gas was $2.50 or so. Sure glad I chose what I did.
But you're right, Dakotas get very few ad dollars. May go back to the
time when they truly had a monopoly in that size range. And the
Dakota had no service issues the whole time I owned it just over eight
years. It was a good truck. Sold it to a friend and he is very
satisfied also, still no major maintenance. Too bad they didn't keep
up with what was predictably going to be a hot spot, that is MPG.
Leon, as you know, Tundras are made about 25 minutes from my house
here in sunny San Antonio.
Setting aside the time honored tradition of debate of who makes the
best truck, I thought I would give you a look at what happened to
their on a local level.
They shot themselves in the foot straight away by assuming that San
Antonians would immediately park all other trucks and start driving
Toyotas. So they made sure from the much ballyhooed opening of the
plant that San Antonio was full of brand new Tundras.
Immediately, thanks to a new tool called "the internet", it was found
that you could purchase a Tundra in Houston or Dallas substantially
(according to our local news rag about 15% - 20%!!) cheaper without
any type of rebate, deal, cash back or anything else from the dealer.
All of those things were added in later no matter where you bought it.
Subsequent queries on "the internet" using buying services proved that
indeed buying out of San Antonio significantly cheaper than buying in
San Antonio. So mistake up #1 was trying to screw the local
populace. Think about it; how could it be cheaper to buy the same
truck that had to be freighted to Dallas in Dallas, rather than one
that was literally taken 20 minutes to the dealership?
The local newspaper made a real stink about it, and the local
dealerships were caught with their pants down as they obviously
thougtht they were going to be part of the price bonanza.
The second big mistake was to think that folks would pay the
difference. Sure, the Toyota is probably a better truck. But when I
was thinking of a new purchase about '07, the difference in price was
substantial. The new Ford would have cost me (after considerable
teeth gnashing negotiations) around $24K. But the new San Antonio
built Tundra would have been $34,900, with no negotiations.
That's 30 f'ing percent difference!!
Add in the financing on that difference, and it will knock you over.
There is also a perception here and in the surrounding areas that if
you have a problem with your Ford, GM or Dodge truck that if you need
parts in an emergency, you can find them cheaper and easier than if
you are looking for
parts for a Nissan or Toyota.
I would think that probably a large part of San Antonians are blue
collar, and certainly a lot of folks I know are. They work on their
own vehicles if at all possible. So if your starter or alternator
goes out on Sunday, it is nice to be able to go to the local auto
parts store and pick one up for a couple of hundred dollars and put it
on. Much better than waiting at the Toyota dealership for a $400+
starter on Monday and missing a day of work after the purchase to
Next, the Toyota guys admitted that they needed more offerings to take
on the local truck market. They brazenly bragged that they would take
over the truck market in Texas now that they had trucks made here.
But (mistake #3), they made no "work truck" available.
Most of us tooling around in our trucks don't need leather interiors,
a six banger CD casette changer, remote starter/kill switch, dual
climate controls, GPS navigation, 2 power points, deluxe wheel
packages and fancy, eye catching metalized plastic knobs and plastic
wood on the interiors.
So after these missteps, where did that leave Toyota? Last year,
after only being open for one, they "retooled" and came up with a less
well appointed truck. But since the idea was already in the heads of
most that they were too expensive, it was too late to save the
So at the first of this year, they announced that sales were
"disappointing", and canceled the planned plant expansion that was to
take place to cover all the orders they had expected and taken for
granted would happen.
Then they dropped their prices to be more in line with the rest of the
market. Things didn't get better as their is now a perception that
there was some "friggin' in the riggin" " and that lowering their
prices as much as they have was the same as admitting they were trying
to screw folks.
Then they got caught in the same hole as every other manufacturer.
They have had a couple of recalls that didn't set well, and there
have been some mechanical problems that have caused some of the
truck's mechanics to be redesigned. (One of the problems for Toyota
is that being local, if the paint chips on a truck the local "news
defenders" send a team out to the plant to see of it is a trend.)
But now... to compound things they are trapped in the same stale
market as everyone else in the car industry. They laid off a couple
of hundred workers last month, and the plant has been shuttered since
the first of August and will be until the first of October. Closed.
Period. No work.
To their great credit, Toyota has seen fit to pay their workers FULL
wages while sorting this out. It isn't altogether an altruistic favor
on the part of Toyota; they have many thousands of dollars in training
even the workers with even the most mundane jobs.
It is an interesting, ongoing soap opera here. Toyota isn't going
anywhere. But lessons were learned the hard way, just like at GM,
Ford, etc. The public will eventually get what they want. You can
now buy a Tundra work type truck, for just a smidge over the Fords and
But now they are all rowing the same boat, and folks around here in
the trades are going with what they know, which is the big three
American brands. There are no Toyota fleet trucks around here. I
don't even know a company that buys them. So that leaves Toyota back
with the lowly public consumer.
