The Tundra still has plenty of appeal, even if it is the grandpa of the segment.
– Miami, Florida
We’ve seen three sitting presidents and 18 different iPhones since the current Toyota Tundra platform was introduced in 2007. Relatively speaking, the full-size pickup is ancient. Its closest competitors – the Ram 1500, the Chevrolet Silverado, and the Ford F-150 – have all gained new platforms, added more efficient engines, and adopted high-strength aluminum body panels instead of heavy old steel.
Thankfully, we’ll see an all-new version of the pickup in 2019. Until then, the current model soldiers on. A modest refresh in 2014 added some new style to the exterior, as well as some helpful new amenities to the cabin. With that in mind, the Tundra remains a compelling outlier in a segment dominated by more modern American trucks, even if it isn’t brand new.
The Tundra is the most expensive base-model, full-size pickup currently on the market. But when you start adding features, it’s actually well priced relative to its class.The cheapest Tundra you can get starts at $31,200; that’s for a base SR model with a 5.7-liter V8, Toyota Safety Sense (lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control)... and not much else. The version I drove was $18,000 more expensive than the SR trim, but way better equipped.
At $49,295, the Tundra Limited CrewMax comes with Toyota Safety Sense – as standard in every model of the Tundra – navigation, front knee airbags, and up to nine speakers – features that can only be had as options in similarly spec’d F-150s and Silverados. Add-ons like front and rear parking assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert were also included for an extra $1,850, as was a power moonroof with a sliding sunshade for $850. If you want an equally spec’d F-150 with a V8, you’ll have to opt for the Lariat. With all that equipment it will set you back no less than $57,000.
Not much has changed style-wise on the Tundra since the current generation was updated back in 2015. In this trim, the chrome-heavy grille, door handles, and side mirrors are a bit overbearing, admittedly. But the sleek headlights incorporated into the grille and sharp-looking 10-spoke wheels work well in any trim.
The Tundra’s CrewMax cabin is big, and a comfortable place to sit most of the time. With 62.6 inches of front hip room, the Tundra is only second to the best-in-class Ram 1500 (63.2 inches). The back seat, meanwhile, provides a substantial 42.3 inches of rear legroom, putting it only second to the 2018 Silverado (43.6 inches).
It’s mostly quiet, too, with the sound of the burly V8 one of the few noises that penetrates the cabin in any substantial measure. The seats are finished in leather, but are actually pretty stiff, and don’t provide a whole lot of support.
Where the Tundra really falls short is in the use of materials. Neither a hastily applied wood trim on the dash nor the aforementioned leather seats can save the many plastic-y features found throughout the cabin, especially when up against competitors that feature far more luxurious leather-appointed cabins.
Toyota's in-car technologies are a mixed bag; the company is still transitioning to more modern infotainment systems. In January, it committed to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in all of its vehicles – a technology that competitors like the F-150 and the Silverado have already adopted. The 2018 Tundra, meanwhile, remains without it. Instead the truck uses a seven-inch touchscreen that feels like it was ripped from a Corolla, with features like USB and Bluetooth connectivity as part of its outdated Entune app suite. Navigation doesn’t come standard on the Tundra either, but is included as part of the $1,850 Premium package, as is a premium JBL audio system.
Equipped with a robust 5.7-liter V8, the Tundra Tundra may have old bones, but the powertrain feels modern. Delivering 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, and paired to a six-speed automatic transmission, there’s no lack of power when you put your foot down. It has more horsepower and torque than the 2018 Silverado (355 hp/383 lb-ft), and more torque than the V8-powered F-150 (385 hp/387 lb-ft).
Toyota also likes to tout the truck’s towing capacity, as it should. The most capable Tundra can move up to 10,200 pounds with the standard 5.7-liter V8 engine equipped, making it second best overall in the segment just behind the Hemi-powered Ram 1500 (10,620 pounds). This particular model, though, wasn’t as beefy; maximum towing capacity for the Limited CrewMax is rated at 8,800 pounds.
Safety is a big selling point for Toyota, even in its trucks. The 2018 Tundra was the first pickup in the U.S. to feature standard emergency braking as part of its Toyota Safety Sense suite, which also includes lane departure warning, trailer sway warning, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. The Limited Premium Package in the model I tested – a $1,850 option on top of the standard CrewMax model – also came with front and rear parking assist, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.
Full-size trucks aren’t exactly known for their efficiency, and in this aspect, the Tundra once again shows its age. While the powertrain may have garnered high marks for power and delivery, the now 10-year-old engine falls well short in miles per gallon. It’s the only truck in its class that doesn’t achieve at least 20 mpg on the highway (17), and combined, it only musters up a return of 14 miles per gallon.
Photos: Jeff Perez / Motor1.com