Day 2 - Baie-Comeau to Labrador City: Rough Pavement
In order to reach Labrador, we drove along Highway 389. It isn’t part of the Trans-Lab Highway, but the route through northern Quebec has twists, dips and dives all on broken, cracked pavement that offered a real test for the trucks. It also crosses paths with some of the largest hyrdo-electric generating plants in the world, the largest and most impressive of which is the Manic 5 Dam (pictured).
The hills highlighted what would prove to be this truck’s best feature by far: its powertrain. It is a maniac when it comes to cranking out torque and sheer power. The 5.7-liter V8 with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque is clearly part of the equation, but the 4.30:1 rear-end axle ratio that comes equipped with the V8 is what really makes the magic happen.
The six-speed automatic transmission also plays a key role in Toyota’s torque-laden combo by making sure the engine is always well positioned in its rev range to deliver power. We also learned that the transmission is designed to provide power first and fuel economy second, but more on miles per gallon later. Pulling the trailer up steep grades is a breeze and accelerating uphill is also possible. Long descents are handled well by the transmission, which will downshift and allow the engine to hold back the weight, all by itself once the brake is applied.
The chassis and suspension must also be complemented for trailer control. Never did the big brick of a trailer we had feel like it was in charge. It also carried a hidden bonus: the ride of the Tundra is much smoother with 4,000 pounds on the back. Thanks to all that weight pulling down on the leafs springs, the stiff choppy ride of the empty truck ride feels calmer. Riding over large bumps made the trailer the most noticeable as it would try and push the truck, but the Tundra didn’t succumb to the weight and remained planted.