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Is a Toyota Tundra Desert Truck coming to challenge Raptor and TRX?

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If there’s one part of the 2022 Toyota Tundra truck lineup that has a glaring hole, it’s the lack of a “desert” type of truck. Sure there’s the TRD Pro, but when going against trucks like the Ram TRX and Ford Raptor, it can’t withstand the competition.

Toyota needs a competitor in this niche segment, and it sounds like there may be one coming. According to a story on The Drive, a version of the Desert Chase Tundra, which was a concept truck at the 2021 SEMA show, may actually make into production. This would be surprising as Toyota was adamant at that time that the Desert Chase was just a concept.

And SEMA is a place for such vehicles — not a place to showcase new production vehicles. Was Toyota extra sneaky by putting a soon-to-be produced Tundra right under our noses in Vegas, or was this a pivot in their marketing strategy? Probably not the latter as production vehicles are planned years in advance.

What’s more likely is Toyota saw the success of the Ram TRX and excitement generated for the third-generation Ford Raptor and figured it was time to engage in that niche segment. We agree.

Let’s take a look at the Desert Chase Tundra and see if we can extrapolate what a Tundra Desert Truck might have.

Hybrid engine — maybe, hopefully

Toyota made a big splash when it announced it was getting rid of its V-8 engine in favor of a hybrid V-6. Sure, it may have rankled some, but this is a common trend everywhere. Obviously the Ram TRX has biggest, baddest V-8 out there with its Hellcat Hemi, but even the new Raptor has a V-6. So, it seems logical that a hybrid version, perhaps performance-tuned would be exactly what the Desert Tundra would get.

Even the Desert Chase Tundra at SEMA came with the the i-Force Max twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6.

Wider and higher

Ground clearance is the name of the game with desert-type trucks. We saw it on the new Bronco Raptor, and if Toyota is serious about this, it should put a 3-inch lift on any version of this Desert Tundra. Looking at the Desert Chase concept, it was fitted with a TRD-designed, long-travel suspension that uses the Tundra’s stock mounting points. The Toyota Motorsports Garage also added a wide-body kit designed and manufactured at TRD’s North Carolina composite shop.

The long-travel suspension in the Desert Chase concept looks like a winner and the way to go for this truck.

Rolling on 37s

What is it with 37-inch tires right now? Goodness, it seems like that trend has taken hold when it comes to both trucks and SUVs. We think 35-inch KO2 tires with bead lock capable wheels are enough, but the Desert Chase concept rides on a custom set of lightweight 18-inch forged aluminum wheels from Method Race Wheels, wrapped in 37-inch General Tire Grabber X3 all-terrain tires on all four corners.

With both TRX and Raptor getting 37s, you can bet that 35s won’t be enough, and a future Desert Tundra would also get 37-inch all-terrain tires.

The bottom line on a Toyota Tundra Desert truck

First of all, let’s implore Toyota to make this truck a reality. Toyota would not comment on any speculation (of course), but it would behoove the automaker not to concede this niche to Ford and Ram. Sure the TRD Pro is outstanding and has its merits, but why not give the people what they want? This may be the last hurrah for these desert-type of trucks as electrification takes hold.

Secondly, a note to everyone: When talking about this potential truck, don’t just call it a competitor to Raptor because this dismisses the Ram TRX, which is actually the most powerful of all these trucks. But that’s more of a pet peeve than anything else.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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