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2014 Toyota Tundra Limited Rocky Mountain Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Toyota Tundra Crewmax (Platinum trim shown)

By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

Toyota’s versatile Tundra pickup hasn’t received a major refresh since the 2007 model year – until now. For 2014, the Tundra isn’t exactly all-new, but it represents an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary update to a very capable full-size pickup truck.

On the outside, the Tundra looks very similar to the prior effort – a good thing, since the Tundra has long been an attractive vehicle. But look more closely and you’ll notice the distinct changes.

Where before the truck had something of a rounded, curving theme to the sheetmetal, now there’s more of a squared-off appearance. The hood looks higher, and the grille up front larger and brighter. There’s even a large “TUNDRA” badge stamped into the tailgate – just in case you forgot what you were driving.

Our tester came to us with a Crewmax cab in Limited trim and with the top-of-the-line 5.7-liter V8 engine. The Limited trim brings to the Tundra chrome heated side mirrors, an upgraded billet grille at the front, a bed-rail system, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and trim, power and heated front bucket seats, a power sliding rear window, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system, and the Toyota Entune smartphone integration setup. A Limited Premium package further adds parking sensors, a glass breakage sensor, and an illuminated entry setup.

The cavernous Crewmax interior feels larger than a small apartment, and provides ample headroom and legroom for all. The rear seats can fold up in a 60/40 split, providing a ton of interior storage for items you’d rather not leave in the bed. It’s easy for five full-sized adults to be comfortable in here.

An important item of note to parents and grandparents of young children. As a matter of course, we test the ease of installing children's car seats in the vehicles we review, and despite its enormous interior, the Tundra was one of the most challenging vehicles we’ve driven in quite a while in which to install a car seat(s) – the lower tether points are buried deep in the rear seats making it a real challenge to get a positive lock to them, and the upper tether is provided by means of a strap that sticks up above the seat; the headrest must be removed to easily access it, and once connected the length of the tether strap makes it impossible to get the car seat tightly secured.

Elsewhere inside the Tundra’s interior, the driver and front passenger are treated to an excellent view over the tall hood, owing to the high seating position. Gone is the “multi-tunnel” dashboard used on the outgoing Tundra; the new Tundra features a more conventional instrument cluster with a color multi-function display mounted between the speedo and tach.

The driver’s primary accessory controls are well laid-out but secondary controls could use some attention – some are blocked by the steering wheel, and some are nearly invisible – for example, the USB and aux inputs for the stereo are placed low, in the center of the dash, and below an overhang for the climate controls above, making it difficult to find and utilize in all but extremely well-lit conditions. Much of the center of the dash – including the screen used for the infotainment setup and the silver-colored trim around it – are a real challenge to see and read when in direct sunlight. On the plus side, however, the Entune navigation and stereo setup gets better and easier to use with each iteration we see – in the Tundra, it includes a split-screen display so that it can, for example, display both the navigation map and details from the radio at the same time.

Although the appearance of the Tundra is refreshed for 2014, mechanical details carry over largely unchanged from prior years. The truck drives and handles essentially the same as its predecessor, and this is mostly a good thing – the big V8 feels smooth and refined, and has a great sound to it which permeates the cab without being overpowering. Power is immediately available across most of its range. The only downside we’d note is while Toyota’s competitors have made some advancements in fuel economy through technologies like Ford’s Ecoboost V6 and Ram and GM’s use of cylinder deactivation, Toyota has opted not to pursue fuel-saving measures, resulting in the truck carrying a city / highway rating of just 13 / 17 MPG.

It’s impossible to write about the 2014 Tundra and not draw comparisons to the 2014 GMC Sierra I reviewed a few weeks back. Whereas the Sierra felt in some ways more like a luxury car than like a half-ton truck, the Tundra feels closer to its workaday roots – even when generously equipped the truck feels as if it has a work-first mentality more so than the Sierra; perhaps as if the Tundra is chiseled from stone and the Sierra more crafted from clay. On the other hand, the Sierra’s controls and systems feel more high-tech – tightly integrated and easier to use. Both are excellent choices and ultimately will come down to the buyer’s tastes and preferences.

We think that Toyota has a winner on their hands in the redesign of the Tundra. While we’d like to see some upgrades for the sake of fuel economy, the update is well executed and a worthy addition to the super-competitive full-size pickup market landscape.

2014 Toyota Tundra Limited

Base Price: $26,915.00
Price as Tested: $44,295.00
Engine Type: I-FORCE V8 E85 Flex Fuel DOHC 32V with dual independent VVT-I
Engine Size: 5.7 L
Horsepower: 381 @ 5,600 RPM
Torque (ft-lbs): 401 @ 3,600 RPM
Transmission: 6-Speed Shiftable Automatic
Wheelbase / Length (in): 145.7 / 228.9
Curb Weight: 5,850 lb
Pounds per HP: 15.4
Fuel Capacity (gal): 26.4
Fuel Requirement: Flex-fuel (unleaded / E85)
Tires: Michelin LTX A/T 2; P275/65R18
Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated disc / Ventilated disc
Suspension, front/rear: Double wishbone / Solid live axle
Ground clearance (in): 10.4
Drivetrain: 4WDemand part-time 4WD with electronically controlled transfer case, Active Traction Control (A-TRAC) and Automatic Limited-Slip Differential (Auto LSD)
EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 13 / 17 / 17
Towing capacity (lb): 9,600
Base Trim Price: $41,895.00

Options and Charges

Limited Premium Package: $595.00 (Power windows with driver and front passenger auto up and down; room, foot, and ignition key illuminated entry system; glass breakage sensor; front and rear parking sonar)

TRD Off-Road Package: $100.00 (Replaces standard wheel with 18” TRD off-road alloy wheels; includes Bilstein shock absorbers, rear side privacy glass, engine skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, TRD decals)

Running Boards: $345.00

Bedliner: $365.00

Delivery: $995.00

Price as tested: $44,295.00