The Toyota Tundra stays relatively unchanged for 2010. The biggest change comes with the all-new 4.6-liter i-Force V-8. It replaces the larger 276-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 with 313 pounds-feet of torque, but its stronger, lighter and more efficient. Since the rest of the Tundra remains about the same as the 2009 model, I will focus only on the differences in the mechanical areas.
The new engine is mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission, and together they're expected to get close to 20 mpg on the highway. EPA estimates are 14/19 city/highway. That's up 2 mpg highway from 14/17 mpg for the 4.7-liter and only 1 mpg less than special fuel-efficient pickups from Ford and GM. The biggest improvement in the new engine is its 310 hp and 327 pounds-feet of torque. The new i-Force has the best power ratings per liter of any mid-level half-ton V-8 on the market. Toyota is using many of the same technologies found in the Tundra's 381-hp, 5.7-liter i-Force V-8. The dual-overhead-cam 4.6-liter V-8 uses dual Variable Valve Timing to precisely control the intake and exhaust valves for better engine performance, where the old 4.7-liter only had single VVT.
At 5,400 pounds, the Tundra is a heavy truck and the 4.6-liter does a decent job of moving all that weight. The new V8 was able to pull a steep grade of I-70 near Georgetown with out any problem. Toyota has geared the 4.6-liter Tundras rear differential completely different for 2010. The 4.6-liter Tundra has a final drive ratio choice of either a fuel-efficient 3.90 or a 4.10 gear ratio for towing. My truck had the 4.10 rear axle which is the better choice for Colorado driving unless you plan on staying on the eastern plains.
The new 4.6-liter V-8 can tow up to 500 pounds more than its predecessor, depending on cab configuration. A 2009 4.7-liter V-8, regular cab, two-wheel-drive Tundra was rated to tow up to 8,500 pounds. A 2010 4.6-liter V-8, regular cab, two-wheel drive Tundra is rated to tow up to 9,000 pounds. That's capable enough to handle most half-ton towing needs, and only 100 pounds less than the maximum tow rating of a 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi. The 2010 4.6-liter Tundra is the first Toyota to offer water-cooled, computer-controlled exhaust gas recirculation, which Toyota says will allow for more accurate control of combustion temperatures through more of the power band for a wider, flatter torque curve.
Tundras competition will continue to be the Ford 4.6 liter V8 with 9,500-pound maximum towing with 3.55 rear axle, 4x2 crew cab and GMs 5.3-liter two-valve V-8 with 9,700-pound maximum towing with 3.42 rear axle, 4x2 extended cab. Moreover, those veteran pickups offer more options than Tundra, including things like different rear-end ratios and towing aids that allow a buyer to more specifically tailor a pickup to personal needs. And Dodge, Chevy and Ford have a database of valuable customer feedback that goes back decades beyond Toyota's. It will be difficult to convince a longtime pickup owner to switch brands, and each make has relative strengths and weaknesses. But the Tundra will continue to be a good alternative to any half-ton pickup.
The Toyota Tundra is a viable full-size pickup, and it gives up nothing to the competitors from Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, and GMC. The Toyota delivers power, payload and tow ratings that meet or beat the best, it's comfortable, and it's easy to drive. Shoppers without a particular brand loyalty, or those new to the light-duty truck market, will want to take a look at the Toyota Tundra.