My household purchased a lightly used, 2008 Toyota Tundra Double Cab with the 5.7-liter V-8 last fall, and we have been very happy with it. My main takeaway after driving this brand-new, 2011 Tundra Double Cab is that it pretty much feels exactly like our 2008 vehicle, which now has about 36,000 miles on it. So I’m here to tell you that this truck ages well. The 5.7-liter V-8 sounds exactly the same; it revs high and is pretty noisy on start-up, but acceleration is great. To our well-equipped 2008 model we added an aftermarket JVC radio interface to get satellite radio, navigation, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera, which we consider nearly essential if you’re towing, which we do. That cost us just under a grand, so the $1690 for the JBL stereo/nav interface with ten speakers done by the factory doesn’t seem so bad.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
True to its name, this white Tundra looked like the Abominable Snowman parked in my powder-covered driveway, and it feels like it going down the road, too. This is one big Texan.
There’s no doubt that this monstrous Toyota has lots of power. The available 4.6-liter V-8 is good, but — without driving a Tundra back-to-back with a Ram 1500 — this test vehicle’s 5.7-liter V-8 seems to rival the Hemi of the same displacement. Indeed, the output figures are very comparable: the Toyota has 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, and the Ram offers a slight increase at 390 hp and 407 lb-ft. The Ram, a recent two-time Automobile Magazine All-Star award winner, also has a better (although still fairly grim) fuel economy rating: 13/19 mpg city/highway versus the Toyota’s 13/17 mpg.
The Double Cab is fairly sizable, but it would be a tight fit for four guys … or a couple baby seats. Anyone frequently using the rear seats for passengers would be wise to strongly consider the CrewMax version, although the larger cab cuts into bed length by a significant twelve inches.
The Tundra has some desirable features, such as its damped tailgate. However, I’d gladly give that up in favor of a smoother Ram-like ride, since the Toyota exhibits a fair amount of shuddering, which pickup owners generally accept as par for the course.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Toyota may have overestimated annual volumes when it launched the Tundra back in 2008, but that error wasn’t due to the product itself. Truth is, the truck is quite good, even if consumer demand for foreign full-size trucks isn’t.
The bulbous styling may not be for everyone, but I do like the obvious thought and attention to detail paid within the cabin. There’s a storage cubby in virtually every place and for every purpose (trucks with a center console even have provisions to hold hanging file folders), and most controls and switchgear are large enough to be used when wearing work gloves.
The 5.7-liter V-8 is quite an eager performer. The largest eight-cylinder available in the Tundra is happy to rev, although its throttle tip-in is slightly aggressive. Opting for the 5.7-liter engine over the 4.6-liter V-8 nets you an additional 71 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque, but also cuts fuel economy for a four-wheel-drive model from 14/19 mpg (city/highway) to 13/17 mpg.
If there’s one area where the Tundra truly lags, however, it’s in terms of ride quality. Shuddering over bumps may be a tradition in full-size pickups, but the Tundra seems more happy to shimmy and shake over broken pavement than its competition. One stretch of a local freeway sent the Tundra into a stomach-sickening resonance, although the same stretch of road posed no problems when I tackled it with an equivalent (crew-cab, 4WD) Ford F-150 the next day.
There’s still a lot to like in the current Tundra package, but if Toyota’s still intent on wrestling current GM, Ford, and Dodge—er, Ram—owners away from their beloved brands, it needs to step up the innovation, perhaps with regards to fuel economy or towing capacity, in order to expand its customer base.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
I would have thought I was in the Toyota Sequoia I drove last week – same nice interior, same powerful V-8 – if not for the ride quality. It’s not brutal, it’s just very clearly a pickup truck. I took our departed Four Seasons Dodge Ram on several road trips, only once with the bed loaded. Not sure I’d want to do that in the Tundra.
The biggest challenge for the Tundra, as Evan notes, is that being as good as or even slightly better than the various Detroit competitors doesn’t seem to be enough to change the habits of satisfied and loyal buyers. Ironically, this is the very same challenge the domestics face in trying to topple the venerable Camry.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab
Base price (with destination): $40,895
Price as tested: $44,082
5.7-liter DOHC 32-valve V-8 engine
6-speed automatic transmission
Part-time 4-wheel drive with 2-speed transfer case
Trailer brake pre-wire
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Tire pressure monitoring system
Power rear-sliding window
Leather-trimmed heated seats
Automatic dual-zone climate control
XM satellite radio
Options on this vehicle:
JBL voice-activated touch screen DVD — $1690
AM/FM 4-disc CD changer with MP3
10 speakers with subwoofer
XM satellite radio
Tube side steps — $534
Power-adjustable heated outside mirrors — $200
Carpet floor mats with door sill protectors — $178
Glass breakage sensor — $165
Bed mat — $127
Alloy wheel locks — $81
Spare tire lock — $73
TRD off-road package — $70
18-inch alloy wheels
Skid plate and TRD graphics
Daytime running lights — $40
First aid kit — $29
Key options not on vehicle:
Rock warrior package — $5030
Tow package — $1510
13 / 17 / 15 mpg
Size: 5.7L DOHC V-8
Horsepower: 381 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 401 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm
Curb weight: 5480 lb
Wheels/tires: 18-inch alloy wheels
275/65R18 BFGoodrich all-terrain tires