Twelve years into its current model cycle and refreshed for a second time just this year, changes to the 2018 Toyota Tundra include dropping the regular cab and adding a new front end as well as a host of standard active safety features. However, a cheap-looking interior, average safety scores, and a pair of thirsty V8 engines keep the Tundra from being a top contender in the full-size pickup class.

Best Value

Pricing begins at $32,715 for a rear-wheel-drive base Tundra SR Double Cab model and can top $54,000 for a four-wheel-drive CrewMax Cab 1794 model with the optional TRD Off-Road Package.

As with most full-size pickups, Tundra buyers face a veritable smorgasbord of choices: six trim levels, three bed lengths, two body styles, rear- or all-wheel-drive, and two V8 engines – both mated to a six-speed automatic. This year, in addition to a new grille and headlights, Toyota has added a number of standard advanced safety features, including forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beams.

We'd opt for the Limited because it offers easier-to-clean leather seats (heated and powered up front), brighter and more efficient LED headlights and taillights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 20-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift lever, in-vehicle infotainment apps, and satellite radio. Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model: 2018 Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMax
  • Engine: 5.7-liter V8
  • Output: 381 hp / 401 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Four-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy: 13 City / 17 Hwy
  • Options:Limited Premium Package with options ($1,920, front and rear park assist sonar, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, anti-theft system with alarm, engine immobilizer, premium audio system, navigation, 18-inch TRD Off-Road Package alloy wheels with black accents and Michelin LTX A/T2 P275/65R18 tires, fuel tank skid plate, engine skid plate, TRD off-road floor mats, Bed Side TRD Off-Road Decal, trail-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, front tow hooks), Bed Mat ($139)
  • Base Price: $46,895 (including the $1,395 destination fee)
  • Best Value Price: $48,954

Performance

Toyota Tundra

The Tundra's handling is composed and confidant, and does a nice job of isolating even the largest road imperfections in around-town driving. At freeway speeds, the story is pretty much the same: a feeling of security and unaffected by crosswinds, grooved pavement, or pavement irregularities. The suspension has a great deal of travel and does a nice job of absorbing even larger potholes. We should also point out that interior noise levels are one of the high points of the Tundra with sound levels comparable to a number of luxury sedans we've driven.

The 5.7-liter V8, paired to a smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, offers outstanding acceleration accompanied by a muscle-car-like soundtrack. For those wishing to venture off the beaten path, the TRD Off-Road Package (not to be confused with the hell-bent-for-leather TRD Pro model) option includes special 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin LTX A/T2 tires, trail-tuned Bilstein shocks, skid plates for the engine and fuel tank, front tow hooks, and heavy-duty TRD rubber floor mats, along with exterior bed-side decals.

At the same time, steering is light but numb, no diesel engine is offered, and, although the Tundra comes with advanced active safety features, its crash-test results are average, at best.

Finally, fuel economy with any of the engine/drivetrain combinations is poor. Our Limited tester, equipped with the 5.7-liter V8, came with an EPA-estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city, 17 mpg on the highway, and 14 combined. We only managed a vehicle-measured 11 mpg in suburban-heavy driving.

Style

The Tundra features the requisite butched-up look, with a big, vertical grille that's laden with chrome and takes up nearly the entire front fascia. On Limited models, the square-ish headlight housings contain LED headlights outlined with LED running lights. The front bumper, fared into the fascia, is blacked out below the grille on Limited models, with the rest of it chromed, as well, as it wraps around the body. The rest of the exterior is standard fare for pickups, although the "TUNDRA" name is hot-stamped into the lower right corner of the tailgate.

That exterior is wrapped around a cockpit with logically-arranged controls that are simple, intuitive, and within easy reach of the driver. The front seats that are nicely shaped with plenty of support and suitable for long trips. Most models offer ample room for five good-sized adults, with double cab models sporting a front bench (yes, this configuration is still available) that makes it capable of seating six.

The view out both the front and sides is excellent. The view out the back is also decent, but the large B-pillar somewhat hinders the driver's sightline out the rear three-quarters.

On the downside, despite fine graining and close tolerances, the extensive use of silver plastic trim gives the interior a decidedly low-rent look and feel, while adults will find rear seat room tight on double cab models.

The Best and Worst Things

Toyota has equipped the Tundra with a best-in-class array of standard active safety technologies on all trim levels.

Compared to its competitors in the full-size pickup class, the Tundra's interior looks and feels cheap.

Right For? Wrong For?Toyota Tundra

Despite a marginal crash score on the driver's side small overlap test, safety-conscious buyers will appreciate the Tundra's extensive standard list of advanced active safety features.

With EPA estimates that range from 13/17/14 mpg (city/highway/combined) for models with the 5.7-liter V8 and four-wheel drive to 15/19/16 mpg for those with the 4.6-liter V8 and rear-wheel drive, eco-conscious buyers need not apply.

The Bottom Line

Although updated styling and advanced safety tech make the 2018 Toyota Tundra more appealing, a chintzy-looking interior and poor fuel economy continue to make it an also-ran in the full-size pickup class.