We've put 5,000 miles on our '07 Toyota Tundra and during that time we've towed and commuted with the truck, getting a feel for its on-road manners. It's time to find out how well our two-wheel-drive truck will work off the road by taking a journey to a far-off destination. In this case, the destination is one of our favorite watering holes, which is situated in the middle of the Arizona desert. The aptly named Desert Bar is in the middle of nowhere, and like that island in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, you can't find it unless you already know where it is.

The Desert Bar lies between two rock formations at the base of a mountain about 3 miles off highway 95 in Parker, Arizona. The trail that leads to it is an unmarked, rocky stretch of dirt with a handful of switchbacks and tight corners of varying elevation. It's tame enough to take a stock truck through with a few scrapes on the chassis, but rough enough to rattle the fillings from your teeth should you take your stocker in search of the bar's fantastic beer and live music. We were hankerin' for some hooch but didn't want to hurt our kidneys, so we opted to outfit our Tundra with a dirt-worthy suspension and rolling stock from Pro Comp. Dealer Services International (DSI), the company that built the no fear GMC Sierra featured in the March '08 Builder's Blueprint, also hooked up our truck.

The KIT: The Stage II suspension system from Pro Comp lifts the truck a total of 6 inches. It includes all of the hardware to do the job, except for thread-locking compound for the bolts and the tools to do the job. The parts will put the truck up enough to clear 35x12.50-inch tires with rim sizes up to 9-inches wide. The replacement coilovers are not adjustable, but the eS9000 rear shocks are. This kit works for both two- and four-wheel-drive Tundras.

Stock Suspension: The Tundra's IfS is a beefy, unequal-length A-arm design and relies on coilovers for support. look at those big ol' tie-rod ends: They are larger than most 3/4- and 1-ton domestic truck parts.

Spindles And Shocks: The new spindles move the hub location downward and roll the angle of the tie-rod end over to eliminate bumpsteer. The aluminum-body coilovers are longer and offer increased travel without a harsh ride, thanks to a better spring rate.

1.The IFS is torn down, and the spindles and stock coilovers are removed. The stock hubs are retained and installed onto the new spindles using the provided hardware (inset).

Destination: Found!
In the world of lifted trucks, we've come to expect a few things. Usually, our truck won't handle as well, ride as well, and the parts don't always fit or work the way we'd like them to after installing a lift kit. We weren't expecting factory-quality parts; however, that's what we received from Pro Comp. everything fit the way it was designed to. With the exception of a few bolt holes that had to be enlarged, the entire kit bolted in place. The new coilovers were tuned almost perfectly to provide a cushy highway ride and plenty of suspension to soak up moderately rough off-road sections. Make no mistake: This is not just a lift kit. But, don't also make the mistake of thinking this or any other bolt-on suspension will turn your Tundra into a Trophy Truck. We don't recommend jumping your rig unless you want to test the strength of the factory chassis.

Prior to the lift, we averaged 16 to 19 mpg in fuel economy on the highway and 14 to 16 around town. The switch to 35-inch tires dropped our cruising rpm by several hundred revolutions per minute and threw off the speedometer by 3.3 mph. The additional weight of the new rolling stock hurt the acceleration of the truck. We are now averaging about 13 to 15 mpg on the highway and 10 to 12 mpg around town. Towing a car hauler strapped with a 3,600-pound truck brought the gas mileage down to 9 mpg. Still, that's not too shabby considering our truck is still rockin' the factory rear-axle ring-and-pinion gears. A quick switch to a higher ratio will help restore some of the fuel economy.

Behind the wheel, we noticed our steering radius decreased slightly, but this truck had a great turning radius to begin with, so navigating parking lots is still easy. The truck definitely feels top-heavy due to its size, but the steering response and smooth on-road manners really give the truck a good balance, even in high-wind situations.

We feel this is as close to a stock ride as you can get with a lift kit of this type. Our only gripe is that after towing with the truck the rear suspension sacked out and lost about an inch and a half of ride height, which pointed the headlights toward the sky, making them virtually useless at night. Adjusting the lights or adding a taller block or another leaf spring to the rear suspension should fix that problem. Overall, we dig our Tundra with this group of parts, and the loss of fuel economy is more than made up for with off-road prowess and style.

SOURCE
Dealer Services International Pro Comp Suspension
Pro Comp Tire &Wheel Co
www.procomptires.com
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