- P​hotos: Kurt Bradley

T​oyota Tundra TRD Pro: Reliable And Capable, But Got Held Back A Grade.

O​ver a decade old, this generation of Tundra isn't keeping up against the better options from Detroit.

8w ago
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T​oyota has cranked out plenty of Tundra models from its San Antonio, Texas-based plant over the years, giving buyers a truck with no frills, plenty of usability, and the longevity you expect from the Japanese marque. In the off-road capable mode, the TRD Pro trim offers some hardcore parts to tackle damn near any terrain and task you throw at your truck.

G​etting a bit long in the tooth, the Tundra may be good at what it's built to do, but the Big Three in Michigan are loading up trucks with all sorts of tech, power, and style to compete in a tough class. Can the Toyota keep up?

T​he Core Figures

T​oyota's 5.7-liter iForce V8 has powered the Tundra since the George W. Bush years, and pumps out 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic and Toyota's 4WDemand part-time four-wheel-drive system, the Tundra TRD Pro has an electronic transfer case, automatic limited-slip differential, and a dash-mounted knob to easily engage 2WD or 4WD. To handle towing duties, the Tundra is offered with a 4.30 axle, extra oil coolers for the engine and transmission, a quick dial for electric engagement of the tow mode, and packs a 38-gallon fuel tank.

I​n TRD Pro guise, Toyota gives the Tundra BBS forged 18-inch wheels, mounts TRD-tuned Fox shocks with remote reservoirs and three-stage compression dampening, installs a throaty dual exhaust system with polished black tips, slaps a skid plate under the front end, gives the front grille a cooler Toyota badge and more muscular fascia, and inside the seats are wrapped in black leather with red contrast stitching. With just a rubber bed liner optioned for my tester, the $52,780 base price of this Army Green tester bumped up to $54,414 after destination charge.

As A Daily Driver

T​aking on your daily duties in the Tundra isn't for the city dweller. Steering is a bit loose, and the turning circle is massive. When you're cruising around at 45 MPH, the feedback through the wheel is light, and the suspension has loads of travel in a not great way. Body roll is significant too. The iForce V8 has decent mid-range punch, but when you mash the throttle, you'll hear more noise than you'd expect when you watch the speedometer move slowly upward. In a time when other manufacturers are replacing outdated V8s with smaller, more efficient, and more responsive turbocharged powerplants, I'm confused why Toyota has stuck with this engine for so long, even if it sounds properly muscular.

The Tundra is large in its CrewMax body configuration, so it'll be fine in the big box retail parking lots, but don't try to parallel park it anywhere. Being up high is nice, as everyone gets out of your way, and you can see everything with ease. The body style is attractive, not overdone, and looks mean enough. The Army Green shade of paint isn't for me, but the color works decently with TRD's chunky black wheel and tire package.

You'll quickly learn that the 38-gallon tank was fitted for good reason because the 13/17/14 (city/highway/combined) EPA fuel estimates are a bit optimistic, and you'll be headed to the petrol station often. I got just 13 MPGs during my week in the Tundra, and by far I did more highway mileage in it than I typically do for my tests. Fortunately you can fill the Tundra with regular unleaded, giving your wallet less of a beating.

A​s A Working Off-Roader

W​ith a good slate of performance parts added at the factory, the TRD Pro is good once you leave the pavement. The Fox shocks have a good amount of travel for going over rockier terrain, the Michelin LTX all-terrain tires confidently grab, and the skid plate will keep the Tundra's vital parts covered. LED headlights and fog lamps give you plenty of visibility if you're taking a trek while the sun is down too.

In the low-range 4WD mode, the throttle gets nicely responsive, and the traction is predictable. With plenty of ground clearance, you'll have no trouble skimming along a stream or buzzing over a gravel path. T​he Tundra is no Land Rover Defender, so don't try to get too hardcore in your off-road adventures, but it's more than capable if you're doing some medium duty work around the ranch or rocky park.

The Tundra's bed has a rubber drop-in liner and some sliding tie downs, but other than that it's pretty basic. Where other trucks in class are adding loads of features and functionality to the cargo area, Toyota kept the Tundra too simple. When the tow package is needed, the Tundra TRD Pro can pull 10,200 pounds, and offers a respectable 1,730 cargo payload capacity.

T​he Good And Bad Points

W​ith good reliability, the Tundra is a great long-term truck, but if you're sticking with it for the long haul, keep your expectations for comfort and convenience low. Buttons are easy to use, clear and simple, and there's loads of storage space for anything you'll want to stash away. Cabin space is huge, but it's a bit spartan inside. The bucket seats aren't all that supportive, and the leather is pretty low rent, but the seat heaters cranked up quickly and effectively.

Massive cupholders please any Texas fast food drive thru visitor, and the arm rests are huge on the center console. Sirius XM satellite radio is offered with the usual three-month trial and subscription to extend, and the same goes for an on-board wifi hotspot. Aside from adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the infotainment system is similar to the setup Toyota has had for over a decade. Stick to using your mobile phone's apps for navigating the world, as the on-board system is quite dated.

A​ toddler would be comfortable in this massive storage bin.

A​ toddler would be comfortable in this massive storage bin.

T​oo Dated In A Highly Competitive Class

T​oyota offers a decent truck, but this full-size pickup has been stagnant for far too long versus some great options from Detroit. At over $50,000, Toyota isn't offering anything too special over the past few years that you can't get in a used Tundra for far less cash.

When you're spending this much on a new truck, there needs to be more tech, convenience, and capability in the cabin and in the cargo area. If you're shopping for a new full-size pickup, you'll be smart to consider the competition from the F-150, Silverado, and Ram.

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