2018 Toyota Tundra 4×4 SR5 TRD Sport Review - For the Long Haul

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2018 Toyota Tundra SR5 TRD Sport 4x4

5.7-liter V8, DOHC (381 hp @ 5,600 rpm, 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm)
Six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive
13 city / 17 highway / 14 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
15.7 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $38,445 (USD)
As Tested: $43,624
Prices include $1,295 freight charge.

I’d like to think of myself as a reasonably enlightened being. Despite living my entire life in the cultural wasteland known to coastal elites as “flyover country,” I’ve somehow avoided marrying kin and sought to broaden my views on any number of subjects.

However, some of my neighbors are doing their best to keep the stereotypes alive, at least in the automotive realm.

As any self-respecting automotive journalist does when handed the keys to a truck, I headed to the home center to haul things I didn’t want to subject my usual ride to. In this case, bags of mulch. When I handed my receipt for 20 bags of mulch to the young man tasked with loading, he genuinely seemed concerned that the 2018 Toyota Tundra would need at least 10 trips to handle the load, and that even two bags would cause the bumper to drag. Xenophobic jokes like this are getting old.

I wanted to remind the guy that the Tundra was American made, perhaps even more than the Big Three trucks he clearly idolized. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out if he had a Calvin peeing on Ford/Chevy tattoo, or “Don’t Just Dodge It Ram It” emblazoned on the back window of a ratty Dakota, but I figured that engaging in conversation with this mouth breather wouldn’t be worth the fight.

The Tundra may never sell in the numbers the Big Three see, but roughly one out of every twenty full-sized pickups sold in 2017 was a Tundra. There are plenty of folks who found that Toyota’s take on the big truck is right for them.

[Get new and used Toyota Tundra pricing here!]

My week with the Toyota Tundra 4×4 SR5 TRD Sport (if only I were paid by the word, I’d just repeat that model name a few extra times) was not my typical week. Rather than commuting on my usual back roads, I had a long drive across several states to accomplish. I wasn’t hauling much — a suitcase, a cooler, and some camera gear — all of which fit in the locked cab rather than open in the bed.

Indeed, I see so many full-sized trucks hauling nothing but people on long interstate drives that I’m glad I had the opportunity to try it myself. My typical mount for such a drive would be a minivan, or preferably a small efficient car — but I came to realize that the effortless power from the big V8 and the long wheelbase make the Tundra a comfortable interstate cruiser. It’s not plush — the off-road biased suspension transmits road imperfections into the cabin — but it’s still a pleasant drive.

I’d have been happier with a more fuel-efficient powertrain, however. The EPA estimates 17 mpg on the interstate, but my drive (using several tanks of fuel) only netted 15.7 mpg while cruising around 75. Maybe I should have slowed a bit, but the Tundra just feels right at that speed. Wind noise wasn’t bad, though the road noise produced by the big 20-inch wheels and 275-section tires did intrude into the cabin, forcing me to turn up the volume a bit.

On that note (sorry), Toyota, please do something about Entune. Yes, it’s functional, but it’s slow and awkward to use. The seven-inch touchscreen is sluggish to respond to inputs, which left me tapping the screen multiple times for the same attempted maneuver, only to have the first touch register then the subsequent ones, making me work my way backward. Not fun while trying to use navigation when you accidentally get off of the wrong exit in a sketchy part of Chattanooga.

381 horsepower certainly was plenty for my needs — I’d probably have been fine with the four-cylinder found in entry trims of the midsized Tacoma, as little as I was hauling. This crew-cab 4×4 configuration is rated to tow 9,900 pounds, so boat, horse, or race car owners will have no worries yanking their toys.

I was mostly comfortable in the driver’s seat, though I’d have preferred a longer lower seat bolster for thigh support on the highway. I found myself fidgeting a bit toward the end of each fuel tank, trying to work out kinks in my knees. I didn’t haul the kids for very long, but they had plenty of room in the second row. I might not have been so happy in the rear, however, as the seat back is rather upright for my tastes — as is typical in most crew-cab pickups.

I appreciated the hard-wearing cloth interior, as I believe a truck should be for working, not for showing off. I’d rather not be afraid of scratching a plush leather seat with an errant screwdriver in the pocket.

