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In America, for a truck to be taken seriously, it has to be tough, and it has to look tough. And in the latter respect, Toyota might have landed a bit off the mark with the current Tundra.
With its last redesign a few years back, the Tundra took another step up in size, and it looks particularly imposing parked next to the other full-size pickups on the market. Yet it could be argued that the Tundra is overly complicated in its design, and it lacks the straightforward, rugged look that to Americans, makes a truck a truck.
We suspect it's all in the details. While all the visual heft is here, just as much as any other pickup, with lots of big sheetmetal panels and a grille big enough for a cookout, the pieces don't add up, and some of the Tundra's curves and sheetmetal bulges look more carlike than they ought to. From the muscular fenders to the pronounced sills that make it look tall and bulky, the Tundra don't read as simply, or as straightforwardly, as the semi-inspired Ram or the Tonka-ish F-150. The proportions are almost cartoonish, the details awkward--and they could use some kind of 'reset.'
The Tundra is offered with a V-6 at the base level, but there's really no good reason to choose it instead of one of the available V-8 engines, which are far stronger and, at least for the smaller V-8, nearly as efficient.
The base engine is a 270-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 with variable valve timing; it's not as much a gas miser as V-6 models of the Ford F-150 or Ram 1500--not as powerful either--but it can be a reasonable way to keep the Tundra's price tag low when it counts. Fleets are the intended mission for this model anyway, and that's why it's available in abbreviated Regular Cab form.
If you're still thinking that the Toyota Tundra isn't quite as large as the domestic full-sizers, you need to get up to speed; this is a model that's as huge as any full-size truck on sale in the U.S., and it comes in three different cab lengths, and in Regular, Double Cab, and CrewMax cabs.
The Regular Cab has the least going for it, if you need space for people. It's a three-seater at best, with either a pair of buckets or a classic bench seat across the cab. You'll see it most often in fleets, in Work Truck form, with just rubberized trim where carpeting would otherwise be, and with grey vinyl covering its seats. The bed in back is your best options for carrying things, as there are just a few cubic feet for storage behind the seats.
With its pair of rear-hinged doors behind the front-hinged ones, The Tundra Double Cab can haul more tools under lock and key in the cab, which has flip-up rear seats in back. Kids will fit well enough in there, though no one's really assessed the safety of these kinds of seats. Don't expect much comfort (or legroom) either.
The Tundra CrewMax is really the model to get if you have every task in mind. For the open bed, it's a roomy SUV, with four front-hinged, full-sized doors that open up to the kind of interior space that turns this Tundra into a legitimate family vehicle--especially for families that tow weekend fun behind them, or depend on a truck for work during the week. These rear seats slide and recline for comfort almost equal to that found in the front seats, with plenty of leg and knee room for all passengers. One note: Despite all the Tundra's height, it doesn't leave much headroom when you get the optional sunroof.
A couple of years ago, Toyota replaced the mid-line (and middling) 4.7-liter design with a revised 4.6-liter eight, and this one's not only stronger but better on gas (with ratings of up to 15/20 mpg). Its 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque match some other V-8s in the segment, although those new V-6 engines from Ford and Ram come close to it. This V-8's strength is its utterly smooth power delivery, however.
*This vehicle is Certified Pre-Owned and is eligible for our third party warranty program.