The year 2000 marked the start of the new millennium, and along with it the introduction of the Toyota Tundra pickup. After a grueling competition, it was named our 2000 4x4 of the year, and with that title came the opportunity for us to test it for a full year to really get to know what it's like.
While we picked the Tundra as last year's winner, living with the truck for a full year and 22,000 miles really let us know the good points as well as the weaknesses. Long-term testing allows us to do an in-depth critical review of each and every aspect of the winner. Items that can only be discovered by long-term use are brought to the forefront. Items that may have been annoying at first are forgotten, and others that were deemed important lose their significance over the long haul.
We live with the vehicle every day, and when that time is split among four or five staffers, we get a very accurate idea of how the vehicle performs in virtually every situation. In fact, the mileage logbook has a section for comments that the drivers fill out, and we ran out of room on this one.
For starters, we have to admit that this is not a fullsize truck, no matter what the marketing people say. But it does have the features most people desire, and we think that the V-8 engine, clam-shell doors, and big box are the way to do it right. We just wish it would have a tad more power on the bottom end and a bigger back seat to round out the package. These were the two significant findings over the long haul, and we bet the power issue will be easily addressed in the coming years.
The 4.7L engine actually tows heavy loads well and is zippy in traffic and daily use. The problem comes in keeping the engine above 2,800 rpm-the magic point where torque seems to happen. Fall lower than this and it is sluggish. Once that point is reached the beast comes alive. Even spinning the engine at high rpm we got a respectable 14-16 mpg average fuel economy while we hammered the Tundra, which is low for a mini-truck, but we had a lot of fun with the skinny pedal. After 22,000 miles, it doesn't leak or use any oil, and everything is as tight as day one. Admittedly, we got a fresh Tundra with the TRD package installed instead of retaining the original winner, but that fact didn't change the outcome of this wrap-up.
As far as the rear seat room goes, it's for kids or little people, not fullsize adults. Most of the staff has tried to sleep in the back seat (not at the same time) during outings, and the comment, "definitely not a fullsize" was the most prominent. However, the rear seat and easy access to the rear make for great storage and extra carrying capacity that is safe and secure. As for the rest of the interior, it was of the usual Toyota quality that we've both come to expect and take for granted. It's one of those deals where you don't mention it because it's good and it's supposed to be that way.
Three other items kept cropping up and were discussed in length in the hallowed halls of 4WOR. First off was the buslike turning radius. Never try a U-turn on a wide street with the Tundra, much less a narrow one. Forget about sliding into those dinky mall parking spots too, unless you like four-point turns. Next was the hideous blind spot over the driver's left shoulder. Things can get dicey in freeway traffic when you can't see next to you, and the big B-pillar, high door sills, headrests, and seatbelts all combine with the dinky mirrors to make for an adventurous trip. Finally, the seats which seem good at first are almost miserable on long trips. Even with the power adjuster, we can't seem to get a comfortable position, and while the suspension is cushy, the seats are too hard for extended outings.
Overall the Toyota Tundra completed the yearlong test with flying colors. Like any vehicle, some of the glowing comments will be rethought, and others will come to the forefront. In our case, we'd still pick the Tundra as the 2000 4x4 of the Year, and rightfully so. It's a great pickup that only needs a little bit of improvement, and we'll be checking out the future offerings to see if anybody out there was listening to us.
*Good engine power
*Typical Toyota quality
*Buslike turning radius
*Average fuel economy
*No rear legroom
*Bad driver-side blind spot
Comments and Complaints From the Peanut Gallery
*Overdrive delete stays off when the vehicle is restarted-that's great.
*Horrid blind spot on driver-side B-pillar.
*Downshifts violent-and not in a good way.
*Stereo disc changer as bad as the transfer case controls.
*Multiple visors a good idea, but poorly executed.
*Nice leather seats and no remote door locks?
*Three power ports are nice; too bad they don't stay on with the key off.
*Never use the cruise control uphill; it'll shift all over the place.
*2,400 rpm at 80 mph-this truck needs gears.