Taking Toyota's half-ton on an epic adventure
Would you be disappointed to find out that a major auto manufacturer wanted to convey the ruggedness of one of its toughest vehicles by sending it down a mere dirt road?
And yet, it was on just such a road that Toyota expected a group of automotive journalists to test the 2014 Tundra’s off-road capability during a recent press event. For a company that touts quality, durability and reliability above all else, it seemed like a seriously lackluster display of what the all-new Tundra can do.
Upon finishing the day, complaints were heard throughout the gathered media, but none louder than Howard Elmer’s (disclosure: my Father). Surprisingly, Toyota didn’t defend its weak off-road course. Instead they replied with a question: “what would you do with the truck and when are you leaving?”
The first answer that ran through his mind jumped out before he considered the implications. “We’ll run from Toronto to Newfoundland, via the Trans-Labrador Highway, in April,” he said. A few months later, four of us gathered to set off on the journey.
Toyota provided us with a new 2014 Tundra 1794 Edition and a 2007 Tundra Limited with 68,000 miles on the odometer. That way, we could compare old and new side-by-side. We also had a double-axle 24-foot trailer filled with all of our gear, two full-size spare tires and a Yamaha snowmobile. That meant towing roughly 4,000 lbs behind one of the trucks at any given time.
The Trans-Labrador Highway is the main route through the Canadian region of Labrador. In total, the road stretches roughly 700 miles and almost half of it is unpaved. Each year, the harsh winter climate freezes it completely. When spring rolls around, the frost thaws and leaves potholes and mud topped with a layer of stones. And even when there is pavement, it is cracked, broken and usually completely destroyed, providing a daunting task for the tires. Sounds inviting, no?