A platinum driving experience

BY Haney Louka. Feb 03 04:00 am

OK, Willy, you were right.

A few months ago, Toyota sent us a Tundra TRD Pro for evaluation. I lamented the $60K truck’s lack of creature comforts, and according to Free Press Autos editor Willy Williamson, I was missing the point. The TRD Pro is for those who want to increase the off-roadability of their truck without going the aftermarket route.

So now, we’ve got our hands on the 1794 Edition of the Tundra. And if there’s any Tundra that caters to those looking for creature comforts, this should be it.

The 1794 Edition pays tribute to the former ranch that is now home to the plant that manufactures Tundra and Tacoma pickups. The ranch was founded in 1794 and is steeped in Texas tradition. It’s only fitting, then, that Toyota has taken the already well-equipped Tundra Platinum and given it a western theme: saddle brown leather and suede, wood and leather on the wheel, and extra chrome on the outside, adorning the grille like a big ol’ Texas belt buckle.

The Platinum name is reserved for the most luxurious trim levels of Toyota’s offerings. In the Tundra’s case, it’s applied to the biggest CrewMax version of the truck. And the CrewMax isn’t just a regular four-door pickup. Take the DoubleCab and add nearly 200 millimetres of rear-seat leg room: think living room on wheels and you’ll have the right idea. The CrewMax SR5 stickers for $46,680 (which itself is a $4,000 increase from last year), while the Platinum adds $11,900 to that price. A mere $210 more gets us into the 1794, for a total of $58,790. For those keeping track, the off-road-oriented TRD Pro stickers for $60,275.

Navigation, 12-speaker audio, premium leather upholstery, heated and ventilated leather seats, and leather dashboard trim are all part of the Platinum upgrade.

As with all but the most basic Tundras, power comes from Toyota’s i-Force 5.7-litre V-8. With 381 hp and 401 pound-feet of torque, this engine puts out numbers very close to those of the Ram 1500 Hemi and F-150 5.0, and falls between the 5.3- and 6.2-litre V-8s offered in GMC trucks.

Its 4,305-kg towing capacity is close to that of its competitors; in general they have a slight edge over the Tundra.

My use of the truck during the week I had it would be frowned upon by the Texas ranchers that inspired the truck’s name. I loaded the truck with people, threw hockey bags in the box, and generally did my usual weekday driving. I should note that it was the coldest and iciest week of the season thus far, and that didn’t help my fuel consumption.

While economy isn’t normally high on the list for truck customers, my consumption for the week far exceeded the Tundra’s already thirsty ratings: a whopping 22 L/100 km was my average during this frigid winter week. It’s rated at 18.1 and 13.9 L/100 km city/highway respectively, but the additional warmup times and wheelspin in icy conditions allowed consumption to climb into the 20s.

I kept the truck in 2WD most of the time, but did have to switch to 4WD HI to get it moving on the slickest of days. No doubt the Blizzak winter tires reduced the requirement to engage the front wheels, but there’s only so much traction available in an unloaded rear-drive pickup.

Objectively speaking, the Tundra doesn’t stand out from the pack; like its competitors, Toyota delivers a roomy, capable truck with limits far beyond what most owners will require. But those prospective owners will be wondering where a few of the competitors’ features are when looking at this as a luxury vehicle purchase. Which to many, it is.

Let’s start with the basics: the truck has a physical key that needs to be inserted into a slot in the dash and twisted to get the engine running. “How quaint,” was fellow journo Kelly Taylor’s remark.

When it comes to technology in trucks, I generally look to Ford as the benchmark. The F-150, which also happens to have a Platinum trim, has such features as radar cruise control, lane-keeping system, a panoramic glass roof, 360-degree cameras, factory remote start, high-end audio, and a tailgate step.

Now, I’m not saying all truck buyers want these features; it’s a question of how far one’s dollar is going when making a substantial expenditure such as this.

The TRD Pro got a pass because Toyota chose to give it genuine off-road hardware in lieu of premium features and the latest technology. But the 1794 — and the Platinum trim on which it’s based — should be more competitive in this regard.

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