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Trucking Along

Toyota Tundra holds its own for 2014 in a highly competitive
pickup truck market.

Alaska’s tundra is one of North America’s toughest environments, and Toyota’s Tundra pickup continues to face formidable pickup truck competition from Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and Dodge Ram.

Tundra

Tundra can tow up to 10,400 pounds. This workhorse also fully comforms to SAE towing standards. Toyota USA photo

One of the most lucrative vehicle segments, pickup truck sales have been leading the automotive manufacturing recovery and Toyota has redesigned its half-ton, full-size trucks for 2014 in an effort to maintain its 18-percent share of the pickup market, half of which includes the highly popular mid-size Tacoma pickup.

A more muscular, chiseled Tundra look occurs with a bigger trapezoid front grille, raised hood height, sweptback headlights, and aerodynamic side mirrors.

Character lines are smoother, including along the truck bed, which now has the word “Tundra” embossed on the tailgate with integrated spoiler. Front and rear bumpers are now three-piece, lessening replacement costs in case of a damaging fender bender.

Towing prowess remains strong with a top weight capacity of 10,400 pounds when properly equipped. Toyota touts it’s the only full-size truck that fully conforms to the industry’s SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) towing standard, aided this year by improved cooling and electrical systems and the addition of a heavy-duty battery and alternator.

Test-driving various Tundra’s is like being at a five-story tall candy store, with five models to choose from, three cab styles, three truck bed lengths, eight colors, three different engines, and when underway, three driving modes and three drive systems in the 4X4 models. If you can’t find what you want, you’re not looking hard enough.

On the road, the returned suspension and online steering make off-roading less fatiguing and bouncy. Highway travel is smooth, and four-wheel disc brakes provide stopping confidence.

The Tundra has been around since 1999 and this year’s top model is the 1794, named for JLC Ranch near San Antonio, Texas, which was founded that same year. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, where the Tundra is assembled, is located on the land that was the ranch.

Toyota’s Tundra has improved driver access to audio and climate knobs (big enough to manipulate with gloves on) and redesigned better-ventilated seats with more mobility and comfort.

Tip-up back seats increase cargo space. Bluetooth and back-up cameras with rear-cross alert are standard, a plus when using the truck in a work environment. Other safety features, like blind-spot alert, are optional.

Toyota’s available Entune information/entertainment system has enough connectivity to thrill any techie; in some of the models, the system will make dinner reservations, buy movie tickets, and read incoming e-mail.

Likes: Looks, towing power, comfort, handling, quiet

Dislikes: Safety options

Bottom Line: Tundra continues to hold its own in a tough market

Tom Crosby is a contributor from Charlotte, N.C.


September/October 2014 Issue


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