2008 Toyota Tundra Review

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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Marty Padgett Marty Padgett Editorial Director
July 2, 2008

The 2008 Tundra takes on the Big Three, matches them in capability, and beats them in safety.

The experts at TheCarConnection.com consulted with a wide range of sources to produce this definitive review of the 2008 Toyota Tundra. In order to make it as useful as possible, TheCarConnection.com's editors include in this review their firsthand impressions from driving the 2008 Toyota Tundra.

After being completely redesigned for the 2007 model year, the Toyota Tundra returns for 2008 with only a few minor changes. While the previous Tundra had been slightly smaller than full-size best-sellers such as the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado, the new Tundra grew significantly and gained more assertive styling, including the very prominent upright grille, more detailed headlamps, and flared wheel wells. And going along with the new, bigger packaging, it's now made in Texas.

Engines range from a 236-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6 up to a new 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter iForce V-8. In the middle, there's a 4.7-liter V-8 making 271 horsepower. The iForce comes with a six-speed automatic transmission, but other engines get a five-speed auto. When properly equipped, the Tundra can tow up to 10,800 pounds.

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Just like its Detroit competitors, the Tundra now comes in a wide range of body configurations, with Regular, Double Cab, and CrewMax cabs and three different bed lengths. The Double Cab has small rear doors and enough seating space for children, with a folding seat bottom when it's not in use, but the CrewMax has full-size back doors and enough space in the backseat to compare with the second row of full-size SUVs.

Inside, the cabin has big, supportive seats, controls designed to be used with gloves, and a huge center console that can hold a laptop. All models have a tilt/telescope steering wheel.

Ride quality varies greatly on pickups depending on towing- and payload-related options, but in general, the Tundra handles surprisingly well for such a long, heavy, and cumbersome vehicle. The Tundra has a special rear suspension design that can keep the ride height, whether with a full load or unladen.

The top-of-the-range Limited includes quite a few standard features that could be referring to a luxury SUV, such as a powerful JBL sound system, dual-zone climate control, and heated power front seats. All models have a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. Major options include a screen-based navigation system with rearview camera and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. A TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Off-Road Package is also offered.

The Tundra was given four stars in federal government frontal and side-impact crash tests, but it earned the top Good rating in all of the insurance industry tests; it was named a 2008 Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. The 2008 Toyota Tundra certainly has more standard safety features than most of its competitors. Front-seat side airbags and roll-sensing side-curtain airbags are standard across the line, along with anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes and electronic stability control.

7

2008 Toyota Tundra

Styling

The overall styling on the 2008 Toyota Tundra isn't bad, but there's nothing remarkable to set it apart from its competitors, either.

After facing some criticism for the smallish size and lack of true work capacity on the previous version of the Tundra, Toyota went back to the drawing board and unleashed a truly full-featured and full-size Tundra in 2007. Little has changed stylistically for the 2008 Toyota Tundra, which still sports the aggressive exterior that debuted last year.

In order to properly compete with the full-size pickups offered by the Big 3, Toyota offers "44 different flavor choices" for the 2008 Tundra, according to Motor Trend, thanks to its variety of cabs, beds, and trims. Motor Trend details the possibilities, writing that the 2008 Tundra offers "three different bed sizes, three separate wheelbases covering five different cab and bed configurations, combined with three different trim packages (Tundra Grade, SR5, and Limited)." No matter which configuration you opt for, the 2008 Toyota Tundra is characterized by "a sculpted hood, huge three-bar grille and oversized vented bumper" that The Detroit News says "combine some of the best looks of the American trucks," though additionally noting that while it "looks good," the Toyota Tundra is "hardly original."

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com generally approved of the exterior styling on the Toyota Tundra, with Kelley Blue Book writing that the "2008 Toyota Tundra projects the assertive image that buyers of full-size pickups desire" on all trim levels. They also note that "for 2008, Toyota gives the lowest-cost version of the two-door Regular Cab model styling more consistent with that of a work truck," which Cars.com says is highlighted by "a chrome bumper and matte-black grille surround rather than a shiny black bumper and surround." Edmunds also notes that "the standard-cab truck comes only in the Grade trim," though the two other cab options are available in all three trims. The one major knock against the Toyota Tundra's exterior is the profile view; The Detroit News reviewers feel that, "from the side, the Tundra looks disproportionate, especially when equipped with an extra long bed or largest cab," as the "front end looks too short and the four-door CrewMax cab looks too big."

The interior styling of the 2008 Toyota Tundra receives mixed reviews, as some praise its functionality, while others lament some gauge and switch characteristics. On the positive side, reviewers at ConsumerGuide laud the 2008 Toyota Tundra for its "large and well marked" instruments, along with the "generously sized and logically arranged" controls. Cars.com says the reason for the oversized gauges is that they "are designed to be easy to operate with gloved hands," a critical feature for work sites. On the complaint side, Edmunds finds that the "attractive gauges are not as easy to read as they could be, due to the individual binnacle design," and some of the center stack controls are "quite a stretch to reach from the driver seat, especially in Tundras equipped with the navigation system." Motor Trend seconds that opinion, claiming that the navigation system is "almost out of arm's reach for the driver."

