2010 Toyota Tundra Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
February 8, 2010

The 2010 Toyota Tundra is every bit as big and tough as the full-size trucks—and perhaps safer and better equipped than them—though it might let you down on some of the interior's finer points.

To bring you a conclusive review that gives you an idea how the 2010 Toyota Tundra stacks up against other full-size pickups, TheCarConnection.com has perused a wide range of reviews for details, observations, and insights on what the Tundra does or doesn't do well. TheCarConnection.com's editors have driven the Toyota Tundra, too, and sum it all up along with their firsthand driving impressions here in this definitive Bottom Line.

The Toyota Tundra was last redesigned in 2007, when Toyota asserted itself by supersizing this full-size pickup—making the Tundra every bit as massive as the largest versions of the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado. It gets a very minor refresh for 2010, with a new grille design for some trims and a new taillight design for the entire lineup. Safety features are improved, new options are added, and others are grouped into a couple of large value packages.

"Imposing" is probably the best way to sum up the Tundra's appearance. From the front, the prominent, upright grille is flanked by nicely detailed headlamps, while alongside the Tundra gets bulging side sills that make it seem even taller, while it keeps a smooth appearance with flared wheel wells. And at the back, the taillights keep the same basic shape as before but gain a more detailed look. Inside, the 2010 Tundra has an interior that's a little too plasticky for some work-related tastes, with large swaths of matte-metallic plastic curving through the gauges and down the very wide center console at an angle.

The base engine on the 2010 Toyota Tundra is a 236-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6; it provides plenty of might to move this big truck, but most buyers who plan to take advantage of its towing and hauling capability will want one of the V-8s. This year, a new 4.6-liter V-8 replaces last year's 4.7-liter; compared to the previous engine, it's both stronger and more fuel-efficient, with ratings of up to 15 mpg city, 20 highway and rear-wheel drive. At the top of the line is the 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter iForce V-8. This engine makes it an extreme gas guzzler—with fuel economy as low as 13 mpg city, 17 highway—but it has mammoth torque available just off idle and plenty of passing power on the highway, even when towing. Both V-8s now get a responsive, smooth six-speed automatic, while the V-6 comes with a five-speed auto. When properly equipped, the Tundra can tow up to 10,800 pounds.

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Competing head-on with the biggest pickups from Detroit, as well as the more personal-use-focused Nissan Titan, the 2010 Tundra is available in a wide range of body configurations: Regular, Double Cab, and CrewMax cabs, with three different bed lengths. The Double Cab is the choice for occasional backseat duty or kid-carrying, and when the Double Cab isn't in use, it has a folding seat bottom. The CrewMax is basically a roomy SUV with a pickup bed in back; two full-size back doors and enough sprawl-out space for adults make it a good choice for families hauling ATVs or work supplies. The interior is at once comfortable and high-utility, with a very wide center console that's deep enough for a laptop; wide, supportive seats; controls that are designed to be used with gloves; and a tilt/telescope steering wheel. Our only repeated complaint with the interior is that its plastics—particularly those used on the instrument panel—feel flimsier and more delicate than those used by other truck brands.

The 2010 Toyota Tundra is one of the safest pickups on the market, with almost perfect crash-test scores and more safety equipment than most rival models. It gets predominantly top five-star ratings in federal tests (except for four stars for the driver with the Regular Cab), along with three or four stars in rollover resistance. It also earns the top "good" rating in all of the IIHS tests for frontal, side, and rear impact. Front-seat side airbags, roll-sensing side airbags, and front knee bags are all standard, as are electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes.

To help compete with base work-oriented models from GM, Ford, and Dodge, there's a new Work Truck Package offered on base regular and Double Cab models, coming with vinyl seats, rubber floors, plus a lower level of standard equipment and black plastic trim in place of bright trim in many places. A TRD Sport Package, available on the Tundra 4x2 Regular Cab and Double Cab standard bed models, is optimized for an aggressive street appearance, while a new TRD Rock Warrior Package is specially tuned and ready (in appearance as well) for hard-core off-roading. At the top of the line is a new Platinum Package, only offered with the 5.7-liter CrewMax versions, including all the features of a luxury SUV, such as a navigation system, JBL premium audio, ventilated perforated-leather seats, a sunroof, chrome and wood trim, and special badging.

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2010 Toyota Tundra

Styling

The 2010 Toyota Tundra blends in with the rest of the full-size pickup pack; if that's what Toyota wanted, it accomplished its goal.

"Imposing" is probably the best way to sum up the Tundra's appearance. From the front, the prominent, upright grille is flanked by nicely detailed headlamps, while alongside the Tundra gets bulging side sills that make it seem even taller, yet it keeps a smooth appearance with flared wheel wells. And at the back, the taillights keep the same basic shape as before but gain a more detailed look.

