With the new Ford Ranger and the Jeep “JT” Scrambler pickups on the horizon, and the already earth-shattering performance of the Chevy ZR2 Colorado, there is good reason for Toyota to be scared.
The bread and butter of their truck foothold in the States is the Tacoma, which has easily outsold the Tundra for years and was recently updated, albeit with short sightedness; it is under serious attack.
Every one of the new light duty trucks coming out feature new ground-breaking technologies like the Chevy ZR2’s factory long-travel links, wide track, Formula 1–grade shocks and approach and departure angles tailored for the Rubicon Trail. All the while Toyota thinks it’s acceptable to put in an anemic V6 with no torque curve and a slush box transmission that might as well been lifted from a rift in time to 2003. The trucks on the horizon (and the ones already here) from the Big Three are all going to be sporting transmissions with gear counts previously reserved for bicycles and all new oil-burning diesel power plants. Not to mention, Ford is going one step further and putting their renowned-prowess-for-translating-commercial-air-frame construction into the Ranger, as well, with a new aluminum body.
I know the argument that comes next, it’s the staple trump card we’ve forever always used: reliability. Found On Road Dead, Just Empty Every Pocket and so on—we know the drill. Toyota has lived in the limelight of reliability since Jimmy Carter, but it’s 2017 and those days are gone. Toyota’s reliability margin has seen its gap narrow more and more to nearly nothing since Allen Mulally took the reins at Ford and started pushing the ‘One Ford’ mantra to every corner of the globe and spear headed the return of the Big Three.
So, my question is this: How could Toyota have been so short-sighted to not be at the forefront of innovation? To not have listened to their customers like their competitors? To not realize that Americans don’t stay down if they’ve been kicked? I blame the chicken tax. What are your thoughts?