The Toyota Tundra may not have the same following as Fords and Chevys, but it has a following nonetheless. For good reason.
Just as many people today find the mid-sized sedan of their choice to be a Camry or an Accord, the same has happened with pickups. As it has found its customer base, the Tundra brings Toyota’s virtues to the pickup party.
The Tundra has a solid conservative look that says “you can depend on me,” and evidently you can. Inside there are plenty of features which demonstrate that pickup drivers can be comfortable and not feel they’re letting the side down. Since most people use these trucks as personal vehicles, there is plenty of time when there is more than one person inside.
This is a truck that the family won’t object to at all. Nicely equipped for spouse and the kids there’s little to tell you this isn’t a really nice full-sized sport utility vehicle, except the rear window is a little close and there isn’t a third row of seats. There is plenty of room in the truck bed for lots of stuff.
This bones of this generation Tundra have been around awhile. But it’s still well received, both in the marketplace and in the awards circuit. IntelliChoice named the Tundra a 2011 Best Overall Value in the full-size pickup segment, and Tundra was named Most Dependable Large Pickup, for the sixth year in a row in the 2011 J.D. Power & Associates Vehicle Dependability Study.
So they are good bones and with evolving features, the 2013 Toyota Tundra is still is a quite competitive pickup. This year the Platinum Package introduced on the CrewMax last year becomes a full trim line for 2013. The package adds luxury including heated and ventilated front bucket seats with embroidered headrests and driver’s seat two-position memory feature, perforated leather-trimmed seating surfaces, DVD navigation system, power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade, and wood-grain-style interior trim.
Another new feature for 2013 is Entune, Toyota’s multimedia package, which becomes an option for the lineup. It includes navigation, as well as all the needed connectivity and sources for content necessary in both vehicles and most lifestyles today. For those less socially adept, the Tundra TRD Rock Warrior package is offered more grades of Tundra. It will let you take off for the empty, uh, tundra by adding off-road capability as well as looks.
The truck comes in three grades, the Tundra, Limited and Platinum. It comes with three cab sizes, regular, double and Toyota’s Crew Max. There are three bed lengths resulting in three possible wheelbases (126.8, 145.7 and 164.6 in.). There are also three engine choices. The single hybrid fully boxed and C-Channel frame does have four wheels holding it up, ending what seemed to be a long series of threes.
The Tundra is decently stiff, and more than capable of doing what pickups do. Unlike the American competition, especially from Ford and Chevrolet, Toyota doesn’t have to satisfy a group of heavy-duty owners who are replacing these with light pickups. That is somewhat of an economic fact of life for the past four or five years, so it made sense for them to really beef up their half-ton offering. They know their heavy duty buyers are absolutely the most loyal pickup owners and were happy to overbuild their consumer truck to keep these people happy.
While there certainly plenty of people using Tundras for work, it is really a consumer truck which might live a dual-purpose life. Toyota makes sure there’s plenty of flexibility for Tundra customers in power, size features and capability
The base engine in the Tundra Regular and Double Cab models is a 4.0-liter DOHC V6, making 270 hp. and 278 lb.-ft. of peak torque. That power gets to the 18-in. wheels through a five-speed automatic transmission.
Two V8 engines fill out the list with a 4.6-liter DOHC V8 producing 310 hp. and 327 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Finally the big gun is a 5.7-liter DOHC V8 generating 381 hp. and 401 lb.-ft. of peak torque. All Tundra engines have an aluminum cylinder block and DOHC heads, along with variable valve timing. Both of the eights are hooked to a six-speed automatic transmission.
The double-cab I tested had the 4.6-liter V8 engine, and I’d have to need to tow seriously to see any reason to upgrade. It is a strong engine and has plenty of guts at low engine speed. But it is also sophisticated. At highway speeds this pickup frankly is no noisier than a car.
The Tundra is a stable vehicle with a mid-segment ride that nicely balances capability and comfort. The front suspension uses a double A-arm front suspension uses coil-over spring shock units, while a front-mounted steering rack helps enhance steering feel and response.
The rear suspension uses staggered shocks mounted outboard of the springs to improve the shocks’ dampening efficiency. Spring rates are tuned to provide a flat vehicle stance when fully loaded. Brakes are large, ABS and disks all around. Naturally, there is traction control as well as stability control.
The Tundra’s four-wheel drive is a part-time, electronically controlled, four-wheel drive system which includes a low range. The Tundra four-wheel drive models also use an automatic limited-slip differential to apply power to the wheel with traction.
While it has plenty of off-road capability it is really the level of livability that makes the Tundra a popular choice for people who what the capability of a pickup, but would rather not have a serious lifestyle change because of it. The Tundra doesn’t herald its truck status from inside its cabin. Riding in it is a comfortable experience, and when you glance backwards and notice a bed-full of cargo or a trailer full of horses, it is startling to realize just how well the Tundra does both jobs.