Introduced in 1999, the Toyota Tundra has become a staple among truck drivers. A roomy and capable pickup coupled with Toyota’s reputation for reliability and excellent resale value makes Tundras a good investment. Since their inception, they’ve been made in the ‘States. Today they’re assembled in San Antonio, Tx, making Tundras the only full-size truck to be built in the lone star state. So, after two decades with only one major update, how does the newest Tundra stack up?
From the outside looking in, this truck looks enormous and absurdly blue. Toyota calls this color VooDoo blue. Whatever the name, the expansive sheet metal ensures there’s a whole lot of it. It has non-functional hood scoops and bulky, hard-edged styling. The bumpers are sculpted into the bed sides which is a nice touch. As is the “TRD Pro” stamped into the truck’s flanks.
This pickup wants you to know that it’s ready for whatever you can throw at it. The design language oozes off-road. The black badges contrast nicely with the bright blue paint and complement the black wheels and exhaust tips. This Tundra was optioned up with a spray-in bed liner and a tri-fold tonneau cover. The locking tonneau cover is especially convenient when carrying valuables that won’t fit in the cab.
Interior space is ample. The black leather seats afford passengers the room to sprawl out on long hauls. Between the front seats, there’s a cavernous console with loads of room for your laptop, pistol collection, toddler, etc. The sunroof is a nice option as is the rear window that goes up and down with the push of a button. Second-row passengers have acres of legroom, plenty of room for six-footers to sit comfortably in the back.
The ride height is so high it distorts your perception of speed. Until you get used to it, 60 mph feels like you’re creeping. Tundra’s don’t feel cutting edge. Because the last major refresh was over a decade ago, Tundras drive a little rough and don’t feel that precise. That’s not a knock against them, it just shows how Toyota’s priorities are aligned. It feels trucky. But with other brands are making efforts to redefine how trucks feel, Toyota must be feeling the pressure to refine their ride.
They must be doing something right though, the Tundra is the best-selling full-size import truck in North America; selling more than twice as many as next the runner up Nissan Titan. Granted, those two are practically the only legitimate full-size import options. With a redesign slated for 2021, it will be interesting to see if Toyota can close in on the domestic marques.
Twist the key and the 5.7 liter dual overhead cam V8 rumbles to life, clearing its throat through the TRD dual exhaust. It’s a mellow growl that sounds good around town and while accelerating, but it might get on a very long road trip. Behind the V8 is an eight-speed automatic.
Toyota designed these trucks to look burly from the outside, but they also equipped it with some pull-hard goodies to ensure it can back up those looks. The tow package on this truck includes a heavy-duty battery, rear axle and alternator. It has beefed up engine and transmission cooling too. They even integrated a trailer brake controller, 4/7 pin connector, and a tow/haul mode for the transmission.
The hood is expansive and seeing over the far corner is a challenge. This makes tight work in a parking lot a little tough. This truck would benefit from a forward facing parking camera. During the week long test, the truck averaged 13.5 mpg. That’s not great even for a big ol’ truck
If I absolutely needed to buy a truck today, I might look elsewhere. The Tundra feels kind of dated. It’s a little noisy and rough around the edges. Tick all the boxes it takes to option a Tundra like this one and you’ll be in it for $56,106. Why do that when the next generation Tundra is set to come out for 2021. Instead, I might look at a smooth-riding domestic truck. I’d drive it a couple years then maybe trade it off when we see what Toyota has in store for us with the new Tundra.