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2014 Toyota Tundra - The Third Generation - First Drive

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on November 25, 2013 Comment (0)
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2014 Toyota Tundra - The Third Generation - First Drive
Photographers: Courtesy of the Manufacturer

We pushed water until it poured over the hood. We maneuvered down muddy, dimly lit forest trails. We climbed slicker-than-snot hillclimbs. We towed four different trailers. We carved our way up and down paved mountain roads.

All of this was done in the brand-spankin’-new, third-generation ’14 Toyota Tundra in and around Farmington, Pennsylvania. The trailer towing was done on an airstrip, the driving on local roads, and the off-roading on the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort off-road course. When we were done with the Tundra, it was a muddy mess both inside and out (sorry, Toyota).

Our assignment was to evaluate the new Tundra and we spent most of our time in a 5.7L-powered, four-door, shortbed, CrewMax 4x4 Limited model equipped with the TRD off-road package. Toyota is quick to point out that almost everything you can see on the full-frame truck is new, and the company speaks the truth. There are some carryover items from the second-gen truck, however. Here are the highlights of Toyota’s newest Tundra.

Toyota says the goal was to move away from a ‘rounded, bubbly look’ and aim for a more ‘chiseled, masculine truck look.'

Exterior
Toyota says the goal was to move away from a “rounded, bubbly look,” and aim for a more “chiseled, masculine truck look.” Toyota knows the new look is “polarizing,” but the company thinks that’s a good place to be. Up front, the hood line has been raised 1.6 inches, there’s a new upper grille with an “overall aggressive look,” the front bumper is a new three-piece modular design, and there’s a “mock-air” inlet. The new grille has inner crossbars and a grille surround that come in different styles and finishes depending on trim level (see sidebar). Along the side, the Tundra has larger, integrated fender flares that are more squared. Out back, the new cargo bed retains the dimensions of the outgoing Tundra and bed options include long (8-foot, 1-inch), standard (6-foot, 5-inch), and short (5-foot, 5-inch). All have a rear tailgate spoiler and dampened tailgate. The rear bumper is new and is made of a thicker metal to prevent damage and it is comprised of three major pieces. Other exterior changes include four new wheel designs (in 18- and 20-inch diameters) for a total of six wheel options; “vortex generators” that are said to help with straight line stability among other things; a Tundra-stamped tailgate; and three new colors that bring the total to nine. Three cab configurations are available, Regular Cab, Double Cab, and CrewMax. Five trim levels are available and they include SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and the new high-zoot 1794 Edition (the 1794 Edition is a tribute to the ranch, founded in 1794, on which the Tundra plant is located in San Antonio). Styling is subjective, but we think the new Tundra looks far better than the outgoing model and the bed design is nothing short of awesome. We prefer the Platinum trim level grille and bumpers because the grille surround and front bumper assembly is color-keyed to the truck, which we think looks great. We’re less enthused by the faux hood air inlet, but we’re thinking the slot could be modified to hold a strip of high-output LED lighting. Another thing we’re less enthused about is that Toyota increased the valance panel underneath the air dam. This contributes to a loss of three degrees of approach angle on the SR5 CrewMax when compared to the outgoing SR5 CrewMax. However, the 26 degrees of approach angle is still better than many of the Tundra’s competitors and the valance panel helped with the coefficient of drag, which translates to improved fuel mileage.

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Powerplants/Transmissions
One area that remains the same (mostly, we’ll get to that in a second) is the engines and transmissions. Depending on the model, four-wheel-drive Tundra’s are available with either a 4.6L 32-valve V-8 that generates 310hp and 327 lb-ft of torque, or a 5.7L 32-valve V-8 that produces 381hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Tundra also offers a 4.0L V-6 engine, but it is only available in select 4x2 models. All are dual-overhead cam engines with dual-independent variable valve timing and Toyota’s Directed Ignition System. Behind each V-8 is a six-speed Super Intelligent electronically controlled transmission. New for 2014, there have been calibration changes to the engines (mostly to improve efficiency) and transmissions (to smooth shifting). Further, there are three different throttle calibrations used on the engines, one for 2WD, one for 4-Hi, and one for 4-Lo. We’re told that the calibration used in 4-Lo is new for the ’14 Tundra and it helps to smooth throttle response. We exclusively drove trucks equipped with the 5.7L V-8. Off-road, we found that power delivery was smooth and ample for the type of terrain we were on. No complaints. On-road, the 5.7 did an admirable job pulling the Tundra up Pennsylvania’s mountain roads. No complaints regarding the six-speed transmission, which worked seamlessly with the engine.

