It seems like a very long time ago that Toyota introduced the Texas-made Tundra with the expectation that it would finally end American automakers’ hegemony in the large-truck segment. Five years later, the Tundra struggles–and fails–to muster a sixth of the Ford F-series’ sales volume. At the same time, Toyota has shifted much of its attention back to its cars, meaning the Tundra hasn’t received as many updates as have its competitors. Still, the Tundra is a solid pickup truck. There are three engines, three body styles, two bed lengths, and a veritable laundry list of options. Things start off strong, with a base 4.0-liter V-6 that puts out 270 hp and a good midlevel option with the 310-hp, 4.6-liter V-8. Still, we’d say the 381-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with variable valve timing best suits the Tundra’s mission, especially if you’ll be towing heavy loads; its maximum towing capacity is 10,400 pounds when properly equipped. Both V-8 engines team with a six-speed automatic transmission. The Tundra’s only real shortcoming–aside from the fact that it’s simply not exceptional enough to tear people from their Fords, Chevrolets, and Rams–is its ride quality. With an empty bed, it shudders and bounces more than its rivals. Its interior was truly exemplary when it debuted in 2007 and remains quite nice but, again, has fallen behind its American competition.
Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
Trim levels: SR5, Limited, Platinum
Body style: Pickup, 3-, 5-, or 6-passenger
Engines: 4.0L V-6, 270 hp, 266 lb-ft
4.6L V-8, 310 hp, 327 lb-ft
5.7L V-8, 381 hp, 401 lb-ft (E85 capable)
Transmissions: 5- or 6-speed automatic
Passenger volume: 145.7 cu ft
Capacities: Towing 7000-10,400 lb; payload
Changes for 2012 are limited to a new shade of white paint and styled (versus plain-Jane) steel wheels that are standard on all models.
Front, side, knee, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; trailer-sway control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. Backup sensors are optional.
All: 13-14 mpg city/18-19 mpg highway
- An honest-to-goodness pickup from Toyota
- Lots of available V-8 power
- Relatively poor ride quality
- V-8 fuel economy trails that of its competitors
One of America’s (and Japan’s) best trucks.
- Chevrolet Silverado
- GMC Sierra
- Nissan Titan
- Ram 1500