2014 Toyota Tundra: First drive review
The full-size hauler for those thinking outside the cargo box.
The 2014 Tundra wears familiar, but stronger, bolder character lines. All Tundras boast this giant grille and a taller hood. Up-market trims such as the 1794 add maximum chrome.
Toyota buyers are a loyal lot, thanks to the brand's well-deserved reputation for durability and quality. Not surprisingly, a small legion of those loyalists demand a full-size personal-use pickup from their favorite automaker, and Toyota is happy to oblige with the Tundra, which is designed and built in the United States. For its third generation Toyota has freshened the 2014 Tundra's exterior and redesigned its interior, fitting it with the latest amenities and lightly upgrading the proven powertrain.
Reviews: Find expert and user reviews
Like others in the full-size pickup market, Toyota doesn't offer Tundra trim levels, but rather builds five distinct trucks, or what Toyota calls "grades." The idea is to more strongly appeal to the somewhat disparate groups of family guys, active boomers and commercial users Toyota identifies as their best Tundra customers.
The base SR is a working vehicle with cloth split bench seat in the standard cab, and an optional Work Truck package that deletes the power windows and locks and substitutes vinyl for the seating material.
More personal-use friendly is the SR5 with all the usual power accessories, single-zone air conditioning and 18-inch steel wheels. Numerous options allow dressing up the SR5 to well-equipped family-use trim. The SR5 Upgrade package, for example, carries cloth bucket seats, a power driver's seat and tilt-telescoping steering along with extra storage cubbies and so on. Forged 18-inch wheels are optional.
Definitely turning the corner to a premium pickup is the Limited, which starts with standard 20-inch allow wheels, along with standard dual-zone air conditioning, leather seating and an option package delivering goodies such as front and rear sonar-assisted parking, and one-touch power windows.
At the top of the line are either the Platinum or the specialty 1794 Edition. These are functionally the same high-grade trim, heavy on Lexus-level leather luxury, and with standard trailer sway control they're built to tow. The difference is that the 1794 Edition sports a rich, saddle-leather interior with extensive 1794 branding, while the Platinum goes for an urbane black and silver scheme.
Building on the Tundra's powerful off-road capability, a TRD Off-Road package is available on SR5 and Limited grades. This brings skidplates, Bilstein shocks, unique 18-inch alloy wheels and tow hooks. A new Michelin tire developed specifically for the 2014 4x4 Tundras works remarkably well, being both quiet on the street and surprisingly grippy in the goo.
Three cabs and three bed lengths are offered: the regular cab, a Double Cab with rear doors larger than most competitor's extended cab offerings, and the limousine-like doors and rear seat room on the Crew Max. The latter is a Tundra strong point and should be considered by anyone needing to put true adults in the back seat for extended periods.
Bed lengths are matched to the cabs. Only regular cabs get the 8.1-foot box; the Double Cab pairs up with the 6.5-foot standard box; and the Crew Max makes do only with the abbreviated 5.5-foot short box. Unfortunately, there is no standard-box Crew Max combination, which is a common shortcoming across the half-ton pickup market.
Under the hood
The 2014 chassis and powertrains are nearly pure carryovers, although Toyota reports unspecified detail changes to the optional 5.7-liter V8 engine's innards and upgrades the automatic transmission with stronger gears. That means the 4.0-liter V-6 with 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque continues as the base engine. This is a fuel-economy choice in a full-size truck and suited for general runabout duties. It is mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
An in-between 4.6-liter V8 engine rated at 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque is commonly available with the larger cabs, followed by the real attraction: a 5.7-liter 32-valve V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. All 5.7-liter engines are mated to the tow package, and all of the V8s to the updated 6-speed automatic.
Must-See on MSN
I just bought a 2013 Tundra (SR5, 4.6 V8). The truck performance is just great! The only, and most significant problem with it, is gas. It's just terrible! I drive mostly in the city but out of the Tundra's 27 gls fuel tank capacity, I haven't been able to get 200 miles yet. I went to the dealer and they said I was getting aprox. 14 mpg's.
Regardless, I wasn't expecting them to say otherwise. I guess that 7.4 mpg v/s 14 mpg's is not important for Toyota. Unfortunately, for me, it makes a huge difference. Miss my 2012 TRD Tacoma.
I used to be a chevy guy for years and years. After an expensive experience with a POS S-10 I cut my losses and dumped that dog. I bought a 2001 Tacoma , 2.4 , with 50k on it in 2004 and I have been driving that gemstone ever since. I have 210k miles on it , and the only things I have changed on it , besides the normal wear out items are an inner tie rod , the radiator , and both front brake rotors.
That's it , this Tacoma is damn near bullet proof ! Engine , 5-spd trans , clutch , axle , a/c , p/s all original and untouched .I will never buy anything but Toyotas ever again !!
Here's test you can try on your own. Go to any public parking lot, or an airport passenger ramp and count the number of U.S. makes vs off shore. Discount government or commercial vehicles, or agencies that are given tax incentives to buy from the "short list" of companies. Compare U.S. makes to off shore makes and see which wins. I've done this about twenty times and only once did American makes count higher than imports, and then only by two. Without the requirements to buy U.S. the imports usually win in the open market.
From years of more than satisfactory service I stay with Nissan, but for a nickle more or less I go Toyota. After that, maybe Ford. But I'd look hard for the right Nissan or Toyota first!