2014 Toyota Tundra Crewmax 4X4 LimitedPosted on February 21st, 2014
Full-sized pickup gets new styling, suspension and infotainment
By Nina Russin
The Tundra is Toyota’s full-sized half-ton pickup truck that goes head-to-head against Ram, Ford, Chevrolet, GMC and Nissan offerings in an increasingly competitive market. As the segment grows, so do the demands of buyers, who range from construction workers and farmers to entrepreneurs and small business owners that also use their trucks as family vehicles.
Although Toyota maintains a stronghold on the midsize truck segment with the Tacoma, competing in the full-sized market has been more of a challenge.
Full-sized pickups are the only segment that favors Detroit’s Big Three automakers. Although brand loyalty has diminished industry-wide, truck owners remain loyal to OEMs for decades: even a lifetime. It would be safe to say that Toyota has had to work harder to conquest customers for its full-sized trucks than for any other type of vehicle it manufactures.
Although the automaker’s market share remains relatively small, the Tundra is a strong competitor. Engineers for the all-new 2014 model have stayed the course, relying on the brand’s core attributes of safety, durability and reliability.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, designers at Toyota’s Calty Studio in Newport Beach, California refined the exterior of the second-generation model, enhancing its aerodynamic profile in the process. A new grille is integrated with the upper air intake and bumper to make it look taller.
The word, ‘Toyota,’ is embossed into the tailgate: an operation that required some complex engineering. The idea is to harken back to the brand’s heritage, specifically, the much beloved Hilux compact pickup sold in the US for over two decades.
Aerodynamic fins around the side mirrors and tail lamps, and a rear spoiler reduce the truck’s coefficient of drag to .38. Average fuel economy for the 5.7-liter V-8 model is 15 miles-per-gallon, according to the EPA. On my test drive, I averaged about 14.4 mpg.
A three-piece rear bumper design lowers replacement costs on a frequently damaged part for those owners that use their trucks as work vehicles.
Designers added two new trim levels: Platinum and 1794. The latter is homage to the ranch owner whose property occupied the space where Toyota’s San Antonio production plant now stands.
The test truck is the upscale Limited grade four-wheel drive model, priced from $41,895, excluding the $995 delivery charge. Options include a premium package that adds power windows, illuminated entry, and front and rear parking sonar, a TRD off-road package with special wheels and tires, Bilstein shocks, skid plates and front tow hook, running boards and a bedliner. Final MSRP is $44,295.
Test drive in Phoenix
Last summer, I drove the new Tundra on a short route through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. This week, I had the opportunity to do a more extensive test drive in Phoenix, Arizona, including surface streets and highways in the east valley.
Engineers at Toyota’s Ann Arbor, Michigan center are deservedly proud of this product. The fact that the chief engineer has had personal experience on a working farm shows in attention to the type of details important to the core audience.
The 5.7-liter V-8 engine is a solid, vibration-free piece of machinery with plenty of towing capability. Out of the box, the truck tows up to 9,000 pounds. A towing prep package raises the capacity to 10,500. Peak torque is 401 foot-pounds for excellent performance on the low end.
The block is aluminum to save weight under the hood. The engine runs on 87-octane fuel to reduce cost of ownership expense.
A six-speed automatic transmission progresses smoothly through the gears, with no noticeable shift shock under normal driving conditions.
Although the suspension on the TRD model is designed for off-road driving, the Tundra’s performance on paved roads rivals a passenger sedan. Steering modifications have improved the truck’s straight-line stability. Except for its size and ride height, driving the Tundra is as easy to drive as a Toyota Avalon.
A rotary knob on the dash enables the driver to change the truck from two-to-four-wheel drive. A two-speed transfer case gives the Tundra the low gear range necessary for navigating uneven off-road trails. The Tundra has 10.4-inches of ground clearance. The TRD package adds skid plates under the engine.
Engineers reduced noise intrusion to the interior by making the windshield less upright to reduce wind noise, and adding sound insulation in the headliner and dashboard.
A standard rearview camera projects a wide-angle view to the back of the truck to eliminate what would be a large blind spot beneath the rear glass. The crew cab model has rather thick B pillars that impact over-the-shoulder visibility, but side mirrors to a good job of minimizing blind spots around the perimeter. I had no problems monitoring traffic in adjacent lanes on the freeway.
Inside, the Tundra Crewmax has plenty of room for five adult passengers. There is ample head, hip and legroom in the second row. Owners can also fold the second-row seats up to increase the amount of interior storage space. Putting a road bike inside with the wheels removed would not be a problem.
Grab handles on the A and B pillars make it easier for passengers to climb inside, as do the optional running boards on the test truck.
Fit and finish is excellent throughout the interior. I liked the interior design of the Limited grade better than the fancier Platinum model I drove in Wyoming last summer.
A digital display in the gauge cluster gives the driver information about real-time and average fuel economy, ambient temperature, driving range, trip meter and odometer readings.
The center stack screen can display up to three functions at once, including navigation maps, audio settings, maintenance reminders, real-time traffic and weather reports. Standard Toyota Entune enables owners to access apps such as Bing, Pandora and Facebook Places using a Bluetooth connection.
A large center console bin is big enough to stow a laptop computer, backpack or purse. The large, locking glovebox provides secure storage inside the vehicle.
Both rows of passengers have access to 12-volt-power points, cup and bottle holders as well as overhead lighting. The quiet interior makes it easy for passengers to converse on the highway.
Tie-downs in the cargo bed help to secure large cargo, while rubber step pads on the rear bumped ease access.
The Toyota Tundra comes with front, side, side curtain, driver and front passenger knee airbags, manual headlamp level control, antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. Smart stop technology decreases engine power when the drive inadvertently depresses the throttle and brake at the same time.
Toyota builds the Tundra at its San Antonio, Texas assembly plant.
Like: A solid, luxurious full-sized pickup truck that can work hard by day and serve as a family vehicle in the evenings and on weekends.
Dislike: Center screen image tends to wash out in bright sunlight. Power windows should be standard on a truck in this price range.
Model: Tundra 4X4 Crewmax 5.7L V-8
Base price: $41,895
As tested: $44,295
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: 13/17 mpg city/highway2014, Luxury Offroad 2014, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety, Toyota
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