When Toyota offered to replace our 2010 Tundra with the company’s latest offering, it was an offer that was hard to refuse. We enjoyed more than 70,000 trouble-free miles behind the wheel of our 2010 Double Cab Tundra SR5. During that time, the only maintenance outside of routine oil changes was a set of new tires and new front brake pads; based on our mileage and use, however, those were not unexpected items. You see, for many of those 70,000 miles the Tundra was loaded with better than 8,000lbs, towing a two-car trailer to Sports Car Club of America races in various parts of the country.
The combination of the 381hp, 5.7L V8 and the 6-speed automatic gearbox never left us hanging, always in the right rev range and gear no matter how steep the climb. The 401lb-ft of torque gets your load moving quickly, and the engine is not afraid to rev. Even crossing the Rockies with our massive trailer, the truck barely batted an eye.
For 2014, the Tundra received new sheet metal and a revamped interior, leaving the proven drivetrain from the previous model in place. The soft curves of the second generation Tundra have given way to a more rugged and squared off look for 2014. This is most evident on the front end, where the more aggressive-looking grill conjurs up visions of a Cylon – circa 1978, of course. The interior refinements are all about improving comfort and increasing ease of use.
“Toyota prides itself on listening to its customers, and the development of the 2014 American-born Tundra is a perfect example,” says Bill Fay, Group Vice President and General Manager, Toyota Division. “Tundra’s new exterior design and 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.”
As with the previous generation, the 2014 Tundra is offered in three cab configurations: the two door Regular Cab, four door Double Cab and the four door CrewMax, all available in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
The model we selected was the four-wheel-drive CrewMax sporting the Limited trim package, with Blue Ribbon Metallic paint and black leather seating surfaces, capped off with a set of stylish 20-inch alloy wheels.
On the inside, we found the interior improvements both pleasing to the eye and hand. The new dash flows better than it did in our 2010 model, with its smaller pod offering all the needed information without looking crowded. Most importantly is the 2.6 inches of less reach needed by the driver to access the audio and HVAC dash controls – its not a big change, but things like this make for a supremely more comfortable driving experience.
The 2014 CrewMax also sports a new seat design for both front and rear passengers, offering improved seat ventilation and additional range of motion, both great for long trips. Our Limited took the seat upgrade one step further, with the addition of heated seats.
The engineers at Toyota did not leave the entire running gear untouched; a number of tweaks were made to the suspension, which are almost immediately evident on the road. Retuned dampers help soak up harsh bumps better than before, and steering enhancements improve straight-line stability. Our tester also came equipped with the optional TRD rear swaybar, and we really like how it tightens up the back end, particularly with a trailer in tow.
So far we have racked up a little over 2,000 miles on our new Tundra, even managing to work in one trip to the track with racecar in tow (ABOVE), and we’ve discovered we really like the new interior. The small effort of moving controls closer to the driver paid off, and the revised seats are supportive and comfortable. Compared to our previous Double Cab, the CrewMax has a limo-like back seat, and we will gladly sacrifice a little bed length to keep the passengers in the back seat happy. The rear seats also fold up, so valuable storage space can be found in the cab if the seats are not in use.
The ride quality and noise level is also greatly improved – a testament to the suspension tweaks and sound reduction efforts made by Toyota.
With our mixed route driving, a combination of city and freeway (which near our Southern California home base means essentially stop-and-go traffic) we have observed an average of 14.5mpg, which comes in very close to the EPA-rated 15mpg combined. This is about 1mpg lower than we saw with the 2010 Tundra, but we expected that as we moved from the two-wheel-drive 2010 to the 4wd 2014, the added weight and drag of the components are burning some fuel.
As we hitched up a lightweight car trailer and escaped the city for a race, we saw 15.5mpg on the freeway, which was a spot-on match when towing the same package with the previous truck.
The 2014 feels more stable towing, no doubt in part to the suspension revisions and the TRD swaybar. We can’t wait to hitch up the big, multi-car trailer and see how the new truck takes it.
Over the next year, our 2014 Tundra will get a workout, as we cover tens of thousands of miles towing, and we’ll possibly take it on an off-road adventure, too. Plans are already in the works to modify the new truck, making it more useful trackside, increasing power output, and enhancing its off road capabilities. Stay tuned.
- Jason Isley is the Associate Editor of SportsCar, the sister publication to RACER and the official magazine of the SCCA.