The Tundra 4x4 has a max towing capacity of 10,100 pounds depending on configuration. We had the opportunity to tow four trailers with a 5.7L-powered Tundra. This trailer with tractor had a total weight of 8,500 pounds. We towed each trailer with and without using the Tow/Haul Mode, which is specific to the 5.7L-powered Tundra. Without using the Tow/Haul Mode the engine and transmission did well, but activating Tow/Haul brought the pair to life with more power and improved engine braking performance. Each truck was equipped with the Towing Package that includes a slew of features including engine and transmission oil coolers and heavy-duty battery and alternator. The optional tow mirrors are worth the money and Toyota says that an electronic trailer brake controller accessory will be available soon. The Tundra 4x4 has a max towing capacity of 10,100 pounds depending on configuration. We had the opportunity to tow four trailers with a 5.7L-powered Tundra. This trailer with tractor had a total weight of 8,500 pounds. We towed each trailer with and without using the Tow/Haul Mode, which is specific to the 5.7L-powered Tundra. Without using the Tow/Haul Mode the engine and transmission did well, but activating Tow/Haul brought the pair to life with more power and improved engine braking performance. Each truck was equipped with the Towing Package that includes a slew of features including engine and transmission oil coolers and heavy-duty battery and alternator. The optional tow mirrors are worth the money and Toyota says that an electronic trailer brake controller accessory will be available soon.

Transfer Case
The Tundra gets a new T-case for 2014. It’s manufactured by BorgWarner and it has cut metal gears that are heat-treated for strength. The output shafts are hardened steel. Toyota points out that there are no powdered metal gears or shafts in this transfer case. The new case is said to have larger bearings than its predecessor and it was designed to engage faster in 4-Hi. The new T-case has a low range ratio of 2.64:1. We encountered no problems engaging or switching between settings on the T-case. Also new is a larger-diameter rear driveshaft.

Axles/Brakes/Suspension/Steering
Four-wheel-drive Tundra’s equipped with the 4.6L engine get a rear axle with 9.5-inch ring gear and a 3.909 gear ratio. Those equipped with the 5.7L engine get a rear axle with 10.5-inch ring gear and either a 4.10 or 4.30 ratio. Both of these axles have a highly rigid case and high-strength gears. All 4x4 Tundra trucks are fitted with a rigid aluminum case front differential with high-strength gears, double row ball-type front bearing, and an 8.7-inch ring gear. The axleshafts are unchanged. Disc brakes are standard at all four corners and the front rotors measure a healthy 13.9 inches in diameter, while the rear rotors measure 13.6 inches in diameter. For 2014, the front IFS has stiffer front coil springs and retuned shock absorbers. Out back, the leaf springs and shocks have been retuned. The power rack-and-pinion steering has been improved for a better on-center, planted, secure feel. We found the new Tundra to be very smooth riding both on-road and off. Toyota seemed to have nailed it as far as suspension tuning for a do-it-all truck- not too soft, not too hard. Braking, even while pulling a trailer, was strong. In lieu of a locker or limited slip the Tundra uses electronic traction control (A-TRAC). It works well, quite well in fact, but we’d still like the option of a manually operated locker.

The P275/65R18 Michelin LTX A/T2 tires were designed exclusively for the SR5 Tundra and they have a patented tread and sidewall pattern. Toyota says that these tires increase the coefficient of friction to help with hard surface traction and they also decrease braking distance. We were surprised to find that they also worked well in greasy mud, finding traction on each of our hillclimb forays. The P275/65R18 Michelin LTX A/T2 tires were designed exclusively for the SR5 Tundra and they have a patented tread and sidewall pattern. Toyota says that these tires increase the coefficient of friction to help with hard surface traction and they also decrease braking distance. We were surprised to find that they also worked well in greasy mud, finding traction on each of our hillclimb forays.

Interior
Toyota’s Mike Sweer said that the company was told through feedback that the Tundra’s interior styling appeared to be cheap. He said this was “like a dagger in his heart.” The company took the criticism seriously and the result is a brand-new interior. Tucked among more soft touch surfaces and grade-specific trim are a number of functional changes. The center line of the instrument panel has been moved 2.5 inches toward the driver to improve ergonomics, a new and larger center console has been added for trucks with bucket seats, there’s a new tipped-up console tray, more storage pockets, Entune next-generation audio systems, and CrewMax gets new “Tip-Up” rear seat cushions and added in-cabin storage space. Functionally, we found the interior switchgear to be positioned well (the T-case engagement knob was mounted within easy reach of the steering wheel, and it was conveniently located near the A-TRAC cancel button). We didn’t care for the positioning of the gauges in the cluster as much as some competing trucks because it forced us to dart our eyes around a bit more to scan the gauges, but obviously that’s personal preference. Overall, we think the interior is an improvement over the previous version, not only in material but also functionality.

