2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive on Edmunds.com

2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive

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2014 Toyota Tundra

(4.0L V6 5-speed Automatic 8.1 ft. Bed)

New Enough To Take on the Competition?

"So, are you calling this the third-generation Toyota Tundra?" We're asking the nearest marketing guy whilst hiking our thumb in the direction of a spanking-new 2014 Toyota Tundra pickup, specifically a 4x4 CrewMax with the TRD Off-Road package stickers on the bed.

There's a pause, a wry smile and the response: "It's the new Tundra."

"Yeah, but does that make it the third-generation one?"

Another pause. "It's the new Tundra." We can almost hear the "Trademark R" in his voice as he repeats himself.

We're asking because from certain angles, and especially from the point of view of many technical specifications, it's hard to tell if the 2014 edition of Toyota's full-size truck is all-new or not. It's recognizable as a Tundra across the parking lot, but at this distance the differences are hard to pinpoint. All we can say is it looks tougher, more chiseled.

New Suit of Clothes
A closer look reveals the forward edge of the hood has been hiked up some 1.5 inches. Enlarged headlights melt into the fender along a straighter arc. The more-prominent grille has expanded in all directions, and a handsome new modular three-piece front bumper underlines it all.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Chief Engineer Mike Sweers tells us he wanted to counter the impression that the Tundra was too "rounded and bubbly" by going to a more traditional squared-off truck look.

The wheel openings have been flattened on top, looking more like the crown of a mushroom than the perfect arc made by a draftsman's compass. Straight creases above suggest boxed fender flares.

But this new 2014 Toyota Tundra looks most different from behind, where more traditional rectangular taillights flank a new tailgate with a spoiler built into its upper lip. All-American red turn signals replace the previous amber ones. And the word "Tundra" is permanently embossed into the metal.

Interior Overhaul
What isn't different at first glance is the cab and door sheet metal. From the outside at least, the bits in the middle appear unchanged. But that's not true once we open the door and climb aboard.

Right away we're relieved to see the "series of tubes" instrument panel has been replaced with a traditional cluster of gauges that are far more handsome and readable. A 3.5-inch color display sits among them, though the level of information it can reveal isn't as detailed as the competition's recent efforts.

2014 Toyota Tundra

The heroic reach to the Tundra's radio and climate knobs has been remedied by sliding the whole center stack a full 2.6 inches closer to the driver. It's centered now; last year's odd asymmetrical cockpit theme has been scrapped for something far more attractive and functional.

Structurally, the cab has been beefed up in ways that aren't visible, and larger side airbags have been fitted to the front seats, which are just as comfortable and supportive as ever. There's a bit more downward seat travel, and our resident tall guy reports the driving position feels better in the seat's lowermost position.

Ranch Dressing
There are now five grades of the 2014 Toyota Tundra if you include the SR, which almost doesn't count unless you're a contractor looking for a pure work truck.

Most of us will be looking at the SR5, with cloth seats and a standard bench; the Limited, with 20-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, heated leather buckets and navigation; or the Platinum, with more sumptuous pleated leather, ventilated front seats and a JBL premium audio system.

New for this year is the 1794 Edition, Toyota's entry into the cowboy-themed luxury truck market alongside Ford's King Ranch, Ram's Longhorn and Chevrolet's upcoming High Country. The name refers to the founding date of the JLC ranch, a fraction of which was bulldozed to build the San Antonio plant in which all Tundras are made.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Like its competition, the 1794 is only available as a crew cab, the one that 60 percent of Tundra buyers choose anyway. Also like the others, the environment is that of a saddle shop, featuring rawhide and leather accents dyed for that natural look.

All of the new Tundra interiors are a clear step forward, though the carpet comes across as disappointingly thin if we peel back the mats. And we're not sure the rubber-carpet hybrid floor mats of the 1794 Edition are upmarket enough, even if they do have bullet-themed rivets.

Familiar Chassis
Underneath, the 2014 Toyota Tundra's chassis remains largely unchanged. The most significant development is the elimination of the 126.8-inch-wheelbase model and the regular cab/standard bed setup that rode on it.

Few changes have been made to the suspension apart from a bit of shock absorber fine-tuning and other tweaks. The ride is smooth and secure, but the rear suspension still makes itself known when bumps and lumps enter the mix. The effect may well be more subtle than before when it cost the Tundra the win in our last four-way truck comparison test. We won't know for certain until we drive one on our test loop back home.

2014 Toyota Tundra

The steering remains hydraulically assisted. We'd like to say that automatically makes it better than the Big Three's electrically assisted systems, but it's a close-run thing. Truck EPS systems have improved of late (except for the F-150, which has backslid), and the new Tundra's steering, while pleasingly accurate in corners, feels a bit thick in the middle.

