2014 Toyota Tundra Review: A New American Pickup
This makes the timing of an all-new 2014 Toyota Tundra just right. Although Toyota gets only a small percentage of sales in the full-sized pickup market, there is still plenty of room for the new Tundra, especially when Toyota, now the largest automaker in the world, is known for its quality and longevity. In fact, the Tundra has been recognized with an array of awards over the last 12 years, including the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study for seven of the past eight years in its segment. The Japanese manufacturer says Tundra is designed, engineered, and built exclusively in the U.S. and has more North American content than any other full-sized truck. The new truck goes on sale late summer; pricing has not been announced. It competes with the Ford F-150, Ram and the GM Silverado/Sierra models that have all been updated recently and remain the big players and the Nissan Titan.
The third-generation Tundra was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this year; it has morphed from soft to bold, with a new five-distinct-grade strategy. It has a dramatically-freshened exterior that Toyota says speaks to a more “modern industrial” image; a more distinguished cabin; a number of technology upgrades, plus new comfort and convenience features; an improved ride; and two new upscale, special edition trims: the luxury-level Platinum and the premium Texas-ranch-themed “1794”, named after the cattle ranch founded in 1794 on the land outside of San Antonio, where Toyota builds Tundra and its compact sibling, the Tacoma. Of note are the segment-exclusive standard backup camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio-streaming on all grades. It is the only full-size pickup with available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Toyota sold close to 250,000 of the half-ton and compact pickups in 2012.
“Toyota prides itself on listening to its customers and the development of the 2014 American-born Tundra is a perfect example,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division. “Tundra’s new exterior design and new interior were inspired by customer feedback requesting a more chiseled exterior and refined interior, with improved driver ergonomics, and easy-to-use technology, giving customers more of what they want.”
New are unique exterior designs and interior trims for each of Tundra’s grades that include the “hard-working” SR; volume-leading SR5, Limited, and the two premium grades: “Platinum” and the “1794 Edition.”
Tundra comes in three cab styles: two-door Regular Cab, four-door Double Cab, and the super-sized four-door CrewMax; all are available in two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive. Regular Cab and Double Cab models come with standard (78.7-inch) or long bed (97.6-inch) lengths, while CrewMax comes with a 66.7-inch bed. All are 22.2-inches deep. Also new is a lockable, easy-lower-and-lift tailgate that can easily be removed. Limited Double Cab models now come standard with a power sliding rear window. A power vertical sliding rear window is standard on all CrewMax models. Three exterior colors are new: Attitude Black Metallic, Sunset Bronze Mica, and Blue Ribbon Metallic. Carryover are Radiant Red, Super White, Silver Sky Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Black, and Barcelona Red.
You’ll immediately notice Tundra’s bigger front fascia, as well as its taller, bolder look, and stronger character lines. The front lower bumpers are now a three-piece design, allowing for lower replacement costs. In addition, the fenders and wheel wells have been squared-off for a wide and sturdy stance. A new bed design helps carry the chiseled character lines all the way down the profile, leading to a rugged new bed and tail gate, with an integrated spoiler and “TUNDRA” stamped into the sheet metal, creating a one-piece forged look. The integrated spoiler in the deck helps with fuel efficiency, while the tail lamps express a tool-like quality to match the appearance of the body. Like the front bumper, the rear bumper changes from one piece to three, as well. An integrated spoiler in the deck aids fuel economy. Tundra SR and SR5 grades get 18-inch styled steel wheels; Limited, Platinum, and 1794 Edition get all-new 20-inch alloys specific to each grade.
Tundra interiors are specifically-styled for the trim level or grade; the SR5 wears a “professional gear” theme, with unique driver and passenger zones, metallic accents and bold contrasting fabric and premium surface treatments, like high granulated paint on the center cluster and unique seat stitching. Designers crafted the Limited with an “active premium” image, using leather seating surfaces matching soft-touch door and console surfaces, and wood-style interior trims. It’s available with Black, Sand Beige and Graphite leather-trimmed interiors and standard dual zone auto HVAC controls. Upscale and urban in its cues, Platinum features perforated, diamond pleated premium leather seats, door and instrument panel inserts, and chrome seat and console accent badging. Standard amenities include a 12-speaker touchscreen Entune Premium JBL Audio system with navigation, plus heated and ventilated front seats. Think western lifestyle for the 1794 Edition that gets exclusive saddle brown premium leather-trimmed seating with embossed leather and ultra-suede accents. Matching soft-touch materials accent the shift console, front and rear door trim, and instrument panel; it gets the same standard amenities as Platinum.
