It’s difficult to overstate what huge plans Toyota had for the its then-new Tundra pickup, circa 2007. The company spent a fortune developing their jumbo-sized 2007 Tundra, speaking to people who used trucks (though every truck manufacturer says they do that), shedding the “good but small” mantra of the first-generation Tundra and going with a truck that went toe-to-toe with the dominant American-brand pickups. Toyota even built an all-new factory for that Tundra in SanTexas and Antonio, in the heart of truck country. Strong initial sales tapered off, and also the Tundra remained an also-ran whileGM and Ford, and Ram sold hundreds of thousands of pickups. Toyota reckons it’s time to fire another salvo in the pickup wars, so we spent every week with the refreshed 2014 Tundra to see how the truck stacks up against some tough competition.
2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4×4 CrewMaxWith the refreshed (not all-new) Tundra for 2014, Toyota has ditched the doughy, soft curves from the 2007-2013 model and replaced them with a “chiseled” look. The result could well be a more attractive truck (though as they say, design taste is subjective), however it cuts a very similar silhouette compared to the old truck. That’s not a surprise considering the new and old Tundra share their hard points, including cab sheet metal. Aside from adding angles and creases to the truck’s design, Toyota’s California-based design team upped the ante in the Giant Truck Grille Race, holding its own against similarly cartoonish extra large, extra shiny grilles on Ford, Ram, and Chevrolet half ton pickups. With all the Tundra’s grille now nearly overlapping its headlights, it’s clear that eventually pickup designers will run out of front-end real estate (since the Silverado’s designers did) lastly grilles may start to recede as aerodynamics and fuel efficiency boost in importance across the next couple of years.
Oh yes, fuel efficiency. We won’t sugar coat here: the Tundra has terrible fuel economy. I remain shocked that the company that prides itself on its environmental leadership and in the fuel efficiency of its car lineup would struggle to field a full-size truck with competitive fuel consumption. The 5.7 liter V8 is a strong engine that sounds great, where there is much temptation to dip your foot into the fun part of the throttle,. That’s granted, part of the Tundra’s efficiency problem. Helped by burbling dual exhaust (which still exit out the sides of the truck, through chromed TRD-branded tips), you appear to be you’re driving a sports car, if Toyota made big-bore V8 sports cars. (Actually, Toyota did – they were called the Lexus IS-F – and they sounded great). But even on my small absolute best behavior, I couldn’t top 18 MPG in the Tundra for a mostly highway trip.
2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4×4 CrewMax
Right after a week and nearly 400 miles using the truck, my average settled on 13.6 MPG. Compared to a 5.3 liter V8-equipped GMC Sierra we drove a couple of weeks ago, the Tundra wasn’t even in the same ballpark since the GMC’s 17.3 MPG average. The EPA rates the Tundra 4×4 5.7 liter at 13 MPG city/17 MPG highway while GM’s 5.3 liter 4×4 is rated at 16/22. When you purchase that over a GMC or Chevrolet, That’s a significant 20 percent better mileage than the Tundra offers, so we’re discussing real money flying out the TRD exhaust pipes in the Tundra. According to the EPA, driving a Tundra will cost you $2,750 more in fuel costs over five years than driving a 5.3 liter Silverado. According to me, I was pretty unhappy that I had to drop $52 worth of regular unleaded in to the Tundra’s gas tank after just 200 miles about the trip odometer.
Part of the Tundra’s fuel economy deficit arises from the fact that its engine is more and larger power than GM’s 5.3 (395 horsepower vs. 355). The 2014 Ram carries a 5.7 liter engine, and with Ram’s new 8-speed automatic, that truck is rated at 15 city/21 highway, easily topping the Tundra. GM’s larger 6.2 liter V8 for sale in higher trim levels beats the Tundra in economy and power, throwing down a 14/20 rating.
2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4×4 CrewMax
OK, therefore we hate the Tundra’s fuel economy. Though that’s a major one, there’s much more to your truck than how much fossil fuel it burns. Our tester was a CrewMax model, which means it gets the super-sized cab. Toyota also offers a consistent cab along with a Double Cab (the latter being more like a crew cab than a long cab, even with front-hinged doors and a reasonable seat that even taller people can fit into for shorter trips). It’s a cliché, but rear-seat legroom in the CrewMax is limousine-like. When I get the driver’s seat adjusted for my 6’4? 190 pound frame, I can jump to the back seat and cross my legs. Should you don’t need the back seat area for, you know, seating, the rear seat bottom folds up to produce a large, mostly-flat covered storage area.
Toyota has completely revamped the interior within the 2014 Tundra, with improved electronics along with a more squared-off, more symmetrical dashboard design. Only for the reason that truck was so darn wide, the previous Tundra had some interior problems with controls being hard to reach. This one has similar ones, with the radio in particular being high on the dash and fairly far from a lanky driver’s easy reach without leaning forward to get to the tuning knob. Everything appeared to be screwed together well, however, for a $48,000 pickup, I found myself disappointed by the quality of the materials. , and GM all have far better interior materials, with GM specifically having dramatically upped their interior game for 2014.Ford and Ram The Tundra SR5 tester, however, had cloth seats (which did feel durable), but armrest padding was minimal, and the entire dashboard as well as all door panels were hard plastic. The Tundra did, however, have switchgear which was of obvious high quality. Buttons feel solid and well-made and the radio’s volume and tuning knobs in particular are made from metal and then make it obvious that Toyota spent a little extra dough getting those touch points right.