New 18-inch Michelin LTX AT2 tires have been rolled out for the popular TRD Off-Road package, replacing last year's BFGoodrich rubber. Heavy overnight rains and the knowledge that someone else will wash this truck allow us to conclude these new shoes provide excellent off-road grip in gooey mud.

Familiar Powertrains
Little has changed under the hood, where the same three engines carry over along with their smooth and well-calibrated six-speed transmissions. None of them has made the switch to direct injection, but they do benefit from independently variable intake and exhaust valve timing.

The entry-level 4.0-liter V6 remains just that. It's available only in the two-wheel-drive work truck. Toyota engineers have not jumped on the fortified V6 bandwagon just yet because they don't think enough customers have bought into the concept.

And so the Tundra's base engine is essentially the 4.6-liter V8, which makes 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque. Introduced in 2010, it's still quite new and is very smooth and capable. Sounds tough when we open it up, too.

The stellar 5.7-liter iForce V8 returns intact with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. It's just as powerful and drivable as ever, and there's little reason to expect the 2014 Tundra won't match the 6.9-second 0-60-mph run we recorded in 2009. It comes standard in the Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition.

The big risk associated with standing pat on the powertrain front is fuel economy. The competition has introduced a flurry of new engines and transmissions, and their ratings have surged ahead.

Toyota's 5.7-liter V8 is good for 15 mpg combined. But on a similar EPA combined basis, GM's direct-injected 5.3-liter V8 serves up 19 mpg, Ford's EcoBoost turbo V6 delivers 18 mpg and the Ram 5.7-liter Hemi with its new eight-speed is rated at 17 mpg.

Better Numbers?
Chief Engineer Mike Sweers isn't yet convinced of the long-term durability of these approaches. He also says the Tundra's calibration can deliver in the real world, not just the EPA test dyno. "Under-promise, over-deliver" is how he summarizes it.

Meanwhile, the Big Three play games with axle ratios, usually offering three choices. The lowest serves up the advertised fuel economy while the highest delivers the maximum tow rating. You must choose accordingly when you buy, and it can be tricky to determine the performance of a given truck on the lot.

2014 Toyota Tundra

Toyota avoids this by pairing each engine with a single axle ratio. Any 2014 Tundra equipped with the 4.6-liter V8 can tow between 6,400 and 6,800 pounds depending on cab (double or crew) and drive (4x2 or 4x4) configuration. This year all 5.7-liter Tundras come with the Tow package, so any 4x4 can tow at least 9,500 pounds and any 4x2 can tow 10,000 pounds.

And Toyota is the only manufacturer that uses the SAE J2807 tow rating procedure that all parties created together. This methodology creates a lower-appearing yet more realistic tow rating, but the Big Three have retreated behind their own secret internal procedures in the interest of maximum marketing flexibility.

Pricing on the 2014 Toyota Tundra has not yet been announced, even though production starts in August and 2014 Tundras will hit showrooms in September.

The lack of wholesale mechanical changes leads us to believe base prices won't move much, even though a newer generation of the Toyota Entune infotainment system has been rolled into the mix. A 5.7-liter CrewMax SR5 4x4 like ours will probably start at $36,500.

But the price of the 1794 Edition is anyone's guess and all-new options like blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and an integrated trailer brake controller will likely push the ultimate fully loaded Tundra price higher than ever.

Eventually we find someone who will confirm that the 2014 Toyota Tundra does indeed represent the dawn of the third generation of Toyota's full-size pickup. The revised sheet metal and revamped interior are welcome sights indeed, and the outright performance of the carryover 5.7-liter V8 does not disappoint.

But we wonder how that lack of progress on the fuel economy front (perceived or otherwise) will get shoppers into dealerships. A typical truck generation lasts six or seven years, and that's a long time to wait for the needle to move. Something big has got to drop in the next year or so.

Or at least we hope so.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.



  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    Indeed, heaven forbid we should allow Toyota to employ American's to build a produc to sell to Americans. I suspect that Toyota will eventually address the fuel mileage thing via a new transmission. They will likely also make sure that the sales people point out the tow ratings of the higher mileage versions of the competitors vs that of the Tundra. I imagine most buyers are smart enough to figure it out.

  • lvgti lvgti Posts:

    I prefer amber turn signals on the front and BACK of all cars and trucks. The rear turn signals should NOT be a function of the brake lights.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Oh goodness, this is what happens when you give children access to computers. This seems like a decent update, especially the interior. I really do give Toyota respect for going with the standardized tow ratings, but as lvgti said, sad about a red turn signal. Its just easier to recognize a flashing amber light as a turn signal.

