Toyota Enters the Large Truck MarketSince the introduction of the T-100 in 1993, Toyota has gone through the same ongoing process of querying its customers. The switch to a larger Tundra in 2000 was a result of customers telling Toyota that they wanted more room, more hauling capacity and more power.
Toyota took its philosophy to a new level when it began designing the all new 2007 Tundra. The manufacturer sent teams out across the United States to talk with and observe people who use their trucks every day, and immediately saw that many pickup trucks are as much offices as they are hauling vehicles. Building organizational capabilities into the truck was a start, like a console that holds files and a laptop, but a look at the new Tundra makes it obvious that Toyota went a lot farther with customer requests.
First Look at the 2007 TundraAwhile back I had a chance to spend a day in a new Tundra. The first thing that struck me was the truck's larger size. The big grille and swollen, rounded front fenders definitely give the Tundra a powerful look. Glance at the front and you'll notice a thin grill "opening" just below the hood line -- a component Toyota designers added as a tribute to the grille on the old FJ40 Land Cruisers. It's not functional, but it does improve the truck's front end appearance by breaking up the lines of the wide grille surround.
Tundra Cab ConfigurationsRegardless of which truck cab or bed configuration you're looking at, the Tundra's side view resembles the 2004 Toyota FTX concept truck with its rounded cab lines and large bubbled fenders in the front and rear.
Open the door on the Regular Cab Tundra and you'll notice a large storage area behind the seat; for reference, a 5 gallon paint bucket easily fits back there. Designers made the area more useful by adding a flat plastic tray to keep cargo level.
The Tundra Access Cab is gone, replaced by a Double Cab truck with forward opening doors and about 6" more legroom in the rear seats than the old Access Cab.
The real standout in the Tundra lineup is the all new CrewMax. I sat in the front seat of the CrewMax and adjusted the seat as I normally would (I'm 6'1"). Then I moved to the rear seat on the driver's side, which is adjustable and also reclines, and slid it back to a good spot. With both seats comfortably in place there was still enough room to put a full size suitcase behind the rear seat.
Tundra Bed and TailgateAll Tundra beds are 50" wide between the wheel wells. The Regular Cab and Double Cab are available with either a 78.7" short bed or a 97.6" long bed. The CrewMax is only offered with a 66.7" bed.
One standout feature on the 2007 Tundra is the gas charged tailgate assist strut, which is hidden behind the left taillight and serves three purposes:
- It eases the tailgate -- let go of the tailgate and it won't slam down.
- It helps you close the tailgate by lifting the majority of the tailgate's weight.
- It holds light pressure on the tailgate when the gate is down without a heavy load on it, reducing rattle and bounce.
A handy camera in the tailgate handle helps you hook onto a trailer.
Tundra EnginesI've heard rumblings about the Tundra's engines for awhile, but no one had any real facts. Now we know there are three engine choices:
- A 4.0 liter V6 with 236 hp and 266 lb/ft torque; available in the 2WD Regular Cab and 2WD Double Cab Tundra.
- A 4.7 liter V8 with 271 hp and 313 lb/ft torque; available in all models.
- A new 5.7 liter V8 with 381 hp and 401 lb/ft of torque; available in all Tundras.
The smaller of the two engines come with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The 5.7 liter is equipped with a new 6-speed automatic.
Behind the Wheel of the 2007 TundraThe Tundra truck I drove was a 4x4 CrewMax equipped with the 5.7 V8 and 6-speed automatic transmission. I've always felt that Toyota's engines were reliable, with pretty good torque, but somewhat weak on acceleration -- not any more. When easing away from a stop sign, picking up speed on an interstate ramp or putting it to the floor to pass, the engine responded quickly and smoothly.
During part of the day I was out on a rural two-lane road with no other traffic nearby. I stopped at a stop sign and then accelerated normally up to about 15 miles per hour. At that point I put the accelerator to the floor -- it must have been a leg cramp -- the truck accelerated so strongly that, if it had not had traction control, I think it would have spun a rear wheel.
I haven't seen Tundra pricing yet, but with the fuel mileage estimates being nearly the same for the 4.7 liter and the 5.7 liter V8, in the range of 15 to 20 mpg, there would have to be a big price difference for me not to choose the 5.7 liter.
When it's equipped with the tow package, that Tundra can tow from 10,100 pounds up to 10,800 pounds, with the variation dependent on the bed and cab configuration and whether the truck is a 2WD or 4WD version. Those are impressive numbers for a truck half-ton category.
I drove the CrewMax with a 7,700 pound trailer hooked to it. The transmission has a towing mode that works great, but the truck pulled the trailer fine in normal drive on the relatively flat roads I drove on. The extra help would be useful in the mountainous terrain around my house.
I'm anxious to spend more time behind the wheel of a new Tundra, and to hear what other drivers think of it. We won't have to wait long, because trucks are arriving in dealer showrooms right now.