2015 Tundra New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Tundra is a full-size pickup, with good work capability and durability, that comes in three cabs, three bed sizes, and five trim levels. With 2WD and 4WD, there are no less than 42 models of Tundra. The Tundra is pretty much an all-American vehicle. It was designed in California and Michigan, its engines are assembled in Alabama, its transmissions built in North Carolina, and it rolls off a Texas plant.
For 2015, Tundra offers a choice of two V8s with the same 6-speed automatic. (The V6 engine was dropped.) Much of the sheetmetal and interior was new in 2014, so there are no changes for 2015, except the introduction of the 2015 Tundra TRD Pro model, with its own suspension and touches to the body and interior. It's a 4×4 for serious off-roaders.
Toyota is re-marketing TRD (Toyota Racing Development) around the new Pro Series, starting with Tundra, Tacoma, and 4Runner. The TRD Pro is more than bolt-on parts; it has its own off-road suspension geometry with fat Bilstein dampers, tuned stainless twin exhaust, unique interior color, 32-inch-tall Michelin offroad tires, black 18-inch alloy wheels, TRD trim and badging, and more. Toyota has been off-road racing for three decades and has more than 300 victories; so with the TRD Pro Series re-branding the brand, it's like a double-down.
In fact, the Tundra TRD Pro won its class in the Baja 1000 in November 2014, finishing first in the full size stock truck class, with pro drivers and a team of six Tundra engineers riding shotgun as navigator or mechanic. After the race they turned around and drove it on the road 1000 miles back to Ensenada where they started.
The basic Tundra two-door Regular Cab comes in entry-level trim levels with only the 8-foot bed. The Double Cab has four doors and seats five or six, depending on the front seat, and comes with 6.5- or 8-foot beds. The big CrewMax seats the same with more room, and comes with a 5.5-foot bed and vertically sliding rear window. The TRD Pro is available in Double Cab or CrewMax 4×4 cab types, but not Regular Cab for those most serious off-roaders, who say they don't need no stinkin' back seats.
Tundra is among the largest of half-ton trucks. It's stable and comfortable, including the rear seats, and tows beautifully. The smaller 4.6-liter dohc V8 with an aluminum block is rated at 310 horsepower, 327 pound-feet of torque at 3400 rpm, and EPA ratings of 15/20 mpg City/Highway, one mpg less with 4WD. It also the same 6-speed automatic transmission as the bigger engine. The 4.6-liter is a good choice for drivers who want the oomph of a V8 but don't do a lot of towing.
Tundra's double overhead-cam 5.7-liter V8, also with an aluminum block, is rated at 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, mated to that 6-speed automatic transmission. It's a good truck engine, with EPA ratings of 14/18 mpg City/Highway, one mpg less with 4WD. Some competitors offer more horsepower or torque, while others offer better fuel mileage by 1 or 2 mpg. We like the Tundra's balance of power, economy, cargo and towing.
We towed a 20-foot enclosed car trailer over long distances, with ease. Towing capacities top 10,000 pounds on some models equipped with the available tow package, and maximum payload ratings exceed 2,000 pounds.
The 5.7-liter Toyota Tundra comes with a 4.30:1 final drive ratio with a 10.5 ring gear, the largest ring gear in the segment. Because of the engine torque, the transmission 3.33 1st gear ratio, and the 4.30 rear end ratio, this Tundra produces a blockbusting 5,742 foot-pounds of torque (401 x 3.33 x 4.30) at the drive wheels, and that's without any gear reduction from the transfer case on 4X4 models.
Standard equipment in all Tundras includes the touchscreen, CD player, iPod integration and Bluetooth. Infotainment increases with the model, including SiriusXM satellite radio, HD radio, subscription-free weather and traffic (where HD radio is supported in urban areas, through your smartphone cellular data outside those regions), GraceNote art, expanded voiced recognition including compound commands, navigation, predictive traffic, radio buffer that lets you pause up to 20 minutes of AM/FM/HD radio for later playback, Entune App Suite (Bing, Pandora, Open Table, Facebook Places, Yelp and more) and a 440-watt JBL sound system.
