2013 Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMaxPosted on November 12th, 2013
Full-sized pickup truck with seating for five passengers
By Nina Russin
Toyota’s history of truck models in North America dates back to the compact Hilux in the late 1960s. The Hilux, and the Tacoma that followed, quickly accrued a loyal fan base of owners who loved the brand’s value and reliability.
Product planners expected the Tundra that replaced the midsized T100 for the 2000 model year, to meet with equal success. But the full-sized segment, dominated by Detroit’s Big Three automakers wasn’t particularly receptive to an Asian brand, despite Toyota’s long history of compact trucks.
Twenty-thirteen is the final year for the second-generation Tundra, to be followed by an all-new truck in 2014. Although Toyota has yet to obtain a dominant share in the segment, the Tundra is a solidly built and extremely well engineered vehicle. Whether buyers prefer Toyota’s overhead valve 5.7-liter V-8 engine over the pushrod blocks of its competitors is a matter of personal taste.
The 381-horsepower engine is built of an aluminum block and heads to shave weight under the hood. Its 401 foot-pounds of peak torque, available from 3,600 rpm, gives the Tundra 10,000 pound towing capability. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models, although the available tow prep package changes the differential ratio.
Base price on the Limited grade tested is $43,895, excluding the $995 destination charge. Options on the CrewMax test truck include a voice-activated touch screen DVD system, TRD off-road package, memory package, power moonroof and carpeted floor mats.
The TRD off-road package is a bargain at $70. It includes off-road specific rims and tires, skid plates, Bilstein shocks and a retuned suspension. The reason for the low cost is that it’s a factory package, so the customer receives credit for product substitutions rather than being double dipped. Final MSRP for the test truck is $47,770.
Works like a truck; handles like a car
One of the biggest challenges for full-sized truck engineers is the suspension. A live rear axle works better for towing, but it can produce a rough ride and hop at higher speeds.
Tundra engineers circumvented the problem by positioning low-pressure nitrogen gas shock absorbers inboard, giving the truck ride and handling similar to a passenger car.
To see how well the TRD-tuned suspension would work under challenging conditions, I drove the truck down a section of the Bush Highway east of Phoenix. It’s a two-lane rural road with a lot of short, pitchy hills and decreasing radius turns. Going down a steep hill that ended in a sharp corner to the left, the truck felt completely in control, with the suspension doing an admirable job of hunkering down in the turn. There was no tendency to hop over bumps or bottom out in the dips.
Although the Tundra crew cab is a very large vehicle with a 145.7-inch wheelbase, it’s pretty nimble on the road. The turning diameter for the test truck is 44 feet: quite good for a 19 foot-long truck. The rack-and-pinion steering system offers plenty of low-speed assist, while maintaining a pleasantly heavy feel on the highway.
The 5.7-liter engine is quiet and well matched to the six-speed gearbox. I noticed no shift shock under normal driving conditions. The 5.7-liter engine has plenty of power for acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range drivers use merging into high-speed traffic. The truck’s 5,600-pound curb weight was no hindrance to performance.
Ventilated disc brakes front and rear stop the truck in a firm, linear fashion.
Visibility around the perimeter is good for a high-profile vehicle. Because of the truck’s high seating position, I found myself having to be more diligent about monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes on the freeway.
The side mirrors do a pretty good job, but there are still some blind spots. The B pillars on the crew cab model are fairly thick, and that somewhat limits over-the-shoulder visibility. A rearview camera that projects a wide-angle view to the back of the truck eliminates a large blind spot below the rear glass. The camera also makes it easier to hook up a trailer.
One of the great things about a crew cab is its interior space. Because the Tundra CrewMax seats up to five adult passengers, it’s a good choice for small business owners who need to make one vehicle function for both work and family.
From an active lifestyle perspective, the additional interior space comes in handy when a cyclist needs to stash his bike inside the car, to protect it from bad weather or the possibility of theft. The rear seats slide fore and aft, recline and fold flat to make the back of the passenger cabin more versatile.
As a fairly small woman, I appreciate the standard grab handles on both A pillars: some competitive models only have them on the passenger side. The large center console bin is big enough to hold a laptop, so the Tundra can serve as a mobile office.
The Limited trim level adds some appealing extras for buyers who plan to use the Tundra as a family car, such as leather seating, dual-zone climate control, satellite radio and Bluetooth. The voice-activated touchscreen adds real time traffic updates and streaming Bluetooth audio.
The interior design isn’t as flashy as some of the Ram products, but some buyers might find that more desirable. I found ten-way power adjustable driver’s seat comfortable for trips up to two hours in length, with plenty of lower lumbar support.
The touch screen is large and easy to read, except in bright sunlight when the image washes out. A hood over the screen would solve the problem.
The cargo bed includes a tie-down system with cleats, making it easier to secure large cargo.
The Toyota Tundra CrewMax comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and trailer sway control.
Toyota builds the Tundra at its San Antonio, Texas assembly plant.
Like: A solidly built and engineered full-sized pickup truck with a spacious passenger cabin that adds versatility for families and buyers with active lifestyles.
Dislike: Center stack screen image washes out in bright sunlight.
Model: Tundra 4X4 CrewMax Limited
Base price: $43,895
As tested: $47,770
Horsepower: 381 Hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 401 lbs.-ft. @ 3600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy*: 13/18 mpg city/highway
Comment: The 5.7-liter V-8 engine is flex fuel compatible.2013, Luxury Offroad 2013, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety, Toyota
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