Toyota continues to grow its stake in the full-sized truck segment, and the Tundra has much of what it would take to lure buyers away from the US brands.
Toyota is persistent: it won’t let up until it achieves market domination (Prius), or else it quickly absorbs the failure and pulls the plug (Venza).
The new Tacoma shows the benefit of that stick-to-itivness, with its deep stake in the compact-truck market.
Toyota has taken a similar approach with the Tundra. Finding respect for a Japanese entry in the US full-sized truck market has been achieved in steps. It’s part reputation and part product, and after a week with a Tundra Platinum, we can see that Toyota has been working hard on both.
In terms of reputation, the Tundra’s deep American stamp belies the grille’s logo. When the Tundra was redesigned for 2014, it was Toyota‘s Calty Research Design Centers in Michigan and California that took the lead. The Tundra’s V8 engines are made in Alabama, and the transmissions are made in North Carolina. And the trucks themselves come together in Texas, the spiritual center of full-sized American trucks.
The tested Tundra is a four-door CrewMax. The least expensive CrewMax is the Tundra SR5, which starts at $38,130.
Jump to the $43,650 Limited, and you’ll get features like the power rear window…
…and dual-zone climate control.
The tested Platinum starts higher at $47,975…
…and it picks up the moonroof…
…the cross-stitched trim…
…the Entune Premium JBL Audio system with navigation and 12 speakers, and more.
Alongside the Platinum, Toyota charges the same for the 1794 Edition, which draws its name from the establishment year of the ranch on which the San Antonio plant sits. It has a wood-trimmed steering wheel, suede seat inserts and a different grille.
Then there’s the Tundra TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Pro, which kicks in a little lower at $44,000 and packs Bilstein shocks, TRD springs and 18-inch tires for maximum off-road ability. It also has the TRD dual exhaust for more sound from the Tundra’s V8.
The tested Platinum had a selection of options, including the $500 Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert…
…and the $139 bed mat.
It had the $75 Spare Tire Lock.
It had the wonderful TRD dual exhaust…
…and its sweet rumble enlivened the Tundra while staying under the radar in an apartment building garage.
Under the hood, the Tundra’s 5.7-liter V8 pumps out 381 horsepower, which is 71 horses more than the 4.6-liter V8 that’s standard in the SR5 CrewMax.
The larger engine is standard in the Limited and all trims above it. Power flow is sublimely direct, with strong acceleration off the line and assertive surges when passing.
The aforementioned TRD exhaust was particularly thrilling under full throttle, where the cabin filled with its roar as its vibrations tingled through the interior armrests.
All Tundras have a six-speed automatic transmission. The version for the 5.7-liter is geared a bit higher, presumably because the larger V8 doesn’t have to work as hard. It shifted with firmness, which is the reassuring response you want when you’re hauling heavy loads.
Tundra Platinums are set up for towing. You’d choose a lower trim if you wanted maximum towing capacity – the four-wheel drive CrewMax is rated to pull 9,800 pounds, while the two-wheel drive regular cab can handle 10,500.
Ride and handling is better than you’d expect from a burly pickup. Though one passenger didn’t like some of the Tundra’s more abrupt ride motions – which undoubtedly would smooth out with a heavier load – body roll was kept to a minimum, which keeps your courage up in the twisties.
The steering’s reasonable 3.71 turns lock-to-lock strikes an apt balance between responses that are relaxed and direct, depending on how weighed-down you are.
Inside, the Tundra Platinum lives up to its premium nature, with cross-stitched leather and lots of nameplates. There are no fewer than four Platinum interior nameplates, including one affixed to the rear carpet, and so you’re never far from affirmations of your spendy purchase.
The front cabin is typical full-sized truck, with terrific visibility and tons of room all around.
The driver’s seat has 12-way power adjustments, while the passenger seat makes do with six. Among those 12 adjustments is a thigh-support extender, which unfortunately still feels not as ample as taller drivers could use.
The rear seat is first-class all the way, with the tons of room in front accounted for back there as well. Six cupholders tend to the passengers’ every libation need.
The rear cushions flip up quickly to create a wide loading floor.
While some competitors offer a choice of two bed sizes for their crew cabs, the Tundra CrewMax sticks with a short one. At 66.7 inches, this bed will likely be hauling items that are taller than they are longer.
Handy tie-downs slide on tracks…
…and the easy-dropping tailgate incorporates a lock and the backup camera.
Interior tech is typically Toyota in being user-friendly…
…and the broad console gives you lots of room for phone stowage. USB and AUX connections are mounted above.
The purchase of a full-sized truck entails comparing each competitors’ features and benefits against your needs. On that score, the Tundra brings to bear a wealth of well-engineered components that add up to a truck that is at once brawny and premium-feeling.
In terms of reputation, Toyota is hoeing a row that keeps blooming, if this year’s uptick in sales is any indication. Some truck buyers will only consider models from US brands; others are loyal to Toyota’s reputation for sterling durability. It’s the Tundra’s job to keep the latter group and convert more of the former, and it’s well-positioned to continue that work.
Tell us in the comments – what do YOU think of the CrewMax’s competitiveness in the full-sized truck market?
2015 Toyota Tundra 4×4 Platinum CrewMax
Base Price: $47,975
Price As Tested: $50,889
Blind Spot Monitor With Rear Cross Traffic Alert: $500
Spare Tire Lock: $75
Dual Exhaust: $1,000
Bed Mat: $139
– Rumble from dual exhaust
– Platinum plushness
– Breezy and wide-open cabin
– As with its competitors, Tundra gets pricey with options
– V8 gas mileage
– Driver’s seat could use a bit more thigh support