Full Size Truck Comparison: 2007 Chevrolet Silverado vs. 2007 Toyota Tundra
Round 2: Down and Dirty
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.
Fuel-economy monitoring provided interesting results. Although the Silverado has higher EPA ratings (better even than the base V-6) with the high-tech Active Fuel Management system, it didn't offer the all-around benefits we would've predicted. It was the clear winner on our downhill sections, but the Toyota transmission's extra gears gave the bigger and heavier Tundra the fuel-economy edge--and we worked both trucks hard. On level highway, the Tundra's drivetrain delivered better efficiency, averaging 1.0 mpg better than the Silverado's.
Once we headed to our local off-road park and left pavement behind, the Silverado's street tires were as much at a disadvantage there as the Tundra's tires were at the track. The Chevy climbed our steep concrete and granite stair step but let us know several times it had smaller approach angles (12 degrees less than the Tundra), scraping the airdam and front bumper. The Silverado felt more balanced and less nose-heavy than the Tundra. On the hillclimb and stair step, the G80 locking differential proved more useful than the Tundra's electronic traction control, although the locker took a good amount of wheelspin to engage. Be that as it may, the TRD Tundra was in its element here, with lots of controlled suspension travel and good on-center steering response. Probably the weakest venue for the Silverado 4x4 was the rutted washboards, where passengers preferred the heavier and better-tired Tundra. This doesn't mean the Toyota is faultless, as that rear-axle hop can easily catch you at the wrong moment and send the tail wagging before you can countersteer.
As Toyota intended, the Tundra feels big inside, even more so than the dimensional differences imply, and the massive dash looks more like that of a heavy-duty, while the Chevy's reminds us of a luxury sedan's. Likewise, where Chevy's extended cab uses dual-hinged rear swinging doors that now open nearly 170 degrees, the Double Cab Toyota uses conventional, admittedly smallish doors with colormatched handles for concealment. Both offer rolldown side windows and three-across seating, and while rear-cargo flexibility is similar, the Tundra offers a more conventional passenger seat.
Forward interiors are markedly different. The LTZ Silverado garnered high praise for its clean, simple, almost elegant dash. The Limited Tundra uses "Optitron" electroluminescent gauges that sit at the bottom of individual barrels. We noted the five nacelles and warning lights appear scattered on the Tundra dash, with the related traction-control "slippery" icon on one side and "Auto LSD" on the other.
Toyota uses a segmented approach for the dash design. The center section is so wide it's split in two separate finishes, making the controls a stretch for even our lankiest tester. Overall, the Tundra didn't equal the Chevy's simple and stylish design, but it's easier to get into a comfortable driving position in the Toyota.
For a night on the town, the Chevy comes far closer to replicating a luxury sedan or coach. As a tool, the Tundra rules the roost, with more, wider storage areas, seven cupholders for the front row alone, and eight dummy switches. The Chevy dash has none. For those who tow, the Tundra offers a backup camera, whereas only the SUV GMT900 platforms get the backup camera option; expect all Silverados to get it by next year. Unfortunately, government regulations only allow the screen to be used while the vehicle's in Reverse.
As equipped, the Silverado bested the Toyota for payload by 500 pounds, yet the Toyota's towing capacity exceeded the Silverado's by 2000 pounds (neither of these vehicles had the maximum towing capacity option packages); we'll address hauling and towing in Round 3.
Not surprisingly, Toyota has yet to announce pricing. In fact, we've heard there's a heated discussion going on right now about how to price the Tundra (Japan wants the premium price for its premium product and U.S. marketers want the Tundra right on top of Ford and Chevy). And without accurate pricing information, we don't feel it would be right to call a winner at this stage, so we'll have to draw this out just a little longer. But we can say more than a few of us were surprised at how well the Tundra's stronger drivetrain and chassis setup performed. It may all come down to pricing.
|2007Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab LTZ 4WD||2007 Toyota Tundra Double Cab Limited 4WD|
|Location of final assembly||Oshawa, Canada||San Antonio, Texas|
|Body style||4-door pickup||4-door pickup|
|EPA size class||Special purpose full-size pickup||Special purpose full-size pickup|
|Drivetrain layout||Front engine, 4WD||Front engine, 4WD|
|Airbags||Front, side curtain||Front, front side, side curtain|
|Engine type||90° V-8, iron block/alum heads||90° V-8, alum block/heads|
|Bore x stroke, in||3.78 x 3.62||3.70 x 4.02|
|Valve gear||OHV, 2 valves/cyl||DOHC, 4 valves/cyl, VVT|
|Fuel induction||SFI, AFM||SFI|
|SAE horsepower, hp @ rpm||315 @ 5200||381 @ 5600|
|SAE torque, lb-ft @ rpm||338 @ 4400||401 @ 3600|
|Transmission type||4L65 4-speed automatic||AB60E 6-speed automatic|
|Final drive ratio||2.61||2.54:1|
|RPM @ 60 mph||1700||1600|
|Crawl ratio (1st x axle gears x low range)||30.9:1||37.5:1|
|Recommended fuel||Regular unleaded or E85||Regular unleaded|
|Track, f/r, in||68.1/67.0||67.9/67.9|
|Headroom, f/r, in||41.2/39.2||40.2/38.7|
|Legroom, f/r, in||41.3/34.3||42.5/34.7|
|Shoulder room, f/r, in||65.2/65.3||66.5/65.7|
|Ground clearance, in||9.0||10.8|
|App/dep/breakover angle, deg||16.0/19.3/23.3||28.5/19.5/24.5 (est)|
|Bed, L x W (max/wheelhouses) x H, in||78.7 x 62.4/50.6 x 21.0||78.7 x 66.4/50.0 x 22.2|
|Ride height, in||36.0||37.0|
|Load lift height, in||35.0||35.7|
|Base curb weight, lb||5365||5845|
|Base weight dist, f/r %||59/41||60/40 (est)|
|Payload capacity, lb||1635||1155|
|Towing capacity, lb||7500||10,300|
|Fuel capacity, gal||26.0||26.4|
|Suspension, front; rear||Independent, double A-arm, coil springs, 34mm anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs||Independent, double A-arm, coil springs, 36mm anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs|
|Steering type||Rack and pinion||Rack and pinion|
|Turns, lock to lock||3.0||3.7|
|Turning circle, ft||46.9||44.0|
|Brakes, front; rear||13.0-inch vented disc; 11.6 x 2.4-inch drum, ABS||13.9-inch vented disc; 13.6-inch vented disc, ABS|
|Wheels||20x8.5-in alloy||18x8.5-in alloy|
|Tires||P275/55R20 Goodyear Eagle LS2||P275/65R18 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A|
|Load index (max load @ psi)||111S (2403 @ 44)||114T (2601 @ 44)|
|Quarter mile, sec @ mph||15.8 @ 89.1||14.6 @ 93.6|
|Braking 60-0, ft||133||133|
|Speed through 600-ft slalom, mph||59.5||58.7|
|EPA fuel economy, city/hwy||16/20 mpg||14/18 mpg|
|Observed fuel economy, combined||13.9 mpg||14.9 mpg|
|Base price||$34,600||$35,000 (est)|
|Price as tested||$37,914||$40,000 (est)|