Everything's bigger in Texas. Once you have stared down a 72-ounce steak or sparred with a Maverick-size political ego, you realize there's some truth to that claim. At least Toyota saw it that way, hence its new San Antonio, Texas, truck plant where it's making the new Tundra.
With the new Silverado, Motor Trend's 2007 Truck of the Year (see the full story in this issue), out at the same time as the Tundra, we thought we'd give them a chance to spend some time with one another. Even though the Toyota doesn't officially go on sale for another few weeks, we got our hands on a fully loaded Deep Blue Double Cab Limited 4WD to do battle with a Brilliant Red extended cab LTZ 4WD Silverado. Both have midsize cabs (more on Toyota's CrewMax in our next issue) and standard beds and their most mainstream V-8s. Let the chips (and clumps of mud) fall where they may. (Look for our next Toyota versus Chevy installment, to focus on towing and hauling.)
After a brief street drive before track testing, we appreciated the Silverado's steering quickness, weight, and feel, plus its tauter response, some of which can be attributed to its 20-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle street tires. The steering wheel itself only offers a tilt adjustment; however, it does have electric pedal adjusts.
Although some felt it was a bit light, the Toyota's steering (its wheel tilts and telescopes) gets points as well, because it has a turning diameter almost three feet smaller than the Chevy on nearly the same-length wheelbase. Likewise, the Tundra's ride quality was helped by 18-inch Rugged Trail tires (with more sidewall) as well as more compliant rear leaf springs.
While the topline LTZ Silverado's default suspension is the Z85 handling/trailering setup with monotube shocks, the 20-inch wheel option on our tester required the Z60 max street-performance suspension with twin-tube shocks. Chevy's 4WD system offers two-wheel drive, a full-time Auto mode, 4x4 High, and 4x4 Low. During our testing, the Chevy, left in Auto mode, proved the best handling of any Silverado variant, past or present. Much of that we credit to the computer-controlled all-wheel-drive system that sends power to the front wheels a split second before it detects rear wheelslip. During most of the handling tests, the Silverado was the traction king.
The Tundra's part-time 4WD system offers no such Auto or all-wheel-drive setting for use on pavement, which was a challenge for our track testers, as they wrestled with traction-control nannies that shut down engine power. However--and we don't recommend this--by switching the Tundra to 4x4 High, we were able to turn the electronic nannies off and could get traction to all four tires for our quarter-mile launches. The result was an impressive 6.0-second 0-to-60 time for the Tundra; unfortunately, it was at the risk of grenading the transfer case. We have to question Toyota's thought process: Why give the truck all that power if you're not going to give drivers safe access to it? (We'll assume the nannies will work when those empty pickup trucks hit their first icy rain or snow.) It's simple to see how the Tundra does so well in straight-line running: 381-horsepower motor, shorter axle gears (4.30:1), 55-percent more transmission gears, more torque over a wider powerband. On everything other than straight-line blasts, as predicted, the Silverado won the slalom and figure-eight contests, although we didn't predict OnStar would call twice to see if we were all right.