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The Toyota Tundra gets a significant increase in power for 2005, and fuel economy has been improved. A new 4.0-liter V6 delivers 245 horsepower, matching the output of last year's V8 and representing an increase in power of nearly 30 percent over last year's V6. Meanwhile, the 4.7-liter double overhead-cam V8 has been refined with Toyota's VVT-i technology, bringing it up to 282 horsepower, an increase of 42 horsepower over last year's V8. Both engines are now available with responsive five-speed automatics; and the V6 is available with a new six-speed manual transmission. There are other refinements as well.
The Tundra is one of the smoothest, quietest, and most refined pickups we've driven. It's more agile than other full-size pickups, at least partly because it's slightly smaller. The Tundra feels quick and responsive, lighter on its feet and more refined than the domestic trucks. Buyer's appreciate that it's built to Toyota's high standards of quality, durability and reliability.
However, the Tundra isn't quite as full-sized as the new Nissan Titan nor is it as big as the domestic pickups, namely the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra. Critics call it a 7/8ths truck. It isn't quite as good at being a truck as the other trucks when hauling or towing, but it's capable of hauling up to 2025 pounds or towing up to 7100, if equipped to do so. Not everyone needs the ultimate in truck capability, though. For them, the Tundra offers plenty of capability to perform the work they ask of it, and its refinement and handling makes it a good alternative to a car.
Like the domestic trucks, Tundra is available with regular cab, extended cab, and crew cab (Double Cab) bodies. The Double Cab is more than three inches taller, and is built on a longer chassis than the other Tundra models; so it comes a little closer to being a true full-size pickup. It features a deep, six-foot bed and an adult-friendly back seat.
In addition to more horsepower, some Tundra models have acquired more standard equipment for 2005, including a tire-pressure monitoring system.
The Toyota Tundra is a good-looking truck, with a bold grille opening that extends down into the bumper. The heavy-looking chrome grille bars faintly suggest the 1947 GMC design, a model now popular with collectors. Curving lines give the Tundra a sporty appearance, while bulging fenders make it look ready to go off road. However, the Tundra's styling is bland compared to the Nissan Titan, Dodge Ram, or Ford F-150. Toyota's StepSide body is more svelte than macho. I don't like it.
The Tundra Double Cab looks bigger and brawnier than the Regular Cab and Access Cab models. That's because it is bigger, not only longer in wheelbase, but more than three inches taller as well. Around back, Double Cab models sport unique taillights. At 74.3 inches, the Double Cab's bed is just a half-inch shorter than the Access Cab's. The Double Cab's four doors are traditional front-hinged doors.
Access Cab models have four doors, but the short rear doors are hinged at the rear and open opposite the front doors. As with other extended cabs, the doors on the Access Cab will bang into one another if you close the front door before closing the rear door. Fortunately, the inside of the rear door is padded, so this isn't a big problem. Handles for the rear doors are conveniently located on the outside, whereas most domestic pickups with extended cabs hide the handles inside the door jams. Unfortunately, the handle design isn't the most comfortable to use.
Regular Cab beds stretch over 8 feet, but the Access Cab's bed measures only 6 feet 3 inches. That's a few inches inches shorter than the medium-length bed offered on a Ford F-150 Supercab, but 7.7 inches longer than an F-150 Supercab's shortest bed (which still requires a wheelbase 4.4 inches longer than the Toyota's). Toyota's bed is 5 inches shallower than Ford's, 2.3 inches shallower than the Chevrolet Silverado's.
Double Cab beds are only about a half-inch shorter than the Access Cab's. The Double Cab's bed is 20.7 inches deep, 3.5 inches deeper than the beds of the Regular Cab and Access Cab. That makes it slightly deeper than the Nissan Titan Crew Cab's bed, though still not as deep as the Ford's.
The Tundra is a comfortable truck with a friendly interior. Front-seat roominess is competitive with other full-size pickups. Toyota claims the Tundra provides more front legroom than any of the domestic pickups, though only by about half an inch; and the Nissan Titan has only a tiny edge over Tundra. The others, especially the F-150, offer more hip room than the Tundra, however, and owners notice that.
The Double Cab is slightly roomier than the other Tundra models. It offers an inch more front headroom and a fraction more front-seat hip and leg room.
The 60/40 split-bench cloth seats that are standard in most models are welcoming and supportive. Double Cabs come with bucket seats up front, rather than the split bench.
Climbing in is easy, though the two-wheel-drive model seems to sit higher off the ground than other two-wheel-drive pickups. The Tundra feels tall in the saddle, giving the driver a commanding view over shorter vehicles.
Accessory switches are concentrated in the center cluster for easy operation. The fake wood on the dash is dreadful, but the instruments are straightforward, with a big tachometer on all but base models. A center console with four nice, big cup holders; dual map pockets; and covered storage is shared with the Toyota Sequoia SUV. Its lid holds a pad for note-taking, but it felt flimsy when we tried to use it. Double sun visors with extenders are useful at sunrise and sunset.
Access Cabs add interior storage space and the ability to carry two more passengers. If those passengers are adults, however, the rear seat is a short-term affair. The Tundra does not have nearly as much space in the rear compartment of its extended cab as the other full-size pickups. And the rear seatback is vertical, forcing occupants to sit bolt upright, uncomfortable for traveling any farther than the neighborhood restaurant. A far better use for the extended cab is carrying dry cleaning, groceries, briefcases, outdoor gear, or anything else that should be shielded from the elements. Unfortunately, the rear seat takes up a fair amount of room. The seat bottom on the split bench can be flipped up, but the seat doesn't fold completely out of the way, nor can it be easily removed. Some of the domestic extended cabs offer much better versatility.
