The world is not enough for Toyota’s hulking Tundra

by Andy Stonehouse :: posted in Reviews on February 24th, 2016
While I appreciated the fact that a week in the gigantic Toyota Tundra – stretched out full-size with the four-door Crewmax cab – it’s really just not big enough.

That honor now goes to a special eight-door special edition version knows as the Tundrasine (“Tundra” plus “limousine”), a 26-foot-long, 8,000-pound monster created for the annual SEMA show.

Sadly, I do not think they’re going to be stocking that model at your local retailer, but in the meantime, if you’re looking for size, capability, style and pure impact, the made-in-Texas Tundra is still a pretty awesome choice.

All the more impactful in the Quicksand paint job (colored like one of those desert camo Magpul aftermarket buttstocks for your AR-15) and equipped with the lifted and offroad-crushing TRD Pro setup, the Tundra is indeed one imposing machine, as it set out to be.

It’s also pretty reasonably priced, considering all the towing and offroad capability that comes from the larger 5.7-liter i-Force V8, a 381-horsepower furnace that’s good for 401 lb.-ft. of torque. Handy for the roughly 10,500 pounds of trailer it’s set up to haul, with electronic trailer brake controls standard in the cab and electronic sway control built into the computers.

In TRD guise, you get a special dual exhaust system (one of a dozen or so parts emblazoned with the TRD logo) that bup-bup-bups at low revs and gives off great, resplendently macho noises when floored. Truckdom at its finest.

Less appealing is the reality of 15 combined MPG, dirt cheap as gasoline may be these days. Toyota’s concession is the available 4.6-liter V8, good for a not-unreasonable 310 horsepower and one additional combined MPG; a gigantic Prius this is not. Clearly, that is not the idea.

Rather, if you want brawn, set upon a set of 18-inch blacked-out alloy wheels (more logos, naturally) with special Michelin off-road tires, the TRD Pro delivers. A Baja-worth suspension modification with Bilstein high-performance shocks lifts the entire vehicle by two inches and means massive amounts of articulation, should you find yourself winging your way on a gravel track to La Paz at 120 miles per hour.

The TRD makeover, with or without that paramilitary paint job, also includes a blacked-out grille and cool logos stamped into the sides of the bed, with every other logo murdered out for undercover appeal. An aluminum skid plate, blackened headlight bezels and all that exposed shock hardware seals the deal on the truck’s off-tarmac potential.

On the insides, the custom work includes a whole lot of red stitching on nearly every surface and more logos on the seats and the seemingly 50-gallon center console storage box. Tundra’s as enormous as ever inside, driver and passenger perched almost as far apart as they are in a military HUMVEE (well, no, but you get the idea) and the back seat, in that biggest crew cab format, almost big enough to slide a couch in through the doors if you tilt the seat bottoms up. It’s a very large and comfortable vehicle, but you will absolutely need to use the steering wheel to help haul yourself aboard, and maybe provide a small stepladder for everyone else in the family.

Like the exterior, everything is as blocky and cubist as possible, and maybe just a bit heavy on the plastics when you examine the overall feel. That of course can be remedied by upgrading to the nearly Lexus-worthy 1794 edition; in the more duty-ready TRD Pro guise, it seems quite fitting.

Tundra’s other 2016 model year updates include the aforementioned trailer brake controls, a new 30-gallon fuel tank and the addition of the improved Entune entertainment and navigation system, which does indeed offer improved electronic functionality. Unfortunately, the huge dash-mounted screen is often virtually impossible to see in bright sunlight.

Tundra drives surprisingly smoothly for a massive, 5,600-plus-pound truck, with that extra suspension comfortably softening out pretty much the worse in possible road conditions. A gentle twist of a control knob throws it into 4-High mode, even at highway speed, adding the extra security of four-wheel drive – you might consider slightly more ice-grabbing tires than the special package Michelin footwear, though they will certainly get you through deep snow with no issues.



2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Crewmax

MSRP: $45,060; as tested: $47,118

Powertrain: 381-HP 5.7-liter V8 engine; six-speed automatic transmission

EPA figures: 15 combined (13 city, 17 highway)    
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