2009 Tundra New Car Test Drive
The current generation Toyota Tundra is Toyota's third version of a full-size pickup. The first iteration, called T100 and more the size of a Dodge Dakota, taught them you have to have a V8. The second generation and first carrying the Tundra badge, showed them that 15/16 doesn't equal full-size. The current generation, launched as a 2007 model, shows they learned their lessons.
The 2009 Toyota Tundra carries forward relatively unchanged. New for 2009: A bench seat is available on SR5 trim at no charge, four-door cabs receive a chrome front bumper and grille, the regular cab Cold kit adds wiper deicing, the Power memory Package is optional rather than standard on Limited, and in non-California emissions regions 5.7-powered four-wheel drives will be flex-fuel capable of running on E85.
Two new TRD packages are available for 2009: Rock Warrior and Sport Edition. Toyota Racing Development also offers supercharger systems that deliver near 500 hp from the 5.7.
Tundra trim levels range from the basic Tundra Grade to Limited models with leather upholstery. Even the base models are loaded with useful features, including tons of interior storage options, an easy-lift assisted tailgate and four-wheel disc brakes. 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. Tundra covers nearly all the half-ton pickup bases.
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. It's an excellent choice for towing trailers. A 4.0-liter V6 engine is the most economical, with enough power for basic work-truck duty. There's also an intermediate 4.7-liter V8.
Safety equipment is comprehensive, including front side-impact airbags, curtain-type head protection airbags, advanced anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and traction control.
Towing capacity reaches 10,800 pounds; a fully loaded CrewMax 4x4 is rated at about 8800 pounds. We've found the Tundra a stable, comfortable truck for towing a 20-foot enclosed car trailer. Maximum payload ratings range from 1350 pounds to 1990 pounds. An available deck rail system in the bed anchors moveable tie-down cleats rated at 220 pounds each.
The Tundra comes in three body styles: two-door Regular Cab; Double Cab with conventional front-hinged, secondary rear side doors; and four-door CrewMax. Tundra is available with three bed lengths and three different wheelbases. Rear-wheel drive is standard, four-wheel drive optional, with seating for two, three, five or six in three trim levels. In all, the 2009 Tundra is available in 45 different build configurations. That's 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 relative strengths and weaknesses. But there's no arguing the Tundra is a viable alternative to any half-ton pickup. Shoppers without a particular brand affinity, or those new to the light-duty truck market, should take a look at the Toyota Tundra.
Tundra shoppers buying as a second car should first consider cab style and seating space. Those buying for truck use will first consider payload and cost. 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 ($22,490) is powered by a 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) is optional. Also optional is the 4.7-liter V8 or 5.7-liter V8. (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 ($27,010) comes standard with the 4.7-liter V8 and an 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 ($25,090) comes with the 4.0-liter V6 and standard bed. The Tundra Double Cab features rear side door like on an SUV, and seats for as many as six. The 4.7-liter V8 ($145), 5.7-liter V8 ($1,445), and long bed are optional on 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 ($28,140) adds four-wheel-drive and the 4.7-liter V8.
The Double Cab SR5 4x2 ($27,050) and 4x4 ($30,100) 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 ($36,010) and 4x4 ($39,070) feature the most luxurious trim package. Both come standard with the 4.7-liter V8, the 5.7-liter V8 is optional. 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 ($27,915) and 4x4 ($30,965) 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 ($29,875) and 4x4 ($38,545), and CrewMax Limited 4x2 ($37,760) and 4x4 ($41,605) 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 vary in price and exact content depending on model and region, and include things like a navigation system with back-up camera, rear-seat DVD player, cold-weather features, off-road packages and 20-inch aluminum wheels. There are few factory-installed stand-alone options, but dozens of dealer-installed accessories, such as bed liners.
TRD's Rock Warrior package ($3,177) adds color-keyed body trim on the front and a flat-black bumper on the back, fog lamps, black cloth manual seats, Bilstein shock absorbers, and 17-inch forged aluminum wheels with BFGoodrich All-Terrains for traction, ride and rim protection. It's available on 5.7 V8 4x4 Double Cab standard bed or CrewMax.
The TRD Sport package ($2,408-$3,813) adds color-coordinated trim including bumpers, grille, mirrors and door handles, fog lamps, manual cloth bucket seats, and 20-inch 5-spoke machined-face alloy wheels. Available on 5.7-liter 2WD Regular Cab and Double Cab standard bed.
Safety features that come standard on every model include front- and side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger (the latter with an off switch in Regular Cab models), side curtain airbags with rollover sensor, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control with traction control and a limited slip differential.