Toyota Tundra is manly enough for even Texas

If equipped with the optional 5.7-liter V-8 engine, the Toyota Tundra is amazingly fast - but the trade-off is disappointing gas mileage.
If equipped with the optional 5.7-liter V-8 engine, the Toyota Tundra is amazingly fast - but the trade-off is disappointing gas mileage.
Posted: June 29, 2014

From ranchers to urban cowboys, Texans love their full-size pickups.

As a result, their big state is easily the big-pickup capital of America. Indeed, the Ford F150 full-size pickup truck, this country's perennial best-selling vehicle, counts on Texas for a staggering 20 percent of its sales.

Could be that's why Toyota decided to build its Tundra full-size pickup in San Antonio.

Toyota has been trying doggedly to secure a significant beachhead in the lucrative big pickup market for years, but has found it tough going. The domestics are entrenched and benefit mightily from the fierce brand loyalty of their customer base.

Toyota's latest effort is the reworked 2014 Tundra, which benefits from suspension tweaks, styling revisions, and a nifty new interior.

The new Tundra is a good looker, sporting the macho heft that has become obligatory in the land of the large pickups. It has big wheels, big tires, and a rectangular grille huge enough to be worthy of a Peterbilt.

The upmarket Limited model I tested (base price $41,895) received a masculinity booster shot in the form of a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) off-road package. This included TRD off-road alloy wheels, Bilstein shock absorbers, protective engine and fuel-tank skid plates, and big decals for each side of the cargo bed that read: TRD 4x4 OFF ROAD.

The designers did a nice job on the interior, which exuded manly chunkiness and provided a lot of room, comfort, and storage. The center-console storage cavity was big - if it isn't as large as the spare room beneath the Chevy Silverado console lid, it's awfully close. I fell into the one in the Tundra and had to be rescued by firemen. (Just kidding.)

The crew-cab Tundra I drove boasted good visibility and generous rear-seat legroom. The seats were comfortable, and the instruments and controls were aptly situated except for the radio tuning knob. Reaching it was a stretch for this driver, and I have a 6-4 wingspan.

My only other interior quibble was the amount of hard plastic in a vehicle costing more than $40,000.

The Tundra proved a nice driver. It handled well, afforded good steering response for a big guy, and stopped in a hurry.

And boy did it go. While you can get a Tundra with a 3.7-liter V-6 or a 4.6-liter V-8, the tester was powered by Toyota's beasty boy - a 5.7-liter V-8 that develops 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.

That kind of guts takes the Tundra from 0 to 60 in about 6.5 seconds, which is jalapeƱo hot for a 5,000-pound Clydesdale that can tow almost five tons. It actually feels even faster than that when you get on it from a standing start. And the engine note that accompanies that acceleration is boy-racer heaven.

Is there a trade-off for all that fun? Of course. The 5.7-liter Tundra recites gas mileage scripture found only in the Book of Slurp: EPAs of 13 city and 17 highway.

The Tundra test truck proved comfortable as well as spirited. It rode well and kept the noise down. High-speed driving produced a modicum of wind noise from the side mirrors, and that was about it.

With the help of the off-road package, the tester also acquitted itself well when it was on a trail of moderate difficulty. The Tundra also felt solid enough, despite the fact that it uses channel-style frame side rails instead of the stronger box members employed by the domestics.


Good

2014 Toyota Tundra LIMITED 4X4

Base price: $41,895.

As tested: $44,429.

Standard Equipment: 5.7- liter engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, 4-wheel drive, and an extensive safety array ranging from stability and traction control to rear camera, a comprehensive trailering package, and an amenities litany ranging from leather to a power rear window.

Options: Include front and rear parking sonars, an off-road package, running boards, and a liner for the 5.5-foot cargo bed.

Fuel economy: 13 city and 17 highway (regular fuel).

Handling: Competent.

Engine power: Top drawer.

Styling: Schwarzeneggerian.

Ride comfort: Very good.

Warranty: 3 years/36,000 bumper to bumper.

The Ben key: four Bens, excellent; three Bens, good; two Bens, fair; one Ben, poor.


alhaasauto@aol.com

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