2013 Toyota Tundra Performance

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Performance

The Tundra is offered with a V-6 at the base level, but there's really no good reason to choose it instead of one of the available V-8 engines, which are far stronger and, at least for the smaller V-8, nearly as efficient.

The base engine is a 270-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 with variable valve timing; it's not as much a gas miser as V-6 models of the Ford F-150 or Ram 1500--not as powerful either--but it can be a reasonable way to keep the Tundra's price tag low when it counts. Fleets are the intended mission for this model anyway, and that's why it's available in abbreviated Regular Cab form.

Performance is strong with either V-8 in the 2013 Toyota Tundra, and pricing is the only reason to get the V-6.

A couple of years ago, Toyota replaced the mid-line (and middling) 4.7-liter design with a revised 4.6-liter eight, and this one's not only stronger but better on gas (with ratings of up to 15/20 mpg). Its 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque match some other V-8s in the segment, although those new V-6 engines from Ford and Ram come close to it. This V-8's strength is its utterly smooth power delivery, however.

The 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 provides the most Lexus-like driving experience--if you don't mind a little more bassy exhaust note than the other models. It's a sharp, responsive engine, twisting out enormous torque just off idle, with the passing power to rival some luxury sedans, even when towing. And it's no surprise that its gas-mileage rating is just 14/18 mpg.

There are no manual transmissions here; base Tundra pickups get a five-speed automatic, but you get a six-speed with V-8 versions; in either case it's a smooth-shifting, responsive transmission.

Overall, the Tundra feels light and precise and quick to take direction, and controls its body roll very well, especially for its size, though ride quality is choppy when the truck's running a light payload. The brakes are among the best in the class, big and firm to the foot. Dynamically we can't say the Tundra is at the top, however; the quick electric steering in the F-150 and the smoother hydraulic responses of the latest Ram 1500.

With the available Tow Package--offered on all V-8 models--the Tundra can tow up to 10,400 pounds. While impressive, that's more than a thousand pounds off the max for some of its rivals.

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