No matter which of many 2010 Toyota Tundra configurations you opt for, it's 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."

The Tundra "projects the assertive image that buyers of full-size pickups desire" on all trim levels," asserts Kelley Blue Book, while the Detroit News criticizes 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."

Cars.com notes that the base-model Tundra is highlighted by "a chrome bumper and matte-black grille surround rather than a shiny black bumper and surround." Edmunds points out that "the standard-cab truck comes only in the Grade trim," though the two other cab options are available in all three trims.

Inside, the 2010 Tundra has an interior that's a little too plasticky for some work-related tastes, with large swaths of matte-metallic plastic curving through the gauges and down the very wide center console at an angle. Motor Trend says that "from a design point of view, the layout is not particularly sophisticated." The reviewer continues: "As it stands, the Tundra interior is intended to convey a sense of rugged simplicity, and it does that."

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2010 Toyota Tundra

Performance

The 2010 Toyota Tundra performs well overall, and a new smaller V-8 is a little easier on gas.

The base engine on the 2010 Toyota Tundra is a 236-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6; it provides plenty of might to move this big truck, but most buyers who plan to take advantage of its towing and hauling capability will want one of the V-8s. This year, a new 4.6-liter V-8 replaces last year's 4.7-liter; compared to the previous engine, it's both stronger and more fuel-efficient, with ratings of up to 15 mpg city, 20 highway and rear-wheel drive.

Regarding the new 4.6-liter engine, Popular Mechanics says that it "neatly mixes more-than-sufficient power with the promise of better-than-expected fuel economy," latter asserting that "Tundra buyers won't feel as if they've compromised when they 'settle' for this 4.6-liter." Motor Trend remarks, "Around town, throttle response is strong off the line, even a bit touchy until you get used to it, but the Tundra gets going with ease and seems nimble."

The 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter iForce V-8 engine at the top of the line receives good reviews for its strong pulling power and great all-around responsiveness, but fuel economy takes a hit. It's an extreme gas guzzler—with fuel economy as low as 13 mpg city, 17 highway—but it has mammoth torque available just off idle and plenty of passing power on the highway, even when towing. ConsumerGuide testers find that "the 5.7 feels stronger at all speeds." Car and Driver says that the 5.7 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."

Both V-8s now get a responsive, smooth six-speed automatic while the V-6 comes with a five-speed auto. 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 provides similarly quick shifts, though the lack of an additional top-end gear hurts the Tundra's fuel economy numbers, which are already painful.

Motor Trend explains that with the new six-speed on the 4.6-liter model "has all the same gears as the old five-speed, but also adds one more ratio, a very tall sixth gear." The reviewer really likes the combination, saying, "Like just about every modern Toyota transmission we've tested, the new six-speed downshifts readily when called upon, so much so that we can practically select ratios with our throttle foot." Popular Mechanics also appreciates the new transmission, explaining, "This new transmission shouldn't be confused with the six-speed that comes lashed behind the 5.7—that's a heavier-duty gearbox."

Edmunds reports 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.

When taken off-road, the 2010 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 rave about the stopping ability of the Toyota Tundra, an impressive trait given the truck's hefty size.

The 2010 Toyota Tundra is rated quite well for handling and braking. Edmunds raves about the "light, precise steering" that "makes for easy maneuvering in parking lots," along with the Toyota Tundra's "minimal body roll," and the Detroit News adds that driving the Toyota Tundra is "much more fun than anticipated," thanks in large part to the "crisp and clean" steering. The Detroit News finds that the 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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2010 Toyota Tundra

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Toyota Tundra is a refined, comfortable place with a surprising amount of utility and interior storage, but its interior materials are quite stark.

Competing head-on with the biggest pickups from Detroit, as well as the more personal-use-focused Nissan Titan, the 2010 Tundra is available in a wide range of body configurations: Regular, Double Cab, and CrewMax cabs, with three different bed lengths.

Of the three, the Double Cab is the choice for occasional backseat duty or kid-carrying, and it has a folding seat bottom for when it's not in use. The CrewMax is basically a roomy SUV with a pickup bed in back; two full-size back doors and enough sprawl-out space for adults make it a good choice for families hauling ATVs or work supplies.

The interior is at once comfortable and high-utility, with a very wide center console that's deep enough for a laptop; wide, supportive seats; controls that are designed to be used with gloves; and a tilt/telescope steering wheel. Our only repeated complaint with the interior is that its plastics—particularly those used on the instrument panel—feel flimsier and more delicate than those used by other truck brands.

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," says Kelley Blue Book. Seating capacity inside the Toyota Tundra ranges from three in the two-door Standard Cab to six in both the Double Cab and expansive CrewMax. ConsumerGuide reports that the front seats on all versions of the 2009 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 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. A 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."

