We decided to change things up a bit with the build of our Project Tundra. Instead of showing you the entire process moving forward from when we picked up the truck, we are going to show you what it took to transform it from stock to stunning in reverse. As you see, the truck in this article is how the truck was built for the SEMA Show in Las Vegas this past November. We teamed up with several great companies, so please stay on the lookout for future articles covering the build.
Immediately after receiving the truck, we wanted to swap out the suspension. The new Tundra is a pleasure to drive both on- and off-road, but at stock height they don't scream, "I'm an off-road truck," if you know what we mean. Installing a solid suspension system and a proven aggressive tire would give our truck that prowess it needed so very much. Pro Comp Suspension and Pro Comp Tires both had the ingredients we were searching for to complete our recipe for building a great all-around performing truck while still keeping all components bolt-on. Although cutting a truck in half and running a tube chassis is fun, the reality is most of us will not do that to a $40,000 truck. Once again, changing things up a bit, we aren't going to show you how to install these components yourself. Instead, we want to share with you our experiences behind the wheel so you can choose whether or not these wheels, tires, and suspension package are what you are looking for.
Pro Comp offers its 6-inch Tundra suspension in two versions - basically with or without coilovers. The Stage I version comes with a spacer up front that is mounted to the stock coil assembly and the Stage II version replaces the stock assembly with a really nice coilover setup. Wanting to share with our readers how they both ride, we had Pro Comp install both kits to the truck so we could spend time driving both. The rear of both kits come with an add-a-leaf and block with either ES Series shocks or MX-6 adjustable shocks. Once again, we spent some time using both to give a thorough evaluation.
The new stance of the truck definitely gave the truck an off-road style. Our install bay was located about two hours away, so it gave us sufficient time to see how the truck did at 80 mph on the freeway. The ride was smooth, but we definitely noticed a bumpy feeling when we reached speeds in excess of 70 mph. Around 80 mph, the truck smoothed out a bit more but still had a tendency to bounce over rough sections more so than it did stock. The truck was smooth when driving around town - very smooth. As soon as we hit the dirt, we felt the Pro Comp Xtreme M/T tires hooking up very well, providing a ton of gripping power. We hit several small rocky sections, a few swooping twisty trails, and even crawled a bit testing out articulation. The rocky section felt good but left a little to be desired. The steering felt good through the flat trails, and we never felt like the truck was out of control or unbalanced considering its much taller stance. Articulation really isn't what this kit is about, and it is where we felt most uncomfortable. The truck made it through everything without problems. Overall, the Stage I kit is a good option for those looking for a solid kit to give their Tundra that aggressive off-road look and clear 35-inch-tall tires while still retaining a good ride.
The installation of the new coilovers and MX-6 adjustable shocks made us happy before we even left the shop. The new shocks meant more adjustability, a better-quality ride, and an even smarter off-road look. Driving home, the ride on the road was much improved over the Stage I setup. The front coilovers were much more sensitive to the bumps on the road, and the steering felt more responsive. We hit the same dirt sections for our second test session so we could compare the two kits side by side. We were able to drive through the rock sections with much more speed because of the smoother ride and better control. The steering response was improved with the coilovers and added stability over small whoops as well. Articulation felt about the same as before, but we assume most people reading this realize this is not a long-travel suspension. The twisty trails are where we spent most of our time and where the kit shined. If you don't mind spending a few more dollars, go for the Stage II kit. You will not be disappointed.
Beadlock wheels seem to be the trend right now, but most people don't know the hassles in dealing with changing a tire on a true beadlock wheel. If you have never done it, find someone who will let you spend a few hours removing and replacing 30-plus bolts and sealing the tire bead on their wheel. We wanted the look, not the struggle, for this project, so we called our friends at Pro Comp and got ahold of their new 8128 series wheel. This wheel is one of the best-looking simulated beadlock wheels available today. The new Tundra comes with an oversize brake package, which means you need to run an 18-inch wheel minimum to clear the calipers. We ordered our 18x8.5 8128 wheels with a bolt pattern of 5x150 mm, a 19mm offset, and 5.5-inch backspacing (PN 8128-88555). The ring is cast into the wheel when it is made as one continuous piece. The bolts are threaded into the holes that have been drilled and tapped into the wheel. A one-piece wheel ensures the wheels will take a beating and keep on spinning.
Our tire choice was the Pro Comp Xtreme M/T tire size 305/70R18 (equivalent to 35/12.50R18) because of its three-ply sidewall design and XTC rubber-compound tread. This tire has been tested on race trucks and rockcrawlers and would give us maximum puncture resistance and flexibility running both high and low air pressures in the dirt. During our testing, we ran the tires at 30, 20, and 10 psi to see how well they would fair. All pressures ran without flaw and as the pressure dropped, our traction increased. We found 15 psi to be a very happy pressure for the truck as we tackled sharp rocks and mudholes with confidence. We have a few new scrapes on the sidewalls but no tears or punctures. We purposely sideswiped a few sharp rocks to see how the sidewall protection would hold up. Not a problem. These tires rock.
Hopefully reading some of our experiences has given you the confidence to check out these parts yourself. We are very pleased with the performance of our project truck and look forward to many more weekends of fun ahead. The new 6-inch Pro Comp suspension combined with Pro Comp Xtreme M/T tires and 8128 wheels have increased our Tundra's off-road abilities while retaining a great street ride. A solid choice for consumers looking to get more out of their truck and look great doing it.
We recommend this suspension kit be installed by a professional or someone with good mechanical knowledge and experience installing suspension systems. Please consult the instruction manual included with your kit before installation.