Drive Away 2Day

2014 Toyota Tundra : Current Models

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).

Enter the refreshed 2014 Toyota Tundra, the first real opportunity to right those wrongs. The question: Would Toyota take another swing at the grandstands or merely tweak what it has?

The answer: tweak. Those who dislike the 2013 Tundra will probably dislike the 2014 less, and those who like the 2013 will probably like the 2014 a little more. But there’s nothing here to substantially change anyone’s mind. The Tundra is still a good truck. Toyota did address one complaint uncovered through research, and that is that the current Tundra looks, in Toyota’s words, “too round” and “too bubbly.”

Bubbly? Really?
So the 2014 Tundra addresses this issue of round bubbliness with a new grille. Toyota calls it “bold” and “masculine.” We’d say “big” and “not at all bubbly.” How well it works is pretty dependent on the paint color and trim level, because we’d say it looks “less big” on the Platinum. There are new headlights, modestly integrated fender flares, and new side mirrors that include aero-minded “vortex generators,” which are “small airfoils that introduce swirling motions in the air that energize the boundary layer.” If they are the reason there is zero wind noise coming from the side mirrors, bravo.

An all-cap “TUNDRA” is stamped into the tailgate, and the front and rear bumpers are now three-piece modular designs. The front of the hood has been raised 1.6 inches to “emphasize the full-size truck look.” The rest of the exterior mostly carries over, including the bed sizes of long (8.1 feet), standard (6.5 feet), and short (5.5 feet).

Inside is where the real improvements have been made, especially on the upper-level models like the Platinum and 1794 (an upper, upper-level model named for the founding date of the Texas ranch on which the Tundra plant was built, which seems like an odd, “sorry about your ranch” salute). Leather on those models is Lexus quality, and the center-stack and dash trim materials are impressive.

Even the SR and SR5 interiors are no penalty boxes, and the Limited is pretty nice. The new center console box is huge. Rear-seat room in the Double Cab is more than adequate, and in the CrewMax, downright cavernous. Five six-footers can ride comfortably in that truck all day long.

Mechanically, there’s not much new with the powertrains. Base SRs and SR5s get the 4.0-liter V-6, with 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. Next up is the 4.6-liter V-8, with 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque. But if you really want a V-8, we’d suggest giving up a little in fuel economy for the 381-hp, 5.7-liter engine that, at 401 lb-ft of torque, has all the power you need. It’s smooth, nicely matched to the six-speed automatic transmission (a five-speed auto comes with the 4.0-liter), can tow more than 10,000 pounds in regular-cab guise, and sounds great. We’ve never had a complaint about this big-inch Tundra V-8.

On the road, the Tundra drives a little smaller than it is, which is a compliment. The brakes are a bit touchy, but the steering is precise and its feedback appropriate, even on four-wheel-drive models, which require the 4.6- or 5.7-liter V-8. There’s an available off-road package with Bilstein shocks and retuned springs that make mudding and rock crawling a lot of fun.

As you’d expect, gas mileage is nothing special: 16 mpg city and 20 highway for the 4.0-liter V-6; 15/19 for the rear-drive 4.6-liter; 14/18 for the 4.6 4x4; 13/18 for the rear-drive 5.7-liter; and 13/17 for the 5.7 4x4 model.

As we suggested earlier, there’s nothing here that will change a truck customer’s fundamental opinion of the Tundra, but buyers inclined to like it should like it better than they have, unless they’re partial to “bubbly.” Someone out there must be, right?


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Sources : 2014 Toyota Tundra Photo | 2014 Toyota Tundra Article | 2014 Toyota Tundra Interior Photo | 2014 Toyota Tundra Front Photo | 2014 Toyota Tundra Engine Photo

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