Under the hood are three engines: a 270-horsepower/4.0-liter V-6 is standard on Tundra Regular and Double Cab models. The standard engine offers 278 lb.-ft. of torque when paired with a five-speed auto transmission with uphill/downhill shift logic and promises EPA-estimated fuel economy of 16 city / 20 highway / 17 mpg combined. A 4.6-liter i-Force V-8 produces 310 horsepower and 327 torque and promises 15/19/16 on 4x2s and 14/18/16 on 4x4s. Tundra’s most popular “workhorse” is the 5.7-liter i-Force V-8 that generates 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. torque; it comes in gasoline and “Flex Fuel” variants; EPA on 2WD models is 13/18/16, while 4WDs get 13/17/15 mpg. The V-8 models come with a six-speed auto transmission. Tundra 4x4 models use an on-demand, electronically controlled four-wheel-drive system with 4x2, 4x4 Hi and 4x4 Lo ranges. When equipped with a tow package, Tundra has a maximum tow capacity of 10,400 pounds (4x2 Regular Cab).
All Tundras have the following standard safety features: vehicle stability control (VSC); traction control (TRAC); anti-lock braking system (ABS); electronic brake-force distribution (EBD); brake assist (BA); smart stop (SST) brake override technology; and manual headlamp leveling. Also standard are eight standard airbags, including front seat-mounted side airbags, and front and rear roll-sensing side curtain airbags (RSCA), driver and front outboard passenger airbags with an advanced airbag system; Toyota says it has the segments’ only standard driver and front outboard passenger knee airbags. Standard LED daytime running lights are offered on the Platinum and 1794 Edition only.
We recently drove three different versions of the new Tundra in the mountains of western Pennsylvania over a variety of paved roads, along dirt track, and over rigorous four-wheel-drive courses. Stepping inside, we found appealing changes to the truck’s overall styling and materials (different for each grade), with improved comfort and ergonomics that give easier access to audio and HVAC controls. A new instrument panel features attractive tactile metallic rings; gauges are grouped in a clear, easy-to-see design with a center-mounted multi-information (LCD) screen. Large knobs carry over from the previous generation that can be operated with or without work gloves. Front seats have more travel and the CrewMax gets new seats front and back; the rear seat can be folded up for more cargo carrying capability. The console incorporates multiple storage areas for personal items and today’s electronics.
The most notable changes when motoring the new Tundra are its enhanced quietness, re-tuned suspension, and steering enhancements that give a more mannered ride for everyday driving and especially for towing. One of the biggest changes for our taste was the improved pedal feel--especially for the truck’s brake pedal. We drove the 4x4 models through deep mud, over rocks, and along steep woodland sidehills, with nary a traction complaint. The standard Automatic Limited-Slip Differential provides better acceleration in deep sand and mud, and on mixed-friction surfaces, while the VSC system integrates traction control and aids traction on or off-road by helping keep the vehicle on its intended course in everyday driving conditions and on limited-traction surfaces, such as ice and snow. In “normal” mode, VSC, TRAC and Auto-LSD combine to enhance traction; “TRAC Off” and “Auto-LSD” modes activate Auto-LSD to help extricate the vehicle from extreme conditions, while “VSC Off” mode turns off all three of these systems.
All Tundras have a standard windshield wiper de-icer; front and rear mudguards; power window and door locks; and heated, power, outside mirrors. SR and SR5 grade models get standard air conditioning, while Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition models have dual zone air conditioning. Limited adds an eight-way power driver seat, standard chrome door handles and outer mirrors, and a deck rail system. Platinum and 1794 editions come with a 10-way power driver’s seat with memory and a four-way power passenger’s seat, with heat and ventilation, power moonroof (CrewMax only), and parking sonar. An auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass, and HomeLink universal transceiver is standard on Limited, Platinum, and 1794 Edition grades.
Entune Audio systems are standard on all grades, which feature several enhancements for the 2014 truck, including a new Entune App Suite with an array of popular apps; new additions include Yelp and Facebook Places. Standard on all SRs is the Entune Audio Multimedia Bundle, which includes a 6.1-inch touchscreen display; AM/FM CD Player with MP3/WMA playback capability; aux jack; USB 2.0 port with increased charging capability and iPod connectivity and control; hands-free phone capability; phone book access and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless technology; and advanced voice recognition. SR5s get Entune Audio Plus, which includes the Entune Multimedia Bundle with Hi-Res 7.0-inch touch-screen display; HD Radio with iTunes tagging and HD Traffic and Weather (metro areas only); and SiriusXM satellite radio (90-day trial). Standard on Limiteds and available on the SR5 is the Entune Premium Audio, with navigation and the Entune App Suite. The Entune App Suite includes Bing, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, Open Table, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places; real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks. Standard on Platinum and 1794 Edition CrewMax models and optional on Limited is the Entune Premium JBL Audio with navigation and Entune App Suite, which includes Entune Premium Audio with JBL speakers and amplifier.
By Sue Mead