Thanks to decades of tireless work, Japanese automakers have come to dominate many vehicle segments around the world. When it comes to efficient, reliable, affordable transportation, products from brands like Nissan, Honda and especially Toyota top the charts.
From compact sedans to family four-doors, economical crossovers to fuel-sipping hybrids, Japanese car companies deliver the goods year in and year out. But in the North American market there’s one segment they’ve failed to take over, and not for lack of trying. The full-size truck market remains something of a mystery to these East-Asian firms.
The Ford F-Series and Ram family plus the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra twins dominate the large-pickup market, with hundreds of thousands of each sold every turn of the calendar. Competing with these rivals is the Toyota Tundra, a rough-and-ready rig that’s been around in its current form for ages.
Dating back to around 2007, the Tundra is, in automotive terms, positively ancient. A normal product-update cycle includes a refresh at around three-years of age and a total redesign at about six. This Toyota is a full dozen years old! No longer can car companies keep vehicles around for ages, not even full-size trucks.
Compared to its major rivals, Tundra is the most geriatric truck around. The Silverado and Ram half-ton models were just redesigned for 2019, the Nissan Titan around 2016. Even Ford’s F-150, which has sprouted a few gray hairs at this point, only dates back to 2015.
It there’s an upside to all this, it’s that Toyota has had plenty of time to iron out any issues with this truck. While it’s not the most capable, feature-laden, efficient or comfortable model on the market today, Tundra is likely the most reliable full-size pickup you can buy, and for a lot of customers, that’s the top priority.
Proving this point, one customer in Louisiana put more than a million miles on his 2007 model, all with minimal problems. It still has the original engine and transmission!
You may not realize it, but the Tundra is built in America. It was largely designed in Newport Beach, California, partly engineered in Ann Arbor, Michigan and it’s screwed together down in San Antonio, Texas. The Lonestar State is also home to Toyota’s U.S. headquarters, which is in Plano.
Pros/ Class-leading resale value, refined powertrains, a proven performer, reliability
Cons/ Not as efficient as rival trucks, technology lags competitors, limited powertrain options, not the safest pickup, no regular-cab body
Bottom Line/ The Tundra may be ancient but it's still built for the long haul
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Toyota Tundra Specs
Engine: 4.6-liter V8
Torque: 327 lb-ft
Fuel: Regular-grade 87-octane gasoline or higher
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Engine: 5.7-liter V8
Torque: 401 lb-ft
Fuel: Regular-grade 87-octane gasoline or higher
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drivetrain: Standard rear-wheel drive, optional four-wheel drive
Seating Capacity: Up to 6
Bed and Body Configurations: Extended cab with 6.5-foot bed, extended cab with 8.1-foot bed, crew cab with 5.5-foot bed
Maximum Towing Capacity: 10,200 pounds
Maximum Payload Capacity: 1,730 pounds
Toyota Tundra Fuel Economy
As for efficiency, Tundras equipped with the base, 4.6-liter engine and rear-wheel drive sticker at 15 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on highway drives. Combined, they’re rated at 16 mpg. Grab four-wheel drive instead, and both the city and highway figures drop by 1 mile per gallon, though, curiously, the average remains identical at 16.
Stepping up to the big-block 5.7-liter V8, you can expect a rear-drive Tundra to return 13 miles per gallon around town and 18 on the interstate. Expect 15 mpg in mixed driving. With four-wheel drive those figures drop to 13 on the city cycle and 17 on the highway. Again, the combined score remains the same at 15 miles per gallon. As always, in real-world use your mileage WILL vary.
Toyota Tundra Safety
Given its advanced years, the Tundra is not the safest option in the full-size pickup segment, even if it still offers excellent protection in a variety of crashes.
In rigorous Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing the extended-cab model earned an “Acceptable” score in the demanding small-overlap front driver-side test. This is the second-highest rating they give out. In the moderate-overlap front, side, roof-strength as well as head restraints and seats categories the truck was rated “Good,” the best grade offered. The Tundra’s headlights and LATCH ease of use were both rated “Marginal,” the second-worst score.
Surprisingly, the crew-cab Tundra fared worse than its extended-cab sibling in IIHS testing. In the small-overlap front driver-side test it was rated “Marginal,” but in the small-overlap front passenger-side it scored “Poor,” the worst rating IIHS gives out. In the moderate-overlap, roof-strength, and head restraints and seats categories it was rated “Good.” Roof strength was determined to be “Acceptable.” The headlights on this model were also rated “Marginal,” though its LATCH ease of use was slightly better at “Acceptable.” This difference is potentially because there’s more room in the backseat of the crew-cab body and therefore easier to mount a child seat.
Should the unthinkable happen, passengers are protected by eight standard airbags.
At least this truck’s standard crash-prevention technology is rated “Superior,” the best grade available. Toyota Safety Sense P is standard across the Tundra range, a welcome addition.
Toyota Tundra Pricing
Base price for an entry-level Tundra SR with an extended-cab body and a 6.5-foot bed is about $32,000. Price out a midrange Limited model with crew-cab appointments, a 5.5-foot bed, the optional engine, and Toyota’s available premium package with options and you’ll be spending around $49,000. Both the estimated prices listed above include $1,495 in deliver fees.
Toyota Tundra Warranty
Toyota Tundra owners are shielded from costly repairs by a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Adding even more peace of mind, this truck’s powertrain is guaranteed for 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Likewise, the body is warrantied against corrosion for 60 months and unlimited miles.
Toyota Tundra Competitors
The Toyota Tundra competes with other full-size pickup trucks. This includes the Chevrolet Silverado, Nissan Titan, Ram 1500, Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra.
Unfortunately for Toyota, at this point in its lifecycle the Tundra is much older than all these rivals and, in many ways, it’s not terribly competitive, even if the company sells every single one it can build.
Toyota Tundra Future Plans
It’s hard to believe Toyota would continue selling the current-generation Tundra for much longer. At a dozen years of age, it’s well past a normal vehicle lifecycle. Correcting this, it’s widely believed the automaker is hard at work on an all-new Tundra, one that should be far more competitive with rival pickup trucks. Rumor has it this next-generation model will even be offered with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, à la Ford’s top-dog EcoBoost engine, one that could crank out more than 400 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. A hybridized powertrain could also be in the works for greatly enhanced efficiency.
If you’re thinking about getting a new Tundra, it might be beneficial to hold off until the brand-new version hits the market, that way you’ll be getting Toyota’s latest and greatest.
|Base Engine /||4.6-liter V8|
|Torque /||327 lb-ft|
|Optional Engine /||5.7-liter V8|
|Torque /||401 lb-ft|
|Fuel /||Regular-grade 87-octane gasoline or higher|
|Transmission /||Six-speed automatic|
|Drivetrain /||Standard rear-wheel drive, optional four-wheel drive|
|Seating Capacity /||Up to 6|
|Bed and Body Configurations /||Extended cab with 6.5-foot bed, extended cab with 8.1-foot bed, crew cab with 5.5-foot bed|
|Maximum Towing Capacity /||10,200 pounds|
|Maximum Payload Capacity /||1,730 pounds|
Our Final Verdict
Compared to rival full-size trucks, the Toyota Tundra lacks features, is less economical to operate and offers fewer powertrain options. It’s a rig that’s definitely showing its age. But, making up lost ground, this pickup is rugged and reliable, major feathers in its cap and attributes that still make it a popular choice.2.75