New Tundra from Toyota

Toyota sent shivers through Detroit six years ago by taking aim at its most profitable vehicles with a completely redesigned full-size pickup.

The 2007 Toyota, the company’s second-generation effort at a full-size pickup, bolted out of the gate with sales of nearly 197,000 that model year.

But, according to a report by USA Today, that was Tundra’s peak. Since then, it’s been battered by the recession, hurt by Toyota’s recall-damaged reputation and overtaken by rivals’ updates.

Now the big Japanese automaker is trying again with a third-generation 2014 Tundra that was unveiled Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show and goes on sale in September. It’s restyled inside and out to give it a more muscular look and more refined passenger quarters.

And, taking a clue from the Detroit Three, Toyota is headlining two new high-end, lavishly appointed models for buyers whose unmuddied boots are always hand-tooled. No hint of prices, but the top-end models of Ford, GM and Ram pickups range from $54,000 to $60,000.

While the fanciest pickups account for only about 9% of sales, according to TrueCar.com, they ensure that no money’s left on the table.

And they give the automakers prestigious models to show off, putting a sheen on the whole truck lineup and making dollar-conscious business buyers feel as if they’re getting bargains when they spring for $35,000 trucks.

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