In America, for a truck to be taken seriously, it has to be tough, and it has to look tough. And in the latter respect, Toyota might have landed a bit off the mark with the current Tundra.
With its last redesign a few years back, the Tundra took another step up in size, and it looks particularly imposing parked next to the other full-size pickups on the market. Yet it could be argued that the Tundra is overly complicated in its design, and it lacks the straightforward, rugged look that to Americans, makes a truck a truck.
We suspect it's all in the details. While all the visual heft is here, just as much as any other pickup, with lots of big sheetmetal panels and a grille big enough for a cookout, the pieces don't add up, and some of the Tundra's curves and sheetmetal bulges look more carlike than they ought to. From the muscular fenders to the pronounced sills that make it look tall and bulky, the Tundra don't read as simply, or as straightforwardly, as the semi-inspired Ram or the Tonka-ish F-150. The proportions are almost cartoonish, the details awkward--and they could use some kind of 'reset.'
Inside, some of the same overwrought-and-exaggerated flaws are just as apparent. The Tundra's dash takes a step backward in finish where the Ram and F-150 have made big strides forward. At the same time the Tundra's cabin is split by an arc dividing driver controls from the rest of the cabin--a touch that seems too sporty and not hearty.
What makes all the design glitz and flexed muscles feel odd--in the truck as a whole--is that the cabin's so plain, and mostly ignores the rapid progress made by all of its competitors in terms of upholsteries and trims. The controls are big, designed to be operated with a work-gloved hand, and there's a telescoping steering wheel with a long range of adjustment. But some of them are out of reach for shorter drivers as they're mounted so high on the dash.