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2017 Toyota Tundra Review

April 18th, 2017

The 2017 Toyota Tundra is a capable full-size pickup, and one of the few in this class that is very serious about off-road performance. Unfortunately, it lags behind its American rivals in a few respects.

 

pros:

  • Standard V8 power
  • Roomy rear seating for the extended-cab and crew-cab body styles
  • Unique off-road-themed TRD Pro model.

cons:

  • Below-average fuel economy
  • Stiff ride
  • Feels larger than rivals when driven on tight and congested roads.

what’s new

For 2017, the Toyota Tundra is unchanged other than some slight revisions to standard equipment.

vehicle overview

By most measures, there is a lot to like about the 2017 Toyota Tundra. After all, this is a brawny, full-size truck that can tow up to 10,500 pounds or haul just over a ton of cargo. You also get your choice of one of two available V8 engines. And with a lineup that runs the gamut from basic work truck to posh personal pickup or off-road bruiser, there’s bound to be a Tundra that suits your needs.

Unfortunately, times have changed in the full-size pickup segment, and the Tundra hasn’t seen an all-new generation debut since the 2007 model year. As such, the 2017 Tundra can’t match the advancements the current segment leaders have made in some areas. The Ford F-150, for example, offers a weight-saving aluminum body and an optional turbocharged V6 engine that delivers substantial towing and hauling capability with much better fuel economy. Also on that must-consider list should be the Ram 1500 with its available fuel-efficient EcoDiesel powertrain and smooth-riding coil spring rear suspension. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and new Nissan Titan (and heavier-duty Nissan Titan XD) are worth a look, too.

Ultimately, the made-in-America 2017 Toyota Tundra has its share of good qualities, but it’s not enough to push it to the top of the full-size truck category this year.

trim levels & features

The 2017 Toyota Tundra is a full-size pickup. There are three cab styles: regular cab, extended double cab and the CrewMax crew cab. There are two wheelbases and three bed lengths — a 5.5-foot short bed, a 6.5-foot standard bed and an 8.1-foot long bed. The regular cab seats three, and the extended- and crew-cab models seat five or six, depending on whether you opt for front buckets or a bench seat.

Depending on which body style you choose, there are up to six trim levels for the Tundra: SR, SR5, TRD Pro, Limited, Platinum and a 1794 Edition. The availability of some options or packages can vary based on the region in which you live.

The base SR (regular and extended-cab body styles only) comes standard with 18-inch steel wheels, daytime running lights, heated power mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, a damped tailgate, keyless entry, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split bench seat, cruise control, full power accessories, a rearview camera, an integrated trailer brake controller, a tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a 6.1-inch touchscreen interface, a CD player, an auxiliary audio input jack and a USB port. The SR Work Truck package replaces the cloth upholstery and carpet with vinyl surfaces and removes the power locks and windows.

Going with the SR5 (extended- and crew-cab body styles only) gets you foglights, variable intermittent windshield wipers, exterior chrome trim, 60/40-split folding rear seats and an upgraded tech interface that includes a 7-inch touchscreen, HD and satellite radio, traffic information and a navigation app. The crew cab adds a power-opening rear window and an overhead console. The SR5 Upgrade package adds front bucket seats that include a driver seat with power height and lumbar adjustments, a center console (with storage and “floor” shifter), a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a larger gas tank when equipped with the 5.7-liter V8. To that package, the Safety & Convenience package adds front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert. Eighteen-inch alloy wheels can be added as a stand-alone option.

The TRD Pro includes the SR5 Upgrade package items plus black 18-inch alloy wheels, off-road tires, an off-road suspension that includes Bilstein shock absorbers, four movable bed tie-down cleats and unique styling elements, plus leather upholstery with the TRD logo and red stitching, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power front passenger seat, an upgraded 7-inch touchscreen (optional on the SR5), a navigation system and additional speakers (seven on extended cab, nine on crew cab).

The Limited (extended and crew cabs only) builds on the base and Upgrade SR5 option package equipment with 20-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, the movable tie-down cleats, automatic dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver seat, a four-way power passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a power horizontal-sliding rear window (extended cab), a navigation system and additional speakers (seven in the extended cab, nine in the crew cab). The Limited Premium package adds the Safety & Convenience package items plus extra interior lighting and anti-theft alarm features. A sunroof is optional on crew-cab models.

