Towing capability and durability is a point of pride for Toyota, as is evident in its 2014 Tundra redesign, which features the ruggedness of a full-size pickup truck, with the added layers of comfort commonly found in SUVs.
The Tundra redesign is the first for the truck since 2007, and Toyota has made some changes to the exterior but saved the biggest for the interior. The 2014 Toyota Tundra has a larger front grille that blends into the hood of the pickup truck while narrowing some of the rounder edges found in previous models. During the unveiling at the 2013 Chicago Auto Show, Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager, Toyota Division, said, "Tundra’s new exterior design and all-new interior were inspired by customer feedback requesting a more chiseled exterior and refined interior with improved driver ergonomics, and easy-to-use technology, giving customers more of what they want instead, in addition to what they need."
Based on consumer response, Toyota redesigned the front lower bumper and the rear bumper, configuring it into three pieces to make it easier to replace parts while reducing repair costs. The 2014 Toyota Tundra will be offered in five grades, SR (starting at $25,920), SR5 ($29,465), Limited ($36,940) and the premium Platinum and 1794 Edition (both priced at $44,270). All 2014 Tundras will come with a standard back-up camera, and the premium grades include a JBL audio system and Entune, navigation and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
While the exterior changes give the 2014 Toyota Tundra a more modern look, the changes to the interior enhance the overall experience of driving a full-size pickup truck. Toyota shifted the central display closer to the driver while the front seats have increased ventilation. There are also several enhancements made to the interior that vary with the grade.
The SR5 will feature metal accents and contrasting fabrics whereas the Limited will feature leather trim and wood-style accents throughout the interior. For the two premium grades, Platinum will feature perforated black leather seats, leather panel inserts throughout the console and chrome accents. The 1794 edition is inspired by a ranch near the Tundra's plant in San Antonio. The Tundra is an American truck, with development in California and engineering in Michigan while the engine is built in Alabama and the main plant located in Texas.
The 1794 Edition has a Western theme, brown leather seats and trim as well as wood and suede accents throughout the interior. All the Tundras will be available in two-door Regular Cab, four-door Double Cab and four-door CrewMax configurations and will include two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options.
With all the talk about redesigns, Toyota left their engine options virtually unchanged. Regular Cab and Double Cab options come standard with a 4.0-liter Dual Overhead Cam, or DOHC, V6 engine, 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. peak torque, and a five-speed automatic transmission. The V8 options include the 4.6-liter DOHC i-Force V8, 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. of peak torque, and the 5.7-liter DOHC i-Force V8, 381 horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of peak torque. In Georgia, the Tundra was challenged by an off-road course which showed off the responsiveness of the steering system and the stability of the truck, handling sharp turns with ease.
Speaking at the preview event in Georgia, Fay said so-called enhancements in fuel efficiency offered in other trucks do not lead to any improvements in actual mpg for the owner, the average is around 15 mpg, which led Toyota to keep the popular V8 engines.
Towing-wise, the Tundra proves to be one capable vehicle as it comes equipped with a SAE J2807 rating for towing and braking, the only pickup truck to do so, notes Edmunds. Toyota has made towing easier on the driver, with increased stability aided by "Aero-Fins,” small notches in the tail lights to reduce turbulence. During the preview, hauling a 4,500 pound bass boat was as smooth as a trip to the store.
As for Entune, it has become the de facto control system within the Tundra and there are some nice features to be found, especially in the Premium options, but remains relatively sparse as a basic package. In its favor, Entune is easy to use and provides plenty of connectivity options, Bluetooth standard, Aux output and USB 2.0.
The Tundra will remain a popular full-size pickup truck with owners who haul or spend a lot of time outdoors. It feels well-built and all the design choices work seamlessly within the vehicle, disappearing into the background as the driver and passenger enjoy what is being offered. The 2014 redesign pushes the Tundra into the modern era without losing its roots. Toyota has made some smart choices while emphasizing the main purpose of the truck, the ability to be a workhorse, while offering a sense of luxury.
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.