Thursday, January 16, 2014

Urban or rural, new Tundra can carry the load

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at www.sacbee.com/business

Sacramento, California – The third-generation Toyota Tundra has all the requirements of a contemporary pickup:  intimidating size, plentiful interior room, lots of perks once associated with high-end passenger cars and power offered in various sizes and strengths.

For a guy who remembers when pickup trucks were like riding inside a noisy beer can while occasionally sliding across the width of a slick bench seat, my Tundra tester seemed like a delivery from Pickup Heaven.

This being a pickup, it’s important to narrow down the long name.  My ride was the 2014 Toyota Tundra 4X2 CrewMax Limited with a 5.7-liter V-8.  It’s a lot of truck with a starting price of $38,845, and dressed up with some premium extras, my tester showed $41,280 on the bottom line.

Let’s start with how it looks.  To me and most others I asked to look it over, the Tundra is wide enough, tall enough and long enough to make everything parked near it look small. The redesign for this new generation is not radical.  Toyota devotees will recognize this as a Tundra from a quarter-mile away.

I’ve been fascinated lately with grille designs on full-size pickups.  The current vogue is stacking thick layers of chrome across the entire width of the front, presenting a look like a giant double-decker club sandwich of steel.

This makes it appear that the truck could knock down a skyscraper if that’s what the driver intended.  The Tundra has the look in spades.

The Tundra’s cargo bed is sizable and easily accessed, a plus in this segment.

I’ll readily admit that I am not a full-size truck aficionado, but when I do test them, I try to use two sweeping standards to evaluate the hardware:

For starters, can it function in an urban environment, with dicey commutes, occasional errands to haul heavy cargo and family road trips/vacations?  Secondly, in a rural environment, can it do all the heavy chores, including trips into deep mud, and come out smelling like a rose?

There’s no doubt in my mind that this Tundra can do both, rather easily in fact.  Tow and cargo-capacity ratings are decidedly robust, emphasizing the point.

When I got the 381-horsepower V-8 up to full song in various conditions, I confess that it was a startling experience in big-vehicle power.  And yet, the Tundra’s interior ambience was downright luxurious and comforting, in my view.

With so much competition in the pickup segment, and so many variations to choose from, it’s a brutal environment in which to gain public attention.  The various automakers are throwing everything and the kitchen sink into these broad-shouldered pickups.

Does the new-gen Tundra stack up with the current competition?  From my seat, a no-brainer yes.

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