View Slideshow

TRD Off-Road Package
Naturally, we’d spring for the TRD package, which is available on SR5 and Limited models. It includes “trail-tuned” Bilstein shocks, special 18-inch-diameter alloy wheels, engine and fuel tank skidplates, and TRD Off-Road decals. For 2014, the monotube shocks and leaf springs have been retuned.

Bottom Line
We think the Tundra is vastly improved over its predecessor, even without major engine and transmission changes. But speaking of the powertrain, it’ll be interesting to see how Toyota addresses the engines and transmissions in upcoming models to evolve with the fast-moving ½-ton truck market. A diesel or ultra fuel-efficient V-6 would be great. We dig the work truck functionality built into the truck like multi-piece rear bumper, which means when it becomes damaged you can just purchase a section instead of an entire expensive bumper. We’d love to see slightly larger tires to improve approach, departure, and ground clearance on the TRD package. In the end, we think the changes to the Tundra are enough to compel buyers to add Toyota to their list of trucks to consider.

What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: New T-case, larger-diameter rear driveshaft, new cargo bed design, trailer wiring connector location, modular rear bumper
Not: No mechanical limited slip or locker, loss of approach angle, no V-6 option on 4x4 models
Our Take: Worth a look

’14 4Runner
During our visit to Pennsylvania, Toyota also rolled out the 2014 4Runner. It has undergone some changes including a new front grille design; new front and rear bumpers; braces on the number three crossmember to enhance torsional rigidity; more rigid brake hoses to optimize brake feel; the dashboard inner and outer silencers have been optimized to enhance interior quietness; and the interiors of the three trim levels (SR5, Trail, and Limited) have been upgraded with new features and various materials. We were most interested in the Trail version, and there are various trim and equipment changes for 2014 including unique front and rear skidplating, new 17-inch wheels, and color-keyed fenders and door handles. As a bonus, Toyota says the Trail will have a lower MSRP, but keep the off-road equipment.

Like the other trim levels of 4Runner the ’14 4Runner Trail has new front and rear skidplating, new 17-inch wheels, and color-keyed fenders and door handles among other things. Like the other trim levels of 4Runner the ’14 4Runner Trail has new front and rear skidplating, new 17-inch wheels, and color-keyed fenders and door handles among other things.

The Faces of the Tundra
One of the most obvious changes to the Tundra is the styling of the front end. Here you can see how the front end styling of the Tundra differs depending on the vehicles trim level. Notice the differences in the grille, bumper assembly and grille-surround between each trim level. This is part of Toyota’s plan to include a distinct look between trim levels. From left to right, SR5, Platinum, Limited, 1794 Edition.

View Slideshow

Tundra Pricing
In case you’re wondering, MSRP for the Tundra 4x4 ranges from $30,905 to $47,320. This pricing does not include the delivery, processing, and handling fee.

Quick Specs*
Vehicle/model: 2014 Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMax TRD
Base price: $41,895
As tested: N/A
Engine: 5.7L DOHC EFI V-8
Rated hp/torque (lb-ft): 381/401
Transmission: 6-spd automatic
Transfer case: BorgWarner 2-spd
4WD system(s): 4-Hi, 4-Lo, 2WD
Low-range ratio: 2.64:1
Frame type: High-strength steel
Suspension, f/r: Independent, high-mounted double-wishbone with stabilizer bar and low-pressure nitrogen gas shock absorbers/trapezoid multi-leaf springs, inboard-mounted low-pressure gas shock absorbers
Axles, f/r: 8.7-inch/10.5-inch
Axle ratio: 4.30:1
Max crawl ratio: 37.8:1
Steering: Power rack-and-pinion
Brakes, f/r: 13.9-in/13.6-in
Wheels (in): 20x8
Tires: P275/55R20
Wheelbase (in): 145.7
Length (in): 228.9
Height (in): 76.2
Width (in): 79.9
Base curb weight (lb): 5,850
Approach/departure angles (deg): 26/21
Minimum ground clearance (in): 10.4
Payload (lb): 1,255-1,440
Max towing capacity (lb): 9,000
Fuel capacity (gal): 26.4
Fuel economy (mpg): 13 city, 17 hwy
* As tested

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