  • gcsads1 gcsads1 Posts:

    rope2, your racism is showing. I'm sure all the Americans in Texas that build the Tundra would disagree with you about the quality of the product they build. I don't see how all those Americans employed to build the vehicle, as well as, all the Americans that deliver, sell, and maintain these Tundras is hurting the economy. I guess they mail order everything they buy in from Japan. You have the freedom to choose and buy an American truck. Just be thankful for that.

  • tourian tourian Posts:

    I don't like rope2's style of getting his point across, but he does have a point. The only reason Toyota builds Tundras here is because they took tax credits from Texas and Alabama to build the vehicles and their engines in Southern right to work states. How ironic it would have been if this vehicle had been a huge success? We pay a company to come here that otherwise WILL NOT let an American company build a factory on their soil? How crazy is that? I am glad this truck has failed. Long live the D3.

  • jdmjunky jdmjunky Posts:

    The cost to build in Japan is too high to justify. Japan also can't used trucks of this size in that state so it's pointless. As for fair, there is the chicken tax that was enacted to prevent other countries from selling diesel vehicles in the US without a high premium. You can google "Chicken tax" for more info.

  • gcsads1 gcsads1 Posts:

    I am not a liberal. I'm not trying to stir up [non-permissible content removed] because it is the only response I have. I apologize for calling you racist. It was uncalled for. You are upset because we had a war with them and now they won't buy our products? jdmjunky has a point, they can't use giant american sized trucks in Japan. I doubt they use the Tundra much over there. Why build something there that they can only sell over here. Just because we can't sell them our trucks doesn't mean you have to speak so negatively about the quality of the truck they sell. Again, the Americans in Texas are proud of what they build and don't appreciate you slamming the product they build.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    Buyers will decide what they want in a truck, and vote with their $$$. Toyota shines in the smaller (Tacoma) pickup size, but Americans like big American trucks, and competition pushes innovation. Al of the American-brand trucks are very good (is Ram still considered American?). There is plenty of room in the market for full-size Toyotas for those that want them. I see no real threat to the F150 being king of sales.

  • xprojected_ xprojected_ Posts:

    Well, somebody forgot to take their meds today.. what you may not have realized is that the Tundra has the most US-made content of any truck in America, 75%, tied with the F-150. Search for "NHTSA AALA". The engine, transmission, and final assembly are all done here. Number two? The Honda Ridgeline, with 70% US content. So check your preconceived notions at the door, and be grateful for the jobs these companies create. And if you think the Tundra is a threat to Ford, Chevy, or Ram truck sales, no, not even close.

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    Looks like a Ford

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    So as you whine about these trucks made in the USA, why aren't you whining about GM/Chevy and Dodge being made in Mexico??? Because you are to ignorant of the facts regarding who makes what and where??

  • themandarin themandarin Posts:

    Great TuRD package

  • fortstring fortstring Posts:

    I find it highly peculiar and contradictory that the same idiots who champion American capitalism and decry government intervention also shout in CAPS for government tariffs and market protectionism. It's the same crowd that calls anything remotely in line with the rest of the civilized world "socialist" and "fascist" within the same breath. Talk about ideologues that completely lack a basic education in economics, let alone any type of schooling whatsoever.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    I would not put too much faith in the EPA gas mileage of the Fords, Chevy's and Dodges being so much better than the Toyota when it comes to the real world. For years the big three have been massaging their vehicles to do well in the EPA tests to the detriment of part-throttle driveability. As a result you end up nailing them more and using roughly the same amount of gas as most other 5000lb+ vehicles. Physics trumps the EPA and advertising every time.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @rope The scandal is not that Toyota and Nissan build trucks here, it is that they can build a high quality product and do it profitably where Ford, GM and Chrysler cannot. The US companies have been unwilling to grasp the nettle of their costs in the US

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Make that "...Nissan and HONDA.." in my last comment.

  • reminder reminder Posts:

    I find it amazing the kind of money dealers get for both the Tundra & especially the Tacoma. Even a 5-year-old Tacoma commands significant $. Looks & style are important to many people, but if you truly need a truck to haul equipment or tow a trailer you really can't go wrong anymore. Competition has pushed all manufactures to keep pace or pack it in. The technology in 6 cylinder engines alone has improved by leaps & bounds. Owning a 6 isn't as big a compromise as it used to be.

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    why do you have posts that you can't read?