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see their next move.
Just a few thoughts...
That jibes w/ what I observe in farm country w/ oil as the secondary
industry use. I've not seen a single Halliburton, Schlumberger, Best,
or any other service or pipeline vehicle other than the Big 3.
Last time there was even one on the lot in town it was still at least
20% list above GM product and as noted, it was in the pimped out version.
The lack of the diesel really hurt them here where the amount of heavy
towing is quite high -- if not large stock/horse trailers, anhydrous
ammonia tanks into soft, sandy fields take torque and lugging power.
There are a few I know who use them to take the dogs out for pheasant
hunting, but that's about as rugged a use as they get. That's not
"work" in my way of thinking...well it's work, but not for the truck. :)
I'll agree that the Tundra is more expensive, I paid $5000 more for a
similiarly equipped model as the GMC and I will have to say that I did not
even care for the looks of the Tundra. But then I drove one after driving a
Chevrolet and GMC. Comfort plays a major factor in what I buy. We very
often use the 4 doors for friends and other family members. The GM vehicles
still require the back seat riders to sit at a 90 degree angle and the back
doors move and shift enough that the driver can see that movement with a
simple quick glance while driving.
I suspect theat Gulf States Toyota may be more to blame for this.
Strange isn't it. By the same token how can I buy gasoline cheaper 85 miles
west of Houston than in Houston?
I can see your point. It's too bad you were/are not afforded the same
opportunity. Mine stickered with TTL drive out for about $35k, I drove out
for $28k less trade in. The GMC was quoted at $23k less trade in. After
driving the GMC and Chevy I did not want to buy a new truck. That changed
after driving the Tundra. After having GMC and Chevy trucks that I was
happy with the $5k more for the Tundra seemed well worth the extra
investment for me.
I hear you and don't blame you at all under those circumstances.
Yeah, I gave up financing some years back, tooo expensive.
Well in defence of the imports you mention here, I'll mention again that I
made my living and retired after exclusively selling GM products and parts
for 18 years. You find parts for Ford, GM, and Dodge because they sell real
well, Why? They have a high failure rate. Why do you have to order
Toyota parts? Because they dont fail very often. A dealer or auto parts
store makes money on parts that sell over and over. My criteria for
stocking a part for GM at the dealership was to put it in inventory if it
sold 2 times in 3 months and that is being very pickey about when to stock a
part. The vast makority of parts that I stocked sold at least once a week
on average, many of those parts were several times a day and those were not
When I still worked for the Olds dealer there was a Toyota dealer next door.
Our warranty parts pile waiting for the Olds servive rep to scrap varied
from 200 to 400 parts monthly. The Toyota dealer typically and 4 or 5 parts
I'll totally agree that American brand parts are easier to find but in
general that is not actually a good thing for all the customers.
When I was the GM for an AC/Delco wholesaler our only customers were GM
dealers and a majority of those customers were in Houston. We probably only
had 75 customers total and we absolutely refused to sell to any one unless
they were a GM dealership. We stocked alternators, starters, and AC
compressors by the thousands in only about 75 different part numbers total.
We turned that inventory 6 to 8 times a year. Basically our better
customers would buy 10-15 of one part number alternator on a weekly basis.
A mix of 45 to 60 alternators weekly to the same customer was normal.
I also was over an Isuzu parts department during the same time I was at the
Olds dealership. We stocked no starters or alternators at all, and sold 2
or 3 a year.
True. But my 97 Chevy had to have 2 water pumps, 2 intake manifold gaskets,
1 alternator, 1 wiper circuit board, 3 upper heater hose assy's, 2 AC blower
motors, and both tail light circuit boards replaced in 10 years/80K miles.
And I thought that was pretty trouble free for a GM vehicle. Don't get me
started on when I was the service sales manager for Oldsmobile....
That seems to be working pretty well in Houston but being built in Texas
probably does not really matter, not all of them are built in Texas.
I can certainly see that happening.
I'm betting the economy in general is affecting sales more than anything.
That would appear sto be ture... I recall VW dropping the prices of their
cars several thousand dollars when their new models came out. That left a
bad taste in the previous model owners mouths.
And probably more recalls than you will ever know. Most manufacturers will
perform recalls that may not be announced, usually done when yo come in for
ohter warranty work or for normal service. I recall the Ford Focus having
in excess of 100 before the car was even sold during it's first year of
You know what that sounds like ~ The inkjet market. Original product is
cheap, the real profit comes with the sale of consumables, in this case, car
parts. Wonder how much of it is planned obsolescence?
