Though it may seem like an also-ran in a segment packed with sales heavy hitters like the Ford F-Series and Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, Toyota still moves plenty of metal with the Tundra – about 10,000 units a month, in fact. Mazda sold about as many smiley-face 3s this year, and I see plenty of those rolling around. With a fresh redesign under their belts, Toyota corporate is probably hoping those numbers improve towards the second generation’s peak in 2007 of almost 200,000 (Toyota would like to call this revised 2014 model a new generation, but I’m sticking to my guns in calling it a 2nd-gen, given it’s mostly a fascia-and-interior reskinning).
As I explored during my review of GM’s revised Sierra/Silverado platform late this summer, new truck buyers are calling on their vehicles to do more and more for them – and manufacturers are happy to fulfill those needs. The loaded Sierra SLT I drove even had a 120V outlet in the armrest to power laptops, as well as a filing cabinet’s worth of storage space between the seats – literally, there were actual tracks for file folder tabs to drop into. This Tundra Limited lacked that feature, but easily had enough center console storage to support an IRS audit’s worth of documentation.
The CrewMax 4×4 edition of the Tundra driven here seemingly dwarfs what I thought was an already-plenty-large Sierra 1500, though the dimensions line up pretty closely on paper. Perhaps it’s the Tundra’s imposing new grille that lends it an air of Peterbilt. Luckily, it doesn’t drive “big” – in fact, it’s the most carlike drive I’ve had in a solid-axle-equipped vehicle in some time, my old Mustang GT included. Steering that measures 3.7 turns lock-to-lock helps make parking lots more negotiable, though I still found myself peeking up at the roof every time I entered a low-hanging garage structure.
At highway speeds, the Tundra one-ups even the vault-like Sierra in quiet comfort; road noises are muted and even the blocky tires of our tester – which was equipped with the TRD Off-Road Package – failed to audibly permeate the cabin with any real authority. Wheel impacts happen far away, and potholes are damped in a Lexus-like manner. The 5.7-liter V8 moves the truck’s nearly three tons of mass with surprising alacrity, although the hefty toll at the gas pumps as a result is less surprising.
The 2014’s dashboard layout has been revised and everything you need falls readily to hand the same it would in a Camry; in fact, some of the stalks and switchgear look to be Camry carryovers, which is no bad thing. The infotainment system in particular feels well-thought-out, especially after the somewhat fumbling unit found in the Sierra. The Tundra’s system mirrors that found in most Lexuses, but earns top trumps for being an easily-navigated touch screen as opposed to operating via a mouse-like controller.
Buyers who shop based purely on spec sheets may be somewhat disappointed with the Tundra, since a quick glance at the numbers reveals it to be slightly heavier, slightly thirstier at the pumps, and tow slightly less trailer than its key domestic competitors. To rely only on the numbers would be to overlook the Tundra’s core competencies, which include its commodious and well-built cabin – the back seat space is downright limo-like – and a comfortable, quiet driving experience. Somewhat unexpected, at least to me, was the fact that the Tundra Limited undercuts its direct rivals on price in a pretty big way – the next cheapest is the Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew 4×4, which at $44,185, still commands a $1,295 premium. Few domestic models leave the showroom without rebate cash on the hood, but shoppers dismissing the Tundra on the basis of cost had better get their facts straight. As an F-150/Silverado/Ram alternative, the Tundra deserves more consideration than it gets.
2014 Toyota Tundra 4WD CrewMax Limited
Base price: $42,870
Price as tested: $44,429
Options on test car: Limited Premium package ($595), TRD Off-Road package ($100), Running Boards ($345), Bedliner ($365), Wheel locks ($81), Spare tire lock ($73)
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V8 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission – 381 hp / 401 lb-ft torque
S:S:L-observed fuel economy: 15.0 mpg
Toyota provided the vehicle for testing purposes and one tank of gas. Photos by the author.