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2007 Toyota Tundra - First Drive

Posted in Project Vehicles on March 1, 2007 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Courtesy of Toyota

For 2007 the Toyota Tundra finally delivers the goods as a fullsize pickup. Toyota has had a toe in the fullsize truck water since it introduced the T100 in 1993 and the first-generation Tundra in 2000.

But both were criticized as less than fullsize in size and capability.

That changes with the new Tundra. As you can see in the accompanying spec box, the Tundra matches or exceeds its 11/42-ton competition in size, power, payload, and tow capacity.

Like its domestic rivals, the Tundra is available in a number of configurations-up to 31, says Toyota-starting with three cab layouts: regular, four-door Double Cab, and the CrewMax with four fullsize doors. They can be combined with three bed lengths: the shortbed (66.7-inch) on the CrewMax or the standard (78.7-inch) and longbeds (97.6-inch) available with the regular and Double Cabs. Three engines are available: the 4.0L V-6 (for 2WDs only) and 4.7L iForce V-8 we're familiar with, and an all-new 5.7L iForce V-8.

Three engines are available in the new Tundra, but this is the one you want: the 5.7L i-Force V-8, with more power and torque than even the mighty Dodge Hemi. There are no official fuel economy numbers yet, but we expect them to be on par with other engines of this size.

The new 3UR-FE engine is based on a cast-aluminum block with a long, 4.02-inch stroke to aid torque production. It features alloy heads with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead cams on each cylinder bank. Each cam is fitted with a variable-phasing gear to maximize power production throughout the engine's speed range. On top of the engine is an intake manifold with different runner lengths that open or close, based on throttle angle and rpm, for best torque production.

Yes, "four-valve" and "dual overhead cams" usually translate to high-end power, not low-rev grunt. But the 5.7 flat works. It's quick off idle and, with 381 hp, plenty fast. Plus, with 90 percent of its 401 lb-ft of torque available between 2,400 and 5,500 rpm, there's guts to pass big rigs at any speed.

The new 5.7 is mated to an equally new six-speed automatic transmission with a 3.33:1 First gear and two overdrives. You can choose to leave the shifter in D or slap-shift to pick the gear you want, a feature available with either the floor-mounted console shifter or the column shifter in bench-seat models.

Toyota calls the Tundra "the most American vehicle in Toyota history." It was developed and designed here in the U.S.; engines are built in Alabama; transmissions in North Carolina; and the trucks are assembled in Indiana and Texas.

Four-wheel-drive Tundras get a new, part-time JF1A transfer case with a 2.62 low range that's nominally lower than the previous 2.57. (No 4:1 crawl box here.) The trucks also are fitted with new rear differentials that include a hefty 10.5-inch ring gear for the 5.7 models. The standard gear ratios for the 5.7 are 4.10s; 4.30s come with the tow package.

As you'd expect from Toyota, the Tundra is equipped with an alphabet-soup bowl full of computerized traction and ABS controls. There's no electric rear locker, though, like you find on other Toyota 4x4s. We hope that changes on future models.

The Tundra's ladder frame, 6 inches wider than the previous model, uses double A-arms with coilover springs in front, leaf springs with outboard-mounted and staggered shocks in back. A TRD Off-Road package swaps in stiffer coils and mounts Bilstein monotube shocks.

Engine Peak HP @ rpm Peak Torque (lb-ft) @ rpm
Toyota 5.7L V-8 381 @ 5,{{{600}}} 401 @ 3,600
{{{Ford}}} 5.4L V-8 {{{300}}} @ 5,000 365 @ 3,750
GM 5.3L V-8 315 @ 5,{{{200}}} 338 @ 4,400
GM 6.0L V-8 367 @ 5,500 375 @ 4,300
{{{Dodge}}} 5.7L Hemi V-8 345 @ 5,400 375 @ 4,200

Because Toyota mounted massive disc brakes on the Tundra (with 13.9-inch rotors up front; 13.6 in back), the smallest Tundra wheel is 18 inches in diameter. Our TRD-optioned tester was shod with P275/65R18 BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/As, which worked very well on the pavement and were fine on the graded dirt roads that made up the "off-road" portion of our test.

The Tundra's road manners are first-rate. Only when traffic lanes (or brushy trails) got narrow did we feel its bulk. Otherwise the truck was agile and well-planted, with an ultra-smooth ride over pavement and dirt. We felt virtually no axle hop on- or off-road, and even high-speed railroad-track and cattle-guard crossings didn't upset the Tundra's composure.

If anything, some of the journalists on our trip criticized the Tundra as "too nice," thinking that a truck shouldn't ride as well or as quietly as a well-appointed SUV. But our experiences in the new fullsize GM pickups, and now the Tundra, tell us the ride-and-handling bar has been raised. Nowadays you don't have to compromise comfort for capability, and we predict the more "trucklike" entries in the field will soon feel very old-fashioned.

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On the inside, the Tundra is cavernous. Head, leg, and elbow room are generous at every seating position. This is especially true in the CrewMax, which offers limousine-like acreage for rear-seat passengers and the industry's first sliding and reclining rear seat. Up front you'll find full instrumentation in the dash and burly knobs for the climate controls. The door pulls, inside and out, are oversized too, for ease of use when wearing work gloves.

The Tundra is packed with interesting and usable features, from a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel and center front console (in trucks with bucket seats) big enough to accommodate a laptop computer and hanging file folders, to a backup camera in the tailgate aimed to assist by-yourself trailer hookups. That tailgate even has internal dampers so it won't slam down when you open it.

Two big questions about the Tundra won't be answered until closer to its February launch: price and fuel economy. When asked about cost, the Toyota execs gave the usual "value-packed" and "we'll be competitive" speech. As for mileage, the onboard computer on our 5.7L Double Cab showed about a 12-mpg average over our test loop. Granted, much of that was spent on steep, winding grades at high altitudes-not ideal for maximizing fuel economy. But we wouldn't be surprised to find that the powerful 5.7 is thirsty too. At least it's happy drinking 87 octane.

Tundra CrewMax 4x4 {{{F-150}}} SuperCrew 4x4
Largest Engine 5.7L iForce V-8 5.4L Triton V-8
Horsepower 381 @ 5,{{{600}}} rpm {{{300}}} @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 401 @ 3,600 rpm 365 @ 3,750 rpm
Length (in) 228.7 224.0
Wheelbase (in) 145.7 138.5
Width (in) 79.9 78.9
Height (in) 76.4 76.0
Bed Length (ft) 5.5 5.5
Max. Payload (lb) 1,585 1,560
Max. Tow Capacity (lb) 10,{{{100}}} 9,{{{200}}}
Max. Seating Capacity 6 6
View Slideshow

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