The 2014 truck season is in full swing, and some of the main manufacturers are launching all-new variants of their resident pickups. Chevrolet already released its new 2014 Silverado , and Ford is set to reveal its all-new 2015 F150 that will be based on the 2013 Atlas Concept .
Even SUVs are off to a good start, with the debut of the 2014 X5 and 2014 Range Rover Sport . Toyota has been waiting patiently for the pickup market to come back, and its is now set to launch the 2014 Tundra with "Truck Of The Year" aspirations.
The Tundra looks quite similar to last year’s model but if you look closer, you’ll find that it is loaded with improvements.
Toyota invited us to the woods of Georgia to test drive it and see how it does on and off the road, as well as with a trailer hitched to the back end.
Click past the jump to read what we think of it.
If you’re wondering why Toyota took so long to update the Tundra, it is simply because with the economy down the drain, the pickup truck market was feeling the pain with slow sales numbers. Now that the market is back on the upswing, Toyota is bringing the Tundra back with a layer of goodness — we say a "layer" because from 10 feet away you, will have a hard time seeing what has changed.
Outside, the pickup looks very similar to last year’s Tundra, unless you are a Toyota expert, as the automaker played it safe compared to the new Sierra. If you look closer, you can see that the hood is slightly higher and the grill is a little larger. Around back, the tailgate receives a throwback stamp like the good old Toyota pickup from the 1980s and an LED light upgrade. A cool detail is the 3-piece rear bumper that helps Toyota differentiate the and lower replacement cost — if you happen to crush one side, you won’t have to replace the whole thing. Sure, that is only a minor detail, but it is one of the many neat touches that Toyota added this year.
During the media presentation, Toyota executives mentioned that it wanted to target a growing customer base who use their truck for work as well as for personal. Of course, that is easier said than done, but the Tundra can pull it off with all the ruggedness of a utility vehicle on the outside and the comfort of a minivan on the inside. You can haul the family around without making them feel like cargo.
The interior is a step up from the previous generation. The quality of all materials are above any criticism, and most of the interior bits are shared with all Tundra trims. This sharing of features means that your base $25,950 truck will be nearly as comfortable as the top-of-the-line, $47,320 1794 trim. We jumped in and out of all trims available during our media day, and never did we feel that one truck was lesser than the other.
The one thing that bothered us was the lack of keyless start on any of the trucks. We’re not sure if its because they were pre-production models, but even our Nissan Sentra loaner had push-button start, so we hope Toyota at least offers it as an option.
Talking about options, Toyota is putting a big emphasis on its EnTune entertainment system, and we were pleasantly surprised with the system. Most of these complex infotainment systems are slow and annoying to use, but this one must be one of the fastest we’ve had the opportunity to tinker with. We cannot comment on all of the EnTune features, since we were a little busy thrashing the truck around to take the matter seriously.
Our first chance behind the wheel was off-road, and we have to comment on just how surprisingly comfortable the Tundra was. We were cruising at about 30 to 40 mph on quite rough terrain, and we could have easily kept going for 100 miles, or more. The seats are very comfortable and wide, so you should expect to slide around a bit.
Once all four wheels leave the ground, you will thank the engineers for adding extra headroom for cowboy hats. Not that we’re fond of wearing cowboy hats, but the 10 inches of clearance between of top of my head came handy when I flew about 10 inches off of the driver seat — yeah, we did not see that one bump coming, and the truck launched like the General Lee shaking Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. We were praying that the truck wouldn’t self-destruct on impact, but the suspension didn’t even bottom out — not too bad for a production pickup.
We didn’t get into any real hardcore off-roading, but we have been told the Tundra has the best approach angle and road clearance in the half-ton pickup segment.
After our attempt to destroy the Tundra on the off-road course, we headed out for some towing exercises. The 2014 Tundra can tow 9,500 pounds across all trim lines, and it is also the only truck that is fully J2807 compliant. In case you have not received the memo, J2807 is a quality label specifically designed to evaluate the towing abilities of a vehicle. To get certified, the vehicle must pass a series of test, like coming up and down a mountain with maximum payload, acceleration on steep incline, braking over long downhill and so forth.
Our towing demonstration was brief, and it went effortlessly with our 5,000-pound load. Nothing remarkable there; just a walk in the park for the Tundra. We really like the idea of the truck being J2807 certified for heavy towing, this way you don’t have to worry about the brakes when heading downhill with 10,000 pounds behind you...
