The current Tundra is a stunning reminder of how far Toyota has come from the days of the T100 and first-gen Tundra. The maker's initial two tries at penetrating the full-size truck market were too small -- the T100 was more than 15 inches shorter than the same vintage F-150 -- or just didn't catch on. This market has always been dominated by the American automakers and is a hard nut to crack for imports-which is why it is so significant that the Tundra won our 2008 Truck of the Year.
It entered the 2007 model year bigger, bolder, and faster than ever before (and just a hair too late to be a part of the 2007 TOTY). It grew more than 10 inches overall from the previous Tundra, with well-defined muscular curves that would've busted through the older Tundra's boxy shell. It got a lot stronger, too -- the reliable 4.7-liter, 271-horse V-8 was relegated to second-banana status by the all-new 5.7-liter, 381-horse V-8. Plus maximum towing capacity went from 7100 pounds to 10,800.
Normal "of the Year" protocol means we get the winner of each competition to our offices for a year-long test. So we ordered up a 4WD Double Cab with the 6.5-foot bed, the 5.7-liter V-8, and a six-speed automatic. Adding the topline Limited trim provided chrome on the outside and leather within, plus a rear sliding window, laptop-accommodating center console, automatic dual-zone climate control, and more. Factoring in a few extra goodies, the price as tested was $42,072. That's not cheap, but it served as a great way to evaluate everything the Tundra has to offer.
Still emitting that new-car smell, it took its first road trip within a couple weeks. On the drive to Las Vegas, photographer Julia LaPalme noted the ride was greatly improved with a couple of motorcycles in the bed; sans cargo, though, the "freeway driving is almost mind-numbing, as the bed bounces." Despite the large dimensions of the truck, to fit two motorcycles in the bed and close the tailgate, she had to put them in at an angle. But they fit!