When Did the First Toyota Tundra Come Out?

If pickup trucks are the American car scene’s rulers, what does that make the Toyota Tundra? It has had more ups and downs than a roller coaster. Although we are in a sort of strange downtime for the Toyota 4×4 lineup, why are they still so dang popular and expensive. Well, when you’ve been doing your thing so consistently for two decades, people just expect greatness whether they are getting it or not.

How long has the Toyota Tundra been around? 

A news clipping talking about the first generation Toyota Tundra answering the question "When did the Toyota Tundra come out
1999 Toyota Tundra | Toyota NewsRoom

The Tundra was Toyota’s first full-size truck to enter the American car market from Japan. Toyota started production in 1999. According to Toyota Newsroom, the Tundra was initially built in the Indiana Toyota plant, where the first Tundra to roll off the production line still is on display. Tundra production would eventually move to San Antonio, Texas, in 2008, where it still is built today.

Toyota called its shot on the Tundra 

Toyota announced the Tundra at the Indiana state fair, where then Toyota Motor Sales group Vice President, Don Esmond, said, “Today marks the beginning of the launch of one of the most important vehicles ever introduced in the 41 years we’ve sold cars and trucks here in America.” 

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What is really telling about the time this tuck came out is that Esmond also said, “It needed to be built in America because it needed to offer better value.” Imagine someone saying that these days and your head will explode. The Tundra might be as American as it gets. It came from Japanese lineage, but it is as American as the 4th of July. The Tundra debuted at a state fair; it is a big pickup truck and was heralded by a guy named Don; it sounds American to me. 

The Tundra used to be cutting edge

It is hard to see these days, but the Toyota Tundra was truly cutting edge when it came out in 1999. As the Toyota Newsroom says, “Under the hood, it had the most sophisticated power-plant ever offered in its class, including the first double-overhead-cam, 32-valve V8 in the segment. It was also the first V8 engine to achieve an L.E.V (low emission vehicle) emissions classification from the EPA.” 

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Even back then, the Tundra was pulling 7,200 pounds and could haul over a ton in the back. As some of you might remember, an unmodified Tundra CrewMax 4×4 pulled the space shuttle Endeavor across the 405 in 2012. The space shuttle and its rigging weighed an astounding 292,000 lbs, and although the Tundra didn’t have to pull it far or very fast, it still managed to haul the thing across the highway. 

These trucks were truly built to last

Toyota Trucks are tough across the board. Over the years, there have been many stories of Tundra owners taking their pickups across the one-million-mile mark. This engine and transmission setup must have been forged from Black Panther’s own stash of Vibranium becuase they really don’t seem to break all that much. 

You might also recall the famous story of the fella who used his Truck to rescue folks in the horrible wildfires that plagued California in 2018. After Allyn Pierce’s Tundra got a bit charred from his heroic actions, Toyota offered him a brand new one as a thank you. This isn’t a commercial for how gracious Toyota is, but it is a commercial for how hard-nosed and tough these trucks can be. 

Thanks for 20 years Tundra

It’s been 20 years now, and many truck owners still prefer the Tundra. Unfortunately, Toyota’s 4×4 line has gone a bit ignored from Toyota for the past little while. For the most part, the Tundra is still the same truck as it was when it started. Sure, it has Bluetooth and some newer safety features, but they are outdated and inefficient on fuel. I think the world is ready for a newer, more efficient, 21st-century Tundra to reclaim its title of being the most cutting edge in its segment.