Pickup trucks are becoming the new luxury ride.
Toyota launched the Tundra Capstone pickup Tuesday, a high-end version of its full-size truck targeted at luxury buyers.
To hit the highest, and most profitable, end of the pickup market, the automaker is taking advantage of its complete Tundra redesign that debuted for the 2022 model year.
“Truck buyers are often towing and hauling things worth far more than their trucks,” said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst at research firm IHS Markit. “There’s no reason why they don’t want all the amenities and latest technology in their trucks also.”
The Tundra Capstone, which Toyota calls its “flagship” pickup, will go on sale later this year packed with luxury features such as massive dash displays, a head-up display, open-pore walnut cabin accents, extra sound deadening material and giant 22-inch chrome wheels.
It joins multiple high-end offerings from domestic truck brands.
General Motors, for example, just debuted its GMC Denali Ultimate pickup for an $80,395 starting price, including destination charge. It has many of the same features Toyota plans for the Capstone, including 22-inch wheels, a distinct new grille with high-end chrome and a 15-inch color head-up display.
Ford’s F-150 Limited features high-end leather bucket seats, onboard electricity for power tools and large dash screens. The starting price for the 2021 model is $75,040 with the delivery fee. Ford will release its 2022 pricing for the truck later this month. Ram also offers the Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn, a luxury model with premium materials such as wood trim and stitched leather.
“Other automakers are in this space and Toyota wants to compete with them. They don’t want to be the only one left out,” Brinley said.
Automakers are offering these pricy trucks because they learned there’s a population of car buyers hankering for luxury amenities in their pickup, said Michael Ramsey, an automotive analyst with consulting firm Gartner Inc.
He said these trucks are targeted at buyers who want a fancy ride, substituting for a Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.
“They don’t make any sense from a utility perspective,” Ramsey said. It’s unlikely people will be using $100,000 trucks on work sites, but there has always been a strong American pull toward the pickup as a body style,” Ramsey said.
Changes in auto financing, including very long-term loans, help support ever-higher truck prices, he said.
I don’t know if the market will hold up for $100,000 pickups, but I expect to see more companies going for this market,” Ramsey said.
Toyota hasn’t said how much it would charge for the Tundra Capstone. The company said it would release pricing closer to its on sale date this spring. For now, its priciest truck is the Tundra 1794 Edition at $58,715, including the delivery fee.
The Tundra Capstone will only come equipped with Toyota’s new i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain that produces 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Toyota hasn’t released the fuel economy rating for the powertrain but has said it will be the most efficient Tundra produced. It is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Although it is slated as a luxury truck, the Tundra Capstone will still have significant capability. It has a maximum towing capacity of 10,340 pounds and a maximum payload of 1,485 pounds.
Toyota is making the truck’s bed from a new sheet-molded compound with reinforced aluminum cross members underneath to provide extra protection against dents, impact dings and rust compared to traditional steel decks.
Toyota mounted the cabin to the frame with hydraulic mounts to provide extra comfort. It added acoustic glass to the front doors to reduce noise intrusion. A 12-speaker JBL audio system is standard equipment.
The standard Capstone comes with three standard drive modes–Eco, Normal and Sport. Buyers who opt for the available load-leveling rear height control air suspension and adaptive variable suspension will also get four additional settings: Comfort, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom modes.
Other standard features include power running boards and truck bed step, a 10-inch color head-up display and the towing technology package.
Unique-to-Capstone styling features include a new grille with a color-keyed outer frame and a chrome inner mesh pattern complemented with chrome mirror caps and chrome “TUNDRA” tailgate inserts.
The 2022 Capstone will have Toyota’s largest CrewMax cabin with a 5.5-foot bed. Available colors include Wind Chill Pearl, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Celestial Silver Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic, Supersonic Red and Blueprint.
Brinley said that Toyota is making a smart strategic move by offering the Capstone.
“The cost to create a high-end version of your pickup truck is not that great but does create a lot of profits,” she said. “All of the hard stuff for the truck is already done. You just add nicer materials and more technology.”