Auto Review: Refinement for the long haul

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Fri., Jan. 10, 2014
2014 Toyota Tundra - Contributed Photo

The Toyota Tundra has been with us since 2000, and marked the company’s entrance into the incredibly competitive (yet actually very narrow, in terms of the number of manufacturers involved) full-size pickup market. After decades of sales success in the U.S. compact truck market with what is now known as the Tacoma, the Tundra did well enough that Toyota built a brand new, state-of-the-art factory in San Antonio, Texas, and in 2007 the company introduced an all-new Tundra that was armed to compete with the best half-ton pickups from Ford, Chevy/GMC and Dodge (which now markets pickups under the Ram name).

The dominance of the Big Three continues to this day, but the Tundra is selling well and has won converts, thanks to its capability and reliability. The truck underwent a refreshing for 2014 that showed that the company wanted to address its few foibles, but mainly continue with most components unchanged.  This demonstrates the engineer’s confidence in the truck’s hardware, for other than a few minor tweaks, the drivetrain and chassis components are the same as the ’13 model.

What has changed is some of the styling, and the equipment packages associated with the five trim levels now offered (SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum and 1794). Three engines are available, including a 4-liter V6 with 270 horsepower, a 4.6-liter V8 with 310 horsepower and a 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower. The V6 comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, and the V8s both get a six-speed transmission. The truck is available in Regular Cab, Double Cab and CrewMax configurations, with a choice of bed lengths, except for the CrewMax that comes with a 66.7-inch bed length only. All are available with part-time 4WD with a two-speed transfer case, and all feature Toyota’s unique TripleTech frame that has fully boxed, reinforced-C and open-C elements.  We tested a Tundra SR5 CrewMax 4X4 with the 5.7-liter V8 and optional dual exhaust, and the big truck was as refined as it was clearly built to haul and tow. Toyota is the only manufacturer that follows the Society of Automotive Engineers’ testing standards to rate its towing capacity, meaning the truck has to be able to pass specific roads tests to claim a rated towing capacity. In the case of our CrewMax, it comes standard with a tow package and is rated to pull a trailer weighing up to 9,000 pounds.

Inside the CrewMax is impressively quiet at speed, and the rear seating area has limo-like room and easy access, thanks to very large doors. The rear window also lowers completely like old station wagons of the past, for great summer ventilation. Remember hot weather? It will return soon (I think). The truck comes standard with a back-up camera; not only great for avoiding backing over precious entities, but very useful when hooking up to a trailer. The 2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 CrewMax 4X4 5.7 is EPA rated 13 MPG city/17 highway and has a base price of $36,375. With options, our MSRP came to $43,445.

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