When the Tundra replaced the T100 in the Toyota lineup for 2000, it was proof that Toyota was serious about taking on the domestics in the full-size pickup truck market. And while sales have never really challenged F150 or Silverado, the Tundra has carved quite a niche for itself among personal use buyers. Now let’s see if a new manly makeover will help them carve out even more sales.
It’s hard to ignore the 2014 Toyota Tundra’s changed face. It’s larger and more in your face, and in tune with the more rugged appearance that graces the rest of the truck. And that more macho design was by design.
Despite being just as capable as domestic light-duty pickups, the Tundra has thus far been unable to shed its soft image. Well, as truck current marketing-think goes; the bigger the grille, the more capable the truck! So the new Tundra’s cow catcher grows in size, yet still blends in nicely with a new 3-piece front bumper.
The stance is certainly wider, and fenders are a little more squared off, all helping to reaffirm this Tundra’s credentials, as does towing up to 10,400-pounds. The rear end is “branded” with Tundra script; an integrated tailgate spoiler, and a 3-piece bumper of its own, while aero tricks on the rear tail light lenses and side mirrors help this brutish brick get through the air as efficiently as possible.
To keep pace with the high dollar pickups now in vogue, Toyota adds a new 1794 model that pegs the bling-o-meter with 20-inch alloy wheels and a power moon roof. 3-Cabs are available; the 2-door Regular cab and a pair of 4-doors – the extended Double cab, and the CrewMax crew cab with a standard power sliding back window. All Tundras add Halogen reflector beam headlights with manual level control; and the 1794 edition adds LED daytime running lights.
We are disappointed to see no major powertrains changes, however. It’s not that they’re inadequate. But, domestic full-size pickups, along with Nissan’s Titan, are making some serious strides in mixing more power with more fuel economy and Toyota is at risk of getting left behind.
As before, a 4.0-liter V6 is the base engine, and a pair of V8’s are available. We spent most of our time in the volume leading 5.7-liter V8 rated at 381-horsepower, and 401 lb-ft. of torque. While it pulls strongly and has a very responsive throttle, compared to domestic V8’s it tends to sound like it’s working much too hard.
It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, and gets Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 13-City, 17-Highway, and 15-Combined for our 4-wheel-drive tester. That makes for a very poor Energy Impact Score thanks to 22.0-barrels of annual oil consumption and yearly CO2 emissions of 10.0-tons.
While the exterior has undeniably taken the macho route, the interior has actually gotten even friendlier. Materials vary greatly with trim level, but our CrewMax Limited had very comfortable leather clad seats and wood-style trim. Also, Tundra is the only truck with available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. CrewMax models offer plenty of room in the rear seats as well, whether left in place for seating, or folded up out of the way for cargo. Switchgear is nice and big, with a fairly logical layout; and major controls are closer to the driver than before for ease of use.
One complaint; like most rivals the Tundra’s navigation screen is hard to read in direct sunlight. The Tundra’s frame also carries over from last year, but the suspension has been revised and an improvement is quickly noticed. Ride quality is smoother and you really feel like you’re riding high and breathing thin air. Steering remains hydraulic, providing good overall feel, with better straight line stability.
During our limited off pavement time we found the Tundra to be plenty capable of handling the less traveled way to your favorite camp site or hunting spot; and engaging 4-wheel-drive on the fly was quick and smooth. An automatic limited-slip differential is standard.
And when it comes to pricing, starting at just $26,915 the Toyota Tundra is a lot of truck for the money. The 2014 Toyota Tundra has improved greatly and without a doubt has proved itself to be a viable alternative to the Big-3. Still, in this full-size arena, the domestics do it better. However, while Ford, Chevrolet, and RAM may not be worried at the moment; the Tundra is here to stay, and it’s getting better all the time.
Engine: 5.7-liter V8
Torque: 401 lb-ft.
EPA: 13 mpg city/ 17 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 22.0 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 10.0 tons/yr