I bought this truck new in 2006. It has an oil leak that was suppose to be fixed under warranty. I never received a notice and the dealer conveniently waited until after the warranty to run out to inform me? I never got it fixed and the leak has not gotten any worse. I have never done anything but change the oil, two front break jobs, replaced the Rack and Pinion boots, they were cracked, changed the plugs twice, had the automatic transmission fluid changed at 100K. . Other than that it has been a stealer pickup. Easy to work on so far and always reliable. I would not trade it for a new one. I pull a 3400 lb. pop up camper with it. Have pulled the pop up with it about 20K with no problems what so ever.
I’ve had my 06’ Tundra Access Cab SR5 4x4 now for a number of years and this 12 year old truck just keeps going and going without issue all the while being driven pretty hard. Keep on top of the basic maintenance and the 2UZ-FE 4.7L v8 will go and go and go. There’s a good reason why Toyota selected the same power plant for the $75,000 Land Cruiser (price at that time): these engines can EASILY exceed 250-300k and are dead nuts reliable.
I swapped the stock suspension for the Old Man Emu suspension kit Slee and Toytec offer for this truck. Stiffer ride with a slight lift but handles better in general, especially with a heavier load. Otherwise it is stock although I will be adding a winch bumper, sliders and some skid plates as part of some overlanding/off-road mods.
Now here’s why I believe the 05-06 1st Gen Tundra is the best Toyota pickup ever made:
- JUST BIG ENOUGH: for 2018 standards, the “full-size” 1st gen Tundra is a mid-size pickup. It’s about the same size as the latest gen Taco. Very comfortable on the interior but small enough for tighter trails, parking etc. It’s also relatively light weight. My curb weight is 4,700lbs…a new Taco weighs almost the same.
- 2UZ-FE: Legendary Toyota 4.7l V8 that powers the also legendary 100 Series Land Cruiser. The 05-06 Tundra gains 42HP over the 04’! Plenty of power and low end torque even with running larger tires up to a 33” which is the largest sized tire I would feel comfortable running on a mostly stock IFS. 05-06 also gives you a 5 speed auto tranny vs a 4 speed of the previous years. It’s these reasons I would recommend an 05-06 Tundra.
- POWER: My Tundra Access Cab hits around 4,700lbs and has 270HP and 313 lb ft. of torque with much of that torque available on the low end given that it’s a V8. It runs really, really well and EASILY pulls 75 up I-70 to the Eisenhower, even with a bit of a load. For perspective, a 2018 TRD Pro Taco weighs about the same but only has 265 lb ft. of torque.
- SIMPLE: My 06’ AC has power windows, power locks, AC and cruise control. No crazy electronics that start to show age after 12 years of use. No redundant navigation that my iPhone and/or iPad does a better job of anyway. No unnecessary complications that can fail when out in the mountains or bush. For all intents and purposes, it’s just a TRUCK back when trucks used to be trucks. This also makes it easier to work on if you turn your own wrenches and less expensive to pay someone to repair, if you don’t. The independent front suspension (IFS) is quite easy to work on. Tie rod ends, CV axles, steering rack bushings, etc. are all pretty easy to replace. The engine is fairly simple with exception of the starter location. It’s as if the Toyota engineers picked the worse possible location for the starter. Good news is that I haven't had to replace mine.
- INEXPENSIVE: in the age of $60,000 F150’s (let that sink in for a second)….one can pick up a well-maintained 1st Gen Tundra for 10-20k and it will probably still outlast that sixty thousand dollar 2018 F150…These 2UZ-FE engines routinely hit 300,000 miles with basic maintenance and consume very little oil. It’s a proven engine. The tranny, diffs, etc. are all pretty proven as well as long as you don’t push it by running too big of tires or towing without a transmission cooler or other self-inflicted problems. Seems to be a bit better priced than a Taco of similar vintage, miles, etc. at least in this area (Denver metro) where a used Tacoma .
- COMFORTABLE: we’ve road tripped the Tundra thousands of miles for 10-12 hour days quite comfortably. I would not however, recommend the Access Cab for more than 2 people. A 3 year old in a child seat barely has enough room in the extended cab, speaking from experience. If this is an only vehicle or you need to carry more than 2 people than definitely get the double cab.
- RUGGED: Keep the weight low (within payload limits) and this truck does quite well in rough terrain even considering the non-boxed frame. It is a Toyota truck after-all. I’ve hauled literally tons of firewood without issue. I would not however, make a practice of carrying really heavy loads while driving in rough terrain. Get a Power Wagon if that’s your cup of tea. Also, the stock suspension, even the stock TRD Bilsteins, were somewhat meh. Fortunately there’s lots of options today from the after market. I went with the Old Man Emu kit because it’s simple and proven.
- PROVEN: The 2006 Tundra is the last year of production for the 1st generation. This should translate to getting the best version of the series as Toyota had time to “work out the bugs”. With improvements to the lower ball joint design, exhaust manifold durability, significant increase in HP and extra gearing, the 05 and 06 is definitely worth holding out for if you’re in the market for a 1st gen Tundra.
The SR5 has a particularly poor interior both materials quality and comfort level. The steering wheel is about 1 to 1 and a half inches offset from the center of the seat mostly an annoyance. The CD player was unable to play the disk that I routinely used in my other, old vehicles.The accelerator pedal is way too touch, a hallmark of this age of Toyota, it takes concentration to leave a light smoothly. Between the touchy accelerator and the light rear end it was hard to deal with any slick pavement and it tended to wander on dirt roads. The seat belt retraction lacked a decent return spring, the previous owner was not careful and as a result the belt tang had gouged the door sill multiple times from being caught when the door was closed. The engine is powerful but has a groaning sound, not pleasing at all, more like it is straining. At 10 years old and 40k miles the dealer informed me that it needed a timing belt every 8 years or 100,000 miles and while they are in there they like to replace the water pump since the Japanese engineers put the water pump behind the timing belt. That was a $1200 job. The water pump was leaking at 40,000 miles. My Dakota water pump lasted 120,000 miles and 14 years. When people brag about getting high mileage from these Tundras of this era be aware that according to Toyota you have about $1200 in maintenance for every 100,000 miles. I inherited this vehicle and traded it in within 2 years for GMC pickup.