There is almost nothing more satisfying to an off-road guy like myself than heading to my favorite ride spot to put some miles on the latest/greatest ATV or SxS. Unfortunately, for me, a day of riding is also synonymous with trailering those machines to my local riding spot. Over the years, that job has been done with a '96 Toyota T 100, an '01 Toyota 4Runner, an '06 Toyota 4Runner, a '10 Toyota Tundra, and a '12 and '13 Toyota Tacoma. In case it's not obvious, I'm kind of a "Toyota guy". So, when I scored an invitation to the all-new '14 Toyota Tundra model introduction at the amazing Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in southwestern Pennsylvania, there was no doubt I was the right chump for this job!
Under the fancy new bodywork and sweet looking interior, the '14 Tundra relies on the same chassis and drivetrains of its predecessor. A 4.0-liter V-6 and a 4.6-liter V-8 are available on base models. But, if hauling and towing is in the cards, just buck up for the 381-hp, 5.7-liter engine. With 401 ft/lb of torque and a six-speed automatic transmission, the Tundra has the power and capability to get the job done. Towing capacity hovers around 10,000lbs, and the Tundras I drove had no issues tugging a gigantic toy hauler and a fully loaded race trailer. I'm certainly not the only person crossing my fingers that a diesel option arrives someday, but the 5.7L gassers power and torque is impressive. To summarize my impression of the 5.7L, it has enough power to pass just about anything but a gas station!
Although powertrain choices remain unchanged, a refined exterior and plush, sophisticated looking interior is ultimately where the Tundra shines. On the high-end Platinum and 1794 editions, the leather seats on those models felt Lexus-grade, and they'll have no problem swallowing up even the most devout super-size fry demolishing guys. Rear seat legroom in the Double Cab is decent, while Crewmax models have enough legroom for even the tallest folks to stretch out.
The Tundra is BIG, but the steering feels precise and seemed to help mask just how large the truck actually is. Interior noise levels are low, and the suspension gobbled up the pavement inconsistencies a typical good country road can throw it. While driving over stutter bumps or heavily washed out roads with an empty bed and the hammer down, the rear end has a tendency to get a bit nervous, searching for traction while the traction control stepped in to curb wheel spin .
The new Tundra has several improvements for those that plan to tow. A three-piece rear bumper eliminates the need to replace the whole bumper if just a section gets damaged. I've backed into my share of trailers over the years, and the ability to replace just the damaged section would have come in handy. A standard backup camera should also help alleviate the problem of backing into objects. Absent on this new truck is the presence of an integrated brake controller. With all of the competition offering this as standard equipment, Toyota should offer owners the same convenience.
The 2014 Toyota Tundra is undoubtedly a step in the right direction for Toyota. The fullsize truck market may be the most competitive segment in the automotive industry today, with plenty of cool new offerings from Chevy/GMC, RAM, Ford, and a rumored new Titan on the way from Nissan. The '14 Tundra is an impressive truck. But, Toyota needs to keep their head in the game and their eye on the competition.
At the end of the day, the one thing that keeps guys like myself brand loyal is Toyota's legendary resale value. What new Tundra owners might have to give up when it comes to innovative new features or improved fuel economy compared to competing brands, the Tundra will likely make up for when the day finally arrives to get rid of it. The 2014 Toyota Tundra is impressive. How it stacks up to the competition remains to be seen!