Well of course we all have a choice as to what we want to buy. And I will also agree that when one company has 100 years of building a sort of product, and another only 10, well of course the company that's done so longer will have more brand loyalty. Truck buyers tend to be very loyal to their brand, so for Toyota to sell as many Tundras as they do is more or less testament to them doing something right.
The previous comment was in regards to the general, "Buy only American" comments being made here, and pointing out how unrealistic and how impossible that really is, because we live in a modern economy.
If all the rugged specs, frame and drivetrain match the existing quality of the domestic full sizes, it would may have greater influence. This is a very discerning buying group. Full sizes do not come cheap, and many make their living with this category. It's far different to smaller commuter class vehicles, where MPG is the main focus.
Unfortunately our modern day economy is not robust. I am sure most on here question why you take a new import only stance. Certainly in this category, Ford and GM make an extremely high quality product.
I may be speaking for you, but is it possible you grew up on a brand throughout a family, and it's less about import/domestic? My uncle and his children are Mopar only. Every single one drives a Mopar. My uncle had incredible sports cars over the years. The family went to races since they were children. The new car dealership let them drive any model home, knowing how great customers they are. They are branded for life. They are flat out obsessed with their brand.
Both of my cousins got new cars at graduation that they still own from the 70s. My uncle gave the cars to them, and he has now passed. They will never be sold while they are alive. They are like that with the new ones as well. Their brand is the best, and there is no other alternative. I don't share this sentiment on here or anywhere else. I have owned imports and domestics.
In the full size truck category, I did not like Tundra. Not that it's from Japan, but that I didn't like it as compared to Ford and GM full sizes overall.
My relatives would buy and do own the Ram. A 6 wheeler by one to tow a 70 Cuda race car. That's their preference; it's a nameplate they will never move away from.
Yes, as you stated, I did in fact grow up with a fairly consistent brand - Toyota. But when I was a lot younger the only brands my dad would buy us were GM brands. We had an Oldsmobile Delta 88, a Buick Riviera, a Chevy Malibu, and at one time he had an older GMC truck. These, except for the truck, were all late 70's, early 80's cars and almost all of them were disasters. I have distinct memories of how fun it was (for me) to go to the dealership and get to watch cable TV in the waiting room because we didn't have any cable. Those cars were constantly breaking down. I mean - the Buick was so bad that the dealer agreed to buy it back, which for then was unheard of.
After that they bought a used company car, a '84 Camry. And it just ran and ran and ran. That was it. My parents have never gone back to Ford, GM, or Chrysler. Now - granted in the late 70's and early 80's things were not going well for the big 3, and there were a lot of quality problems, particularly for GM and Ford. So perhaps it's unfair for my parents to still have this view of them. But then again, they have owned Toyotas ever since and none have given them any problems. Their example to me is how Toyota became king: They were at the right place at the right time. The Big Three were making crap for a few years, and this converted people to Japanese brands, which were at the time a lot more reliable. Many of those same people will likely never switch back.
I've tried to keep an open mind. Honestly I feel that GM and Ford are making more appealing small and mid-sized cars at this point. The Chevy Cruze and Ford Fusion are both very competent, well-designed cars. A Cruze, and in particular a Cruze Diesel, is at the top of my list.
But I truly feel the cars and trucks we have today are about the most globalized manufactured good you can buy. A perfect example are some of the newer Buick models: The drivetrain was engineered in Germany. The exterior design at a Detroit design studio. The interiors from Shanghai because Buicks sell well there. Then they are put together in various countries from a vast array of components.
I say this as someone who collects vintage items, including electronics from the 20's-50's. If you open those up, ALL of the parts are from the USA. That was then. Now if you open up a modern electronic device, the parts are from all over, and yes - some from the US too. It's the same with cars. I even recall when my Uncle bought a Ford Explorer in the 90's, the transmission was actually French, while a lot of the electronics came from Brazil.
As far as the Tundra, I think Toyota is hungry for this market, and with each passing model they are getting closer to hitting that target. I believe they will eventually get to having parity with the domestic brands, perhaps in the next generation. Just like they did with the medium sized car market, because if one recalls, all they offered were small cars initially, and now the Camry is the benchmark of medium family sedans.
The investment it would require to bring the Tundra up to par with even a 1970's heavy duty domestic full size would be enormous, let alone the constantly improving domestic trucks of today and the future.
The return for investment for Toyota just isn't there, as Tundra is purchased primarily by Toyota loyalists for commuting or very light hauling.
In the late 70's - early 80's, members of our family also owned GM cars built on the same platforms as the cars you mentioned.
Those cars are the reason why we still purchase GM cars today (yes, they were that good).
When I was younger, I too remember going to the dealerships back then. For oil changes that is; I don't recall cable television ever being broadcasted.
It's been fairly well documented that there were rampant quality issues in a lot of the Big 3's offerings during the mid 70's - early 80's. I've actually read a few books about that era and there were some key reasons why. For starters the fuel crisis caught the Big 3 off guard: They had little experience making smaller, fuel efficient cars. Some of the cars they came up with became infamous disasters, like the Vega and its problematic engine, which blew head gaskets because the engines shook themselves to death.
In the late 70's, early 80's newer pollution mandates came into affect and back then one way to increase efficiency and emissions was to go FWD. Again - the big three had little experience in making those sort of drivetrains. So you had all 3 companies coming out with rapidly engineered, totally new drivetrains, and as a result there was an abnormal rash of reliability issues at that period. On the other hand, car makers in the EU and Japan had been making those sort of cars for years and had had plenty of time to work out the kinks. The result was that this was the start of the Big 3 losing market share.
I mentioned my parents as examples, because they are truly a classic example of what happened when one family became disgusted with the offerings from a brand they had been loyal to for years, and switched to another. Now multiply that example by many millions, and the net result is that over time Toyota won a huge percentage of the market share.
These days I believe the Big three learned some lessons from the past. As of now Ford is dong very well: They simply brought over many of their "European-ized" models and re-branded them as cars like the Fusion (derivative of the Ford Mondeo sold in the EU), and the Fiesta. I recall not too long ago Ford and GM for that matter made hardly any appealing smaller cars, period. Cars like the Cavalier and its replacement the Cobalt were awful. So good for them. If it took competitive pressure from the likes of Toyota for them to make better cars, then the consumer wins, which in the end is what matters.
As far as the Tundra not being a vehicle used for "real" work, my Dad more or less disproves that theory, as yes - he uses his for real work every single day. He uses it to haul concrete equipment. Sure - it's beat up looking, but has provided 300,000 miles of trouble-free service. And if people only bought trucks for work, then truck sales would be a tiny fraction of what they are. I can't tell you how many people I see driving around in HUGE full sized trucks with perfectly clean, un-scratched, unused truck beds. Most full size trucks are only used to get back and forth to work or get groceries and haul the occasional bag of cement. They have in many ways become more like the station wagons of the 2000's.