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!
Its size, speed, and go-anywhere nature made it an instant favorite on photo shoots, where it could be relied upon for trail work and long hauls, and its generous cabin size ensured it could easily tote gear and several people. That size also made it a no-brainer for furniture runs, to carry firewood, and to move landscaping materials. Photographer Brian Vance used it to go camping in a remote part of the eastern Sierra Nevadas. Despite two feet of snow on the ground followed by a nasty rainstorm resulting in gooey mud, the Tundra didn't falter -- and it provided 16.1 mpg through it all, loaded up with people and gear.
One common complaint about the truck, though, was its ergonomics. Many testers logged that it took a long reach to get to items on the center stack, such as the stereo and HVAC controls. They also noted that the cabin materials didn't seem to wear that well. And when it came to parking the Tundra, drivers had to practically rely on the rearview camera and beeping sonar as guides.
The engine and transmission received rave reviews, and dropped jaws at the track. Our long-termer reached 60 mph in 6.0 seconds flat, which is quicker than the 60 sprint from the Acura TSX, matches that of the Audi A4 3.2 and is only a tenth behind that of the Jaguar XF. It needed but 139 feet to brake from 60 mph, and finished the quarter mile in 14.7 seconds at 93.9 mph.
During its tenure, the Toyota visited the dealer four times. At the 5000- and 10,000-mile services -- costing $92.37 and $89.78, respectively-the truck received the standard oil change, inspection, and tire rotation.
The 15,000-mile service ($179.11) added brake adjustment to the mix, and the techs replaced the air filter. At 20,000 miles, the $95.85 service was much like the first two, but wear and tear meant it was time for a new set of tires ($712.92) and new front brake pads and machined rotors ($249.99).
By the time we had to return the truck, it wore its share of dents and dings, evidence that it was worked-hard. We discovered that it's a tough machine, one that earned high praise and deserves respect. It isn't a perfect truck, but its awesome capability, excellent 5.7-liter V-8 and six-speed automatic, and wide range of models and trim levels make it one that should be considered by the buyer looking for a top-notch half-ton.
From The Logbook
"Great powertrain. The 5.7-liter is really impressive and the six-speed, with its slick manual mode, is arguably the best truck tranny out there."
- Ron Kiino
"The Tundra handled rocky, worn-out Jeep trails with ease, and despite the rough terrain and slippery, narrow surface, it consistently had the upper hand. All the while, we kept dry, listening to the iPod and watching our progress on the nav screen."
- Brian Vance
"Easy to drive -- a lot of power on demand, excellent transmission, responsive brakes -- and the side mirrors are huge, making it really easy to get a good view of what's going on behind the truck even when you can't use the rearview mirror."
- Allyson Harwood
| Our Car |
| Base price || $39,235 |
| Options || DVD navigation ($1650: incl backup monitor, 10-speaker JBL AM/FM/4CD, Bluetooth, aux jack); bedliner with rails ($345); cold kit ($100: heavy-duty battery/starter/anti-corrosion protection, plus windshield wiper de-icer); all-weather floormats ($99); emergency assistance kit ($70); mudguards ($60); front license plate bracket ($13) |
| MSRP, as tested || $42,072 |
| Total mileage || 22,272 |
| Avg fuel economy || 14.3 mpg |
| Problem areas || None |
| Maintenance cost || $457.11 |
| Normal-wear cost || $963 |
| Three-year residual value* || $17,670 |
| Recalls || None |
|* Automotive Lease Guide |
| 2008 TOYOTA TUNDRA DOUBLE CAB |
| POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS |
| Drivetrain layout || Front engine, 4WD |
| Engine type || 90-deg V-8, alum block/heads |
| Valvetrain || DOHC, 4 valves/cyl |
| Displacement || 345.6 cu in/5663 cc |
| Compression ratio || 10.2:1 |
| Power (SAE net) || 381 hp @ 5600 rpm |
| Torque (SAE net) || 401 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm |
| Weight to power || 14.8 lb/hp |
| Transmission || 6-speed automatic |
| Axle/final/low ratios || 4.30:1/2.53:1/2.62:1 |
| Suspension, front; rear || Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs |
| Steering ratio || 17.3:1 |
| Turns lock-to-lock || 3.7 |
| Brakes, f;r || 13.9-in vented disc; 13.6-in vented disc, ABS |
| Wheels || 8.0 x 18 in, cast aluminum |
| Tires || 275/65R18 114T M+S, Bridgestone Dueler H/T |
| DIMENSIONS |
| Wheelbase || 145.7 in |
| Track, f/r || 67.9/67.9 in |
| Length x width x height || 228.7 x 79.9 x 76.2 in |
| Turning circle || 44.0 ft |
| Curb weight || 5637 lb |
| Weight dist, f/r || 58/42% |
| GVWR || 7200 lb |
| Seating capacity || 5 |
| Headroom, f/r || 40.2/38.7 in |
| Legroom, f/r || 42.5/34.7 in |
| Shoulder room, f/r || 66.6/65.7 in |
| Pickup box L x W x H || 78.7 x 66.4 x 22.2 in |
| Width betw wheelhouses || 50.0 in |
| Payload capacity || 1563 lb |
| Towing capacity || 10,300 lb |
| TEST DATA |
| Acceleration to mph |
| 0-30 || 2.0 sec |
| 0-40 || 3.2 |
| 0-50 || 4.6 |
| 0-60 || 6 |
| 0-70 || 8.1 |
| 0-80 || 10.5 |
| 0-90 || 13.3 |
| 0-100 || 17 |
| Passing, 45-65 mph || 3.1 |
| Quarter mile || 14.7 sec @ 93.9 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 mph || 139 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.75 g (avg) |
| MT figure eight || 28.5 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) |
| Top-gear revs @ 60 mph || 1600 rpm |
| CONSUMER INFO |
| Stability/traction control || Yes/yes |
| Airbags || Dual front, front side, f/r curtain |
| Basic warranty || 3 yrs/36,000 miles |
| Powertrain warranty || 5 yrs/60,000 miles |
| Roadside assistance || None |
| Fuel capacity || 26.4 gal |
| EPA city/hwy econ || 13/17 mpg |
| CO2 emissions || 1.33 lb/mile |
| Recommended fuel || Unleaded regular |