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The Toyota Tundra has been a massive--some say failed--experiment in changing American truck buyers' tastes. Toyota spent a billion and a half dollars to reinvent its nearly-full-size Tundra into a true gargantuan truck with more hauling and towing capacity than any other pickup, and moved its production from the Midwest to Texas, the heart of pickup truck territory.
It hasn't worked, and Tundra sales once estimated at 200,000 units a year haven't even met half that goal.
Despite all that, the Tundra still does what Toyota said it would do, when it was redesigned for the 2007 model year. It planted the truck in the heart of the full-size segment; it won, if only briefly, the kudos for the highest towing capacity in the class; and it changed the fundamental assumption that trucks have to look completely boxy to be butch, even if the Tundra's looks don't exactly win us over.
Since truck sales have dropped precipitously in the past few years, the 2011 Tundra is essentially the same as last year's model, with an updated base engine and now, far fewer versions to offer buyers. Once it was a poster child for do-it-yourselfers who needed a custom truck; now Toyota ships only 28 distinct versions to dealers, leaving a raft of accessories to be installed at dealers, much like the company does with its Scion cars.
You'll probably be happier in the long run with a more fuel-efficient Ford F-150, or a better-riding Ram 1500, but there's nothing perfectly wrong with the Tundra, while it does a thing or two perfectly right.
- Great V-8 engines and six-speed automatic
- More standard features than many full-sizers
- Lots of storage cubbies inside
- CrewMax has exceptional leg room
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- Even the V-6 isn't great on fuel economy
- Styling is gimmicky, inside and out
- A huge truck that can be hard to maneuver