On the surface, adding $15,000 in options to a $42,000 truck may seem ludicrous. But to a small percentage of truck guys that’s just a drop in the bucket.
Those big trucks you see cruising around with suspension lifts, beefy tires, pumping sound systems and a throaty exhaust note aren’t cheap.
That suspension lift, along with a good set of shocks can easily cost in the neighbourhood of $5,000. Throw in another $3,000 for decent alloy rims wrapped in rubber, add another $2,000 to upgrade the stereo. Expect to spend another $2,000 to get that exhaust sounding just right and properly tuned to the engine. Long story short — it’s easy to drop $10,000 or more into a brand new truck, and a small but growing number of truck lovers do exactly that.
What Toyota has done with the Tundra TRD Pro isn’t exactly a new concept. Ford makes the venerable Raptor, a beefed up and uber-expensive version of its F-150. Ram offers the Power Wagon package on its 2500 series pickup, with standard equipment that includes a Warn winch mounted behind the brawny front bumper. The Ram Rebel is also a raunchy blacked-out beast with a rumbling exhaust.
If you ask me the Tundra TRD Pro is equally capable off-road to any of these competitors — and it’s arguably the most handsome brute of the lot.
Toyota delivering a truck like the Tundra TRD Pro to showrooms makes sense on multiple levels. First up, despite the moderate suspension lift, beefier tires and rumbling exhaust, the warranty remains fully intact. That may not be the case with the installation of aftermarket goodies. In addition to possibly voiding the warranty, unless you have the job done by a seasoned mechanic with intricate knowledge of your particular brand of truck, you may suffer such maladies as a poor ride, diminished fuel economy and, in the case of an improperly installed exhaust system, a loss of horsepower.
Simply put, Toyota and its army of engineers is surely best equipped to modify its trucks properly and safely.
On the road the ride is smooth and quiet, except for the throaty rumble of the exhaust, which is just right. Loud but not obnoxious when you put your foot in it to pass and just right when cruising in the slow lane.
Rest assured — I hauled more than patio furniture in this rig. Off-road I found one of my favourite abandoned paths and blasted down the trail at a steady 40 km/h for about 15 kilometres.
The Bilstein shocks performed well — despite my best efforts the big Tundra didn’t bottom out. When pushed, the throaty exhaust barks and the meaty tires bite. With the traction control disengaged and a hard mash on the gas, the rear end will swing out like a vintage muscle car.
Haney’s biggest complaint is this truck is too much old-school. To me that’s what makes it so good. It has more than enough bells and whistles to keep me happy. The ride is sublime, the engine has loads of grunt and the infotainment system works flawlessly and sounds terrific.
As for all the other missing nanny nonsense — I don’t need my truck to remind me to stay in my own lane. I’ve had no trouble doing that for more than 30 years of driving.
The truck market is fierce, and odds are good this specialized package won’t appeal to everyone — but if you’re in the market for a comfortable pickup with custom appeal, off-road capability and strong residual value down the road — the Tundra TRD Pro is surely worth your consideration.