I’m sure I’m in the minority, however, witnessing the ever-escalating lux-truck wars. In that perspective, this well-equipped Tundra seems a relative bargain at $43,624 delivered. It’s not cheap, but for the capabilities it presents, I’d be quite proud to put a Tundra in my driveway.

[Images: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

Chris Tonn
Chris Tonn

Some enthusiasts say they were born with gasoline in their veins. Chris Tonn, on the other hand, had rust flakes in his eyes nearly since birth. Living in salty Ohio and being hopelessly addicted to vintage British and Japanese steel will do that to you. His work has appeared in eBay Motors, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars, Reader's Digest, AutoGuide, Family Handyman, and Jalopnik. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, and he's currently looking for the safety glasses he just set down somewhere.

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  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Jul 26, 2018

    I'm going to put this out there; the 2019 new gen RAM is going to come in workhorse and luxurious versions, and both will raise the bar by two product cycles versus any of the competition. The new Silverado/Sierra will already look and feel old-school compared to the new RAM,'and Ford's going to significantly crank up incentives to try and maintain F Series market share. That's how great the incoming RAM is. It's a proper tribute to Sergio, and to Ralph Gilles, who is the epitome of the genuine self-made American success story, and one he11 of a righteous bro: "Ralph Victor Gilles (French pronunciation: ​[ʒij]; born 14 January 1970) is a Haitian-Canadian-American automobile designer and executive. Gilles was the President and CEO of Chrysler's SRT brand and Senior Vice President of Design at Chrysler before being promoted to Head of Design for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in April 2015. Gilles styled the North American Car of the Year-winning 2005 Chrysler 300 after joining Chrysler in 1992.[1] Gilles also led the design team that created the 2014 SRT Viper. Background[edit] Born in New York City to Haitian immigrants, Gilles was raised in Montreal, Quebec.[2] Gilles was drawing concept vehicles at the age of eight. When he was fourteen years old, his aunt Gisele Mouscardy sent one of his sketches to then Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca.[3] A reply came from K. Neil Walling, Chrysler's design chief at the time, suggesting he attend one of three design schools.[4] Gilles attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Michigan, and in 2002 received an Executive MBA from Michigan State University.[5] He lives in Oxford, Michigan.[6]"

  • Drzhivago138 Drzhivago138 on Jul 29, 2018

    "[T]he seat back is rather upright for my tastes — as is typical in most crew-cab pickups." Aha! You've fallen for the trick Dodge hoped you would fall for with the 2002 Ram Quad Cab: thinking that rear-opening doors=crew cab. What you've got here is an extended cab, and even when the leg room is decent in an extended cab (1988+ Chevys, 2002+ Rams, 2004+ F-150s, 2007+ Tundras), there's still nothing that can be done about the bolt-upright seat back.

  • The Oracle This thing got porky quick.
  • Kwi65728132 I'll grant that it's nicely kept but I'm not a fan of the bangle butt designs, and I know better than to buy a used BMW while living anywhere in the world other than in the fatherland where these are as common as any Honda or Toyota is anywhere else.
  • ChristianWimmer When these came out I thought they were hideous: now they’ve grown on me. This one looks pretty nice. Well-maintained, low mileage and some good-looking wheels that aren’t super fancy but not cheap-looking or boring either, they are just right.
  • Aja8888 Someday in the far away future, all cars will look the same, people will be the same color, dogs will be all mixed beyond recognition, and governments will own everything. That car looks like my son's Hyundai Tucson without badges.
  • Tassos Of course, what the hell did you expect? A SERIOUS, BEAUTIFUL car you can ACTUALLY USE AS YOUR DAILY DRIVER???............. NOOOOO, THIS IS TIM WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. SO HE FINDS SOME OBSOLETE POS WHICH IS 22 years old, .............AND HE PURPOSELY MISSES THE BEAUTIFUL MODEL, THE Classical Beauty E39 that ended in 2003. ...........So he uses his column as a WASTEBASKET once again, to throw the first year of BMWs BANGLED 5 series (as in the INFAMOUS CHRIS BANGLE WHO SCREWED UP THE DESIGN ROYALLY). ................................................ As Dr. Evil, Fake Doctor Jill Biden would scream at the top of her voice, so her senile idiot husband could hear her, "Good Job, (Tim)! You answered all the questions and ticked all the boxes!" ..... KEEP UP THE S---Y work, Tim!
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