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8

2008 Toyota Tundra

Performance

The 2008 Toyota Tundra scores big with its large, capable engine and confident handling.

Pickup trucks, especially the full-sized variety, are rarely described as sporty or quick, but the 2008 Toyota Tundra is both, as well as a very capable cargo hauler.

The 2008 Toyota Tundra lineup offers three different engine choices, and the right one for you depends largely on how you plan to use it. Edmunds lists the available engines as "a 4.0-liter V6 rated for 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque" that comes "standard on the Tundra Regular Cab and standard-bed Double Cab." Long-bed Double Cabs and the CrewMax come standard with a "4.7-liter V8 with 271 hp and 313 lb-ft," an engine that Edmunds says is optional on the other configurations. The final, and definitely most capable, engine offered on the 2008 Toyota Tundra is the "muscular 5.7-liter V8 that pumps out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft," according to Edmunds.

Engine performance varies across the lineup, with ConsumerGuide testers finding that "there's good power and response with the 4.7 V8, but the 5.7 feels stronger at all speeds." The 5.7-liter iForce V-8 engine in the 2008 Tundra receives rave reviews in all the articles read by TheCarConnection.com, with Car and Driver saying that it provides "exhilarating" acceleration, moving from "0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds." The Detroit News adds that it is "velvety smooth when passing on the highway" and "provides excellent acceleration off the line." In terms of workplace practicality, Cars.com notes that "Toyota says the Tundra, when properly equipped, can tow up to 10,800 pounds."

The 2008 Toyota Tundra offers several transmissions and drive systems to put the Tundra's considerable power to the pavement. Edmunds writes that "all versions of the Tundra can be equipped with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive," with the benefits of the 2WD being slightly better fuel economy and greater towing capacity, although it does sacrifice some off-road capability. Cars.com reviewers say that the "two smaller engines drive a five-speed automatic transmission, while the 5.7-liter V-8 works with a six-speed automatic." Car and Driver testers rave about the "quick-thinking six-speed" on the iForce engine, which offers "right-now response when you push go." The five-speed offers similarly quick shifts, though the lack of an additional top-end gear hurts the 2008 Tundra's fuel economy numbers, which are already painful.

In terms of hard numbers for fuel economy, the EPA estimates that the six-cylinder engine will return 15/19 mpg, the best numbers of all the engine types on the Toyota Tundra. The midrange 4.7-liter engine offers either 14/17 mpg in 2WD trim or 13/16 mpg in 4WD, while the 5.7-liter iForce gets 14/18 mpg in 2WD and 13/17 mpg in 4WD. As mentioned earlier, the more powerful iForce manages marginally better highway numbers than the 4.7-liter engine thanks to "variable valve timing and the benefits of a six-speed automatic transmission," according to Kelley Blue Book.

Aside from the tremendous capabilities of the engines found in the 2008 Toyota Tundra, the chassis and steering bring more compliments from reviewers. Edmunds raves about the "light, precise steering" that "makes for easy maneuvering in parking lots," along with the Toyota Tundra's "minimal body roll." The Detroit News reviewer adds that driving the Toyota Tundra was "much more fun than anticipated," thanks in large part to the "crisp and clean" steering. When taken off-road, the 2008 Tundra, as Car and Driver reviewers observe, "dances over the chucks and humps with excellent control and no sense that it's being abused." Furthermore, reviewers raved about the stopping ability of the 2008 Toyota Tundra, an impressive trait given the truck's hefty size. The Detroit News finds the 2008 Tundra boasts "bigger brakes" that help it offer what Edmunds describes as "a firm, progressive pedal feel and respectable stopping distances, with minimal fade under heavy use."

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8

2008 Toyota Tundra

Comfort & Quality

The inside of the 2008 Toyota Tundra is quiet enough that occupants will have no problem discussing the midgrade plastics.

Toyota vehicles have long had a reputation for exceptional build quality, but for the 2008 Toyota Tundra, this area actually proves to be one of the car's few minor drawbacks. However, the 2008 Tundra redeems itself in terms of comfort and usability, both of which draw high praise from reviewers.

Seating capacity inside the 2008 Toyota Tundra ranges from three in the two-door Standard Cab to six in both the Double Cab and expansive CrewMax. ConsumerGuide writes that the front seats on all versions of the 2008 Tundra offer "generous shoulder space" and are "very comfortable, but are set relatively high so headroom ends up being tight beneath the sunroof housing." Edmunds adds that the "ample front seats are accommodating" on all cabs. The Double Cab and CrewMax both offer rear bench seating with ample space, though Kelley Blue Book thinks that the "non-adjustable rear seatback" in the Double Cab might be "a bit too upright for long road trips."

The CrewMax corrects this by offering seats that are "adjustable both for fore-aft positioning and seatback inclination," according to Kelley Blue Book reviewers. One characteristic of the Toyota Tundra CrewMax that reviews read by TheCarConnection.com invariably mention is the incredible rear space, which Edmunds says is the "roomiest rear seat of any pickup truck," offering a "limolike 44.5 inches of rear legroom." The rear seats of the Double Cab are also roomy, though ConsumerGuide characterizes it as "adequate" as opposed to the "expansive" legroom found in the CrewMax.

