Full 2013 Toyota Tundra Review
What's New for 2013
There are no significant changes for the 2013 Toyota Tundra.
A tundra, by definition, is a treeless zone in the far northern reaches with a subsoil that is permanently frozen. It's doubtful that when Toyota named its full-size pickup truck it had any sort of negative connotation in mind. But the 2013 Toyota Tundra is starting to take on some of its namesake's attributes.
On the surface, the Toyota Tundra has seen some growth throughout the seasons, but underneath it has remained largely unchanged since the current model debuted six years ago: frozen solid, if you will. Meanwhile, the Tundra's competitors from Ford and Ram have evolved and adapted to the shifting automotive landscape.
As a result, the 2013 Toyota Tundra is notably outdated when it comes to refinement. Its interior lacks the modernity that other manufacturers have infused into recent redesigns. Ride quality is also a bit behind the times, with a comparably choppy ride. To top it off, the Tundra feels like the big truck it is, whereas its rivals may feel smaller and more maneuverable behind the wheel.
Fortunately, it's not all frozen and barren wasteland for the 2013 Toyota Tundra. At its core, it delivers the kind of strength and utility that define the full-size pickup category. A variety of body styles and features allow buyers to tailor their purchase to their needs, as does the availability of three engines that range from adequate to brawny.
If refinement comes as an afterthought to workhorse duties, the Toyota Tundra remains a worthy alternative. For overall ability with more pleasant surroundings and manners, however, we'd point shoppers toward the 2013 Ford F-150 and 2013 Ram 1500, both of which received more recent redesigns and updates. Like the Toyota, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (and its GMC Sierra twin) is due for a makeover, but it remains competitive thanks to a well-rounded and capable nature.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Toyota Tundra is a full-size pickup offered in three body styles (two-door Regular Cab, extended four-door Double Cab and four-door crew cab called the CrewMax), plus three different wheelbases and three bed lengths. There are three trim levels: the base Tundra, Limited and Platinum. Not all of these variations are available together, and the availability of some options often depends on the region in which you live.
Standard equipment on entry-level Regular Cab models includes 18-inch steel wheels, chrome bumpers, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a windshield wiper de-icer, a damped tailgate, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split bench seat, a tilt-only steering wheel and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The entry-level Double Cab adds intermittent windshield wipers, keyless entry, an eight-way manually adjustable driver seat, 60/40-split fold-up rear seats and two extra speakers. The CrewMax adds a power vertical sliding rear window and a sliding, reclining and fold-flat rear seat.
Moving up to the Limited trim level, which is only offered on Double Cab and CrewMax body styles, gets you 18-inch alloy wheels, a color-keyed front bumper, foglights, a bed rail system with adjustable tie-down cleats, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power front bucket seats (10-way driver, four-way passenger), heated front seats, a power-operated sliding rear window (Double Cab), an auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in back-up camera display, upgraded gauges and trip computer, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a JBL premium audio system with a six-CD changer (10 speakers in the Double Cab and 12 speakers in the CrewMax).
The Platinum trim is only available with the CrewMax body and adds 20-inch wheels, chrome exterior treatments, power-folding mirrors that are both heated and auto-dimming, a sunroof, perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, driver seat memory functions and a navigation system with a touchscreen interface, voice controls and real-time traffic. A rear-seat entertainment system is available as an option for Platinum and CrewMax Limited models only.
There is also a dizzying array of available option packages, including a Tow package that bundles a heftier axle ratio, a hitch receiver, a transmission Tow/Haul mode, oil and transmission fluid coolers, a heavy-duty battery, upgraded alternator and a seven-pin connector. A Work Truck package strips base Regular and Double Cab models of convenience features like power mirrors, keyless entry and cruise control and substitutes black bumpers, vinyl upholstery and heavy-duty rubber flooring.
Styling-oriented packages include a Chrome Appearance package (base Double Cab models only) and a Sport Appearance package. There are also several off-road-oriented equipment groups. The TRD Off-Road package adds special 18-inch alloy wheels, off-road tires, an off-road-tuned suspension, skid plates and tow hooks (the Regular Cab version also adds many of the convenience niceties found on the other body styles). The TRD Rock Warrior package (base Double Cab and CrewMax only) is similar, but includes 17-inch forged alloy wheels and all-terrain tires, along with a matte black rear bumper and many of the convenience options. Running boards can be added to all but the Regular Cab Tundra.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Toyota Tundra is offered with a choice of three different engines and rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Rear-wheel-drive Regular and Double Cabs are powered by a 4.0-liter V6 that puts out 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy for this powertrain is 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined.
A 4.6-liter V8 that produces 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque is standard on CrewMax, four-wheel-drive and long bed models, and available as an option on rear-wheel-drive Regular and Double Cab body styles. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. In Edmunds testing, a four-wheel-drive Tundra with the 4.6-liter V8 went from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for this engine is 15 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined with two-wheel drive and 14/19/16 mpg with four-wheel drive.
Topping the Tundra's engine lineup is a 5.7-liter V8 standard on Limited and Platinum trim levels and optional on the other models. It produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, while a six-speed automatic transmission is standard. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 13 mpg city/18 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined for two-wheel-drive models and 13/17/15 mpg for four-wheel-drive versions. A four-wheel-drive Tundra CrewMax with this engine went from zero to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds in Edmunds testing. Tundras equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and the optional Tow package can pull trailers up to 10,400 pounds.
The 2013 Toyota Tundra comes standard with antilock brakes (with brake assist), stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags that cover both rows and front knee airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, a Tundra Double Cab with the 4.6-liter V8 came to a stop from 60 mph in 134 feet -- an average distance for a full-size truck.
In government crash tests the Tundra earned an overall score of four stars (out of a possible five), as well as four stars for overall frontal protection and five stars for overall side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tundra its highest rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side impact and roof strength tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
While the interior of the 2013 Toyota Tundra is fine by pickup truck standards and even has a few strong points, the fact that it hasn't been updated in five years makes it seem dated when compared to the more recently redone cabins of its Ford and Ram competitors. The Platinum model gains upscale touches like perforated leather upholstery and heated/ventilated front seats, but the fact remains that designers have done nothing to address more fundamental issues like distantly placed audio controls, low-quality materials and the base model's difficult-to-read gauges.
From a practical standpoint, however, the Tundra scores. Topping the list of thumbs-up inside is the ridiculously roomy rear seat in CrewMax models, which combines gobs of legroom with the comfort of reclining seatbacks. Another plus are the front-hinged rear doors on Double Cab models that make getting in and out of the adult-friendly backseat much easier than the clamshell-style rear doors on some competitors. The folding backseats on Double Cab and CrewMax models also provide a good amount of protected storage for valuable items you'd rather not leave in the bed.
When the Tundra was first introduced, any model that carried an engine other than the 5.7-liter V8 was a letdown. However, the midgrade 310-hp 4.6-liter V8 means playing second fiddle isn't necessarily a bad thing. This engine provides all the muscle most truck buyers need, with better fuel economy to boot. The base V6 is one of the brawnier base engines in the segment, but V8 grunt seems like a must in this class. Now, if getting the most V8 grunt is important, the 5.7 isn't the class leader it once was in terms of horsepower, but it remains a champ for towing thanks to its axle ratio and a well-sorted six-speed automatic.
For daily use, the 2013 Toyota Tundra's light steering makes it very easy to drive, though it feels bigger than competing trucks. We were satisfied with the Tundra's ride quality a few years ago, but the Ford and Ram trucks have been improved to the point that the Tundra's ride now seems stiff-legged by comparison.