2014 Toyota Tundra: First Driving Impression
Meet the 3rd Generation full-size truck; a fresh face with interior and electronic changes to make work easier and more comfortable
By Bruce W. Smith
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Toyota’s truck design team must have taken Thomas Bertram’s 1977 quote to heart when they sat down to plan out a major refresh of the Tundra for the 2014 model.
At least that’s my impression after spending a day driving several different models of the third generation of Toyota’s full-size pickup around the western Pennsylvania countryside.
From the outside the “new” Tundra exhibits a sharper, edgier body line with a very Ford Super Duty-esque front and GM-like bed that give the 2014 Toy a visually tougher, more traditional pickup styling.
There are some interior changes as well on the 2014 that bring more roominess and creature comforts than were found on the 2013.
Among those are a more softer quality of the trim, and a new console and instrument cluster design that makes seeing the gauges and adjusting controls a bit more user-friendly than they were in the previous model.
Of course Toyota is following the automotive trend of maximizing driver and passenger connectivity to the digital world through new audio systems.
From the passenger and cargo carrying perspective, the new Double Cab and CrewMax Tundras finally have a rear seat with a bottom that flips up to provide much better cargo space. (The 2nd Generation Tundra came with a fold-down seat back.)
For those who are eyeing a 2014 as a tow vehicle, nothing changes: the Tundra can tow every bit a good as it’s 1/2-ton rivals. Maybe even a little better.
Its maximum towing capacity without a weight-distributing hitch is still 5,000 pounds while the use of a weight-distributing hitch maxes out at 10,500-pound trailer with a 4×2 equipped with the 5.7L V8. Certain 4×4 Tundras with the 5.7L can tow up to 9,000 pounds, again only when using a WD hitch. The 4.6L V8 pickups are rated about 3,000 pounds less.
And that brings me to the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”-saying.
Toyota didn’t change the engine or drivetrain on the 2014s save for some electronic tweaks to provide better lock-up, shift points and downhill descent control.
They still offer the same three engines as found in the 2013s: 270hp 4.0L V-6 (16/20/17mpg); 310hp 4.6L V-8 (15/19/16mpg); and the 381hp 5.7l V-8 13/18/15mpg). The 4×4 models lose one mpg in city and combined mileage.
Suspension, steering and braking are marginally better than the earlier model. But unless you drive an identical 2013 back-to-back with a 2014, you’re not going to notice the differences.
The same holds true for its off-pavement prowess. The Tundra has always been a very good performer off pavement. And the 2014 is no different.
Both in 4-hi and 4-lo, the Toyota’s engineers have done their homework. This truck works really well when the road gets nasty.
After a day on the road, here’s my take: If you have an older Tundra, or want to step up from the Tacoma, and love the sharper body style, need the latest and greatest in digital connectivity, audio and navigation, take a 2014 out for a test drive.
Or, if you love the elegance of the high-end Tundra Platinum package – or the southwestern ranch-style richness of Toyota’s new “1794” edition – go for it. The new Tundra is a very fine pickup.
But if you can live with the look and styling of the pre-2014 Tundra as your next work truck, by all means take advantage of the 2013 “clearance sales” because the 2014 model isn’t going to gain you any extra in performance, fuel economy or value for your pickup dollar. –Pro