This is usually the part of the article where I make fun of an aging vehicle’s age. Unfair if I’m honest since I don’t really enjoy people poking fun at my age. So, while the current Tundra is based off of a design done nearly 20 years ago, that’s not why we’re here. We’ve covered the Tundra up and down, inside and out, but something has happened since I first started testing the Tundra.
I started to enjoy the pickup truck.
The pick-em-up truck is basically the only form of vehicle I have never owned, at least based on the mainstream segments. I haven’t owned a three-wheel car either. But, at this point I’ve driven quite a few, enough to get some sense of what’s what. Well, what’s what with the Tundra, besides it’s aging second generation, is that it’s been improving over time.
You can get your new 2021 Tundra in one of six trim levels: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition and TRD Pro. The TRD Pro was what ended up in my driveway for a week, so it’ll be the focus of this review. Suffice to say, you can spend between $34,025 for a base SR up to just over $49,000 for the top spec TRD Pro.
Here are some highlights of the TRD Pro package.
Our test Tundra also included the CrewMax cab, which bumps up another $4,275, Lunar Rock paint (mercifully $0.00), and that’s about it. Price out the door is around $55,000.
Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes.
Sure the Tundra is aging, in fact every other major full-size pickup has been updated more recently than the Tundra. Even the Nissan Titan! However, there is a new Tundra coming soon, so it’s a fun exercise to judge the final days of the second generation of Toyota’s big truck.
It’s still a very good looking truck, at least in TRD Pro guise. I find myself noticing them in traffic, depending on color. Each model year Toyota shakes up the Pro’s color schemes a bit, this year you can get one in Midnight Black Metallic, Magnetic Gray Metallic, Super White, and our tester’s Lunar Rock. I’ve always been partial to the green tones, especially Army Green.
It’s a beefy looking thing, isn’t it! From the big hood scoop, to the nicely integrated Rigid Industries fog lights, it’s a nice looking truck. Other trucks are doing innovated stuff with tailgates, in-bed storage, and Toyota over here just being like “you’ll buy this anyway because it looks good and it’s reliable”. To be fair, they have sold 100,000-120,000 Tundra trucks per-year in the U.S. which is OK, but that’s like one afternoon of F-150 sales.
Well, now the interior is a different story. No one would be surprised to hear that the interior of a modern Tundra feels a bit…dated. That’s the most kind way I can say it. The use of thin plastics and materials just feels less polished and sturdy than the latest domestic full-size trucks. Which is funny, since the Tundra exudes reliability, but more in the mechanical bits.
The interior is quite comfortable, the lay-z-boy like front seats did well on a three hour trip to see my folks. The latest Toyota infotainment is decent, if not groundbreaking. From a usability standpoint it got the job done. The old-school dash layout isn’t that pretty to look at, and I’m not sure I would “feel” like I got $50,000 worth of truck. That’s the reality, and I’m sure the new gen Tundra will be light years better.
The TRD Pro isn’t necessarily quick, but it’s not slow either. With 381 horsepower @ 5600 rpm and 401 lb.-ft. @ 3600 rpm from it’s 5.7L V7, it’s no Raptor, but it’s also a lot cheaper. The Tundra isn’t built for rock climbing, its front suspension is built around independent TRD coil-spring high-mounted double-wishbone that gives the TRD Pro a 2-in. lift and Toyota added a stabilizer bar and TRD Fox shocks with piggyback reservoirs. Out back you’ll find a live rear axle with trapezoidal multi-leaf rear suspension with staggered outboard-mounted Fox shocks as well.
It mercifully didn’t affect the Tundra’s ride quality. I took the kids out on a three hour trip to Grandma’s and on the all-highway trek it was comfortable and easy to drive. The V8 loves to rev and merges were easy. Living with a truck had it’s challenges, with five of us in the car, there wasn’t much room for stuff. So we tossed it in the bed, which meant it got soaked on the drive home the next day. #TruckLife
If you are truck shopping, you likely have a brand in mind, truck buyers are immensely devoted to their truck. I see a lot of Tundras on the road, and their reputation for reliability is likely part of that buying decision. If you don’t have a brand in mind, the Tundra is worth considering. Just don’t be upset when the latest-and-greatest comes out soon and you’re stuck with the old model.
Still, if it’s a TRD Pro, it’s not a terrible consolation prize.