When it originally debuted near the start of the new millennium, the Toyota Tundra was the first import-branded full-size pickup truck to go head to head with the full-size trucks from Dodge, Ford and General Motors. In the Tundra's favor were a refined V8 engine and Toyota's reputation for reliability and durability. This Tundra, however, ultimately found more of an audience with recreational pickup buyers than with hard-core users.
Second-generation Tundras, however, are significantly bigger and more capable. As an American-built truck with true full-size proportions, the second-generation Tundra features three cab sizes, three bed lengths and a choice of two V8 engines. In pretty much every measure, the Toyota Tundra stands equal to competing light-duty pickups.
Current Toyota Tundra
Toyota offers the Tundra in six trim levels — SR, SR5, TRD Pro, Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition — though not all cab/bed combinations are available with all trim levels. The entry-level SR is a fairly basic truck, though it includes features like air-conditioning, power accessories and an integrated trailer brake controller. A Work Truck package replaces the cloth upholstery and carpets with vinyl and deletes the power locks and windows. Non-commercial buyers will want to start with the SR5, which gets more chrome trim, intermittent wipers and an upgraded stereo. The TRD Pro adds power-adjustable bucket seats and a tilt-and-telescope wheel (both part of an upgrade package for the SR5), along with an off-road suspension, rugged tires, an upgraded stereo with navigation and TRD-trimmed leather upholstery. Limited models dispense with the TRD's off-road hardware and model-specific trim, but add dual-zone climate control and an upgraded stereo. The Platinum provides 20-inch wheels, power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, heated and cooled seats, and a premium audio system. The 1794 Edition gets unique interior trim along with the Limited's creature comforts. The TRD Pro's beefed-up suspension, tow hooks and skid plates can be added to SR5, Limited and 1974 Edition models as part of a TRD Off-Road package. Other options include towing mirrors and running boards.
The full-size Toyota Tundra comes in regular-cab, Double Cab and CrewMax body styles. The Double Cab is essentially a large extended cab with four forward-hinged doors, while the CrewMax is an extra-large crew cab. Available bed lengths for the regular cab and Double Cabs include both a 6.5-foot and an 8-foot bed, while the CrewMax comes with only a 5.5-foot bed.
The base Tundra engine is a 4.6-liter V8 that puts out 310 horses and 327 lb-ft of torque. A 5.7-liter V8 cranking out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft is standard on regular-cab models as well as the TRD Pro, Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition and optional on the SR5. Both V8s feature six-speed automatic transmissions and are offered with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
In addition to its strong engines, the Toyota Tundra stands out thanks to its passenger-friendly cabins. The extended Double Cab features traditional front-hinged doors, making day-to-day usability easier than Chevy and Ford trucks with the more traditional reverse-opening access doors. The Tundra CrewMax, meanwhile, is truly enormous, featuring excellent legroom and a rear seat that not only slides but reclines as well. Feature highlights include a standard rearview camera and available smartphone integration.
There are some downsides, however, including a sometimes jiggly ride quality, below-average fuel economy and driving characteristics than can make it feel bigger than it really is. But the latest Tundra continues to be one tough truck that certainly meets the needs of today's buyers.
Used Toyota Tundra Models
The current Toyota Tundra represents the second generation, which debuted for the 2007 model year. There have been several changes to note if you're looking for a used Tundra. Models from 2007 to 2009 with the smaller V8 had a 4.7-liter engine good for 271 hp; it was replaced by the 310-hp 4.6-liter V8 in 2010. That year also brought new trim levels as well as minor cosmetic tweaks and the addition of front-seat knee airbags. Tundras from 2007 to 2014 were offered with a 4.0-liter V6 engine that made 236 hp initially and was upgraded to 270 hp for the 2011 model year.
Toyota made the first major update to the Tundra in 2014, with refreshed styling inside and out and new safety equipment including a standard rearview camera and optional blind-spot monitoring. This was also the year the high-end 1794 Edition was introduced. 2015 brought the TRD Pro model as well as an optional trailer brake controller, which became standard in 2016, the same year that saw mildly updated styling for SR5 and 1794 Edition models and a larger gas tank for higher trim levels. There were no significant changes for 2017.
The previous-generation full-size Toyota Tundra replaced the smaller T100 pickup when it debuted for 2000. Production ran through the 2006 model year. Although it was available with an optional V8 and several configurations, it wasn't large or tough enough to compete with its more traditional rivals when it came time for serious work-site tasks.
Originally, the Tundra was available in regular and extended-cab versions. Regular-cab versions came only in long-bed form, while the extended-cab models (Access Cab) was only equipped with the short bed. The latter did include two rearward-opening doors for easier rear-seat access, but the backseat was cramped for a full-size pickup truck.
There were three trim levels: a sparsely equipped base trim, the midlevel SR5 and the top-line Limited. The base trim was available on two-wheel-drive regular cabs only. A 3.4-liter V6, making 190 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque, was standard on regular-cab Tundras and could be mated to either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission.
Topping the lineup was an available 4.7-liter V8 engine. This smooth-revving powerplant made 245 hp and 315 lb-ft of torque and was available with a four-speed automatic transmission only.
Toyota expanded the Tundra's lineup in 2003 to include an available sporty new StepSide cargo bed for V8-powered Access Cabs. All Tundras received freshened front-end styling that year, as well as standard antilock brakes and an upgraded center console. A power sliding rear window was also added to Limited models.
The big news for 2004 was the arrival of the Double Cab, a crew-cab version of the Tundra. Riding on an extended wheelbase and featuring a roomier cabin and a cargo bed equal in length to the Access Cab's, the Double Cab added some much-needed variety to the Tundra's lineup, providing a viable option for family-minded truck buyers.
Prospective used Toyota Tundra buyers who plan on doing a lot of hauling or towing should probably focus on 2005 or newer models, as Toyota enhanced the powertrains that year. A new 245-hp, 4.0-liter V6 coupled with either a six-speed manual or optional five-speed automatic transmission became standard, and the available 4.7-liter V8 was good for 282 horses and used the new five-speed automatic exclusively.
In reviews of the time, we commented favorably on the Toyota Tundra's smooth and refined V8, easy maneuverability in urban areas and roomy Double Cab configuration. Downsides included a lack of brawn for serious towing and hauling, uncomfortable front seats, a cramped rear seat in Access Cab models and chintzy interior trimmings.