Boat, quad and caravan unhooked, we took the trucks on the windy roads of Georgia to see how the workhorse feels on the pavement. The first thing coming to mind is how far these big pickups have come over the years. Blindfolded, you would never guess that you are inside a half-ton truck. Plus, the cabin noise is extremely low, allowing you to take in all of the wonderful V-8 notes.
Talking about the V-8 engine, Toyota executives were quick to point that the reason Toyota kept the big V-8 instead of diving into turbocharged V-6 territory is because research shows that in the real world, the V-8 is just as efficient as a forced-induction, small-displacement engine, such as Ford EcoBoost. We are glad Toyota kept the V-8 because the engine shows exactly why Americans love eight-cylinder muscle: massive torque and smooth power delivery available at all times.
On the road, the Tundra reminds us of the Lexus RX350: precise feeling with minimal driver feedback. If you are looking for a work truck that drive like a Mercedes -Benz, The Toyota Tundra is for you. The steering is light and the suspension does a great job limiting body roll, so you can still take those tight turns with confidence.
Straight-line speed is adequate, and hard braking is acceptable. Sure, it’s no X5, but the truck kept its composure and showed good manners. Overall, the Tundra is very composed, just as we expected.
We asked the engineer if Toyota had plans to tackle the Ford Raptor, but we got the usual "nothing to report at this time," but the smirk on their faces made us think that Toyota may have a special model up its sleeve. A Tundra Baja 1000 sounds good to us!
Overall, the Tundra is a great truck, we did drive the previous generation back in 2008 , and we liked it a lot, but the interior was a bit austere. The 2014 interior update is a welcome improvement that should help Toyota in its Truck Of The Year quest, even though the competition is steep and daring with the Chevrolet silverado and upcoming 2015 F150.
The key factors for the Toyota Tundra are good resale value and long-term quality. You will certainly pay a little more for the 2014 Tundra than you would for its domestic counterparts, but we wouldn’t be shocked to see the 2014 Tundra meets its goal of 30-percent increase in sales this year. Now, let’s build that Tundra Baja and go toe to toe with the Raptor!
- interior redesign
- EnTune entertainment system
- V-8 goodness still there
- Good towing capacity across all trims
- Off-road capability
- Tons of interior space
- Driving comfort even off-road
- Toyota reliability
- Mild exterior redesign
- Push-button start unavailable?
- Driving isolation
- No smart storage under seat or rear fender
- Small dealer incentives will keep price up
For more tech specs on the 2014 Toyota Tundra read our reveal article
Gallery Toyota Tundra Test Drive
2014 Toyota Tundra Top Speed (official)
|Tundra Configuration||Top Speed|
|4L V6 and 4.6L V8 equipped Tundra||111 MPH|
|5.7L V8 4x4 Tundra||105 MPH|
|4x2 Platinum and 1794 editions||105 MPH|
|4x2 CrewMax Limited and SR5 with 5.7L V8||111 MPH|
|4x2 Double Cab Limited, SR5, SR with 5.7L V8||111 MPH|
|4x2 Regular Cab SR with 5.7L V8||105 MPH|
2014 Toyota Tundra 0 to 60 Times (official)
|Tundra Configuration||0-60 times|
|4x4 5.7L V8 equipped CrewMax models||7.3 seconds|
|4x4 5.7L V8 equipped Limited w/ double cab||7.2 seconds|
|4x4 5.7L V8 equipped SR & SR5 w/ double cab and 8.1’ bed||7.3 seconds|
|4x4 5.7L V8 equipped SR & SR5 w/ double cab and 6.5’ bed||7.1 seconds|
|4x4 5.7L V8 equipped SR regular cab w/ 8.1’ bed||6.9 seconds|
|4x2 Platinum and 1794 editions||7.3 seconds|
|4x2 5.7L V8 CrewMax Limited and SR5 models||7 seconds|
|4x2 5.7L V8 models equipped with double cab||6.8 seconds|
|4x2 5.7L V8 regular cab||6.6 seconds|
|4x2 V6 regular cab-||8.6 seconds|
|4x2 V6 Double Cab-||9 seconds|
|4x2 Double cab 4.6L V8- 7.5 seconds with the 4x4 version||7.9 seconds|
|4x2 CrewMax 4.6L V8- 7.8 seconds with the 4x4 version||8.2 seconds|