2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum 4 X4 CrewMaxPosted on August 24th, 2013
Third-generation full-sized pickup adds new luxury grades
By Nina Russin
I’m looking through the floor-to-ceiling windows at Diamond Cross Ranch in Wyoming, at a field full of 2014 Toyota Tundra pickup trucks, with the Grand Tetons in the background. There has to be a metaphor here. This is, after all, a media preview, and a staging job such as this is not inexpensive.
Perhaps the Tetons- rugged, distinctive and enduring- symbolize the values that have made Toyota a player in a market so long dominated by Detroit’s Big Three.
Toyota is relative newcomer to the full-sized truck market, having introduced the first Tundra on the heels of the mid-sized T100 in 1999. The second generation that rolled out in 2007 set the precedent for the newest model by moving from the mid-sized to full-sized segment.
Rather than reinventing the wheel for the all-new 2014 models, Toyota improved on the existing truck by adding new safety and technology features, and expanding the trim options from three to five.
New grade strategy
The Limited moves from the most upscale model to the middle of the lineup. Product planners expect it to comprise about 25 percent of the truck’s annual sales, right behind the volume leading SR5. One grade, the SR, sits below the SR5. Intended primarily as a work truck, base MSRP starts at $25,920.
There are two luxury models above the Limited: the Platinum and 1794, with four-wheel drive versions starting at $47,320. 1794 is the year the rancher whose property eventually became Toyota’s San Antonio truck plant, staked his claim.
Engineers have retained the three blocks from the 2013 trucks, including one V-6 and two V-8s. Toyota expects the 381-horsepower 5.7-liter engine to be the volume leader, with a 2000-pound payload capacity and the ability to tow over 10,000 pounds. All three engines run on 87-octane fuel, and the 5.7-liter block is E85 compatible.
The V-6 engine comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, while six-speed gearboxes are standard on both V-8 engines.
Styled to stand out
Feedback from existing Tundra owners revealed that they felt the current styling to be too “bubbly.” So Toyota’s CALTY design studio in Newport Beach, California went to work on a more rugged, masculine exterior. The front end is 1.6-inches taller than the outgoing model with a new grille.
A strong horizontal line ending at a tailgate-mounted rear spoiler connects the cab to the bed. A stronger horizontal line on the tailgate, punctuated by LED tail lamps makes the back end of the truck look wider. A new three-piece bumper design reduces replacement costs.
Engineers relocated the tow hitch next to the license plate so the light there would make it easier to see at night. It is also further from the ground to protect the machinery off-road.
Engineers placed vortices near the side mirrors and on the tail lamps making the newest Tundra more slippery in the wind tunnel for better fuel economy.
More luxurious interiors reflect increased use of trucks as family vehicles. Although Toyota continues to offer regular and double cabs, CrewMax models now make up sixty-percent of the product mix. Designers also reconfigured the crew cab’s rear seats to flip forward, expanding the available interior cargo space.
Designers moved the center stack closer to the driver for better access, and added new information displays in the gauge cluster. A new rearview camera displays a wide angle view to the back of the truck in the center stack screen, eliminating blind spots below the rear glass and making it easier to hitch up a trailer.
All but the base model comes with Toyota’s Entune app suite, which enables owners to access Bing, OpenTable, Pandora, MovieTickets and other apps via their smart phones. Platinum and 1794 models also get JBL surround-sound audio systems.
Upscale grades also get premium leather with more soft touch surfaces, standard heated and ventilated from seats. Crew cab models have plenty of room in the second row for three adults. I would imagine one could squeeze a road bike inside with the wheels removed.
Test drive in Yellowstone National Park
My hour-long test drive took me through a section of Yellowstone National Park. Except for its 8000-foot elevation, it wasn’t a particularly challenging route. The road is fairly flat and straight, with low speed limits to protect pedestrians. One cannot argue, however, with the value the park’s spectacular scenery added to the experience.
I have always felt that the Tundra is a capable truck that will serve a segment of the market quite well. I think the new model continues in that tradition.
New available safety features such as blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert make it easier for drivers to navigate through crowded highways. The 5.7-liter engine’s 401 foot-pounds of peak torque makes for excellent power off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range used on highway entrance ramps.
The six-speed automatic transmission offers a good combination of performance and fuel economy. The transmission shifts on the early side to enhance gas mileage. It’s not my choice from a performance stance, but I understand the necessity in order to meet federal fuel economy standards.
Power rack-and-pinion steering has plenty of response at lower speeds for maneuverability. On-center response is soft, but at no time did I feel disconnected from the wheels.
The Tundra suspension consists of an independent double wishbone suspension up front and live rear axle. Engineers retuned the truck’s shocks to reduce hop over bumps. Since the roads I travelled on were smooth, it was hard to compare the new models to the outgoing one.
Four-wheel ventilated disc brakes stop the Tundra in firm, linear fashion.
I found visibility around the perimeter to be good for a truck of this size. Having just gotten out of the Chevrolet Silverado, I appreciated the shorter hood, which vastly improves forward visibility. Side mirrors make it easy to monitor traffic in adjacent lanes. Over-the-shoulder visibility is also good.
The interior of the upscale Platinum test truck was a mixed bag for me. I found the driver’s seat quite comfortable for duration of the test drive that lasted slightly over an hour. Center stack controls are easy to read and intuitive to operate.
The center stack screen, while nice and large, is difficult to read in bright sunlight. A hood shade would solve the problem.
I’m not a huge fan of the styling. Diamond pattern stitching on the padded instrument panel and doors looks more fussy than upscale to me. The center stack surround is a nice brushed aluminum.
Access and egress to both rows of seating is quite good, and the amount of leg, head and hip room in the second row is impressive. Adding the flip-up feature to the back seats will appeal to buyers with active lifestyles.
The 2014 Toyota Tundra comes with eight standard airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control and brake override technology. Manual headlamp leveling is standard on all grades. Platinum and 1974 models get daytime running lamps.
Toyota builds the Tundra alongside the midsized Tacoma pickup at its San Antonio, Texas assembly plant.
Like: Toyota engineers are known for their thoroughness and attention to detail. The 2014 Tundra is no exception with an improved suspension, new bumpers to reduce replacement costs and important new safety features including blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert.
Dislike: Soft on-center steering response. Center stack screen is difficult to read in bright sunlight.
Model: Tundra Platinum 4X4 CrewMax
Base price: $47,320
As tested: N/A
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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