Actually back in the 70, 80, and 90's when I was still in the thick of the
automotive marketing Ford was always the less expensive vehicle to buy when
compared to the comparable GM vehicle. Because dealerships take trade-ins
and often kept them to sell on the used car lot they also had to do some
repairs to the vehicle that they took in on trade. More often than not in
Houston the trade in on an Oldsmobile was a Ford or Mercury vs. any other
brand other than GM. Parts that the consumer normally would not purchase
like a dash or door trim panel were often 50 to 100% more expensive to
purchase than the relatively same GM part and that was also when comparing
the list price.
Planned obsolescence? Nawwwww.. LOL... Actually GM built some really good
parts and some really piss poor parts. As an example the GM blower motor
for the AC always went bad. It would work but would develop a squeak. They
were unable to fix/did not want to fix this problem from 1978 until at least
1995. Oddly GM alternators were pretty reliable until they switched over to
using a single serpentine drive belt vs. the multiple belts to drive the
individual components. Once the alternators were fitted with the larger
pulleys for the serpentine belts they started to burn up, the front bearing
got hot enough that most all the electronics, stator, voltage regulator,
rectifier bridge, and brushes would burn up and replacing the unit was less
expensive that repairing it. Same goes for the old GM AC compressors. The
old style 6 cylinder Frigidaire compressors could be easily rebuilt, the R4
radial replacements that began to show up in the mid 70's could not be
SNIP of good stuff
Leon, thanks for the insight. I appreciate an intelligent look from a
guy with your personal experience. You make a lot of good points, and
I got a good chuckle out of the fact that your take was that the fact
was the reason domestic truck parts were so plentiful was because they
were so needed.
How true is that?
My last two trucks have been Fords, simply because they "had the deal"
and were more comfortable to me than the GM products. This is my 14th
truck, and personally I really don't care what brand I drive as long
as it wears well and is reliable. Overall I have been lucky with my
last 3 Fords, but the best truck I ever owned was a '75 GMC "Heavy
Half" with a three on the tree and a Olds made 350 engine in it.
I have never owned a foreign made truck, but like a lot of my
compatriots, we have had enough of shoddy domestic products. I was
leaning towards the Nissan Titan when I thought I might buying a new
truck, but their repair record scared me off.
I was in a newer Tundra not too long ago, and while I don't know how
well it will do as a work truck, the truck cab was like being in a
small, airtight sound studio. It was QUIET, really comfortable,
looked nice, and the AC blew cold. Same crappy gas mileage as my
Ford, but the ride was really comfortable and solid. I liked it a
lot. It felt like you wanted your truck to feel, not like a delivery
My amigo paid his $35K for it, but he only uses it for light work.
Here's hint of the difference: my truck is PACKED with tools and odds
and end of repair crap. In his truck tool box, he still has room for
his small bag of golf clubs.
I will personally feel better about the Toyotas as work trucks when I
see them with head racks for ladders, bed liners, tool boxes and bed
side tool boxes, maybe pulling around a small skid steer loader, and/
or any of the other job specific hardware on the trucks that let you
know their job is work.
Like you, I will pay more if I think I am getting more. But the jury
is still out. And as before, you can bet I will be looking somewhere
else than the big three next time I buy.
Thanks again for the insight.
It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, of course. They're needed because
there are so many vehicles in service. They're cheap(er) because there
The thing is, this is more perception than reality. There are problems
in all vehicles; you don't hear about them in the foreigns particularly
in trucks more because there simply aren't as many.
Since the mid-70s/80s period, I really do not believe there's a
significant overall difference. We use trucks _hard_ and simply do not
have the kinds of complaints Leon makes. A/C in the '78 still is cold
w/ never a service. One water pump on six vehicles that I can recall
since sometime back in the early 80's. No transmissions, starters,
engines, ever going back to the '58. (Although I did rebuild the '72 at
around 200k as choice personal truck but it was still running at the
time and could have gone quite bit longer before it was required. It's
still in service w/ a plumber friend who has had no maintenance since
gave it to him in '99.)
Unless you use the truck as a car office and do mostly office work as
crew chief or similar, the truck is a "get you there" to go _to_ the job
along w/ the stuff required to do the job. If it is that kind of use,
perhaps amenities are worth the premium; they're surely not for me. The
quiet lasts for a little while but rough gravel roads soon loosen up
_any_ frame no matter how tight it is initially and the fancy interior
gets as dirty as does the plain from road and field and grain dust,
cattle and so on.
It comes back to is it a "real" work truck or a car that has some
carrying capacity? I agree the Tundra seems to be pretty well made as
well but they don't deserve the premium. For our application the lack
of the diesel pretty much relegates them to the sidelines anyway...
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