Toyota did an excellent job of placing all of the controls within easy reach of the driver, and once you've tried the steering wheel audio controls, you'll never want to reach for the head unit again. You will become lazy like we did. The dual-zone climate controls work perfectly for fussy passengers. Some of our drivers weren't keen on the multicolor dash paneling, but the fit and finish was very nice. Our only real gripe inside the cab was that some of the out of-sight areas where the fitment of the leather seat upholstery wasn't as clean as the rest of the interior was. Everyone agreed that there was plenty of legroom at both ends of the cab.
On The Road
Turn the key, and the 5.7L engine immediately comes to life and settles into a smooth 700-rpm idle. The engine has tons of torque and pulls hard when you mash the go pedal. We found ourselves cruising above the speed limit without really trying, so we had to pay attention to keep ourselves from getting pulled over. With a trailer in tow and the tow/haul button engaged, the six-speed transmission reacted accordingly, staying in the low gears longer to get the train up to speed, without having to mash the gas pedal, excessively.
The window sticker stated that we'd get between 13 and 19 miles per gallon in the city and 17 to 23 mpg on the highway. We found that with a light right foot we could achieve 14 to 15 mpg around town and 16 to 19 on the highway. Any time we got happy with the long pedal on the right, those numbers suffered. With a 3,000-pound trailer in tow, it was common to get 13.5 to 15 mpg on the highway.
When not concerned about saving fuel, this truck flat-out accelerated hard and hauled ass. Our truck weighs 5,360 pounds and ran the quarter-mile in 14.7 seconds at 92 mph. It also accelerated from zero to 60 mph in less than 6.3 seconds. It's a spirited ride with a tight turning radius, smooth steering, and a comfortable ride that in most situations feels more like a car and less like a truck. Over uneven or rough sections of road, we were quickly reminded that we were driving a truck as the rear end bucked without a load in the 6-1/2-foot-long bed.
The Tundra came standard with big 13.9-inch disc brakes and vented rotors, both front and rear. These brakes work great, thanks to an electronic brake force distribution system and anti-lock system on all four wheels. The safety quotient is also maximized with a traction control system, vehicle stability control system, and automatic limited-slip rear differential. No matter what type of surface you happen to be driving on, the Tundra comes prepared with electronic wizardry and thoughtful engineering to move this truck safely across it.
The onboard audio and navigation system featured a touch screen, which made operating it fairly simple. The navigation portion received its prompts from a GPS satellite but relied on a CD to provide the mapping and point-of-interest software. The software was so detailed that it even showed us a fast-food company logo anywhere a franchise was located on the map. From ATMs to gas stations, we were never out of touch with service. The JBL audio system rocked hard, and we were able to crank it up with minimal distortion at the loudest levels. This is a fine example of the growing trend of auto manufacturers putting high-end systems in new trucks that satisfy the end user enough that adding aftermarket equipment is no longer a necessity. A little more oomph in the sub bass department is all we recommend adding to this already great system.
With 3,100 miles driving, hauling, and towing under our belts, we have a good idea of what our Tundra is capable of. The next step will be to see what the aftermarket has to offer to take our truck to the next level. Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, where we tear into the suspension and see how we can make this truck work and look even better.