2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4×4 CrewMaxThe 2014 Tundra gets new in-cabin electronics, including a large full-color TFT display within the gauge cluster between the speedometer and tachometer and a new, larger navigation screen with a new version of Toyota’s Entune infotainment system. The trip computer, while it looks nice, has only a small fraction of the functionality of the units in Ford and GM. For instance, there’s merely one fuel economy average; Ford and GM both include fuel economy tied to both the trip odometer and a separate measure (for example since last fill, or since last start). Maybe Toyota doesn’t want drivers knowing the not so good news about their truck’s fuel economy.
Toyota’s Entune system is improved in the Tundra, though it’s still not the easiest to work with (that title may well fall to the excellent GM MyLink system given that Ford has saddled the F-Series with MyFord Touch). Pairing my iPhone was easy and the system handled Bluetooth phone calls and music streaming without skipping a beat. I spent a lot of the week paying attention to podcasts using my iPhone’s podcast app and streaming them with the truck’s sound system, which worked very well, despite the fact that there is Pandora integration. The audio system from the SR5 trim level is mediocre; a rather less mediocre JBL system is available in higher trim levels for more money.
On the road, the Tundra has strong acceleration and good braking feel. The steering prevents you against really having any semblance of confidence in the truck’s handling, whatever its capabilities may be. In reading from the 2014 Tundra press kit, Toyota highlights that, “Steering feel and straight-line stability have been enriched due to steering-system-enhancements. These minimize the inputs from road imperfections and variations, causing improved straight line stability and less driver fatigue.”
In the event the truck doesn’t believe you really want to turn when you start swinging the wheel, 2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4×4 CrewMaxThis “reduction in inputs” ensures that there is an alarming lack of response when turning the wheel – as. I hate to continue returning to the Sierra, but that truck’s electrical power steering had more weight and road feedback, yet was still an easy task to maneuver at low speeds, such as inside a parking lot. The Tundra isn’t the most convenient vehicle to park, but an industry-exclusive standard backup camera does turn it into a much easier task than it might be. I managed to parallel park it one Saturday morning, inside a city, between two cars, with minimal difficulty (you obviously require a large enough space, though! )
With regards to using the Tundra as a truck, I didn’t really have the opportunity to put its 5.5 foot cargo box to make use of. I did remember that, like the GM trucks, the tailgate was damped therefore it wouldn’t slam down whether it slipped your grasp when opening it. The cargo light does a great job of illuminating at the very least the rear three quarters of your box, and our tester was built with a plastic bedliner. The previously mentioned Sierra possessed a spray-in bedliner that would probably have better long-term durability without harming the truck bed’s actual finish.
2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4×4 CrewMaxThere are a couple of models inside the 2014 Tundra range, starting with the price-leader SR trim, then SR5 (which our tester represented, and which Toyota expects to comprise nearly all Tundra salesPlatinum, Limited and ) and 1794 Edition. A number of my interior criticisms from the SR5 (hard plastic, etc.) appear to be addressed by the considerably more expensive 1794 Edition, which features a wood steering wheel, leather inserts in the dash and door panels, and a name derived from the date from the founding of your ranch on which the Tundra’s San Antonio, Texas plant was built on top of.
Pricing begins at $26,915 for the Tundra SR regular cab (SR is additionally available being a Double Cab; no other Tundra models can be purchased with a regular cab). The SR5 ($30.890), Limited ($41,580), Platinum ($48,315), and 1794 Edition (also $48,315) can be purchased in CrewMax, or, in the case of the SR5, like a Double Cab as well. Step up to a CrewMax SR5 as well as the price leaps to $36,375 and the 5.7 liter V8 and four wheel drive comes along for your ride. Tack on Entune Premium Audio with Navigation (a reasonable $585), Deck rail system in the bed ($125), TRD Off Road Package ($2,030; includes special TRD wheels, Bilstein shocks, rear side privacy glass, engine and fuel tank skid plates, and a decal), SR5 Upgrade Package ($1,015; replaces front bench seat with buckets plus a console-mounted shift lever), Bedliner ($365), Chrome Tube Steps ($534- a must-have), Mini Tie Down w/Hook ($45), Alloy Wheel Locks ($81), Dual Exhaust ($1,100), and Carpet Floor Mats ($191). Add Destination ($995) and you get a final MSRP of $43,445.
Unfortunately, our pals at TrueDelta.com do not have pickup trucks in their pricing tool, so we have to go by feel. I have a tendency to prefer leather seats whatever the vehicle, however the price feels about right for what you’re getting. In accordance with the configurator on Toyota.com, that you can’t get leather in the SR5, so no go there, it appears. Through comparison, the GMC Sierra that I keep talking about had an MSRP of almost exactly $50,000. The GMC had lane departure warning, a heated steering wheel, leather seats, Z71 off-road package, and collision warning/prevention, so it’s hard to compare between the two trucks.
2014_Toyota_Tundra_SR5_001Is the Tundra a good truck? Definitely. Is it the best truck available? I don’t think it’s actually the best at anything that it will, at least from my perspective. It’s not the fastest, not the most efficient, not the best interior, not the best looking, not the least expensive. It’s a truck built on a spec sheet – big wheelbase, big width, big engine, big interior, big cargo/towing numbers – nevertheless the sum of the various components just will not equal a the best truck that you can get. Add all that to the fact that domestic brand have far more configurations available – and it’s easy to see why the Tundra has not been the strongest seller in a very competitive segment. If you decide to buy a Tundra, you’re not picking a bad truck. Simply not the best one.