New & Used Toyota Tundra: In Depth
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The Toyota Tundra replaced the mid-sized T100 as Toyota's biggest pickup 15 years ago, and ever since then it's struggled to carve out a bigger niche. Even after moving production to Texas and expanding the Tundra lineup, Toyota still finds itself playing an unaccustomed fourth fiddle to the full-size pickups from Ford, Ram, Chevy, and GMC.Read our full review of the 2015 Toyota Tundra for more on the latest model, including full specifications and pricing.
While critics have often found the Tundra to be the wrong size or aimed at the wrong audience, it has also met praise for its non-standard approach to the pickup scene. First sold in 1999 as a 2000 model truck, the Tundra has evolved to grow larger and more powerful over its three generations.
The first-generation Tundra was available with a 190-horsepower 3.4-liter V-6 engine and a 245-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8, plus a special TRD version of each, which added some power through supercharging. In 2005, Toyota upgraded the V-6 to a 4.0-liter unit, and added variable valve timing to the V-8, resulting in a power bump for both. Styling on the first-generation Tundra was understated, and Regular, Access, and Double cab versions were offered. Due to relatively low tow ratings of around 7,000 pounds, the Tundra wasn't fully competitive with the heavier-duty American pickups.
In 2006, the second-generation Tundra arrived, adding a new 5.7-liter V-8 engine option and bumping the tow rating up to 10,100 pounds, a much more competitive figure in the half-ton class. A number of high-performance TRD packages are also available, including a street-focused Sport package and a special off-road Rock Warrior package. This much larger Tundra was offered through the 2013 model year.The second-generation Tundra offered a choice of three engines: the 4.0-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8 rated at 310 horsepower and a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 381 horsepower. The largest V-8 also was available with flex-fuel capability. The Regular Cab model was the work truck of the range, offering a minimalist base feature set, though it could be optionally upgraded to include more advanced features. The Double Cab model offered a higher base specification, including more available upgrades. The CrewMax model, with its four-door layout, offered luxury items like an available power moonroof, a standard power vertical sliding rear window, plus optional unique exterior accents including a chrome grille surround, chrome-trimmed power-folding side mirrors, and more. Bed configurations for this Tundra included standard and long beds, though the long bed was only available on the Regular and Double cab models. The V-6 model was only available in 4x2 drive layout, while the V-8s were available in either 4x2 or 4x4.
Safety ratings for this Tundra were good, with the truck earning the IIHS' Top Safety Pick, plus four-star ratings from the NHTSA.
Interior features followed similar paths to upgrade as the exterior features, with the larger-cab models offering more in the way of available upgrades and base equipment. The base Regular Cab truck included an MP3-capable six-speaker CD stereo, dual-zone climate control, split-folding bench seat (bucket upgrade available), and rubberized flooring, with carpeting available as part of a package upgrade. DVD-based navigation was available across the range. Stepping up to the Double Cab version added standard cruise control, power windows and door locks, and a fold-up rear seat, plus the ability to upgrade to an enhanced JBL audio system with integrated DVD navigation, bucket seats, and an overhead console bin. The CrewMax could be purchased in an upgraded Limited trim, which added the JBL system as standard, upgraded Optitron gauges with information display, tilt-telescoping wheel, front and rear sonar for parking, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-trimmed upholstery with power front seats, and more standard interior storage compartments.
For 2013, a new Display Navigation with Entune system was added as an option. Centered around a new 6.1-inch high-resolution touch screen with split-screen capability, the system included an integrated rearview-camera display, a USB port with iPod control, hands-free calling, SiriusXM satellite radio capability, HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, voice controls, and Bluetooth music streaming.
A refreshed Tundra was launched at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, and offers a revised exterior, updated interior, upgraded features and a trio of familiar engines. While the fresh new look and an upgraded interior with new technology made the 2014 Toyota Tundra an intriguing truck, its lackluster carryover powertrains kept it from shining--particularly in the face of advances posted by excellent new Ram 1500 and Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra pickups.
For the 2015 model year, Toyota has dropped the 270-hp V-6 engine option in the Tundra, leaving it only with its choice of V-8s.