Review: 2005 Toyota Tundra

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As with the T100 before it, the Toyota Tundra concedes size and power to the five other full-size truck brands, forfeiting brutish measurements for a less tangible advantage in overall refinement. For 2005, Toyota has addressed the power deficit with new V-6 and V-8 engines. The V-6 displacement grew from 3.4 to 4.0 liters, an increase that nets an additional 55 horsepower and 62 lb-ft of torque, for totals of 245 and 282, respectively. The 4.7-liter V-8 gained variable valve timing, boosting horsepower from 240 to 282 and increasing torque by a modest 10 lb-ft, for a total of 325. A six-speed manual transmission replaces the five-speed manual in V-6 Tundras. This well-mannered pickup family is offered in regular-cab, Access Cab (extended), and Double Cab (crew) body configurations, with the range earning two 2005 IntelliChoice Best Overall Value awards.

The Tundra is anonymously handsome, its capable components wrapped in sheetmetal better suited for pushing through air than stirring emotions. Within its broad-appeal design, the Tundra is pure Toyota, focused on value, function, and utility. For example, climbing into the Tundra is a bit easier than in most other full-size trucks, due to its slightly shorter overall stature--non-Double Cab Tundras are three to five inches shorter than the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram--and its light, easy-to-open doors. It's still an ascent, however, so, like most other pickup makers, Toyota provides A- and B-pillar-mounted grab handles for assistance.

Out back, getting items into the bed is eased by a reasonable load height. The Tundra's tailgate is extremely heavy, though, and wrestling with it had us wishing for Ford's Tailgate Assist feature, which uses a built-in torsion bar to make closing the rear of the F-150 a snap. Another niggle: The optional bedliner shakes and rattles over bumps; Nissan has the right idea by offering a spray-in bedliner for the Titan.

And though they may negatively affect ride quality, slightly larger wheels might serve to spice up the Tundra's somewhat dowdy appearance--the standard 16-inchers look tiny, and the optional 17s aren't much better. The 2005 models are distinguished only by updated head- and taillamps.

Rear Seating View

The functional design largely carries over for 2005, with excellent material quality and top-notch fit and finish throughout. All the surfaces feel good to the touch, and the controls are textbook examples of interface simplicity. The instrument panel was updated for 2005, and a new optional navigation system is available on select four-door models. The optional between-seat console is particularly nice, with a flip-up notepad holder and a generous opening capable of swallowing copious amounts of travel gear. Front-seat comfort is acceptable, but suffers from a lack of side bolstering and backrests that seem too upright no matter what the degree of recline. The driving position is second-to-none, however, with superior visibility out the front and a tilt steering wheel that always seems to be at a comfortable angle.

Rear DVD Screen View

For rear passengers, there are up to four cup holders and, in Double Cab configuration, a power vertical sliding rear window that, when combined with the optional sunroof, gives the Tundra a more airy, open feel than in other trucks. The rear bench suffers from, again, upright seatbacks, flat cushions, and a lack of padding, but here those traits are necessitated by flip-and-fold seats. In Double Cabs, they fold flat and then tumble forward, creating a large storage area where items can be secured via straps built in to the bottom of the collapsed seats. If you've still got more stuff to stash, there are also various bins and cubbies hidden under and behind the rear seats.Other gripes regarding the interior concern dim instrument-panel lighting--even dialed up all the way, some buttons were too difficult to read at night, and still others weren't illuminated at all.

In addition to the between-seat console, which is included with the dual front bucket seats option, interior embellishments include rear-seat DVD entertainment (Double Cab only), a sunroof, and a JBL in-dash six-disc CD changer.

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