At the top of the heap, the Platinum trim level (crew cab only) comes standard with the Safety & Convenience package items and adds to the Limited’s equipment with unique 20-inch wheels and distinctive styling elements, LED daytime running lights, power-folding and auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, heated and ventilated power front seats (10-way driver, four-way passenger), driver-seat memory functions and a 12-speaker JBL sound system (optional on the Limited crew cab). The 1794 Edition really only differs from the Platinum in terms of its exclusive exterior and interior styling elements.

The TRD Off-Road package can be added to the SR5, Limited and 1794 Edition. It includes 18-inch TRD wheels, off-road tires, trail-tuned shock absorbers, skid plates and tow hooks.

Stand-alone options on most trim levels include heated tow mirrors and running boards.

performance & mpg

The 2017 Toyota Tundra is offered with a choice of two V8 engines. A six-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive (2WD) are standard; four-wheel drive (4WD) with a two-speed transfer case is optional.

A 4.6-liter V8 that produces 310 horsepower and 327 pound feet of torque is standard on SR extended-cab and all SR5 models. EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 mpg combined (15 city/19 highway) on 2WD models and 16 mpg combined (14 city/18 highway) on 4WD versions. Properly equipped, the maximum towing capacity with the 4.6-liter engine is 6,800 pounds.

A 5.7-liter V8 that puts out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque is standard on the regular cab and all variations of the Limited, Platinum, 1794 and TRD Pro. It is optional on SR5 models. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg combined (13 city/18 highway) with 2WD and 15 combined (13 city/17 highway) with 4WD. All Tundras equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 come with a standard tow package. Properly equipped, the tow rating of models with the 5.7-liter engine tops out at 10,500 pounds.

In testing, a Tundra with the 5.7-liter V8 and four-wheel drive accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, and a Tundra TRD Pro did it in 6.7 seconds. These are both average times for the segment.

safety

Standard safety equipment on the 2017 Toyota Tundra includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags and front knee airbags. A rearview camera is standard on all models. A blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and parking sensors are optional on the SR5 and Limited; they come standard on the Platinum and 1794 Edition.

In government crash testing, the Tundra received four out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for front-crash protection and five stars for side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tundra extended cab its top rating of Good in the moderate-overlap front impact, side-impact, roof strength and seat/head restraint (whiplash protection) tests.

During a braking test, a Tundra 1794 with 4WD came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet, which is about average for the segment. A 4WD TRD Pro took 134 feet, which isn’t much farther, especially considering its all-terrain tires.

interior

The 2017 Toyota Tundra features an attractive cabin filled with user-friendly technology. Even base models get the automaker’s Entune touchscreen interface with smartphone connectivity, and higher trim levels get larger screens with more capabilities. It’s an easy system to use, though we prefer the overall look and functionality of the infotainment systems found in the F-150 (Sync 3) and Ram 1500 (Uconnect).

Seating comfort up front is as good as you’d expect. The rear seats in Double Cab models are noticeably roomier than those of other rival trucks’ extended-cab models. The CrewMax crew cab’s rear seat is notable for its abundant splayed-out legroom and its reclining seatback that make it arguably the most comfortable spot in the entire truck. The flip-up bottom cushions in back also provide plenty of storage for tools or other valuable items you’d prefer not to leave exposed in the open bed.

driving

At slow parking lot speeds, the 2017 Toyota Tundra seems almost nimble thanks to a light steering feel. That same quality persists at higher speeds, however, where it becomes a liability that contributes (along with the big truck’s weight and overall dimensions) to the Tundra’s ponderous handling. Another downside is the Tundra’s stiff ride quality. Though you expect as much with a truck, some rival trucks are more comfortable.

The 5.7-liter V8 impresses thanks in large part to its generous torque output and smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. If you don’t think you’ll need the Tundra’s maximum towing capacity, you’ll find the 4.6-liter V8 provides adequate performance with ever-so-slightly better fuel economy, though both engines lag behind the category leaders on this point.