2014 Toyota Tundra: Modern Industrial Image

By Sue Mead, September 21st, 2013

The timing for the all-new 2014 Toyota Tundra couldn't be better, as pickup truck sales have climbed. Although Toyota garners only a small percentage of sales in the full-sized market -- compared to top players F-150, Ram, Silverado and Sierra -- there's plenty of elbow room for increased sales for the new Tundra.

The third-generation Tundra styling has morphed from soft to bold and has a new five distinct-grade strategy. It has a dramatically-styled exterior that Toyota says speaks to a more modern industrial image. The 2014 has a more distinguished selection of cabins; a number of technology upgrades, new comfort and convenience features; an improved ride; and two new Special Editions: luxury-level Platinum and Texas-ranch-themed "1794" (named after the cattle ranch of San Antonio where Toyota builds the Tundra).

The first thing you'll notice is Tundra's bigger face and stance, although the only dimensional change is a slightly raised hood (1.6 inches taller). The front fascia is more pronounced, with a larger, bolder grille and stronger character lines, which carry along the profile to the new bed and tailgate; TUNDRA is stamped into the sheet metal, creating a forged look and taillamps have a tool-like quality that matches the modernized, squared wheel wells.

Under the hood are three engine selections: a 4.0-liter V-6 is standard on Regular and Double Cab models that's rated at 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired with a 5-speed auto transmission with uphill/downhill shift logic; EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 miles per gallon city and 20 mpg highway.

A 4.6-liter i-Force V-8 produces 310 horsepower and 327 torque. The V-8 2WD gets 15/19 mpg while the 4WD gets 14/18 mpg. Tundra's most popular workhorse is the 5.7-liter i-Force V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 torque. EPA on the 2WD is 13/18 mpg while 4WD gets 13/17 mpg. The V-8's come with a 6-speed auto transmission.

Tundra 4x4 models use an on-demand, electronically controlled four-wheel drive system with 4x2, 4x4 Hi and 4x4 Lo ranges. When equipped with a trailering package, Tundra has a maximum tow capacity of 10,400 pounds (4x2 Regular Cab).

We recently drove three different versions of the 2014 Tundra in the mountains of western Pennsylvania over a variety of paved roads, along dirt track and over rigorous 4WD courses. Stepping inside, we found appealing changes to the truck's overall styling and materials with improved comfort and ergonomics that give easier access to audio and HVAC controls.

A new instrument panel features attractive 3-D metallic rings; gauges are grouped in a clear, easy-to-see design with a center-mounted multi-information (LCD) screen. Large knobs carry over from the previous generation that can be operated with or without work gloves.

The most notable changes when driving the new Tundra are its enhanced quietness, re-tuned suspension, and steering enhancements that give a more mannered ride for everyday driving and especially for towing. One of the biggest changes for our taste was the improved pedal feel, especially for the truck's brake pedal. We drove the 4x4 models through deep mud, over rocks, and along steep woodland side hills, with nary a traction complaint.

The standard Automatic Limited-Slip Differential provides better acceleration in deep sand and mud, and on mixed-friction surfaces, while the Vehicle Stability Control system integrates traction control and aids traction on or off-road by helping keep the vehicle on its intended course in everyday driving conditions and on limited-traction surfaces, such as ice and snow.

strong>Tundra comes in three cab styles: two-door Regular Cab, four-door Double Cab, and the four-door CrewMax; all available in 2WD and 4WD. Toyota, now the largest automaker in the world, is known for its quality and longevity. The Tundra has been recognized with an array of awards over the last 12 years, including the J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability.

Specifications

Base price $25,920 (as tested: $26,915)
Curb weight 4,760 lbs.
Displacement 4.0-liter
Epa mileage rating 16 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 26 gal.
Horsepower (net) 270 at 5600 rpm
Motor type 24-valve V-6 w/EFI
Overall length 228.9 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 278 at 4400 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Vehicle type 3-passenger full-size 2WD pickup
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