2014 Toyota Tundra

Posted on 2nd January 2014

It’s interesting how Toyota eased into the full-size-truck market in the U.S. After years of building small pickups, the company introduced the slightly larger T-100 for 1993, adding the Xtracab extended-cab model in 1995. The darling of landscapers everywhere, there are still plenty of T-100s on the roads towing Dixie Choppers on small trailers, with lawn trimmers, rakes, and edgers packed in the bed. Almost as if the T-100 had served some perceived apprenticeship, Toyota introduced the still-larger Tundra in 2000, with an available 4.7-liter V-8, and in 2004, a Double Cab model with four real, front-hinged doors. Tough and, for many consumers, pretty right-sized, this Tundra lasted through 2006. Then, with the apprenticeship presumably complete, Toyota allowed itself to build a full-on, whopper-sized pickup for 2007, figuring on three things: that, with 14 years of in-market research complete, Toyota now really understood what truck buyers want; that existing customers weaned on the T-100 and first-gen Tundra would embrace this new beast; and that Toyota’s reputation for build quality would draw plenty of Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and Dodge customers into the fold. It seemed almost mercenary that the new Tundra was to be built in San Antonio, as if imparting the truck with some sort of homegrown geographical pedigree and credibility. Even if it knew internally that it would never approach Ford or GM sales figures, Toyota still made a few strategic errors in launching the Tundra. The styling was polarizing, the model lineup a bit confusing, and the price nowhere near low enough to be a factor in drawing defectors from other brands. Mostly, though, Toyota underestimated just how good the Big Three’s full-size pickups were (and are) and how loyal their customers were (and are).rnFew things inspire brand loyalty as fiercely as do full-size pickup trucks. And although Ford, GM, and Ram have been burnishing their corporations’ bottom lines for decades, Toyota’s full-size Tundra has never really turned cargo-hauling capability into solid-gold success. This fall, while Toyota was celebrating the one-millionth Tundra to roll off its San Antonio assembly line since the plant opened in 2006, Ford casually announced it had sold 559,506 F-series trucks in the first nine months of 2013 alone. And the other two weren’t far off Ford’s pace during the same period, with GM selling 496,445 of the Sierra/Silverado twins and Ram delivering 262,787 units. Harsh statistics from the Toyota perspective, even as the domestics bolster their numbers by lumping half-ton trucks together with their heavy-duty models. rnWhatever the stats, Toyota seems to be taking them in stride, having utilized a conservative approach with the Tundra’s mild makeover for 2014. The exterior received a larger grille, reworked lighting, and bolder bodywork. There’s also now a prominent “TUNDRA” wordmark embossed into the tailgate. The powertrains, however, remain basically unchanged, with none of the engines yet offering direct injection. Buyers can select from three carry-over engines: the base 270-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 (available only on 2WD regular and Double Cab models); the 310-hp, 4.6-liter V-8; and the 381-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 found under the hood of our Tundra Limited CrewMax 4x4. rnrnBoth of the V-8s still pair with a six-speed automatic, while the V-6 continues to make do with five-speed auto. Unlike the smorgasbord of options available in the domestic trucks, the Tundra’s order sheet keeps the list of available engine and axle-ratio combinations short: The V-6 and the 4.6-liter V-8 get a 3.91 axle, and the 5.7-liter V-8 receives a 4.10 (or a 4.30 when equipped with the tow package, as was our truck). rnrnCrewMax is Toyota’s tag for its true four-door pickup, and our 2014 Tundra’s doors swung wide for easy ingress for passengers and any attendant paraphernalia. Front or back, we found it easy for a family of four to get comfortable, even with laundry, computer bags, or groceries at passengers’ feet. The gauge cluster has been reworked into a slightly more traditional arrangement that features a large speedo and tach, with a 3.5-inch color information display placed between them. A quartet of slightly smaller analog gauges provide for fuel, coolant temperature, oil pressure, and volt information

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