Relative to most other trucks, the 2010 Toyota Tundra's interior offers a lot of places to store small items. MotherProof reviewers rave about the fact that the 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 2010 Toyota Tundra, and the Detroit News points out that the interior can "serve as an office" while on the road.

ConsumerGuide lauds the Tundra for its "large and well marked" instruments, along with the "generously sized and logically arranged" controls. Cars.com says the oversized gauges "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."

Material quality is a continued area in the 2010 Toyota Tundra. It's not bad, but rival models have improved quite dramatically over the past several years. Edmunds appreciates that the designers "placed their emphasis on utility and durability," but one drawback to the functionality is that "soft-touch surfaces are rare," and the interior is bathed in "a large amount of hard plastic trim." ConsumerGuide agrees that "the overall quality of the interior disappoints," as "too many cabin panels ring hollow and are hard to the touch." However, despite the poor quality of the materials, Edmunds adds "build quality is tight," and the Detroit News points out that it's "thoughtfully constructed." Motor Trend concludes, "As it stands, the Tundra interior is intended to convey a sense of rugged simplicity, and it does that." But the reviewer also says that "we suspect there are buyers, especially those coming out of cars or SUVs, who would notice a lack of city-truck design features like soft-touch controls and more extensive wood trim."

Of the new Work Truck model of the Tundra, Popular Mechanics says, "Carpeting is gone, the upholstery an unabashed gray vinyl, the dashboard is mostly flat black plastic, and the windows roll up with six hand-wound turns of a crank."

ConsumerGuide praises the "laudably low wind rush," while Motor Trend declares 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." The solid, high-quality construction garners the reviewers' unanimous approval of the interior noise, or lack thereof, on the Tundra. Motor Trend also reports, "With the six-speed and the new 4.6, the Tundra's operation is conspicuously quiet at highway speeds."

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2010 Toyota Tundra

Safety

The 2010 Toyota Tundra has all the safety features you might want in a full-size truck, along with decent crash-test ratings.

The 2010 Toyota Tundra is one of the safest pickups on the market, with almost perfect crash-test scores and more safety equipment than most rival models.

The Tundra gets mostly top five-star ratings in federal crash tests (except for four stars for the driver with the Regular Cab) and three or four stars in rollover resistance. It also earns the top "good" rating in all of the IIHS tests for frontal, side, and rear impact.

Front-seat side airbags, roll-sensing side airbags, and front knee bags are all standard on the 2010 Tundra, as are electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. Cars.com adds that more safety features arrive in the form of "an optional camera in the tailgate to improve visibility when backing up or hitching a trailer." Also, opting for the top-end Limited trim of the Toyota Tundra brings "front and rear parking sonar," according to Kelley Blue Book, which piles on even more accident prevention capability.

ConsumerGuide reports that "good outward visibility" is a strength for the truck; the aforementioned rear camera further helps spot obstacles when parking or backing up with a trailer. Kelley Blue Book adds that the "tall seating position makes it easy to see the highway ahead."

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2010 Toyota Tundra

Features

The 2010 Toyota Tundra comes very well equipped, but a very wide assortment of special trims and packages now makes sure even more bases are covered.

As with most other full-size trucks, the 2010 Toyota Tundra comes in a wide range of trims for all sorts of work and recreational needs.

New for 2010 is a new Work Truck trim that forgoes many common conveniences for rugged simplicity. "Toyota offers Tundra buyers a $195 credit to take the Work Truck package, and that makes it a raging bargain," says Popular Mechanics. "Some buyers might still want power windows, power mirrors and power door locks (and they're all available), but the essential toughness of the Work Truck fittings wouldn't be compromised by that."

A TRD Sport Package, available on the Tundra 4x2 Regular Cab and Double Cab standard bed models, is optimized for an aggressive street appearance, while a new TRD Rock Warrior Package is specially tuned and ready (in appearance as well) for hard-core off-roading. At the top of the line is a new Platinum Package, only offered with the 5.7-liter CrewMax versions, including all the features of a luxury SUV, such as a navigation system, JBL premium audio, ventilated perforated-leather seats, a sunroof, chrome and wood trim, and special badging.

Motor Trend outlines a few of the minor changes for 2010: "The headlights are now manually adjustable in five steps, and stereos have been upgraded."

The other new package for 2010, the Platinum Package, "redecorates the interior so lavishly it could double as a Bangkok dinner theater," Motor Trend says, adding that it's only offered with the biggest 5.7-liter engine.

ConsumerGuide reviewers find that the 2009 Tundra's "navigation system is easy enough to program," a rare trait among the navigation systems offered by many automakers.

Kelley Blue Book reports 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.

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