2026 Toyota Tundra refresh coming with insight from chief engineer - SUV VEHICLE

2026 Toyota Tundra refresh coming with insight from chief engineer

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It is no surprise a refreshed 2026 Toyota Tundra is coming, but what might be surprising is the amount of changes they could be making.

At a recent event, I spent a lot of time talking with new Chief Engineer Sheldon Brown, recently taking over from Jay Sackett, to learn more about what Toyota is up to with the 2026 Tundra.

2026 Toyota Tundra fixes shortcoming

First and foremost, Brown has read forums, watched videos, and read articles on the completely redesigned 2022 Tundra to understand its shortcomings.

These shortcomings include various issues like the lack of recovery points or tow hooks, the rear bumper access issue with the tailgate down, and various quality concerns like the weatherstripping not meeting on the crew cab’s rear windows. He has also seen concerns over windows rattling, center console shaking, and more.

I also believe they will go over the engine again looking for ways to reduce complexity, improve reliability, and learn not just from the U.S. market but also the global market dealership warranty claims. They may even consider adding the gasoline particulate filter used globally with the upcoming level 4 EPA emissions standards coming into effect in 2027 or 2028.

Here’s a full list of the issues I’ve collected from myself and a large owner’s forum.

His focus is going to be to fix these various issues and then move forward with new ideas.

One big change coming

There will be several key changes for the refreshed 2026 Toyota Tundra, but I think the big change is going to be on the front-end design and adding in tow hooks as either a standard or optional package.

If you look at the new Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner, especially with the TrailHunter trim, you’ll see a new design where it appears the skid plate is more prominent creating a better placement for adding tow hooks. The current Tundra has a large, blank piece of plastic there.

2025 Toyota 4runner Trailhunter

2025 toyota 4runner Trailhunter Everest (Photo Courtesy Toyota USA)

The Tacoma chassis shows where the tow hook will be attached below the radiator and appears to be a bolted-on extension of the frame.

With internal Toyota team members pushing back on tow hooks due to crash-safety concerns, the next-gen Tundra will get them after engineers like Brown fought for them on the Tacoma and 4Runner.

Small changes

There will also be small changes coming like improvements to the wireless charging system, think adding a simple rubber holder, as well as color and material changes.

I can see Toyota coming out with a unique exterior color.

Also, I think the interior materials and color choices will be changed on various trims to give it a fresh look.

New trim level?

The final big change people are going to see is a Toyota Tundra Trailhunter finally coming to market. Toyota showed this model at a SEMA show I attended a few years ago.

This model incorporates aftermarket parts companies like ARB to create a more robust overlanding rig.

With overlanding being such a hot industry trend and the Tacoma and 4Runner both coming out with a Trailhunter trim, this seems to be a sure thing.

The bottom line

Quality improvements, styling changes, tow hooks and a new trim level will highlight the changes coming. What do you think? Something else you want to see?








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