Preview: 2014 Toyota Tundra

Costa Mouzouris
By Costa Mouzouris
Posted on October 5th, 2013
1 Comments

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS—There are lots of trailers to pull and cargo to haul in Canada, which probably explains why full-sized pickups sell so well in this country — light-duty trucks make up our second-largest segment.

Aside from big power under the hood, a pickup also has to look muscular. So, for 2014, the Toyota Tundra gets a complete new body styling that gives it a more substantial presence — there’s now no mistaking it for anything other than a half-tonne hauler.

Made in Texas, the new Tundra has a more prominent, flat-nosed grille that is 4 cm taller than before. There is also a fake air intake that, if nothing else, gives the truck a more strapping appearance.

From the side, the fender bulges are more pronounced and have been squared off. Another visual cue to the newfound machismo is the bulging hood, which protrudes high above the front quarter panels.

And the front and rear bumpers are now comprised of three sections, to reduce repair costs if damaged.

Two- and four-wheel-drive variations are available in Regular and Double Cab versions, while the CrewMax is available with four-wheel-drive only.

Three bed sizes are also available; the Regular cab comes with an 8-foot bed, the Double Cab is available with a 6.5- or 8-foot bed, and the CrewMax comes with a 5.5-footer.

There are four main trim levels — SR, SR5, Limited and Platinum — with various packages for each. The top-of-the-line 1794 Edition adds western touches and tones, including leather, suede and chrome to the CrewMax Premium. The two SR grades come with 18-inch steel wheels, while the higher trim levels come with 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Prices start at $26,750 for the Regular cab, two-wheel-drive SR work truck, and go up to $54,000 for the 1794 Edition. (In case you’re wondering, Toyota’s San Antonio truck plant resides on land once occupied by a ranch founded in — you guessed it — 1794.)

The interior has been entirely refurbished for a more upscale feel and appearance. Controls in the centre of the dashboard for the audio and climate-control systems have been simplified and moved 6.5 cm closer to the driver for an easier reach.

There are some standard upscale features that trickle all the way down to the base SR model, like a rear-view camera, air conditioning, a display sound system with Bluetooth, voice recognition, steering wheel controls and a tilt and telescoping steering wheel.

There’s a large cargo box between the front seats that doubles as an armrest and offers a cavernous 24 litres of storage capacity.

The rear seat-bottoms in the CrewMax now fold up, which has increased the rear storage capacity to 1,040 litres from 790, while dropping the loading height by 28 cm.

Everything inside my Double Cab Limited 4×4 test truck has a high-quality feel to it, except the dashboard, which is made of hard, textured plastic and not really in line with the rest of the materials.

The interior is relatively quiet, but some engine and road noise makes its way into the cabin and it’s not quite as tranquil as in the latest Ram or GM full-sized pickups.

Toyota chose to put the new bodywork over the existing chassis and powertrain, so the two V8 engines available in the current model return.

There’s a 4.6-litre that produces 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 5.7-litre that makes 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. Either engine comes mated to a six-speed automatic.

The 5.7-litre powering my test truck is strong, which is probably the reason Toyota chose not to mess with it. It’s a thirsty engine, though, and claims 14.3 L/100 km combined, when mated to a 4×4 powertrain.

GM, Ford and Ram have all recently introduced new engines in their pickups, with more powerful and more fuel-efficient choices, including new direct-injection engines in the Silverado/Sierra, a new 3.0-litre EcoDiesel in the Ram 1500 and the 3.5-litre EcoBoost in the Ford F150. Toyota’s V8 has been around since 2007 and is beginning to show its age.

I was offered the chance to haul a 3,620-kg, twin-axle camper trailer, which my Tundra had no difficulty pulling.

The chassis, however, is unchanged from the current model, and bumps induced a rocking motion that reverberated through the chassis a few times before settling down. The only change underneath the truck is a set of retuned coil-over shocks that improve ride quality, although even without a load, sharp bumps reverberated through the cab.

The Tundra does everything well, but it doesn’t excel in any one category — especially in its pricing, which is on par with its American competitors.

They’ve all gone through major upgrades recently, and not just facelifts, which places the Tundra just a little out of sync with the competition.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Price: $26,750 to $54,000

Engine: 4.6 L or 5.7 L V8

Power/torque: 310 hp/327 lb.-ft. (4.6 L), 381/401 (5.7 L)

Fuel economy (L/100 km): 4.6 L: 12.5 (2×4) 13.3 (4×4); 5.7 L: 13.6/14.3

Competition: Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, Ford F150, Ram 1500

What’s best: rugged styling, cavernous interior in CrewMax, feature-laden base model.

What’s worst: high fuel consumption, limited engine choices, choppy ride.

What’s interesting: San Antonio factory produces 200,000 Tundra and Tacoma trucks per year.

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