Double Cabs, on the other hand, provide genuinely useful space for adult passengers in the back seats. Its 37.5 inches of rear-seat legroom make for comfortable accommodations, though Tundra's back seat still doesn't have as much space as in the Nissan Titan, Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra. But Tundra's rear seatback reclines at an angle of 24 degrees, adding to comfort. Each rear seating position has a headrest and three-point safety belt. Rear-seat passengers also enjoy their own heating and air conditioning outlets, and optional audio and DVD entertainment systems. Tundra Double Cab also offers the segment's first vertical power-sliding rear window. At 750 square inches, the Double Cab's rear window offers more than four times the open area of the manual sliding rear windows in the Regular Cab and Access Cab models, making it easier to access the bed especially important with a canopy. When the Double Cab's 60/40 split rear seat isn't occupied, it folds and tumbles to provide lockable, weather-tight storage space inside the cab.
Safety features for all Tundra models include seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, along with the required dual front airbags. The passenger-side airbag can be switched off with the key when babies or children occupy the front passenger seat. A tire-pressure monitor is now standard.
The Toyota Tundra rides almost as quietly as a luxury sedan, whether it's a four-wheel-drive or two-wheel-drive model. This is the quietest pickup we've driven. There's little wind noise or road noise in the cabin. Ride quality is quite smooth for a truck. It feels truly refined.
Toyota's V8 is silky smooth, quick, and extremely responsive. The Tundra was previously sensitive at throttle tip-in, but it seems like that's been addressed with the 2005 models, so it doesn't lurch off the line. It also puts power to the rear wheels without wheelspin, providing excellent acceleration and stability. It's very responsive in the 45-mph range, so passing on two-lane roads is easy. And it sounds great. Stand behind the Tundra when it is started, revved, or even idling, and you're treated to a classic V8 burble that's pleasant to American ears. Yet, it's super-quiet when sitting inside the truck or standing in front of it.
V8 engines with twin cams and four valves per cylinder are usually associated with imported luxury sports sedans. Toyota perfected this design in its Land Cruiser and its Lexus luxury vehicles. For 2005, Toyota has added electronically controlled variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i) to the V8's long list of state-of-the-art features. So from the same 4.7 liters, it now produces 282 horsepower at 5400 rpm; and 325 pound-feet of torque at 3400 rpm. That's 42 more horsepower and 10 more pound-feet than last year's model, which already delivered quick response around town and strong power for towing and hauling.
Starting from a dead stop, a two-wheel-drive Tundra Limited easily accelerated up a long steep grade while pulling a 3,000-pound trailer. This tow rig was stable going around sweeping turns, and when braking from high speeds on steep downhill sections. There were none of the up and down motions when bouncing at low speed over a rough, lava-covered dirt road that some trucks exhibit when their front suspensions aren't up to balancing the weight on the rear tongue. Transmission and engine oil coolers are standard on Double Cab models.
The new base-level V6 is larger than last year's, at 4.0 liters compared to 3.4. Also equipped with dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and VVT-i, it produces 245 horsepower at 5200 rpm, and its 282 pound-feet of torque at 3800 rpm represents a 28 percent increase over the 2004 V6.
Ride quality is excellent, maybe the best of the full-size pickups on bumpy freeways in Los Angeles. On rough pavement and bumpy dirt roads, the Tundra's suspension really shines. It damps out unwanted vibration and harshness and controls the movement of the wheels precisely, keeping the tires in contact with the road surface for excellent grip and handling. The 4WD suspension performed amazingly well and was easy to control when bouncing up a steep mountain trail on the Big Island of Hawaii. Bounding over harsh dips and humps, the suspension offered impressive travel and damping. It never hit the bump stops in spite of our efforts to beat it up. While bouncing over moguls, we noticed that neither the cowl nor the front hood shook. The Tundra's chassis is highly rigid with boxed front frame rails. Toyota also claims this truck offers class-leading ground clearance, and that everything underneath is tucked above the frame rails.
In Alaska, we found the 2005 Tundra's steering too slow and too light, and it seemed to require correction to maintain a straight course down the highway. Yet the Tundra was impressively composed in awkward situations. When making a quick Y-turn, then taking off, it doesn't generate the head toss often associated with awkward-handling trucks. It's a difficult phenomenon to describe, but makes the Tundra a very pleasant companion.
For off-road travel, Toyota offers the TRD Off-Road Package, developed with Toyota racing legend Ivan "Ironman" Stewart. Using Bilstein sho
The Toyota Tundra may not boast the brawny looks and heavy-duty capability of other full-size pickups, but it is smooth and quiet, light on its feet, and easy and enjoyable to drive on a daily basis.
The 2005 Tundra has been improved and further refined. There's more power for passing or towing, whether you choose the V6 or V8. All of this, wrapped up with Toyota's renowned quality, durability and reliability, make the Tundra a good choice among full-size pickup trucks.
New Car Test Drive editor Mitch McCullough filed this report from Alaska.
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We have information you must know before you buy the Tundra.
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