What it Is
Why it Matters
Toyota is finally tackling the big truck stalwarts in the class, and with the Tundra CrewMax is able to outsize Dodge’s Ram MegaCab. Towing is also critical, and Toyota says that independent testing found that, under load, the Tundra accelerated to 60 mph two seconds faster than the competitors with an 8,500-pound trailer in tow. Maximum towing for the Tundra regular cab equipped with the biggest engine and the optional tow package is an impressive 10,800 pounds. Size and towing capacity are critical if Toyota expects to meet its sales goal of 200,000 Texas-built Tundras annually.
What’s Under the Hood
Because of its hulking size, the 2007 Toyota Tundra CrewMax is equipped with a standard 4.7-liter V8 making 271 horsepower. We predict that most will come equipped with the optional 5.7-liter V8 which has 381 hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. Not only does the 5.7-liter engine crank out massive motive force, it squeaks out 16 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway with 2WD (14/18 with 4WD). A six-speed automatic and a standard 10.5-inch rear differential get the power to the ground, and the Tundra is equipped with standard 18-inch wheels so that the biggest brakes in the class can be fitted. Toyota also announced that an ethanol-capable V8 is due for the 2009 Tundra.
What it Looks Like
Toyota says the Tundra is a “300 yards design.” That means, from a distance, the Tundra’s bold appearance conveys a unique and distinctive “read.” This is a great looking truck, better viewed up close and personal than in photos. In CrewMax form, the Tundra does a better job than the similar-sized Dodge Ram MegaCab at hiding its extra length.
If Samuel L. Jackson peered inside the Tundra CrewMax, he’d likely exclaim: “This is a big mutha____ing truck!” Indeed, it is. There’s plenty of space for five occupants, and outboard rear seat passengers can slide the seat bottoms forward and recline their seatbacks for cruising in comfort. Other goodies inside the Tundra include an available reversing camera that also helps to line the hitch ball under a trailer tongue, power outlets that remain live for two hours after the engine is shut off, and a center console big enough for a laptop or hanging file folders. Side curtain airbags with roll sensing come standard, and every Tundra has Toyota’s five-star safety system of ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, and stability control.
What Toyota Says
“In a dramatic change from convention,” explained executive VP Jim Lentz during the Tundra CrewMax’s introduction in Detroit, “the entire engineering development program was headquartered right down the road in Ann Arbor. Styling was done at our Calty Design Center in California and Michigan. Engines will be built in Alabama, and transmissions in North Carolina, with final assembly at production facilities in Texas and Indiana.”
What We Think
The all-American hard sell is gonna be critical to the Tundra’s success. As Nissan discovered with the Titan, it’s not simply good enough to copy the best-seller and build it on U.S. soil. Fortunately for Toyota, the Tundra does what Chrysler, Ford and GM usually forget when the time comes to redesign a vehicle: it takes the best in the class, and then exceeds the standard to ensure long-term appeal and viability. By all indications, this is a terrific truck. Ironically, only the Toyota brand name could keep this thing from becoming a runaway success.