We pit the specs of two of the most-anticipated pick-up trucks ahead of their Australian launch
With last week’s confirmation that an Australian-spec Toyota Tundra is in development with Walkinshaw Automotive for release to the Australian market, and the fact that Ford will soon launch its F-150 locally, the question arises: which super-ute is best – the Tundra or the F-150. 150?
The Toyota Tundra will be put into Australian development, with conversion specialist Walkinshaw set to build 300 test and evaluation mules in Australia in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The Ford F-150, on the other hand, is ahead after being confirmed by Ford in April 2022 for an Australian release in mid-2023. Unlike the Tundra, these cars will be ready for customer delivery rather than technically being development prototypes.
New powertrains and pick-up performance
Toyota has said that the new Tundra will be available in Australia with a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged engine that will also have hybrid assistance.
This will almost certainly be the ‘I-Force Max’ system used in overseas Tundras and will likely produce the same combined output of 325kW/790Nm. The Tundra has a small onboard battery that measures just 1.87kWh.
The Tundra in full-blown hybrid guise places the electric motor in a bell housing between the petrol engine and the 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission.
We can also see the Tundra equipped with a non-hybrid version of the same V6 engine, which has a lower output. 259kW/650Nm without electrical support.
On the blue oval front, the upcoming Ford F-150 will have a very similar setup, with Ford engineers installing a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter ‘Ecoboost’ V6 engine inside the large F-150’s strut tower.
This unit makes 298kW/678Nm, so a little less than the mighty Tundra. This engine is also mated to Ford’s version of a 10-speed automatic transmission. Unlike Toyota, there are no plans for an electric F-150, but the Lightning could be arranged for Australia.
For both utes, they will go without the V8 powertrain which has been a staple for both models for a long time.
Available variants and trim levels
Information on the Toyota Tundra trim level has been thin so far, but if a hybrid powertrain is anything to go by, Australians will likely receive a high-spec Tundra that may be similar to the TRD Pro or Capstone variants currently available in North America.
However, to attract more buyers, the Tundra shipped from Australia could be a more affordable Limited trim equipped with large 20-inch alloy wheels and a 14-inch multimedia system overseas.
On the Ford front, the F-150 will be available in Australia with a choice of the XLT workhorse or the more luxurious Lariat class.
Both models will be converted to right-hand drive in Australia, with RMA Automotive handling the Ford F-150 and Walkinshaw Automotive responsible for local development of the Toyota Tundra.
Both the Tundra and the F-150 will compete with the current Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 trucks.
How big are these utes?
The Toyota Tundra in US specifications sits with a wheelbase of 3700mm and is 5933mm long, 2072mm wide and 1981mm high.
The Ford F-150 is slightly shorter at 5885mm long and 2431mm wide and 1961mm high, with a wheelbase of 3693mm.
The Ford-150 is significantly larger than its smaller sibling, the Ford Ranger, which is significantly shorter at 5389mm in length and 1850mm in width.
This is a large vehicle that is proving popular with those who work and live in the countryside, but may be less popular for those in the city center.
Modern American style pick-up off-road capability
Toyota has ditched leaf springs at the Toyota Tundra in the US, where the manufacturer says it has maximized handling and performance with coil springs. The Australian-developed tundra can retain its leaf setting, as it will likely receive Australian-specific suspension tones to suit our rough roads.
The high-end TRD Pro Tundras are equipped with Fox shocks and heavy-duty coil springs to make riding on higher speed dirt roads more comfortable and stable.
With the F-150, the current Lariat offered by Ford USA gets four-wheel drive as an option as well as a standard drive mode to choose from. Leaf suspension at the rear, which would be beneficial for towing, but not so great when the road surface gets a little hard.
Possibility of electrification
The mild-hybrid version of the Toyota Tundra has been confirmed by Toyota Australia as a definite thing, but the I Force Max system is far from fully electrified or even plug-in hybrid status.
For Australia, however, mild hybrids could be the best solution for now while executives and engineers look for ways to make fully electric pick-up trucks a possibility for the future.
Ford Australia has yet to confirm an electric F-150 for our market. Ford says it wants to focus on bringing combustion-powered models to the local market first before moving on to electrification ranges.
Blue Oval tells Chasing cars earlier in the year it was “totally open” to new opportunities regarding the electrified F-150, but there have been no updates since then.
Meanwhile, Ford global CEO Jim Farley told the media to expect another battery-powered ute to enter production in the future.
A Ford spokesperson told Jalopnik recently that “there will be a next-gen electric truck, different from the Ford F-150 Lightning”.