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    Again GM and Chrysler build Trucks in Mexico, so why aren't you whining about that. The whole BS of profit going to japan is just BS GM and Chrysler profit goes to top execs that's how they got in trouble in the first place, no money in the bank for rainy days. I will take a product that keeps Americans working any day over worrying about where profits go. As you would see if you are able GM and Chrysler put much of their profits in their own pockets or in offshore manufacturing.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    @joe_scuba The invisible comments thing for certain articles like the Silverado introduction and the Prius wrap-up has been going on for some time. I'm sure I am not the only person to raise a squawk with the editors but nothing has been done to fix it.

  • novadavidc novadavidc Posts:

    I'm not shopping pickup trucks but I am in the market for a new car. I appreciate that you noted Toyota's strange decision to switch from amber to red rear turn signals. This ill-advised and literally dangerous fashion trend among auto manufacturers in the US is greatly restricting my choice of new vehicles. I won't buy a car with red rear turn signals, as they are obviously less safe than amber ones. Otherwise, a nice review of a truck.

  • calid calid Posts:

    For those upset about foreign car companies building cars on American soil, you should read the Edmunds article on how to buy an American car. It is an interesting read and shows the real world reality of world economics and car manufacturing. The American car you have may not have been manufactured here at all.

  • alex38 alex38 Posts:

    i liked the previous tundra personally. they've cheapened the look to match the new Camry and that extra bling-esque chrome above the grill looks out of place. I expect to be overwhelmed by Toyota these days so this is par for the course..

  • Toyota raises the white flag on the fullsize truck market. A little less ugly but still an eyesore. Wonder it the bed still bounces and if you can use the tailgate for load platform on this restyle. Ironic that Toyota has the worst gas mileage beside the other JapanInc entry the even worse Titan. The Tundra was a well known gas pig before the Detroit 3 substantially upped their game. One pundit a couple of years ago put it best, "buying Tundra is like going to France or Italy and ordering Chinese room service food". Today's Ford, Ram and GM trucks are truly marvels that Americans should be proud of and the Tundra and Titan are truly also rans

  • 4th rate truck

  • ashron ashron Posts:

    I just purchased a 2014 Tundra Limited. (My 4th Tundra). The primary reason I purchased a Tundra over the big three was Reliability! That said, there are a few disappointing things with the 2014 Tundra. 1. The power steering has absolutely no "On-Center" feel to it. Its easy to meander out of a lane at freeway speeds when taking your eyes off the road to look at the Nav, operate the radio, etc. It gets worse in winding roads since there is no feedback from the steering, making it easy to exceed the truck's limits and lose control. I am not saying it's unsafe. just that one has to pay extra attention! I thought this was one of the major issues Toyota was going to improve on, with the new 2014 Tundra. 2. The Nav default screen is split into either 2 or 3 sections. (Nav, Radio and Favorite Contacts) You can select all 3 or Nav + one of the other two. But there is no option for setting the default screen to "Nav Only". (The most common setup most people use). 3. Wind and cabin noise. My 2007 SR5 Tundra with 120,00+ miles on it rides quieter than my new 2014 Tundra Limited. At freeway speeds there is a constant hum from the engine, wind noise (and probably some tire noise). Disappointing for a "Limited" version. Wish List: 1. There are no handles to grab when getting in on the driver's side. I find this "Cheap!" There is an $800 or so option for "Step Bumpers" which I find un-practical. Charge me and extra few bucks and put 2 grab handles on each side! (One on the A-pillar and the other above the window) 2. Dual visors. My 2003 and 2005 Tundra (and my current 2010 Lexus LX-570) have dual visors. A minor extra cost that make a huge difference. I think it should be mandatory for all cars to have them. But especially larger vehicles like pickup trucks. 3. The steering wheel is too thick (except the top portion, which is thinner) 4. There is no "Change" compartment. Add one. 5. The center console should have a small compartment at it's top portion for small items. All you have is one large compartment. Observations/Concerns: When I picked up the car from the dealer, it had a full tank of gas. The trip computer stated I had 420 miles to empty (or so). My 2007 Tundra SR5 with the 5.7 liter engine had a realistic range of about 260-280 miles. (I couldn't make it from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single tank, and its about 310 miles). If the new Tundra has the same engine, transmission and fuel tank size, are 420 miles on a tank realistic? (24.6 Gal tank x 15 miles/gal = 369 miles) I appreciate the "Distance to Empty" information, but make it realistic! I noticed that the 2014 Tundra felt less "Torquey" (I hope that's how you spell it) when starting from a stop compared to my 2007 Tundra. I know both have the same engine and transmission. Did the calibration change to allow for better fuel economy? (Not a big deal, just something I noticed) Bottom line - Overall the truck is very nice. As to the issues above, I wish Toyota would have addressed them in their updated truck. That said, no truck is perfect and I will still trust Toyota over the big 3 any time.

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