HEELS ON WHEELS: 2017 TOYOTA TUNDRA REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE TUNDRA VEHICLE
The Toyota Tundra makes a brawny and capable choice for a full-sized pickup, able to tow a reputable amount of weight and haul loads around. Trucks today have expanded their conveniences inward as well, offering a sense of real luxury and cabs so spacious they rival an SUV – enough kudos here for a family to take a truck purchase seriously.
I drove a 2017 Toyota Tundra with the 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and part-time four-wheel drive. Offered in six trim grades along with three bed lengths – the SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, the1794 Edition and the TRD Pro – my Limited CrewMax came with the following standard feature highlights: upgraded perforated leather upholstery; 10-way power driver’s seat; 7-inch touchscreen with navigation; backup camera and backup camera; Entune Premium media services with Bluetooth connectivity; Siri Eyes Free; XM Radio; power rear window; deck rail system with tie-down cleats; and twenty-inch alloy wheels. Price as described came to $44,195 without options.
Not many changes to mention for the 2017 model save some trim equipment revisions. Main competitors include the Dodge 1500, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Three years ago Toyota took great pains to iron out flaws and place a stronger finish on the cabin presence and related features – the glossy interior finish, lower center console compartments, and smart connectivity technology are standouts. The CrewMax (as opposed to the Double Cab) is what gives the cabin its roomy appeal – paired with the smaller 5.5-foot bed and there’s just enough storage for a five-day camping excursion. The issue with the Tundra is when it’s compared it to domestic choices; for example, no high-strength aluminum body (think Ford F-150) nor diesel option (Dodge Ram 1500) which is a coveted feature for many shopping the truck market. A long list of options including a $785 premium JBL audio system and Entune multimedia bundle; a $1,065 Limited Premium Package (safety technology like Rear Cross Traffic Alert, engine immobilizer, Blind Spot Monitor) and TRD Off-Road items galore – bed mat, shift knobs, skid plate, wheel locks, rear sway bar, paint protection film – brought the price up to around $50k.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2017 Toyota Tundra mainly ratings of “Good” in all crash-test areas. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2017 Toyota Tundra and overall 4-Star rating. Standard safety equipment includes rear backup camera, trailer brake control, trailer sway control, and an advanced airbag system. I recommend adding the optional safety technology for a vehicle of this size.
Cost Issues: Prices for trucks can be a little deceiving, as many like the Toyota Tundra start out in the low-thirties. This $44,195 mid-level trim blossomed to $51,486 with the much-needed safety equipment ($1,065), more in-car technology ($785), and numerous TRD Off-Road Package features which I suppose one could go without if your adventures won’t be going too far off the beaten path.
Activity & Performance Ability: In terms of everyday driving, steering is exceptionally nimble which made me feel more confident entering busy shopping centers and navigating into tight spots; with that being said, it is still a big ride and I had to correct my parking approach times and time again. Overall, expect a rather stiff ride due to weight. Depending on the body style, the towing capacity rates as high as 10,500 pounds which is more than enough power to get any job done. Again, the TRD Pro is a reliable package to up the performance, but the Tundra continues to come off as limited next to say the Nissan Titan’s impressive 5-liter V8 diesel engine with a Cummins M2 two-stage turbo system rated at 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque.
The Green Concern: The 5.7-liter V8 with four-wheel drive gets 13-city and 17-high for 15 miles-per-gallon combined, which is expected for a V8 for this size. There is a 310-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 engine to consider, but fuel estimates aren’t much of an improvement at 16 miles-per-gallon combined.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
If Toyota vehicles are a personal favorite – and the TRD Off-Road Packages can help you get there if you plan on doing some serious adventuring – the Tundra make for a reputable truck choice and delivers SUV room and in-car conveniences tool; still I’d recommend checking out a couple domestic competitors before you purchase.
©2017 Katrina Ramser
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