One of the highlights of the 2008 Toyota Tundra is the tremendous amount of storage space that it offers, which makes the Toyota Tundra an incredibly practical vehicle. Mother Proof reviewers rave about the fact that the 2008 Tundra offers "so much clever compartment space," including a "hidden shelf above the glove compartment" and "huge center console [that] includes space for a laptop and hanging files." Kelley Blue Book also mentions the "numerous storage areas and work surfaces" found inside the cabin of the 2008 Toyota Tundra, while The Detroit News points out that the interior can "serve as an office" while on the road.

Although many reviewers rave about the interior storage in the Toyota Tundra, another aspect of the interior tends to draw the ire of many: materials quality. ConsumerGuide feels that "the overall quality of the interior disappoints," as "too many cabin panels ring hollow and are hard to the touch." Edmunds appreciates that the designers "placed their emphasis on utility and durability," but one drawback to the 2008 Tundra's functionality is that "soft-touch surfaces are rare," and the interior is bathed in "a large amount of hard plastic trim." However, despite the poor quality of the materials, The Detroit News does point out that they are "thoughtfully constructed," and Edmunds adds "build quality is tight."

One benefit of the Toyota Tundra's high-quality, solid construction is the minimal road noise. Reviewers unanimously approve of the interior noise, or lack thereof, on the 2008 Tundra. ConsumerGuide praises the "laudably low wind rush," while Motor Trend writes that "cabin quiet...is probably the Tundra's most impressive quality," claiming that "if there's a quieter truck out there, [they] haven't driven it."

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8

2008 Toyota Tundra

Safety

Strong crash-test ratings and an excellent safety features list put the 2008 Toyota Tundra near the top of the full-size pickup class in terms of safety.

Big trucks have always had an air of safety due to their size, but crash tests haven't always justified that feeling. Fortunately, the 2008 Toyota Tundra boasts good crash-test ratings and an impressive list of safety features.

In testing at both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2008 Toyota Tundra performs very well. The NHTSA subjected the 2008 Tundra to front impact tests and awarded it four out of five stars for both driver and passenger protection. The Toyota Tundra also earned four stars for rollover protection when equipped with four-wheel drive, but the two-wheel-drive versions fared worse, scoring only three out of five stars. In IIHS tests, the 2008 Tundra proves to be an exceptionally safe vehicle, earning the IIHS's top grade, "good," for both frontal offset and side impact collisions. The IIHS was so impressed that it awarded the 2008 Toyota Tundra a Top Safety Pick.

When it comes to safety features, the 2008 Toyota Tundra doesn't disappoint. Edmunds writes, "Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard" on all 2008 Tundras. Cars.com adds that additional safety features arrive in the form of "an optional camera in the tailgate to improve visibility when backing up or hitching a trailer." Additionally, opting for the top-end Limited trim of the Toyota Tundra brings "front and rear parking sonar," according to Kelley Blue Book, which adds even more accident prevention capability.

ConsumerGuide reviewers write one feature that aids the Toyota Tundra's safety rating is the truck's "good outward visibility," which can combine with the "available rearview camera" to further increase visibility toward the rear of the vehicle. Kelley Blue Book adds that the "tall seating position makes it easy to see the highway ahead."

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9

2008 Toyota Tundra

Features

The 2008 Toyota Tundra can be optioned with a wealth of cool features.

The 2008 Toyota Tundra is available with a wide variety of standard and optional features, thanks to its three available trim levels.

Standard features, along with MSRP, vary widely among the Base, SR5, and Limited trims of the 2008 Toyota Tundra. ConsumerGuide writes that the Base trim of the 2008 Tundra features "air conditioning w/dual-zone manual climate controls, tilt steering wheel, cloth upholstery, front split bench seat, AM/FM/CD player, [and] digital media player connection." They go on to note that the Toyota Tundra SR5 offers standard "front bucket seats, 8-way power driver seat," and an "in-dash 6-disc CD changer."

Edmunds finds that the Toyota Tundra in Limited trim brings "leather upholstery, front captain's chairs with 10-way power adjustment for the driver," a "10-speaker (12 in CrewMax) JBL sound system, Bluetooth and power-retractable, auto-dimming sideview mirrors."

While 2008 Toyota Tundras come rather well equipped in standard form, Toyota increases the available luxury with an extensive options list. Kelley Blue Book finds that "Toyota offers a comprehensive assortment of more than three dozen dealer-installed items." Some of the most noteworthy optional features on the Toyota Tundra include "a navigation system, a backup camera, driver seat memory, 20-inch wheels and, on the CrewMax only, a sunroof," according to Edmunds.

ConsumerGuide reviewers find that the 2008 Tundra's "navigation system is easy enough to program," a rare trait among the navigation systems offered by many automakers.

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April 17, 2015
For 2008 Toyota Tundra

Tough and reliable truck

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One of the very best trucks I've ever owned. Drives and handles well but only gets about 15 MPG
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