2008 Tundra New Car Test Drive
With its full-size Toyota Tundra, Toyota has finally unleashed a no-holds-barred, light-duty truck that shows no deference to those from Chevy, Dodge or Ford. The Tundra doesn't just run with the big dogs. It is, plain and simple, one of the biggest.
It might be no surprise, then, that this Tundra has more than doubled Toyota's share of the big pickup market, compared to the previous-generation, slightly-less-than-full-size model. But double is not enough. Toyota has invested huge in its big pickup, and not just in the vehicle itself, but by re-configuring its assembly line in Indiana and adding a second pickup plant in Texas. So for 2008, Toyota has added more models to the Tundra line and priced the truck more aggressively.
When the Tundra was launched for 2007, the only really basic, no-frills model was the conventional Tundra Regular Cab, with its single-row seating for two or three. In 2008, buyers can choose the most popular Tundra versions, the Double Cab and CrewMax, with a new Tundra Grade trim package that offers fewer standard features and substantially lowers their price. The six-passenger Double Cab, for example, now starts at $24,715, or $1,400 less than the least-expensive 2007 version. Higher trim Tundras, meanwhile, get even more standard equipment. Bottom line, the 2008 Tundra should appeal more to buyers at the lower-end of the full-size pickup market, and deliver more value to buyers at the high end.
Tundra covers nearly all the half-ton pickup bases. The 4.0-liter V6 engine is most economical, with more than enough power for basic work-truck duty. The high-torque, 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 and its standard six-speed automatic transmission make one of the strongest, most responsive powertrains in the class. Even the base models are loaded with useful features, including tons of interior storage options, an easy-lift assisted tailgate and standard four-wheel disc brakes. Overall, the Tundra might be the smoothest, most comfortable full-size pickup available.
Safety equipment is the most comprehensive in pickups, including side-impact airbags, curtain-type head protection airbags, advanced anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD) and brake assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and a limited-slip differential.
The high-end Limited models offer features such as GPS-linked navigation with a backup camera and a state-of-the-art rear-seat entertainment with a nine-inch LCD screen.
Yet the comfort and features shouldn't suggest that Tundra is best left to truck-as-family-car buyers. When it was launched for 2007, this Toyota offered best-in-class payload and tow ratings, and it still exceeds nearly every other half-ton on the market. Maximum Payload ratings range from 1410 pounds to 2060 pounds, while maximum towing capacity reaches 10,800 pounds. An available deck rail system in the bed anchors moveable tie-down cleats rated at 220 pounds.
The Tundra comes in three body styles: two-door Regular cab; Double Cab with front-hinged, secondary rear side doors; and four-door CrewMax. It's available with three bed lengths and three different wheelbases. In addition to the V6 and 5.7-liter V8, there's an intermediate 4.7-liter V8. Rear-wheel drive is standard, four-wheel drive optional, with seating for two, three, five or six in three trim levels. In all, the 2008 Tundra is available in 44 different build configurations.
That's a lot fewer than a Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado, believe it or not. Moreover, those veteran pickups offer more options than Tundra, including things like different rear-end ratios and towing aids that allow a buyer to more specifically tailor a pickup to personal needs. And Dodge, Chevy and Ford have a database of valuable customer feedback that goes back decades beyond Toyota's.
It's difficult to convince a longtime pickup owner to switch brands, and each make has strengths and weaknesses relative to the other.
The Toyota Tundra line isn't quite as complicated as some other full-size pickup line-ups, but it still offers plenty of potential for confusion. For 2008, there are 44 different Tundra configurations, with three cab styles seating from two to six, three bed lengths and three engine options. Trim levels range from basic work configurations with vinyl flooring to luxury grade, with leather, navigation and a rear-seat DVD player. Payload ratings run from 1410 pounds to 2060 pounds, while towing capacity tops out at 10,800 pounds, which is among best in class.
Tundra shoppers should first consider cab style or seating space. The next choice is either the V6 or one of two V8 engines, and finally the trim package or level of standard equipment
The Tundra Regular Cab 4x2 ($22,290) is the least expensive model. It's powered by Toyota's 236-hp 4.0-liter V6, with 266 pound-feet of torque, a five-speed automatic transmission and the 6.5-foot, standard-length bed. The eight-foot long bed ($330) and either a 271-hp, 4.7-liter V8 ($1,140) or a 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 ($1,335) are optional. The bigger V8 also adds a six-speed automatic. (All NewCarTestDrive.com prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices, which may change at any time without notice; prices do not include destination charges.)
The Regular Cab 4x4 ($26,480) is the least expensive four-wheel-drive Tundra. It comes standard with the 4.7-liter V8, which generates 313 pound-feet of torque, and Toyota's electronically controlled, part-time four-wheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case. The Regular Cab is the workhorse edition Tundra, with a fabric-upholstered, 40/20/40-split bench seat, vinyl floor covering, column shift and manual-crank windows. Standard equipment includes a four-speaker, AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary audio input, manual dual-zone air conditioning, tilt steering and Toyota's gas-boosted, tailgate-assist system. The standard wheels are 18-inch steel.
Double Cab Tundra Grade 4x2 ($24,715) comes with the 4.0-liter V6 and standard bed. The Tundra Double Cab features rear side doors, forward-hinged like on an SUV, and seats for as many as six. The 4.7-liter V8 ($145), 5.7-liter V8 ($1,335) and long bed ($990) are optional on Tundra Double Cab models. The Tundra Grade equipment basically matches the Regular Cab, adding carpet in place of the vinyl flooring, a tachometer and outside temperature indicator. The Double Cab Tundra Grade 4x4 ($27,910) adds four-wheel-drive and the 4.7-liter V8.
The Double Cab SR5 4x2 ($26,105) and 4x4 ($29,900) add lots of standard equipment, including power front bucket seats, a floor-mounted shifter and center console, power windows and heated mirrors, central locking, cruise control, a stereo with six speakers and an in-dash six-CD changer, heavy duty starter and battery, and mud guards.
The Double Cab Limited 4X2 ($34,460) and 4x4 ($37,510) represent the most luxurious trim package. Both come standard with the 4.7-liter V8, though they are only offered with the standard bed. Standard equipment includes heated, leather-trimmed front buckets, JBL audio with 12 speakers, sliding rear glass, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and programmable garage-door opener and front and rear park-assist.
The CrewMax Tundra Grade 4x2 ($27,685) and 4x4 ($30,735) feature full-size rear side doors and more rear-cab space, with a sliding, fold-flat rear bench seat. They come standard with the 4.7-liter V8, but are only offered with a 5.5-foot short bed. The 5.7-liter V8 and six-speed automatic are optional ($1,190). A CrewMax SR5 4x2 ($29,675) and 4x4 ($32,725), and CrewMax Limited 4x2 ($37,760) and 4x4 ($40,810) are also available. Standard equipment on each trim level basically matches that on the Double Cab models, though the CrewMax adds an overhead console and a vertical sliding power rear window.
Options have been repackaged for 2008 in groups designated by letters. These vary in.