Full 2008 Toyota Tundra Review
What's New for 2008
After being fully redesigned last year, the Toyota Tundra enters 2008 with only minor changes, such as the expansion of the base "Tundra Grade" trim to all body styles and additional standard features for the SR5 and Limited trim levels.
When we first heard about the completely redesigned, second-generation Toyota Tundra -- the bigger, tougher successor that was going to give the big T something serious for the full-size pickup segment -- we could picture the scene. The old Wild West gunfight-about-to-happen music plays as the Tundra rolls to a stop somewhere in America's heartland. The dust settles, a tumbleweed rolls by. But instead of Gary Cooper or Clint Eastwood, a Ford F-150 appears opposite the Toyota and growls: "You're not from around here, are you?"
No, it isn't. Well...OK, the Tundra is built in America, but it's still the offspring of a Japanese company. And judging by the positive reviews, strong work capacity and respectable sales numbers, it looks as if the Tundra is here to stay. After that successful reincarnation last year, the Toyota Tundra rolls into 2008 with only minor changes. These consist of expanding the base Tundra Grade trim level to the Double Cab and Crew Max body styles, and adding standard features for the SR5 and Limited trim levels.
Its 7/8ths scale predecessor was fine for light recreational or home improvement store errands, but not up to the heavier stuff due to a smallish V8 and low tow rating. The current Tundra, on the other hand, is ready for most any task. With a stout frame, three cab sizes, three bed lengths and three engines (including a potent 5.7-liter V8), the 2008 Toyota Tundra stands on equal footing with all of the traditional Big Three pickups. In fact, the Tundra CrewMax has the roomiest crew cab in the full-size segment, besting even Dodge's Mega Cab in this regard.
If you're shopping for a full-size half-ton pickup truck, the Tundra should be on your list. It's fully capable of handling heavy work (its maximum towing capacity is more than 10,000 pounds), is pleasant to drive and comfortable to ride in. Compared to its toughest half-ton rivals, the GM twins (Silverado and Sierra), the Tundra doesn't hold any significant advantages, and indeed its cabin isn't as nicely furnished as the top trims in GM's trucks (although lower trims are comparable). Apart from that minor quibble, we'd have to say that you won't go wrong if you choose to pick up this pickup.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
A full-size half-ton truck, the 2008 Toyota Tundra comes in three body styles: Regular Cab, Double Cab and CrewMax. The Double Cab is essentially a large extended cab with four forward-hinged doors, while the Tundra CrewMax is an extra-large crew cab. Regular and Double Cabs can be ordered with either a 6.5-foot or 8-foot bed, while the CrewMax comes with only a 5.5-foot bed.
Trim levels include the base Grade, midlevel SR5 and plush Limited. The standard-cab truck comes only in the Grade trim, while the Double Cab and CrewMax are available in Grade, SR5 and Limited versions. Standard features on the Grade include 18-inch steel wheels, a 40/20/40 cloth bench seat, dual-zone air-conditioning and a four-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The SR5 adds an extra pair of stereo speakers, cruise control, full power accessories, keyless entry, a telescoping steering wheel and rear heater ducts. In addition, the Double Cab and CrewMax trims add power front bucket seats, a six-CD changer and heated sideview mirrors, while the CrewMax also gets rear A/C ducts, a reclining rear bench seat and a sliding rear window with a defroster.
Tundra Limited models add alloy wheels, slightly wider tires, a bed rail system with adjustable tie-downs, front and rear park assist, leather upholstery, front captain's chairs with 10-way power adjustment for the driver, automatic climate control, a 10-speaker (12 in CrewMax) JBL sound system, Bluetooth and power-retractable, auto-dimming sideview mirrors.
Major options include a navigation system, a backup camera, driver seat memory, 20-inch wheels and, on the CrewMax only, a sunroof. The TRD Off-Road Package features an upgraded suspension with Bilstein shocks, BFGoodrich all-terrain tires and foglamps. An appearance package that consists of monochromatic styling elements is available for Regular and Double Cab models.
Powertrains and Performance
Three engines see duty in the 2008 Toyota Tundra. Standard on the Tundra Regular Cab and standard-bed Double Cab is a 4.0-liter V6 rated for 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Optional on these models and standard on all other Tundras is a 4.7-liter V8 with 271 hp and 313 lb-ft. Optional on all Tundras is the muscular 5.7-liter V8 that pumps out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft. A five-speed automatic transmission comes with the base V6 and 4.7-liter V8, while the 5.7 V8 is paired with a six-speed automatic. With the big V8, the Tundra is seriously quick -- a Double Cab Limited 4WD we tested sprinted to 60 mph in just 6.3 seconds.
All versions of the Tundra can be equipped with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, and all trucks come with a limited-slip rear differential. Properly equipped, a 4x2 Tundra Regular Cab can tow up to 10,800 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard. In government crash testing, the Tundra scored four stars (out of five) in frontal impact tests for both driver and passenger. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal offset crash testing, the Tundra earned a "Good" rating, the highest possible.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside the Tundra, it's obvious that the designers placed their emphasis on utility and durability. The ample front seats are accommodating, the storage areas and cupholders are generous in size, and build quality is tight. Soft-touch surfaces are rare, however, and as a result there is a large amount of hard plastic trim. The attractive gauges are not as easy to read as they could be, due to the individual binnacle design. And although the center stack controls are large and well organized, they're quite a stretch to reach from the driver seat, especially in Tundras equipped with the navigation system.
The Regular Cab offers comfortable seats as well as a generous amount of interior cargo space. In Double Cabs, the backseat is fully usable for adults, while the CrewMax offers the roomiest rear seat of any pickup truck. With a limolike 44.5 inches of rear legroom, even 6-footers can stretch out and cross their legs.
Equipped with the 5.7-liter V8, the 2008 Toyota Tundra is incredibly powerful and the engine's delivery is impressively smooth. Shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are prompt, and the console shifter's precise action allows drivers to easily use the manual mode while tackling steep highway grades or rugged off-road situations.
Like most of today's half-ton trucks, the Tundra provides a smooth and quiet highway ride, although trucks with the off-road package tend to feel choppy over rain-grooved expressway pavement. Light, precise steering makes for easy maneuvering in parking lots, but some buyers may find it a bit too light at highway speeds. Handling is predictable around corners, with minimal body roll, though the Tundra doesn't hold a significant advantage over its competitors in this area. Braking performance is a strong point, as the Tundra has a firm, progressive pedal feel and respectable stopping distances, with minimal fade under heavy use.