Toyota Tundra stands test of time

by Willy Williamson . Mar 29 2019
Photos by Toyota While competitors have released ‘all-new’ versions of popular models, the second-generation Toyota Tundra still maintains its value on and off the road.

Photos by Toyota

While competitors have released ‘all-new’ versions of popular models, the second-generation Toyota Tundra still maintains its value on and off the road.

In case you missed it, there are all-new 2019 Ram, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks in showrooms now. These rigs are loaded with the latest technology, offer myriad engine choices and some versions promise fuel economy rivalling many mid-sized sedans.

The second-generation Nissan Titan was all-new for 2016 and even the Ford F-150, the perennial sales leader, which is now in its 13th generation, was all-new for 2015.

The Toyota Tundra, however, made its second-generation debut as a 2007 model and has since then only received one major refresh — which took place way back in 2014.

Yep, you read that right. Aside from a couple of largely cosmetic refreshes, the Toyota Tundra hasn’t been called “all-new” for a dozen years.

Back in 2007, George W. Bush was president of the United States, Justin Trudeau was a drama teacher and the very first iPhone hit the market.

2007 was also the year yours truly went out on a limb and told anyone who’d listen just how great the new Tundra was. It was lauded by me for its handsome good looks, powerful engine, smooth ride and refined interior.

So how has it held up after all these years?

More on that in a minute — first let’s get down to bedrock and fill you in on what Toyota offers with the Tundra.

Here in Canada, the Tundra is available in eight trims in either a Double Cab four-door with an 8.1 or 6½-foot bed or the roomier CrewMax four-door with a 5½-foot bed.

Most Tundra models are equipped with Toyota’s 5.7-litre i-FORCE V-8 engine, delivering 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque and paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. All models with the 5.7-L engine are also equipped with a 144-litre fuel tank, lock-up torque converter, trailer brake controller and tow package. Four-by-four models feature a one-touch 4WD mode with auto limited-slip rear differential, active traction control and trailer sway control. A 4.6L i-FORCE V-8 capable of generating 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. of torque is only available on one Tundra model — the aptly named 4x4 Double Cab SR 4.6L.

Pricing starts at $39,625 for a Tundra 4x2 Double Cab SR5 Plus 5.7L, $39,990 for a 4x4 Double Cab SR 4.6L, $45,005 for a 4x4 Double Cab SR5 Plus 5.7L, $46,600 for a 4x4 Double Cab SR5 Plus Long Bed 5.7L, $56,180 for a 4x4 Double Cab Limited 5.7L, $46,000 for a 4x4 CrewMax SR5 Plus 5.7L, $58,080 for a 4x4 CrewMax Limited 5.7L and $61,210 for a 4x4 CrewMax Platinum 5.7L.

The Tundra 4x4 CrewMax SR5 Plus 5.7L can also be ordered with the TRD Off-Road package, (starting MSRP $49,120), which adds off-road capability with fuel-tank protector plates, Bilstein shock absorbers, 18-inch off-road alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, clearance and back-up sensors, a navigation system and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with integrated compass. Other upgrades include a power moon roof, LED headlamps and fog lamps, an integrated garage door opener and an anti-theft system. The TRD Sport Package (starting MSRP $50,590) offers a sport-tuned suspension system, sport-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, TRD front and rear sway bars and unique 20-inch alloy wheels. Other features include the navigation package, clearance and back-up sensors, an integrated garage door opener, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass, anti-theft system, LED headlamps and fog lamps, a power moon roof, TRD shift knob and a hood scoop.

The TRD PRO (starting MSRP $63,900) builds on the TRD Off-Road package, adding a remote reservoir suspension, premium audio system with AVN Premium Navigation, black leather seating with red stitching, TRD skid plate, spray-in bedliner, blind-spot monitor, new 18-inch forged alloy wheels, FOX internal bypass shocks, Rigid Industries fog lamps, a hood scoop, new Toyota heritage grille design, TRD performance dual exhaust with black chrome tips, TRD shift knob and unique TRD PRO floor mats.

The Platinum model can also be ordered as the 1794 Edition, (starting MSRP $61,715), which features a wood-grain and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, premium brown leather seating with suede accents, chrome accents, bright silver bumper centre, unique 1794 Edition badging and a power tailgate lock.

Every 2019 Tundra gets Toyota’s Safety-Sense P as standard equipment. This includes auto high beam, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, which gives audio and visual alerts to warn the driver of a possible accident — followed by automated braking.

Over the years we’ve tested most Tundra models; for me, the TRD PRO is the only way to go. Sure it jacked the price up $17,900 over the MSRP of our Tundra CrewMax SR5 5.7L, but there’s even more being offered for 2019 and all those added features take a nice truck and make it downright nasty. The throaty exhaust note had me at “hello,” and the added TRD PRO enhancements, both visually and underneath the truck, combine to create a rig that is comfortable to drive around town, capable off-road and in the case of our Voodoo Blue tester — quite the looker. Even the fuel economy wasn’t terrible. In my weeklong test, it averaged 16.4L per 100 km.

So it looks good, drives great, sounds raunchy, is decent on fuel and it’s off-road ready. What more could anyone possibly want? Who cares if it’s an older design, it’s still a Tundra and the pinnacle of quality and refinement. Right?

Not so fast. It would be remiss not to mention how after climbing up into the driver’s seat and remembering the key was buried deep in my front pants pocket — and despite a price tag of nearly $63,000 — the only way this truck was starting was to remove said key from my pocket and insert it into the steering column. Easy for you perhaps, but my arms are short and my pockets are deep.

After climbing back out of the truck and digging out the key and cussing about how 2007 called and wanted their truck back — my ears were finally rewarded with a throaty, burbling symphony of cylinders only a hearty V-8 can produce.

The truth is the lack of a push-button start is only one area where the Tundra is starting to show its age. The interior may be all gussied up with comfortable and supportive seats and a killer audio system, but the cabin is much noisier than the competition, especially the new Ram, which is as quiet inside as a bank vault. The navigation and displays in general also seem a bit dated, not like playing a 2007 PlayStation dated — but close.

So, despite these shortcomings is the 2019 Toyota Tundra still relevant?

You bet it is. Mash the skinny pedal and unleash that 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque and you’ll be rewarded with screeching tires and enough power to pull your house down. Sit up tall and in command behind the driver’s seat and you’ll feel like the king of the road — even when the road ends.

Enjoy the heck out of your Tundra, it will be rock-solid reliable, and in a few years when you’re ready for a new one, you’ll be rewarded with terrific resale value.

Now, with all that said, if this truck is still this good a dozen years after its release, imagine how great the third-generation Toyota Tundra will be?

Take your time, it may be a while yet.