Nowadays, pickup trucks can be anything from stripped workhorses to ultra-luxurious cruisers. Especially in the full-size segment, trucks now offer the kind of premium functionality and onboard technology once reserved for luxury cars. But then there is the Toyota Tundra.
The last major update to the current Tundra arrived in 2014, but it still uses largely the same mechanical components as when the second-generation truck initially debuted in 2006. For the 2020 model year, the Tundra is available in SR , SR5, Limited, TRD Pro and platinum finishes, with the luxury western-themed 1794 edition positioned at the top of the line. Two- and four-wheel drive options are available and you can choose from Double Cab or CrewMax body models with 8, 6.5 or 5.5 foot beds.
Other truck manufacturers offer a myriad of propulsion options for their full-size offerings; From turbo-fours to diesel sixes to burly V8s, there are plenty of options for buyers. Toyota, meanwhile, offers only two V8s: a 4.6-liter engine with 310 horsepower and 327 pound-foot of torque, and the larger 5.7-liter engine found in my test truck, with 381 horsepower and 401. feet of the pound.
The 5.7-liter V8 is the best thing about the 2020 Tundra. Pull hard off the line and there’s a turbulent exhaust note trailing in your wake. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly and always seems to be in exactly the gear I want.
That said, fuel economy suffers. The 2020 Tundra has EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of 13 miles per gallon of city, 17mpg on the highway, and 14mpg in combination with all-wheel drive, though I actually saw 18mpg during my time with the truck. However, the fuel economy of the Tundra lags behind the, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 with their larger V8 engine options.
Too bad the powertrain is hampered by rough handling. No, I don’t expect a full-size truck to navigate with the same composure as a, but I don’t even expect it to be that heavy. The ride is stiff and hard on a broken pavement, and this thing spins with all the grace of a large ship. If you want a smooth and stable pickup, buy a Ram 1500.
What about the truck stuff? The Tundra can carry a maximum of 1,730 lbs of payload, which is not bad, in any case in the average of the competition. But while GMC and Ram offer tailgate options, the Tundra once again kicks it old school.
When it comes time to tow, the Tundra can haul up to 10,200 pounds in the Double Cab, two-wheel drive configuration with the 5.7-liter V8. That’s more than enough for most truck buyers, but again, behind the big hitters from Chevy, Ford, GMC and Ram. Don’t expect any towing technology other than integrated electronic trailer brakes. The Tundra offers no useful towing aid like Ford’s Pro Trailer Back-Up Assist or the Fantasyfrom GMC Sierra.
Enter and the age of the Tundra becomes painfully obvious. There’s plenty of room here for passengers, but with a dated design, small storage compartments, a center console that doesn’t even open fully, and uncomfortable seats, Toyota’s full-size truck is hard to live with.
At least the in-car technology is getting better, with an 8-inch touchscreen available on Toyota Entune infotainment system. and Android Auto finally join the party for 2020, but the rest of Entune remains as useful as last year’s tomatoes. The native navigation system is clunky, with multiple clicks needed just to enter an address, and the rest of Entune is hard to work with and frustrating to use. The Tundra only offers a single USB port in the entire cabin, though thankfully there are three 12-volt options, so passengers can charge their phones as long as they bring the correct adapter.
That said, the Tundra gets some applause for offering a pretty cool feature, especially if, like me, you’re a terrible record saver. The Tundra has a place to record the date and mileage for common maintenance procedures such as oil changes, tire rotations, etc. It’s not the most glamorous technology, but it’s something.
I absolutely have to give Toyota props to offer its Safety Sense P driving assistance suite on every single Tundra. This means that each truck is equipped with adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking. Unfortunately, this isn’t full-speed adaptive cruise control, which means it doesn’t work in stop-and-go traffic (you know, where you want it most). In addition, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic warning is only available on the top trims.
The 2020 Toyota Tundra starts at $ 33,425 (excluding destination) for a base SR and goes up to $ 48,625 for the luxurious 1794 edition. Me? I’ll take the off-road ready TRD Pro, which starts at $ 48,505, and gets 2-inch lift and Fox shocks for better off-the-beaten-track prowess.
Where the Tundra is strong is the value. Consider this: You can’t get a 2020 Tundra for more than around $ 55,000, but a fully loaded Ram 1500 Limited will hit $ 70,000 if you’re not careful. Sure, Aries is better at everything, so you might consider it money well spent.
At the end of the day, I can see the need for a Tundra if you need a no-nonsense work truck with a powerful V8 engine. But as a daily driver, the best players in the segment from Chevy, Ford, GMC and Ram will continue to lead the pack.