When looking at the current Tundra, it's hard to imagine that, at one time, Toyota was reluctant to step up to the full-size pickup category. Where the T100 was knocked for being marginally larger than existing compact trucks -- and for its conservative styling, particularly compared with the new-for-'94 Dodge Ram -- Toyota got closer to producing a (not quite) full-size truck in late 1999 with the introduction of the Tundra.

The Tundra replaced the T100 in the lineup, featured more aggressive styling, and brought with it a body 8.4 inches longer, riding on a wheelbase 6.5 inches greater. While the overall width was the same, the extended wheelbase and overall length largely benefited the cabin, which was more spacious and comfortable than the T100's. What's more, the Tundra was available in regular-cab form (with an 8.2-foot bed) or an Access cab, which had rear-hinged secondary doors on both sides and 2 feet taken from the bed. The second row was roomier and more comfortable than, say, a Dakota's, but no match for the larger Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford trucks.

More cabin room quelled the first T100 complaint, and selective raiding of the Toyota corporate parts bin squashed the second. Finally, Toyota had provided truck buyers with something they'd long wanted in the T100: a V-8. Borrowed from the Land Cruiser, the Tundra's 4.7-liter I-Force V-8 used dual-overhead cams and four valves per cylinder to produce 245 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque, marginally better than the Dakota's SOHC 4.7-liter V-8, but weaker than the Chevy Silverado 1500's 4.8-liter V-8. The Tundra's V-8 was joined by a 3.4-liter DOHC V-6 with 190 horses and 220 pound-feet of torque. The V-8 drove only a four-speed auto, but the V-6 could also be had with a five-speed manual. 4WD was available on most models.

Since the U.S.-built Tundra is from the company that brought you the Camry, it's no surprise that the truck is soft and smooth, though the early models weren't characterized as luxurious. Nor was the rear seating area especially commodious. But Toyota's fix was effective: With the 2004 model year came the Double Cab, with four front-hinged doors and a sedanlike back seat, along with a stretched wheelbase and increased overall length (to 140.5 and 230.1 inches, respectively) to keep the 6.2-foot bed intact.

For 2005, the base engine made 245 horses from 4.0 liters, and the 4.7-liter V-8 was boosted to 282. Automatic trans had five speeds, and the manual with the V-6 gained a cog, totaling six.

A recall last year involved 2000-2003 Tundras: Frames could rust, allowing the spare tire to fall off. Reports also indicate problems with exhaust manifolds on the 2000-2002 Tundras, both engines, and the oxygen sensors -- the last not a problem limited to Tundras. Overall, Tundra owners rate their vehicles highly, and point to the fact that the truck isn't as large or unwieldy as a domestic-brand competitor as one of its strengths.


2000-2006 Toyota Tundra
Body type Two- or four-door pickup
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags Dual front
Engines 3.4-liter, 190-hp DOHC V-6; 4.0-liter, 236-245-hp DOHC V-6; 4.7-liter, 245-282-hp, DOHC V-8
Brakes, f/r Vented disc/drum, ABS
Price range, wholesale/retail (est) $2445/$5390 (2000 standard cab RWD V-6); $19,100/$24,895 (2006 Double Cab Limited 4WD V-8)
Recalls Too many to list; see www.intellichoice.com
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/pass Four stars/five stars
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