Truck makers often rush to copy each other’s homework, especially if one manufacturer hits the jackpot with a particular trim or feature. Twenty years ago, the segment leader decided to line the interior of its fanciest pickup with leather inspired by saddles and baseball gloves. New ideas were being pitched in more ways than one.
It didn’t take long for others to follow suit, with supple brown leather soon making the option list of most full-sized pickups. Toyota calls its take on the theme a ‘1794 Edition’, in honour of the year a ranch was originally founded on the grounds where the Tundra’s factory now resides in Texas.
For the very reasonable sum of $500, shoppers can upgrade any Tundra Platinum to a 1794 Edition, imbuing the pickup with a woodgrain & leather-wrapped wheel and toffee-coloured leather chairs with suede inserts that would not look out of place on the saddle of Bobby Ewing’s horse at Southfork Ranch. Externally, one can easily spot a 1794 by its ladle of front-end chrome, a unique front bumper, and several belt-buckle sized 1794 Edition badges.
Power from its 5.7-litre V8 is routed through a six-speed automatic transmission, down a couple of cogs compared to the octet of gears in the Ram 1500 and far adrift of the ten-speed units found in the F-150 and upcoming GM twins. The V8 mill is rated at 381 horsepower and 401lb.-ft of torque, figures which compare well to Ram’s 5.7-litre HEMI and Ford’s 5.0-litre Coyote engine. Steering is notably light, particularly at parking lot speeds, a pleasant attribute when attempting to wheel the 5815mm long Tundra around a crowded Home Hardware parking lot.
Every truck owner carries a host of equipment in their truck, harbouring fantasies of rescuing a stranded motorist whose car has been rendered immobile by a flat tire or flat battery or the sight of Don Cherry’s sports jacket on Hockey Night in Canada. My own personal stash in our family pickup includes a set of jumper cables, a ratchet strap of suspect quality, and a buck knife big enough to scare O.J. Simpson. In my estimation, the Tundra has more than enough in cab storage for this essential gear, with space to spare.
A killer app of this 1794 Edition – and all other short bed Tundra pickups – is a power vertical sliding rear window. Every truck is available with a sliding aperture astern but only the Toyota elects to drop the entire pane of glass instead of merely providing a small mail slot. This author likes to think it’s a tribute to the fabulous 4Runners of the early ‘90s; all other drivers will simply recognize it as one of the handiest features on a truck since the invention of the wheel.
Driving position is typically truck-like, with an expansive view over the prow similar to what one would experience from the bridge of the Disney Dream. A logical set of gauges face the driver, and ventilation duties are handled in the centre stack by knobs big enough to be twirled with gloved fingers. The asymmetrical armrest features a bin ostensibly designed in which smartphones are to be deposited but is actually the perfect size for a 10-pack of Timbits. It’s as if the designers included early-morning hockey practices in their market research.
Compared to rivals from the 2018 model year, the Tundra’s granular 7-inch infotainment screen compares well only to the Nissan Titan, a truck whose touchscreen is easily dwarfed by an iPhone 6+ smartphone. Putting it up against the new 12-inch Uconnect system found in high-zoot 2019 Ram pickups would be like comparing an Atari to an Xbox. The JBL branded stereo is permanently set to Prime Country.
The rest of the interior was pleasing, with backseat minions reporting limo-like leg room from their rear thrones, although the space is light on places in which to plug in electronic devices. Seat bottoms flip up at the flick of an oversized lever for easy loading of big boxes or other bulky materials the driver doesn’t want to fling into the open truck box.
With gasoline prices knocking on (and surpassing) $1.40/L in most parts of the country, it was prudent to examine the Tundra’s fuel economy during its stay. Absent of direct-injection, a start-stop system, and other such fuel-saving measures, the 5.7-litre V8 engine swilled regular unleaded at a prodigious rate of thirst.
Exactly how much gas did it burn? All of it, really, with your author observing 17.4L/100km in a week of driving. It should be noted this test was performed at winter’s end, and the truck was shod with 20-inch winter rubber, so economy may well improve now our country is out of Old Man Winter’s deep freeze. At least its fuel tank size of 144 litres should allow for well over 800km between fill-ups.
For once, Toyota serves up the value play. The truck pictured here bears a sticker price of $60,890 absent of $1785 worth of freight charges. At your Ford store, a V8-powered F-150 King Ranch SuperCrew starts at an eye-watering $68,529. Chevy will happily sell customers a Silverado High Country – the bowtie’s take on a country & western truck – but not before helping themselves to $64,805 of your hard-earned Canadian dollars.
Those price differences are hardly chump change. Heavy incentives exist on the Detroit metal but even with bags of cash on the hood, there is an excellent chance the shrewd customer will take home this Tundra for significantly less money than a comparably equipped competitor. It is worth noting the Toyota is equipped with the company’s much-touted Safety Sense suite of driving tools such as lane departure alert, adaptive cruise control, a pre-collision system which senses when the journey is about to go awry, and eight airbags.
One of the biggest costs of owning a truck (any vehicle, really) is depreciation. For 2018, industry watchdogs at Canadian Black Book have bestowed their ‘Best Retained Value’ award on the Toyota Tundra for the umpteenth year in a row, citing its reliability and customer satisfaction as the keys to its success. In the murderously competitive full-size truck market, where loyalties run deep and profits run high, that’s a unique advantage not enjoyed by any other manufacturer in the Canadian market.
A low price of entry relative to its competitors plus the ability to hang on to most of its value? That’s a winning pitch right there.
2018 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 1794 Edition
BODY STYLE: Full-Size Pickup Truck
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, Four-wheel drive.
ENGINE: 5.7-liter DOHC V8; Power: 381 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm; Torque: 401 lb-ft @ 3,600 rpm
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed Automatic
CARGO CAPACITY: Payload: 1180lbs; Towing: 9490lbs
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 18.0 city / 14.2 highway / 16.3 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
PRICE: $60,390 (base) as tested $60,890
Follow Wheels.ca on