2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive: Introduction
When Toyota introduced the revised second generation Tundra full-size pickup truck at the Chicago Auto Show in 2006, a lot of eyebrows went up. With its brutally muscular styling, brawny V8 engine, broad array of cab configurations, and bevy of bed lengths the 2007 Toyota Tundra signaled to the auto industry Japan was about to get very serious about pickup trucks.
Though the full-size Nissan Titan had preceded the full-size Tundra to market in 2003, Toyota’s status as the industry juggernaut attracted attention in a way the Nissan offering did not. And indeed, in the ensuing years Tundra has handily outsold Titan.
Moving into the third generation of the model, Toyota has refined an already high functioning product to improve its appeal across a number of areas. For 2014, Tundra gets all-new styling, a completely renovated interior treatment, and a host of technological solutions calculated to make the model both more comfortable and more luxurious.
2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive: Main Changes
The most evident change is Toyota’s Newport Beach, California-based styling team’s new, more chiseled look. Tundra now sports a huge grille treatment, slightly flared fenders and a broader shoulder line. The sides of the Toyota pickup offer more detail to capture both the eye and light—implying a renewed sense of strength and solidity. At the rear, the tailgate is wider and has a more chiseled appearance. Additionally, the Tundra logo is embossed into the tailgate. The overall effect of all of these changes is the projection of a sense of immense solidity.
Inside, the 2014 Tundra has a host of comfort and convenience enhancements. And, as you’d expect, these get more and more impressive as you move up through the trim packages offered. For 2014, Tundra is offered in five states of trim; SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and the top of the line ultra-luxurious Tundra 1794 Edition.
Regardless of the trim level chosen, the 2014 Tundra’s interior treatment benefits from a look of superior craftsmanship. The radio and climate systems feature large knobs to make them easier to operate, even when wearing gloves. The center stack has been moved closer to the driver for more ready accessibility of secondary controls and the backup camera has been made a standard feature to better facilitate trailer hookups.
Perhaps the biggest news is the launch of the Tundra 1794 Edition. Featuring the same grade of leather upholstery offered in the Lexus LS, the 1794 Tundra is Toyota’s assault on the ultra high-end pickup market. The 1794 features saddle colored leather with suede trim, the highest end audio and climate control systems, chrome for the grille surround and end caps, polished alloy wheels and of course—very prominent “1794” badging. The moniker is taken from the date the JLC ranch was founded, whose land upon which the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas facility sits.
Toyota’s Entune has been declared a brand for the 2014 model year to incorporate all of its infotainment systems. Additionally, Entune still refers to the suite of smartphone-enabled news, entertainment, and information apps it incorporates. Models with the rear seat option are set up so the rear seat bottom folds upward to provide more interior cargo capacity. Speaking of seating, the ventilated seat option has been revised so air is drawn through the seat back rather than forced from within it. Toyota’s reps say this cools the seats’ occupants more effectively.
On the mechanical front, the suspension system has been revised to produce a smoother ride, more stability and better tracking. On the innovation front, the Tundra’s rear bumper is now a three-piece modular design to make replacing it less costly.
2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive: Cab Configurations/Bed Lengths
As we mentioned before, five states of trim are offered for the 2014 Toyota Tundra; SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and the 1794 Edition.
Tundra SR is the “work truck” solution and the only trim level offered with a traditional regular cab. An eight-foot bed is the only offering for the regular cab SR model. When the SR Tundra is configured with a double cab, there is a choice of either the 6.5-foot standard bed or the 8.1-foot long bed.
Tundra SR5 can be had with either the double cab, or the four-door CrewMax cab. As with the SR, The double cab comes with a choice of either the 6.5-foot standard bed or the 8.1-foot long bed. SR5 CrewMax defaults to the 5.5-foot short bed. Tundra Limited’s cab and bed offerings match that of the Tundra SR5.
Tundra Platinum and 1794 Edition are CrewMax-only and as such are fitted with the 5.5-foot short bed.
2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive: Engines/Fuel Economy/Towing Capacities
Three engines are offered to power Tundra for the 2014 model year. The base engine, the 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6, is fitted to rear-drive regular and double cab SR models only. A five-speed automatic transmission conducts engine output to the drive wheels. Fuel economy is estimated at 16 mpg in the city, 20 on the highway, and 17 combined.
The upgrade from the 4.0-liter V6 is the 310-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8. Capable of generating 327 ft-lbs of torque, the 4.6 can be had with double cab SR and SR5 models, as well as the CrewMax SR5 in both rear-drive and four-wheel drive configurations. Rear-drive fuel economy is rated at 15 mpg in the city, 19 on the highway and 16 combined. With four-wheel drive, fuel economy is rated at 14 mpg in the city, 18 on the highway, and 16 combined.
The “big” engine is the 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8, with 401 ft-lbs. of torque. The 5.7 is offered with each iteration of the Tundra. In rear-drive configurations the 5.7 is expected to return 13 miles per gallon in the city, 18 on the highway and 15 combined. With four-wheel drive, the EPA says you can expect 13 in the city, 17 on the highway, and 15 combined.
Both the 4.6-liter V8 and the 5.7-liter V8 are mated to Toyota’s six-speed automatic transmission. When properly equipped, the 5.7 will tow upwards of 10,000 pounds. The 4.6-liter is good for a maximum of 6,800, while the 4.0-liter V6 is maxed at 4,500 pounds.
2014 Toyota Tundra First Drive: Driving Impressions
We spent some time both on the road and off road in Limited and 1794 Editions (on pavement only). The Tundra drives considerably smaller than it is. The steering offers good feel (hydraulic) and is remarkably accurate. The pains Toyota’s engineering team undertook to improve the straight-line accuracy and stability of the big pickup is readily apparent.
The only engine we tried was the 5.7-liter V8 and as you might well imagine it was perfectly suited to the task of motivating Toyota’s largest ever truck offering. Power delivery was smooth, seamless, and it felt as if its torque was being summoned from a bottomless well. This thing loves to pull, and pull hard.
The extreme luxe of the 1794 Edition Tundra, while seemingly more suited to a Lexus model than a pick up truck; nonetheless makes for highly inviting ambiance. The color scheme offered, reminiscent of saddles and other ranching paraphernalia, both fits the character of the truck and is also quite pleasing to the eye. We do wonder how it will age should a prospective owner choose to employ a 1794 Edition Tundra as a “work truck”.
Be that as it may, one of the quietest pickup trucks we’ve ever experienced, the 2014 Toyota Tundra raises the noise vibration and harshness expectations bar considerably. The new Tundra is a very comfortable, and a very capable pickup truck. Further, it is offered in just enough configurations to make ordering one a relatively simple process, while still meeting the needs of pretty much every full-size pickup intender.