Toyota Tundra 4X2 Limited Review
The Tundra’s curvaceous sheetmetal hearkens back to the last-gen Ford F150– with only a butch twin-bar grille as a modern concession to big-rig boldness. The soft but hard theme continues downstream, as the curves end in hindquarters that feel distinctly truckish– in the nicest possible way. The Tundra's double cab profile proclaims its intention to haul more than mulch. Meanwhile, the door-mounted "Limited" decals proclaim its buyer’s appreciation of life’s finer things (like you’re too "country" for a Lexus rig). It’s all good, since people who buy a megabuck truck aren’t looking for something that says “tough” like a Texas lawman… Oh wait, they are.
While Lexus-like door panels, leather trim, navigation and JBL tunes trick the truck; the Tundra’s interior is still an ergonomic earthquake. Corolla-esque door handles look feminine and require dainty fingers to manipulate without continual restorative manicures. Grabbing too much column-shifter activates the wiper stalk, while a bizarre dash-mounted button is the sole method for manual first gear engagement. Rotary HVAC controls operate without fluidity or grace. The power retracting rear window is the Tundra's sole redeeming feature; it increases the open-air convertible factor and encourages meaningful conversations with your cargo. (Expect another horrid dash plug for Tundra's lacking this option.)
So this rig ain't no Cowboy Cadillac, but does it work hard? You betcha.
The Tundra's hardware is far from class leading, but the rig passes the all-important truck test: towing. While the V8 needs all 32 intelligently-timed valves to tow a 6000lb load, the autobox makes sure multiple downshifts motivate the Tundra to hillclimb like a pack mule. Expect a decent 12mpg with highway towing, down from the 19mpg rating awarded from the EPA. Even with a land-yacht behind it, the Tundra’s mediocre stopping hardware yanked all and sundry to a standstill with zero drama. Yet the Tundra's flexi-flyer frame showed telltale signs of weakness: the bed pulled away from the cab, notably worse than many a Detroit-bred beat-to-shit work truck towing the same load.
Remember Toyota's first minivan? It was a mid-engined deathtrap, no match for Chrysler's baby. But Toyota eventually got it right, building a showroom superstar in the Sienna. The 2007 Tundra is set to bust a move with fresh threads. And it’ll be assembled by folks who know a thing or two about trucks: Texans. For now, Ford's class-leading F150 can rest on its laurels. Next year, who knows? Imitation may soon prove to be the sincerest form of market share.
[Toyota provided the vehicle reviewed, insurances, taxes and a tank of gas.]
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