A prototype version of the Ford F-150-rivalling Toyota Tundra full-size pickup has been spied in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs with virtually no camouflage.

    This particular prototype, spied by a CarExpert reader, appears to be right-hand drive with amber rear indicators. The embossed Tundra badge on the tailgate is covered by black tape.

    “In quarter four of 2023, Toyota will deploy approximately 300 cars all around Australia, as part of the final validation stage of the RHD program. These vehicles will not be for sale but will involve monitoring under real world usage conditions in Australia,” said a Toyota Australia spokesperson.

    “This project will aim to introduce Tundra to Australia, with a segment-first hybrid drivetrain, and with high levels of suitability to our market and with class leading refinement and comfort. We are looking to lead the way in this segment.

    “While this is exciting news for Toyota and Tundra fans alike, an Australian RHD faces further checkpoints in Toyota’s global approval process, before a retail introduction can be confirmed.”

    Toyota Australia announced in August 2022 an “extensive program is underway to re-engineer Tundra” for right-hand drive in partnership with Walkinshaw Automotive Group, which already re-engineers the Chevrolet Silverado for GMSV, and the Ram 1500 for Ateco Group.

    Toyota said it would draw on “key components” from its global parts catalogue, including the steering column and rack, pedals, and shift lever from the right-hand drive LandCruiser 300 with which the Tundra shares a version of its TNGA-F platform.

    Despite confirming an expensive, long-term development program from the ute, Toyota still hasn’t confirmed if the Tundra will go on sale locally.

    The first batch of Tundra right-hand drive test mules feature the hybrid powertrain offered in the USA.

    The hybrid pairs a 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine and 10-speed automatic transmission with a motor generator, new Power Control Unit, and a sealed 288V nickel-metal hydride battery charged by brake-energy recuperation.

    Total system outputs are 326kW of power and 790Nm of torque.

    Under the skin, the latest Tundra features double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, along with a rear air suspension option designed for buyers who tow heavy loads.

    Inside, the Tundra comes standard with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotaianment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with a larger 14-inch touchscreen optional. A full suite of active safety features is offered in the USA.

    Given Toyota will be in the final validation stage of testing later this year, this points to a market launch in 2024. At this point it will go up against the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 (both converted to RHD by Walkinshaw at its Clayton factory), and the Ford F-150, which is being converted by RMA Automotive in Melbourne.

    The latter of these vehicles is set to launch locally in the third quarter of 2023, following orders opening back in February.

    MORE: Everything Toyota Tundra

    Jack Quick

    Jack Quick is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne. Jack studied journalism and photography at Deakin University in Burwood, and previously represented the university in dance nationally. In his spare time, he loves to pump Charli XCX and play a bit of Grand Theft Auto. He’s also the proud owner of a blue, manual 2020 Suzuki Jimny.

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