The Car Connection Toyota Tundra Overview
The Toyota Tundra is a full-size pickup with efficient powertrain options, more pliant rear coil springs, a large 14.0-inch touchscreen, and towing and off-roading tech that keep it competitive for a new era.
The Tundra's hybrid V-6 takes aim at the Ford F-150 Hybrid but Toyota hasn't made plans to launch an electric truck like the Ford F-150 Lightning or Chevy Silverado EV. It almost rides as comfortably as the Ram 1500 and comes better equipped than the Nissan Titan budget buy.
MORE: Read our 2022 Toyota Tundra review
Sold with three bed sizes, two four-door cab options, and in SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition, and TRD Pro trims, the Tundra can be configured in enough ways to satisfy most shoppers.
New Toyota Tundra
The first new Tundra in 15 years comes with two 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 options that are more capable and more efficient than its predecessors. The rear coil springs and updated front double wishbone add more comfort on and off-road, and the standard safety and convenience tech ushers the Tundra into the modern age.
Offered in crew cab and extended cab bodies with four doors, the new Tundra’s omega-shaped grille is bookended on the backside by a power tailgate with a bump switch in the taillight for hands-free access. The broad, muscular exterior leans into the horizontal dash inside. Big vents shaped like plastic ears flank either the 8.0-inch or available 14.0-inch touchscreen, and horizontal climate buttons and a large volume knob limits the reliance on touch.
Toyota retired the V-8 and its outdated 6-speed automatic in favor of two twin-turbo V-6s with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The base 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 puts out 389 hp and 479 lb-ft, while an available 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 hybrid makes 437 hp and 583 lb-ft at 2,400 rpm. The Hybrid is standard on TRD Pro, and offered on Limited, Platinum, and 1794 models.
Not only are they at least 5 mpg more efficient than the V-8, they’re quicker and stronger, with plenty of pop off the line. The 10-speed automatic shifts effortlessly enough, but when cruising at highway speeds it takes a beat to downshift from the overdrive gears.
A lighter double wishbone suspension up front and a multi-link rear suspension and solid axle with coil springs replace the old leaf springs for a calmer, smoother ride both on and off-road. An available air suspension and adaptive dampers take ride quality and comfort a step further. TRD Pro grades get 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks with a 1.1-inch front lift, a TRD-specific front stabilizer bar, aluminum front skid plate, and all-terrain Falken tires.
Standard equipment includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, automatic high beams, and a rear-seat reminder. A large volume dial and 8.0-inch touchscreen come standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Other standard convenience features include keyless start, power features, power tailgate, and three USB ports.
Options include a panoramic roof, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster (standard on the Hybrid), power sliding rear window, and a surround-view camera system with neat towing and off-road tricks. The best option is Toyota's 14.0-inch touchscreen and new infotainment system designed in and made for the American market.
Second generation Toyota Tundra (2007-2021)
The second-generation Tundra arrived for 2007, 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 were also available, including a street-focused Sport package and a special off-road Rock Warrior package.
The updated Tundra offered a choice of three engines: the 4.0-liter V-6, a 4.6-liter V-8 rated at 310 hp, and a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 381 hp. The largest V-8 also was available with flex-fuel capability. The CrewMax model, with its four-door layout, offered luxury items like an available power sunroof and a standard power vertical sliding rear window, as well as 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 at the time, plus four-star overall ratings from the NHTSA.
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 was available in an upgraded Limited trim, which added the JBL system as standard, upgraded gauges with information display, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, front and rear sonar for parking, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-trimmed upholstery with power front seats, and more standard interior storage compartments.
For 2013, the Entune infotainment system bowed with a new 6.1-inch high-resolution touchscreen with split-screen capability, an integrated rearview camera, a USB port with iPod control, hands-free calling, satellite radio, HD Radio with iTunes Tagging, voice controls, Bluetooth music streaming.
Toyota refreshed the Tundra for 2014 with new front-end styling, added content, and a slightly nicer interior. The same three engines were included, keeping the Tundra behind the revised Ram, new GM trucks, and well-fitted Ford models.
For the 2015 model year, Toyota dropped the 270-horsepower V-6 engine option in the Tundra, leaving it only with its choice of V-8s. Only minor trim and feature changes were made for the 2016 and 2017 model years.
For 2018, Toyota made a raft of safety tech—adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam headlights, and lane departure warning—standard across the lineup. A mildly revised front fascia keeps the Tundra's look somewhat fresh, while the regular cab model was dropped from the lineup. Toyota also added a new trim level to the lineup: TRD Sport, with Bilstein shocks and beefier sway bars, in addition to a few styling upgrades.
New Fox shocks were applied to the 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, which gave it a more supple ride. For 2020, Toyota finally added Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa compatibility as standard, and it dropped the 4.6-liter V-8 engine from the lineup. Few changes arrived for the 2021 model year.
First generation Toyota Tundra (2000-2006)
While critics have often found the Toyota Tundra to be the wrong size or aimed at the wrong audience, it has met praise for its non-standard approach to the pickup scene. First sold in 1999 as a 2000-model truck, the Tundra evolved, growing larger and more powerful over its three generations.
From initial launch, the Tundra was offered with a choice of two engines: a 3.4-liter V-6 making 190 hp and a 4.7-liter V-8 good for 245 hp; Toyota also offered TRD supercharged versions of both engines for some extra power. The first round of engine upgrades came for 2005, when the V-6 was replaced with a 4.0-liter unit and the V-8 received variable valve timing, which both resulted in power bumps. The first-gen Tundra's styling was certainly conservative. It was offered in Regular, Access (with rear-hinged doors), and Double Cab configurations. Toyota's first attempt at a full-size truck was somewhat hamstrung compared to the domestics as it was only able to tow around 7,000 pounds.