Our weeks with Toyotas new Tundra offerings
If you’ve kept up with our truck reviews here you’ll know we like our domestic trucks. The Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 have been dueling it out, back and forth, to be named Truck of Texas for years. Of course, being in Texas, we’re all brought up with our own biases based on family heritage. For instance, my grandfather drove an F-150, my father currently drives and has owned several F-150s, and my first truck was an ‘88 F-150. Toyota first tried to break into this market in 1999 with a model year 2000 truck named the Tundra. I’ll admit that I never really paid any attention to it back then; heck I was still in highschool driving my ‘88 Acura Integra being all fast and furious on the streets of Granbury, Texas. The Tundra first caught my attention in 2006 as it grew up, in both design and size, when it was announced at the Chicago Auto Show. Shortly after they went on sale later in ‘06 my boss at the job I currently held went out and bought one. I still remember to this day being excited to jump in it and poke around; it was an exciting time for the growth of the truck market.
After all the excitement and throughout the next 7-years we didn’t see too much change in the truck and the Tundra’s second generation styling became more and more outdated compared to what the big boys were doing. Luckily in 2014 the truck received a redesign giving it a more modern and bold exterior and an overall more up to date interior. As soon as the new truck dropped we had a great review posted by our friend David Boldt looking at the 1794 – the new premium package offered. Here recently though I was able to get my hands on, and plenty of seat time with, a variety of 2015 Tundra trucks so it’s time to really see what’s up.
Let’s start with the outside of these trucks. Depending on what model you end up going with will determine the grille and overall design – much like many truck manufacturers have been doing for years. The SR packages have a more blacked-out grille while the Limited and Platinum packages get much more bling with chromed out grilles. The 1794 is a good combination of both, not looking too basic but also not too brash. You can also step up to a TRD Pro which really gives you a blacked out look with a much more aggressive front end overall.
Looking at the rest of the front end I’ve really become quite pleased with it. When they first launched I wasn’t sold on the styling but it’s really grown on me. Overall it looks like a modern and more grown up truck which is exactly what it needed.
Another area that need a lot of work for these trucks was with the interior. I’m not going to harp too much on the old interior but to say it was about as unmodern as you could get. While Ram, Ford, and Chevrolet were busy adding tech and luxury Toyota hadn’t really moved forward. That is until now. Looking at the interior of a lower range SR model you probably won’t be too impressed. It still has boring looking cloth seats and not much show, but at least now, if that’s what you’re wanting, you can have it. Moving up to the Platinum and 1794 models you have an interior that could rival any of the other big brands. While my favorite grille lives on the 1794 my favorite interior is actually on the Platinum. I really like what Toyota has done with the 1794 but if I was buying one I could live with the modern look of the Platinum truck over the country look of the 1794.
Under the hood you’ll find some familiar options. This newly redesigned truck keeps its basic power plant set up as the years before it. In a press announcement, here in Dallas, Toyota said that their customers are just fine with the power and efficiency from their current engines so there was no need for an update. I call B.S. on that but it doesn’t mean that the current setup isn’t good. You can have a 4.6-liter V8 that pushes out 310-horsepower and 327-lbs. ft. of torque. You could also step up to the 5.7-liter V8 which gives you 381-hp and 401-lbs. ft. of torque. Both options are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Both engines are adequate but engine tech is another area that all three other big names have been focusing on with their new trucks. Ford gives you an Eco-Boost engine, Chevrolet the Ecotec3, and Ram the Eco Diesel; all great engines that can return some pretty impressive economy numbers for a full size truck.
Despite not having an economy focused engine the Tundra is a great truck to drive. You get plenty of power out of both engines and it drives smoothly down the road. We also had the opportunity to pull a trailer in one of these trucks last year at our annual Texas Truck Rodeo. This made us appreciate the capabilities of this truck with any motor under the hood.
What it always comes down to is whether or not I’d consider buying the vehicle I’m reviewing. In the case of the Tundra its biggest selling point for me is its roots right here in Texas. Both the Tundra and Tacoma are now being built in Toyota’s plant just outside of San Antonio so of course I want them to do well. The 1794 Edition we reviewed had a MSRP of $51,622 but using the website builder and building out a Platinum trimmed truck (what I really prefer) the MSRP came out to $46,620. Compared to the Ford F-150 you’ll be paying a base price of $48,885 for a King Ranch or just over $51k for a Platinum. The Ram Laramie Longhorn and Laramie Limited base at $46k and $47k respectively. So you can definitely get a loaded Tundra for about the same as the base price for some of the other premium trucks out there.
If you’re looking at trucks and considering a Tundra but wondering if it’s as good, or as durable, or as nice on the inside as the big three; yes it is. This really has turned out to be a great truck all around and if you buy one you end up supporting jobs right here in Texas. My advice, if you’re considering it, pull the trigger.