Review: 2005 Toyota Tundra

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Review: 2005 Toyota Tundra

While it may not be a class leader in terms of size or sales, the Tundra definitely wins top marks for its long list of available safety features. While only anti-lock brakes and dual front airbags are standard throughout the Tundra lineup, Toyota offers side and side curtain airbags--as well as electronic stability and traction control--to Double Cab buyers. The Nissan Titan matches this list of safety features, but the Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra can only be had with ABS and dual front airbags.

The Tundra posted good scores in NHTSA's frontal crash tests: four stars for the driver and a perfect five for the passenger. The passenger mark ties for best-in-class with the Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500, both of which also notched perfect five's in the driver's-side test.

The Tundra is available with one of two engines: a 4.0-liter/245-horse V-6, shared with the Tacoma and 4Runner, and a 4.7-liter/282-horse V-8 that's also found in the Sequoia. While these engine output numbers may trail those of competitors, the Tundra weighs less than the other trucks. The V-6 can be coupled with either a six-speed manual transmission (new this year, replacing a five-speed manual) or a five-speed automatic. The V-8 is only available with the autobox. Downshifts with the automatic are nearly instantaneous, overall power delivery is silky smooth, and the throttle response is immediate, though not as aggressive as that of the Nissan Titan. In 4x4 examples, power is routed through an electronically controlled transfer case; the type of drive--two-wheel, four-wheel high, or four-wheel low--is selected via dash-mounted controls.

The 4.7-liter V-8 does a good job of motivating even the Double Cab SR5 4x4, and it's more than fit to propel the rest of the Tundra lineup, which includes variants nearly 700 pounds lighter. The V-8 is very quiet as it goes about its job; even at full-throat, the sound from under the hood is muffled, giving the Tundra a refined quality.

Refinement is what the Tundra is all about, from the automatic transmission moving effortlessly through gear changes to the tractable and subdued V-8. The truck is nicely damped, and the interior is quiet even over the gnarliest of roads. The double-wishbone front and leaf-spring rear suspension ably controls side-to-side motions and keeps occupants happy and comfortable--until you push the envelope, in which case, the Tundra rolls and pitches, as would any large truck. But remember, excitement and dynamic performance aren't part of the equation here; think calm, relaxed, and easygoing. Unfortunately, "relaxed" also describes the numb steering--it isn't as communicative or precise as the Ford F-150's--and the brakes, which could use more power and pedal feel.

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