Toyota Tundra Export Exporter '2018
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- Pickup truck
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- Apr 26, 2018
- Nov 05, 2019
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Try as it might, the Tundra is not quite up to the challenge of the competition despite its bold styling and a handsomely finished interior. It’s available in a myriad of body styles, bed lengths, and rear- or four-wheel drive. Powertrains include either a standard 310-hp 4.6-liter V-8 or an optional 381-hp 5.7-liter V-8; both engines team up with a six-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing rates at 10,500 pounds; maximum payload is 2060 pounds.
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2017 Toyota Tundra 5.7L V-8 CrewMax 4×4
Toyota’s second-generation big rig turns 10.
2017 Toyota Tundra 5.7L V-8 CrewMax 4×4
Back in 1961, oil geologist Robert Liscomb discovered a large fossil in the Alaskan tundra. A year later Liscomb perished in a rock slide, and his fossil sat in a Shell warehouse until the early 1980s, when it was rediscovered and sent off to the United States Geological Survey. There, scientists determined that it was indeed a dinosaur bone, triggering a new rush of exploration. In 2017, a rather large fossil can be found, not frozen below the subsoil of the North Slope but at your local Toyota dealer in the form of the Tundra pickup truck.
Spacious interior, V-8 sound, affordability.
Aging architecture, antiquated cabin, dated powertrain.
The Tundra had a mild refresh for 2014, but under its steel skin remains an old skeleton: The 2017 model still rides on the same second-generation platform introduced in 2007. Another update is coming for 2018, but an all-new Tundra won’t appear until 2019 at the earliest. The one we tested—painted in an osseous Quicksand and then wrapped with $395 paint-protection film—was equipped with the optional $2030 TRD Off-Road package, which includes 18-inch aluminum wheels and Michelin LTX all-terrain rubber, Bilstein dampers, skid plates to protect the engine and fuel tank, and bedside decals. The optional dampers firm up the ride and manage side-to-side motions well, but during interstate excursions, persistent road blemishes will unsettle the ride. However, when blasting down Michigan’s washboard- and pothole-ridden back roads, we found that the dampers come to life and keep wheel motion in check, absorbing large impacts and keeping the tires connected to the ground by limiting wheel hop. The Tundra’s overall ride quality was commendable a decade ago, but in today’s full-size-truck market, it falls short of the Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500.
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Although electrically assisted power steering has become common industry-wide, the Tundra still relies on a hydraulic-assist system—but to no advantage. The steering lacks on-center feel and requires frequent inputs to maintain a straight path. The light weighting eases the task of low-speed maneuvers, but precise placement of this big rig depends entirely on what your eyes tell you rather than any sensation through the wheel.
Under the hood lurks another fossil. Slide the metal key into the ignition slot (push-button start is not available), give it a turn, and Toyota’s i-Force 32-valve V-8 roars to life. The aluminum 5.7-liter V-8 has remained unchanged since its debut in 2007, and the howl of the hydraulically clutched cooling fan provides a reminder of that. This old mill is good for 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque, enough to take the 5858-pound sled from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and cover the quarter-mile in 15.1 seconds. That matches the all-new Nissan Titan Pro-4X we recently tested, recording the same time to 60, and beats the Titan by 0.1 second in the quarter-mile. The Toyota doesn’t stack up so well when compared with the best-selling trucks, however. A Chevrolet Silverado with its 420-hp 6.2-liter V-8 we tested back in 2015 ran to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and hustled through the quarter-mile in 14.3; a Ford F-150 with its previous 365-hp 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 performed the tasks in 5.6 and 14.4 seconds.
While eight- and even 10-speed transmissions are now expected in the full-size-truck market, the Tundra still relies on the six-speed automatic it has had since day one. But the transmission provides crisp upshifts, and whereas newer multispeed gearboxes can sometimes stumble while trying to choose among their many ratios during passing maneuvers, the Tundra is quick to downshift into the right gear.
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To Toyota’s credit, while other trucks tout the fuel-economy benefits that are supposed to come with their extra gears, the Tundra didn’t do much worse than other full-size V-8 pickups we’ve tested recently. To minimize the need for refueling stops, our test truck was equipped with an optional 38-gallon fuel tank. During our 800 miles of testing we averaged 14 mpg, just 1 mpg shy of the EPA combined rating and the same as what we measured in a 2016 Ram Rebel with an eight-speed automatic. On our 200-mile highway fuel-economy loop, we saw 17 mpg, right on par with the EPA highway rating, suggesting a potential range of 640 miles of uninterrupted interstate cruising. One annoyance, however, was a premature low-fuel warning. The indicator light illuminated with about nine gallons of fuel left, more than enough to deliver you farther than the 50 miles of remaining range indicated on the trip computer.
To climb into the Tundra’s interior is to take a step back in truck history. Although there were some minor upgrades coinciding with the 2014 facelift, the interior now is decidedly dated. Our truck’s optional SR5 Upgrade package ($1220) did little to change this impression but did add bucket seats—power-adjusting only on the driver’s side, which also has power-adjustable lumbar support—in place of the standard bench, a front center console with a floor-mounted shifter, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, three front cupholders, an anti-theft system, the larger fuel tank, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a compass. We would have welcomed heated seats to ease the pain of our frosty Michigan winters, but those are offered only on the Limited trim level. All-weather floor mats do a nice job of keeping the sludge off the carpet, though, making them well worth the $219 asking price. Silver-painted plastic surrounds the 7.0-inch, not-very-intuitive Entune infotainment system. Thankfully, there are still plenty of buttons and knobs; however, few drivers will be able to comfortably reach the radio’s tuning knob located far to the right of center. Nearly every control or piece of switchgear looks and feels all of a decade old.
The $970 Safety and Convenience package on the tested pickup adds front and rear parking assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts, but the Tundra doesn’t offer the most modern safety features, such as adaptive cruise control. (That feature, along with lane-departure warning and automatic high-beam headlights, will be standard on 2018 Tundras as part of Toyota’s Safety Sense P bundle.)