Ask anyone who owns one and they will tell you that the Toyota Tundra is a great pickup truck, with good power, a quiet interior, and excellent quality. Yet the Tundra has been dogged by comments that it’s not quite a full-size pickup, sort of 7/8s the real thing, with smaller cabs, cargo boxes and tow ratings than rivals. Well, for 2004 Toyota is addressing some of those issues with the new four-door double cab. So is the Tundra now ready to play with the big boys?
Well, it certainly has a shot. Joining its Regular and Access Cab siblings, and the sporty Stepside added for 2003, the 2004 Double Cab is a clear attempt to correct the notion that Tundra is less than full-size.
The Double Cab is easily the biggest Tundra yet. Like other light duty crewcabs, it has four front-hinged doors. It rides on an extended wheelbase of 140.5 inches, and at 230.1 inches long, holds a 6-inch advantage over the all-new Ford F-150 Super Crew
Toyota put that extra length right where full-size pickup owners say they want it, in the bed length. The Double Cab features a 6 ¼ foot cargo box that’s 4 inches deeper than other Tundras. At 74.3 inches, the Tundra Double Cab bed is only a half-inch shorter than that of the Access Cab, but more importantly for image, over 7 inches longer than the cargo box for the Ford F-150 Super Crew. Maximum payload rating for the Double Cab is 1,875 pounds, the most yet for a Tundra, and also superior to the SuperCrew. In addition, the Double Cab is 3 inches higher and 4 inches wider than other Tundra models. Together, that should be enough of a big rig presence to hold its own in the schoolyard.
But, there is still a problem. Despite bulking up, Double Cab wears the same, timid front end treatment. It lacks the visual bluster of both domestic rivals and Nissan’s Titan. The revised taillights help, but its 16-inch tires and wheels are small for its class.
The interior of the Double Cab is attractive, practical, and full size roomy. We’ve always felt cab design among the best features of the Tundra. There’s a well organized, if car-like, dash and the Double Cab standard cloth captains chairs. Our SR5 V8 was nicely outfitted with large gauges, efficient CD-stereo, easy-to-use rotary ventilation controls, cruise, and front power outlets. Limited trim upgrades the stereo and adds fog lights with leather an option.
Rear passengers enjoy 37.5 inches of leg room, that’s less than the F-150 but more than the Dodge Ram Quad Cab. Double Cab includes rear air conditioning vents and is available with a rear DVD entertainment system. For covered cargo space, the 60/40 split-fold-and-tumble rear seat is quite convenient. And Double Cab also has the first vertical, power back window. The opening is four-times larger than the typical manual slider.
There is only one engine for Double Cab. Toyota’s familiar 4.7-liter dual-overhead-cam I-Force V8. It delivers 240 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque. While capable of towing 6,800 pounds, and easily the class smoothie, it lacks the bragging rights of more powerful V-8s available on rivals. The sole transmission is also a carryover, a 4-speed automatic that, as we’ve said before, delivers shifts worthy of a Lexus. Matched with the V-8, 0 to 60 is dispatched in a fine 8.0 seconds flat.
Our test truck’s part-time Touch Select 4-wheel-drive system allows you to choose between 2-wheel-drive, or high and low range 4-wheel-drive at the flip of a switch. With an outstanding 11.9-inches of ground clearance, our Tundra easily cleared this year’s harsh Mid-Atlantic snows.
We gushed over dry road handling when we tested the 2003 Tundra Stepside. But the Double Cab is even more refined. It feels lighter and more nimble than rivals, and the power rack-and-pinion steering delivers plenty of feedback. And, like other Tundras, delivers a very polished ride, even the 4X4.
And everyday driving delivered 16 miles-per-gallon, quite good for a full-size pickup. EPA estimates are 14 city/17 highway.
Prices for the Tundra Double Cab SR5 start at $26,185 for 2-wheel drive. Go for the 4X4 and the base tag goes to $28,975 before options. Limited starts at $29,810, with the Limited 4x4 at $33,140. Leather adds $1,160 more.
So, while some may still dismiss Toyota’s ‘‘full-size’’ pick-up as a small-time competitor, it’s clear to us that the 2004 Tundra is no new kid on the block and with the new Double Cab is more ready than ever to play with the big boys, and not be benched.
Engine: 4.7-Liter Dohc I-force V8
Torque: 315 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.0 Seconds
EPA Mileage: 14 MPG City 17 MPG Highway
Motorweek's Mileage Loop: 16 MPG Mixed City/highway