The 2015 Toyota Tundra comes in three body styles: Regular Cab with 8-foot long bed, 4-door Double Cab with 6 1/2-foot standard bed or 8-foot long bed, and 4-door Crew Max with a 5 1/2-foot short bed. All ride on a 146-inch wheelbase except the Double Cab long bed at 165 inches. Every Tundra is available with part-time four-wheel drive, and some 5.7 V8 models, including the TRD Pro, are flex-fuel. Double Cab is available is SR, SR5 and Limited trim levels, ranging in price from $28,510 for the Double Cab SR 4×2 with the 4.6-liter engine, to $35,040 for the SR5 4×4 with the 5.7-liter.
CrewMax cabs are offered in SR5, Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition models all with 5.5-foot beds. The least expensive is a 4×2 SR5 with the 4.6-liter ($32,480) to the 4×4 SR5 with the 5.7-liter ($37,030) to the 4×2 Limited ($39,500) or fully loaded 4×4 1794 edition ($47,975).
Missing from the 2015 lineup is the base Tundra Regular Cab 4×2 with the V6, a work truck. In replacing the engine, Toyota leaped over the 310-horsepower V8, all the way to the 381-horsepower 5.7-liter. So the base work truck ($29,120) is a hot rod.
Regular Cab is offered only in SR trim. SR trim comes with a fabric-upholstered 40/20/40-split bench seat, air conditioning, carpet, Entune audio system (6.1-inch touchscreen AM/FM/CD/iPod/USB/Bluetooth) tilt steering wheel, power windows and locks, dual power points, cruise control, fold-up rear seats on four doors, black front bumper and grille trim, tow hooks on 4WD, heated power mirrors, easy lower/lift tailgate and 18-inch steel wheels. Options on SR trim include cargo rail retention system, tow hitch on 4.6 Double Cab, and a Work Truck package with vinyl seat and floor that removes cruise control, power accessories and map lights.
Tundra SR5 trim adds to SR with fog lamps, more chrome outside, Entune Audio Plus (7-inch hi-resolution touchscreen, SiriusXM radio with 90-day trial, HD radio with iTunes tagging and weather/traffic in metro areas, elsewhere with a smartphone), dark-tint manual sliding rear window, and additional instruments with 3.5-inch display. Optional equipment includes alloy wheels, SR5 Upgrade pack (bucket front seats, power driver seat, console and shift, tilt and telescope steering wheel, rear underseat storage tray) and the TRD Off-Road Package (Bilstein shocks, unique alloy wheels and Michelin tires, skid plates, tow hooks on 2WD and rear side window privacy glass).
Tundra Limited upgrades to dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated 10/4-way power front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather tilt/telescope steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, power sliding rear window (horizontal on Double Cab, vertical on CrewMax), auto-dimming mirror, deck rail tie-down cleat system, Entune App Suite, navigation, upgraded audio system and alarm system. Optional are TRD package, moonroof and blind-spot monitor/rear cross traffic alert on CrewMax and a Limited Premium package (auto up/down power windows, park sensors front and rear, remote keyless entry).
Tundra Platinum models get perforated leather diamond-quilt pattern upholstery, heated/cooled front seats, driver memory system, JBL audio system, color-matched bumpers and grille trim, auto-dimming power-folding outside mirrors, moonroof, park sensors and glass breakage sensor. Blind-spot monitoring is available.
Tundra 1794 Edition has Platinum-grade features and options, but uses unique upholstery with ultra suede and woodgrain trim, silver front bumper and grille, 1794 badging, and offers chrome-clad wheels as an additional option.
The TRD Pro comes with large front and rear Bilstein dampers, aluminum skid plate, TRD cat-back dual exhaust system, halogen headlamps, unique colored interior with red stitching, 18-inch black alloy rims with Michelin offroad tires, black grille, and TRD trim, badging, floor mats and shift knob.
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, driver and passenger knee airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control with traction control, and trailer sway control. The standard rearview camera can enhance safety by helping the driver spot children behind the truck when backing up. Parking sensors front and rear, and blind-spot monitoring are available on some models.