Trucks are fun. Although we’re usually car people, the “in your face” and “get out of my way” attitude that is attached to piloting a tall truck that’s over two and a half tons is sometimes irresistible.
Our Tundra 4x4 Crewmax SR5 represents a final leap for Toyota. When Toyota first entered the large truck market with the T100 in 1992, they though people didn’t need the full size of a full-sized truck. Unfortunately the North American public disagreed. Toyota built the same tough-as-nails trucks as it always did, but people were weary because in the truck game, bigger is better. Now the second generation Tundra rectifies all problems. Introduced in 2007, the Tundra is as big (and sometimes bigger) than the competition, without trading in the Toyota reputation.
The Truck is big in every way. The previous generation Tundra was a few inches smaller that Dodge, Ford or Chevy, but the 146 in. wheelbase of our latest generation Crewmax truck gives it the Tundra its first ever size advantage.
Toyota did a good job with the proportions on the Tundra. Because everything is big (doors, grille, lights, etc.), it does not show just how big of a truck this is in reality. Since ours is a 4x4, it’s tall too. The running boards are a necessary element to this truck (it’s a step up to the running boards and then a step up into the truck.)
The interior makes that truck feel bigger than the competition, when in fact it’s pretty much the same size. It sectioned into two areas: a small silver part for the essential driver controls, and a main black trimmed area. When its time to change the radio, the driver feels like he/she has to reach far away beyond the silver area and into the black section to operate the system.
The center console has more storage that it knows what to do with. There are pockets deep enough to hold files and wide enough to carry laptops. Toyota even offers removable trim patches if you want to eliminate the excess storage (a nice problem to have.)
Our option-filled SR5 was made for both work and play. All the controls are big and easy to grip even with gloves on—something that is necessary in a work truck. But features like the dual zone climate controls and touch screen DVD navigation system are definitely more about playtime.
Our Crewmax is the largest cab available, and it’s a noticeable difference. Gone are the days of a truck’s the back seat being an afterthought and was for kids only. The Tundra’s thirty-five inches of unobstructed rear leg room is better than many of the sedans we’ve had lately in our fleet.
One of the things we liked most about the truck was the 5.7-liter V8. It’s got dual overhear camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing (VVT-i). All of which is something that is usually found smaller cars to give them very good low-end performance. Because it’s put to use in the 381 hp V8, the result is a truck with a lot of power that’s always on tap – very vast, very cool.
But remember this is not a sports car. Its got a live rear axel, and when there’s nothing in the bed, there is virtually no weight over the rear wheels. So, the Tundra is great in a straight line, but it is not the machine to take barreling through corners because it will get away from you. Think of the Tundra like a first generation muscle car, except you couldn’t haul a ton of sod in a GTO.
But you didn’t buy the Tundra because you wanted a rally car; you bought it to be a truck. The payload of our Tundra is 1515 lbs and it can haul up to 7200 lbs. Without any load the braking feels heavy and capable. We didn’t load the bed or haul a trailer, but our driving impression was that it would have not problem carrying its maximum load.
We liked our Tundra. It was the most car-like truck we’ve driven recently. If we had only one vehicle, and our job required a truck, the Tundra would be a very persuasive argument. For a truck that came in under $40,000, we got the best of both worlds: big car engine and big truck capacity.
We’re going to miss the Tundra, maybe because we didn’t get to use it to its full capacity. We used it for hauling kids and friends, but next time we’re going to plan ahead. We’ll spend the week chopping down trees and buying big furniture, so we can fully enjoy the now full-sized Tundra.