Hauling in a Toyota Tundra
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Published on Thu, Apr 4, 2013
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By John Grafman Unloading the Toyota Tundra 4X2 Double Cab can be a task. On this haul we shovel into this everything but the kitchen sink. Included in this bounty are five wheeled flight travel bags, a large flight garment bag, a queen-size comforter, four bedding pillows, four wood bed frame supports, a stuffed briefcase, three full backpacks, a desk lamp, four overflowing totes, two laptop computer boxes (Apple, of course), SLR camera bag, two medium size cardboard boxes along with one larger box - at three feet long, several small containers, plus a scale model of a NASA scramjet hypersonic space plane proposal that comes in at about three and a half feet. Now, transporting all this baggage in a truck bed isn’t really news. But this isn’t in the Toyota Tundra bed; it’s in the cab! It’s only possible with the four-door Double Cab, and a trick split rear fold-up seat. With a simple pull of a latch the rear bench seat bottom folds up towards the rear seat back. In doing so reveals a sealed storage unit, useful for concealing valuables on one side, and the tire changing tools on the other. More importantly, this yields valuable real estate inside the cab. Under typical use, getting five adults onboard is a piece of cake. Toyota is far from a stranger in the battle to build and sell full-size trucks. Over a long and steady evolution the company has earned the respect it’s so rightfully earned. And, how many companies can say they actually towed a space shuttle?
The question still remains, why spend years, and millions of dollars cracking into the market that the big three dominated? Well, there’s lots of ways to spin it, but the bottom line is money, lots of it! One of the details that came to light in the bailouts, and BKs of GM and Chrysler are just how profitable these vehicles are in comparison with your standard vehicles. In other words, it’s trucks and SUVs that allow these manufacturers to survive. Remember a decade or two back when Ford had money coming out of its ears and made major automotive acquisitions from Aston Martin and Jaguar, to Land Rover and Volvo? Coincidentally, Ford had numerous vehicles in the top ten, and most of those were SUVs and trucks. Big vehicles mean big profits! Toyota isn’t in the game however to just survive, it wants to dominate! So, the Toyota Tundra is built to go toe-to-toe with the best. It offers size and power to entice buyers. While at first blush this has the goods, but it takes many miles and time to really get under the skin of this truck and find out what it’s all about.
No doubt, Toyota hits the exterior styling nail on the head. The Tundra simply looks tough! The forms add a muscular feel to the hulk. So, this looks doesn’t take on the appearance of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Even with an upcoming revamp in 2014, there are no complaints with the current design, which boldly says “open for business”. This doesn’t just look massive, it is. While this is smaller than most spacecraft, this still has a tough time fitting inside a standard garage space. While the tough looking exterior can do no wrong, the interior seems to miss the mark. What happened here? Jumping into the cab one gets the impressions that the designers gave up on this. The interior style doesn’t say anything. It’s sadly forgettable. Don’t be confused, it’s not bad, but it doesn’t really make an impression of any sort. It’s not tough, techie, luxurious, quirky, or anything particularly special. Plain Jane is about the best way to explain the sea of plastic and uninspired forms and material.
In fact, there are a few points to question from the driver’s point of view. The positioning of the 6.1” high resolution center mounted touch-screen is not only difficult to reach by the driver, but it also seems to have glare on it from one side window or the other most of the time - reducing visibility of the functions. The HVAC control knobs are ridiculously oversized, but are easy to use with the heaviest of cold weather gloves. In contrast, the knob on the center stack screen has the diameter of a #2 pencil eraser. These interior control knobs couldn’t be at further opposite ends of the spectrum. While it does have a few issues, the Tundra interior receive compliments when it comes to being easy to live with in terms of space utilization. Additionally, the materials are easy to keep clean, and the tight part gaps keep the mess to a minimum. Equally important, it showcases the quality that Toyota is known for. The optional upgraded SR5 seating, with front buckets replacing a bench, is a marked improvement in comparison with the surrounding standard issue interior. The difficulty in physically reaching the radio is really a non-issue, as really most of the controls are available right from the steering wheel. Bluetooth audio streaming also is a welcome feature, albeit this does have satellite radio as well. While the argument can be made that this is a truck, hence the non-descript interior, but this could stand an injection of some passion. The made in America truck can be optioned in a number of ways from powertrain to bed and cab size. This bruiser is a 4X2 with a 6.5-feet double-wall bed with rail caps. It is available with a larger and shorter bed too. This is nearly able to contain a queen-size bed within the dimensions in the bed without the need to keep the tailgate open. Unfortunately, upon a real life trial this came in just shy by a couple inches.
