First Test: 2008 Toyota Tundra TRD Supercharged
The Sports-Car-Eating Truck from Texas That Rumbles to 60 in 4.4 seconds
Truck guys take a lot of guff for driving gas-guzzlers that rarely get used for what they're designed to do. Well, bite your tongue car weenies 'cause this Toyota pickup does exactly what it's built for -- speed. Sure, there's been other regular-cab sport trucks like Ford's SVT Lightning and Dodge's SRT-10 Ram, but this Tundra stomps 'em both, handily, in the 0-to-60 test by almost a half second. The Tundra dashes to 60 in 4.4 seconds making it faster than your car, if you're driving a Mustang GT (5.1), Dodge Challenger SRT8 (4.6), Jaguar XF SC (4.90), Audi S5 coupe (4.5), or BMW 135i (4.6), and as fast as our long-term 2006 Porsche Carrera S.
What's going on? Where's this truck been? Essentially in pieces in the Toyota Racing Development parts bins. What we have here is a stock 5.7L Tundra regular cab SR5 pickup fitted with accessories from the TRD catalog. Only a couple of bolt-on parts transform an already hefty Toyota 5.7L V-8 engine into a screaming banshee. The rev willingness of the stock 5.7 adds greatly to the package. The Eaton Twin Vortices supercharger and cat-back dual exhaust are the heart of the upgrades allowing the air and power to flow freely at the rate of 504 hp and 550 lb-ft of torque. Yee-hoooo! The whir of the supercharger is reminiscent of the old Lightning's, but the kick feels more linear and consistent. Power is on tap almost immediately without a slam-bang delivery. For the sake of civility, the tip-in is controllable, if you exercise restraint. But after a couple of head-snapping launches, it's nearly impossible to avoid exorcizing the tire tread instead. On the freeway, passing involves little more than a brush of the accelerator for pinpoint lane changes usually reserved for sports cars. Street truck aerodynamics aren't condusive to high-speeds with 0-to-100 mph times comparable to those of the Porsche Caymen and old S/C Yenko Camaro.
Obviously, there can be a downside to voluminous power. Gasoline usage is one -- but I can live with it. The other is traction control. Our truck isn't governed by an indomitable nanny. A recent Southern California rain proved you could slip the tires in the wet stuff, even with TCS on, if you're not careful. Engage the traction-system override and it's possible to fry rubber 'til your nose bleeds. Keeping in mind the basic theories of physics, objects in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by external forces, the TRD Big Brake Kit is a letdown. The brakes perform well enough on standard braking maneuvers but show a certain lack of commitment on panic braking, stopping at 141 ft from 60 mph -- eight ft farther than a stock 4x4 Limited with off-road biased tires. In addition, initial pedal feel is softer than I've come to expect in performance-brake packages.
While the supercharged 5.7 represents lean red meat, there are plenty of garnishes that enhance the sporting flavor. With the proliferation of extended-cab pickups, a regular cab truck looks remarkable svelte. The SR5 package adds bling, utility, and convenience with a chrome bumper, power windows and door locks, cruise control, engine skid plate, remote keyless entry, etc. A body-colored hard tonneau keeps the visuals nice and tight. Underneath, a lower suspension and anti-roll bars help manage over 5000 lb of heft in the corners and lane changes. The huge 22-in. polished aluminum TRD wheels and Toyo Proxes S/Ts almost shrink the external proportions of the truck. Unfortunately, over uneven pavement their bulkiness adds drama to the driveline. The Tundra becomes suddenly uneasy as each corner pogos at a different rate. Our Tundra was equipped with the standard shocks, front and rear. It's feasible that an upgrade to TRD shocks would offer more control perhaps at the expense of overall comfort. The Toyo Proxes S/Ts have a directional pattern that's side-specific -- meaning entirely different tires for the left and right side. They're also mud and snow rated leaving room for improved abilities with a switch to a pure performance tire.
Spec and tech is great for barroom banter but it's your gut and butt that really tell you what this truck is all about. A quick jaunt in this Tundra will humble the most jaded sports car purist. It's too quick. It's a truck. It feels so wrong.
In case you don't understand the Toyota/TRD relationship. These parts do not negate your truck's warranty. They are factory performance parts installed through a dealer. You can buy your truck and have it customized to your own performance preferences. This truck is a customer-request modification only. There are no plans to produce it as a special-edition Tundra. If you order one up you can call it whatever you want -- BulletTruck? BuzzSaw? What would you call it? I'll beat someone to it...how 'bout "TRD wagon"?
|2008 TOYOTA TUNDRA 4x2 REGULAR CAB 5.7L V8|
|0-60 mph||4.4 sec|
|1/4 mile||13.0 sec @ 106.3 mph|
|60-0 mph||141 ft|
|Lateral acceleration||0.79 g(avg)|
|Cloth bucket seats, tilt/telescoping wheel, center console||$45|
|Power heated outside mirror||$160|
|Front and rear clearance sonar||$500|
|Front license plate bracket||$13|
|TRD dual exhaust||$1,065|
|TRD super charger||$5,875|
|TRD big brake kit||$2,795|
|TRD lowering suspension||$1,699|
|TRD rear anti-sway bar||$299|
|Toyo Proxes S/T 285/45 R22 114V MTS tires and TRD polished aluminum wheels||$4,699|