Toyota's 2014 Tundra a back-to-basics truck – Houston Chronicle

2 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Toyota Tundra Regular Cab

Toyota’s 2014 Tundra a back-to-basics truck

If you’re an avid observer of pickups, the outward changes to Toyota ‘s refreshed 2014 Tundra full-size pickup, which arrived in showrooms last month, are easy enough to spot. Tauter lines, different front grilles, and fascia and tailgate give the Tundra a more aggressive look, and that’s never a bad thing in pickups, it seems.

In a nod to practicality, the Tundra now sports three-piece bumpers, softening the hit on your wallet if you need to replace a mangled bumper. The lockable, removable tailgate now features an integrated spoiler Toyota claims helps fuel efficiency. Every little bit helps with a brawny squared-off truck. Besides, the spoiler’s handy for temporarily parking a cold beverage. The tailgate is easier and smoother to lower and lift. Last, but not least, a large TUNDRA is now stamped into the tailgate.

Inside the cabin, a subtle, but significant, change is controls for the audio and heating, ventilation and air conditioning have been shifted about 2½ inches closer to the driver. Tundra’s signature large, work-glove-friendly volume and tuning-round knobs remain. We’re big fans of that back-to-basics approach and anything else that doesn’t involve cracking open the owner’s manual or reduces the risk of distractions while driving.

There were enough natural distractions during our first drives with the new Tundra, which took place in Jackson Hole, Wyo. in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. The top-of-the-line 5.7-liter i-Force V8 was a delight, even at those altitudes, which averaged 6,500 feet.

When you don’t have to worry about struggling engines and gear-hunting transmissions, you can concentrate on the cabin experience. With the new Tundra, the most impressive takeaway was its quietness and manners. Toyota’s engineers adjusted the shock absorbers to better tame the judder on harsh roads. Likewise, the steering system was retuned, making the Tundra less fussy on bad stretches of pavement or uneven road surfaces. Toyota also came up with new hood insulation, cabin headliner, body mounts and a noise-absorbing dash to help quiet the interior.

A few weeks later, driving a 2014 Tundra Double Cab (more about configurations in a bit) i-Force around sea-level Houston, the 401 lb.-ft. of torque on tap was a joy, even though we didn’t come close to using the full 381 horses the Huntsville, Ala.-built engine packs.

Our time in Tundras underscored that today’s consumers, whether they are looking for a work truck or a hauler that can pull double duty for family transportation, are big winners. Virtually all new full-size pickups have full-blown, four-door crew cab variants, torque-happy V8s or turbo gas or diesel six-cylinders available, deliver decent fuel economy (for a heavy truck with the aerodynamics of a refrigerator), offer a quieter, more refined ride, car-like interior appointments and better claimed payload and towing capabilities.

With so many things being relatively equal, the shopper’s big decision – which truck to actually buy – can come down to the little things that surprise and delight.

All Tundra crew cabs, for example, come with air conditioning outlets for the rear passengers. And owners who want to bring along their dogs or long objects such as boogie boards, may enjoy the standard power back window that slides down, making pass-throughs or communication possible.

For 2014, every Tundra comes with a backup camera, Bluetooth hands-free phone interface and ToyotaCare, free factory-scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance for 25,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first.

Here are the basic ways to go for those considering Tundras.

There are three cabs: standard two-door, Double Cab (extended four-door), and CrewMax that gives rear passengers 7.6 inches more legroom than the Double Cab.

Though there are three bed lengths: 5.5 feet (short), 6.5 feet (standard) and 8.1 feet (long). The CrewMax is available only with the short bed, and the long bed comes only on the regular cab.

There are three engines: a 4.0-liter V6 rated at 270 horsepower and 278 lb.-ft. of torque; a 4.6-liter V8 making 310 horsepower and 327 lb ft.; and the previously mentioned top-of-the-line 5.7-liter i-Force. EPA overall fuel economy estimates range from 17 mpg for the standard cab with V6 to 15 mpg for the 5.7-liter V8 4WD. The V6 is offered only with the standard or double cab 2WD. A 5.7-liter V8 that can run on flex fuel is available. With gas mileage within 1 or 2 mpg of each other, the big V8 is an inviting proposition at about $1,500 more.

There are five grades levels: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum (new for 2014) and the 1794 Edition.

Toyota Tundra Regular Cab

The Limited comes with leather-seating surfaces, soft touch materials for doors and console, and wood-style trim. The functional upgrade is dual-zone automatic climate control is standard on the Limited.

Platinum gets better leather, a premium JBL audio system with navigation, and heated and ventilated front seats.

The 1794 Edition is Toyota’s King Ranch fighter. With all the goodies from the Platinum, the 1794 is aimed at fans of ranch living with its saddle-brown leather seating and complementary soft-touch materials for shift console, door trim and instrument panel. A blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert system is an available on Limited, Platinum and 1794 Editions.

The time-honored technique of using wheels to distinguish models is employed on the 2014 Tundra. SR and SR5 trucks come with 18-inch-styled steel rims. The Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition have all-new 20-inch alloy wheels.

When equipped with a tow package, the Tundra can tow up to 10,400 pounds (2WD regular cab). That rating, incidentally, is compliant with an industry towing standard that was agreed to by auto manufacturers some time ago. Toyota has implemented it and laid its cards out on the table.

The Tundra tow package’s rear springs help provide level full-load rear suspension height and maintain a full range of suspension travel, and a one-piece towing receiver is integrated into the frame prior to bed installation.

The towing package also features engine and transmission oil coolers, heavy-duty battery and alternator, and seven- and four-pin towing connections that sit above the hitch to help avoid damage during high-departure-angle driving and a prewired hookup under the dash for a third-party trailer brake controller.

With the towing package, the six-speed automatic transmission gains a selectable tow/haul shift mode that can hold lower gears when accelerating or decelerating to help enhance control and safety. Standard for all models, trailer sway control uses the vehicle stability control (VSC) system to help combat trailer sway.

The MSRP for Tundras range from $25,920 for the regular cab SR and V6 engine to $47,320 for Platinum or 1794 Edition CrewMax 4WDs. Of course, no pickup sold (and in Tundra’s case, assembled) in Texas would be complete without an available Texas Edition package. The Tundra’s comes with 20-inch premium alloy wheels and tires, 5-inch chrome oval running boards or steps, stainless-steel exhaust tip, Texas Edition badges and custom floor maps. That TX option lists for $4,195 on a 4WD Double Cab. (Prices do not include $995 in delivery/handling charges.)

Toyota Tundra Regular Cab
Toyota Tundra Regular Cab
Toyota Tundra Regular Cab
Toyota Tundra Regular Cab

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