The standard set-up has a tie-down anchor points in the bottom of each corner, and the latch points of the tailgate can be used for that as well. Unfortunately, this doesn’t have an optional adjustable anchor rail. In having to use the existing anchor points that are buried behind the truck bed liner it became clear that a few more tie-down points, as well as some at the top of the truck bed would make life easier for those that do need to haul stuff. And really, isn’t that what a truck is for? The exterior styling does look tough, and the engine does its share to complete the picture. The V8 always feels jumpy. A light touch on the gas pedal is more than enough to launch this monster. Second gear starts using the sequential shifter on the six-speed transmission can smooth out the off the line behavior. This has plenty of torque for nearly any need with 327 pound-feet. The Tundra also has no problem leaping to action at freeway speeds as well. This particular model might not be a TRD tweaked vehicle, but it certainly could fool a few people. With a light touch, and prudent use of the cruise control, one can actually squeeze out fuel economy that is better than expected. Even with a310 horsepower, 4.7 liter, V8 this can manage freeway mileage in the high teens and low twenties, and that’s with a full load of cargo in the bed. But, jumping on the gas pedal can really suck it up quickly, as it would with nearly any oversized vehicle with a hearty engine. The Toyota Tundra is really a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. This feels purposeful behind the wheel. Scrambling into the elevated cab transforms the experience, in the same way that contorting oneself into a Lamborghini immediately changes one’s mindset long before the car is started.
The solidness and lack of rattles and squeaks is most appreciated. When driven in a normal manner this drives smooth and steady. While some oversized transports put drivers on edge due to unintentional wandering, the Tundra lets drivers relax behind the wheel. A driver that’s relaxed is far less tired at the end of the commute. The bonus is a much safer trip. Regardless, Toyota doesn’t rely on quick thinking drivers when it comes to saving your hide. This comes standard with advance features like Roll Sensing Curtain Airbags, Advance Airbag System, Seat Side and Knee Airbags, Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, ABS, Trailer Sway Control, and more. True, this doesn’t seem overly special in any one respect, yet this does earn points with those that want a competent, full-size hauler. Toyota definitely has a slew of options for those that want them, but as it stands, this is relatively well suited for its primary purpose in life. The can-do feel of the Tundra is confidence inspiring, enough so that it can almost make moving fun. Try that in a Prius. Editor’s note: It's definitely no Tundra, but the Prius ain't bad as a cargo carrier. We squeezed in quite a bit recently in a Toyota Prius. With the back seats down, you can fit a twin bed mattress, the box springs, and the frame—all with the hatchback lid entirely closed! - RN For more information about Toyota products, go to www.toyota.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4X2 Price: $27,710 (base) $33,531 (as tested) Engine type: 4.6 Liter, V8, 32 valve with independent VVT-i, DOHC EPA mileage estimates Combined City/ Highway: 15/20 Horsepower: 310 @ 5,600 rpm Torque: 327 pound-feet @ 3,400 rpm Transmission type: Automatic 6-speed with sequential shift Drive configuration: Front engine, rear-wheel drive Suspension: Front: Independent, coil spring, high mounted, double wishbone, with stabilizer bar Rear: Trapezoidal multi-leaf, with staggered outboard mounted shocks Wheels and tires: Front: 18” chrome clad steel, P255/70TR18 BSW All-Season Tires Rear: 18” chrome clad steel, P255/70TR18 BSW All-Season Tires Brakes: Front: Power Disc Rear: Power Disc 4 Wheel ABS Brakes, Brake Assist System, Electronic Brake Distribution, Electronic Traction Control Dimensions Overall length: 228.7 inches Overall width: 79.9 inches Overall height: 75.8 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 5,085 Maximum Towing Capacity (lbs): 6,700 Maximum Payload (lbs): 1,650