First Impression | 2014 Toyota Tundra

Mix of performance & aesthetic, ready to go places

First Impression | 2014 Toyota Tundra

www.toyota.com

With so many vehicles options on the market, it can be tough to choose the perfect rig for a day at the track. The list of haulers we have spotted includes gigantic motor homes with garages built-in, vans both stripped to their bare essentials or made to resemble a fully stocked factory trailer, and even SUVS and hybrids with carrier systems mounted to the rear. But in our opinion, there is nothing that can beat a full-size truck. Designed with cargo carrying as the main objective, a pick-up has a bed to hold bike and gear and enough muscle to pull a trailer if necessary. The taller ride height makes getting through treacherous parking lots of some tracks a simple task and industrial interiors can withstand the elements.

One rig that fits this work order perfectly is the Toyota Tundra. The automotive firm has a long history with the motocross industry as their participation dates back decades, and their line of trucks is a favorite of riders around the country. We have logged many miles behind the wheel of Toyota's full-size truck over the years, and each one has featured the same notable power, ride, and craftsmanship the Japanese-based brand has become known for. While on the topic of nationality, it is worth mentioning that the Tundra line is manufactured in the company's Texas plant, with 75-percent of the materials being domestic. The truck market thrives on continuously redesigned vehicles, and like its competition, the Tundra underwent a makeover for 2014, including refinements to the exterior, interior, and Entune system, but engineers left the chassis and powerplant unchanged.

Loaded Up

There are plenty of chassis and engine combinations to choose from when it comes to the Tundra line. No matter what grade (Toyota's system to features) you select, the frame is universal. The 145.7-inch wheelbase is a sturdy platform to build from and despite the overall size, handles with impressive agility. Our Limited TRD Off-Road package features 18-inch alloy wheels outfitted with Michelin tires specially designed for when the asphalt ends, Bilstein shocks, and skid plates placed over the engine and fuel tank. Powering the truck is a 5.7 liter V8 engine that produces a max 381 horsepower and 401 foot-pounds of torque. The engine is bolted to a six-speed automatic transmission that makes plenty of grunt and go. Unfortunately, this powerful pairing is not the best in terms of fuel mileage and our ride averages a brutal 13.5 miles per gallon. This number can go up if the driver is easy on the throttle or spends the majority of the drive on the interstate, but will still drain the fuel tank quickly. Toyota is known to comment on the towing capabilities of the Tundra, and for good reason: it can pull upwards of 10,400-pounds without issue. This is more than enough to lug trailer of bikes or a boat or a camper without sacrificing handling and safety.

Toyota focused much of their attention for 2014 on the exterior of the Tundra. Previous models featured rounded body panels and accents, but these have been replaced with sharp, aggressive lines and a massive grille that demands attention. Aerodynamic functionality is hidden in these pieces and has reduced both drag carried the body and wind noise heard by those inside the cab. There are three cabs to choose from in the Tundra line, and bed length depends on which you choose. A single cab will allow for a massive long bed, the double cab a standard length, and the massive Crewmax a short bed. Sacrificing room in one area for another is a tough decision, especially since the bed is a key component to hauling a bike, but the total area of the CrewMax softens the blow of losing a few inches of exterior cargo space. Completing the bed is a skid resistant liner, bed extender gate, and a soft-drop tailgate with Tundra stamped into the sheet metal. These components coated in a high-gloss paint make a package that is as visually attractive any high-end sports car.

Being comfortable when on the road is an important detail, and the cab of the Tundra received its share of attention as well. The size of our CrewMax cab is striking, sits five fully grown comfortably, and accented by a number of accessories to make an enjoyable ride. Wrapped inside the leather of the ergonomic seats of the Limited are electronic adjusters and heaters, and the rear bench can be folded up to create more storage space. The best area of the cab is on the dashboard, where the 3.5-inch screen Entune multimedia system is housed. There you can access an array of media options, including XM radio and Bluetooth capabilities, through a few taps on the responsive touch screen. The built-in navigation is by far the most user friendly we have ever used, and its voice pronounces even the most difficult street names correctly. Intricately designed panels of silver plastic, faux wood, and leather complete the dash and cavernous center counsel, and the carpeting can easily be removed for cleaning.

The Destination

Toyota has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a Japanese alternative to the American big three, and products like the Tundra are the reason for the rapid elevation in status. Purchased new, the Tundra is a high-end pick-up that can hold its own with anything in the class, and can years later retain a high resale value. These traits are the sum of the materials the truck is constructed from, which are among the highest quality of any automobile on the road today. Purchasing a brand-new truck is an expensive asset, but the Tundra is proven to be a worth investment.

HITS

– Of all the pick-ups on the market, the Tundra is one of the most attractive with the massive grille and lights that accent the aggressive body lines.

– The craftsmanship of a Tundra is impressive, and it is evident the brand cuts no corners on the materials used both inside and out.

– At 381 hp and 401 ft-lbs of torque, the 5.7 liter engine and powertrain are more than enough to take on nearly any load that can be hitched to the truck's rear-end.

– The sprawling inside of the CrewMax cab is more than enough to fit a full five people comfortably, and the interior is built to withstand their abuse.

– With its vivid touch screen, multiple entertainment options, and the best navigation system we've come across, the Entune multimedia system is incredible.

MISSES

– It takes a lot of fuel to feed the 5.7 liter engine, and 13/17 fuel EPA will make for regular trips to the gas station.

– Choosing the CrewMax bed cuts the bed length drastically and makes using a bed extender a necessity.