Updated 02/10/2014: For a full breakdown of what is new in TRD Pro, check out our story here.
It is absolutely no secret that I am a fan of the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor. In the few short stints that I have had behind the wheel I am completely blown away by the performance, the ability, and the comfort. The truck has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes the truck absolutely special to drive. Toyota appears to be going straight after the Raptor with an upcoming TRD Pro line that is set to debut at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show next week. After giving it a great deal of thought, I do thoroughly believe that the F-150 Raptor should be afraid of this competitor from Toyota.
In the truck world, Toyota is a brand that lives by itself. The San Antonio-built Tundra sells well, but currently is not any real competition for the likes of Ram, Chevrolet, and Ford. While I’m sure Toyota would love to get into some F-150 sales, the company does take a different approach to marketing their vehicles. They target the active lifestyle folks more than the work truck folks. This niche serves the company well, and I’m more likely to see a Tundra hauling a 4-wheeler than I am a Ford.
This preview commercial for TRD Pro is a prime example. The folks driving the Tundra in the commercial are the young, active lifestylers with the 4-wheeler in the back. Those are also the same types of individuals who purchase the Raptor. This is where Toyota has the advantage.
The Raptor is fast off-road, but is also comfortable on-road. It can be driven every day comfortably. A Raptor fighter will need to be able to accomplish both of those tasks. Right now, TRD’s Off Road vehicles perform well when the roads get rough. I sampled a new Tundra with the TRD package and it handled the Knibbe Ranch off road course very well.
Competitors have tried to duplicate the Raptor. The Ram Runner comes to mind. While an excellent off-road truck, it didn’t live up to many expectations on the road. Other solutions come in the form of the automotive aftermarket. While aftermarket solutions are great, the Raptor is under a manufacturer warranty and comes configured from the factory to run the Baja 1000.
Toyota makes a good truck. They all do. But with TRD’s experience off-road, and targeting not on the Raptor, but the people that buy the Raptor, Toyota could really be poised to dominate the off-road truck market. We will see next week, but in the meantime the Raptor might need to be sweating it a bit.