The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2005 Toyota Tundra Double Cab Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
NASCAR driver Johnny Benson With Purdy Tested Tundra

Runnin’ With The Big Dogs
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

“Run with the big dogs or stay on the porch,” was the motto of the first Cannonball One Lap of America Rally – a motto we like to live by.

Toyota certainly wasn’t timid about jumping off the porch into the rush of full-size pickup trucks a few years ago when it entered this segment of the American market – a segment of big sellers and big profits for the big three. Certainly Toyota wanted a piece of that lucrative action. After all, Toyota has been building the most civilized and reliable cars and sport-utilities for years and, of course, selling them well. So why not a full-size pickup. Enter onto the scene, then, the Tundra, a most sophisticated and reliable full-size pickup truck by Toyota.

To some toughness, brutishness, or pure power might be more important criteria for a pickup truck than sophistication. Such an image might be a detriment even though the stiff nine-cross-member ladder frame and welded steel cab and bed with fully boxed front sub-frame make it as tough as any.

Our test truck is the Tundra Double Cab, SR5, 4X4, V-8 in a mighty intense dark blue. The sticker indicates a base price for this model of $29,450. Options on our truck include: side curtain airbags front and rear for $650; a cold weather package (heavy duty battery, starter, heater and heated outside mirrors) for $100; 17” alloy wheels with P265/65R17 tires for $650; overhead console with compass, and gauge, Homelink Universal Transceiver for $160; color-keyed overfender for $180; remote keyless entry system for $230; limited slip differential for $275; fog lamps for $110; privacy glass for $80; carpet floor mats for $152; and bedliner for $299. With delivery processing and handling fee of $540, the bottom line is $32,876.

The cheapest we could get into a new Tundra - bottom of the line, optionless, regular cab, six, stick - is about $16,620. Top of the line with everything, we’re looking at around $33,740. So our test truck is just about the top of the heap.

I picked the truck up in Detroit on an early spring day. I had just finished testing a cute little PT Cruiser, so by comparison the Tundra looked huge. Styling is pleasant and conventional – perhaps a bit too gentle for many macho types. Overall size is a tad smaller than the other big dogs. It has been called a 7/8 size truck. But it sure desn’t appear any smaller. Our Double Cab version is over 19-feet long with a wheel-base of over 11 feet. The inside bed dimensions are just a tad more than the comparable Chevy Silverado 4-door at 74.3X63.3X20.7 inches (length-by-width-by-depth). When parked side-by-side the Silverado and Tundra look nearly identical in size.

A big step up into the cab plants me in the generous driver’s seat covered with a very nice fabric. Between the equally generous front passenger seat and me is a well-designed and useful console/business center. The console top flops open to reveal a clip board, perfect for a small notepad, and a really deep storage compartment.

The materials, fit and finish and general ambiance of the interior are conventional and luxurious. Seats are firm enough for comfort on an extended drive and big enough for driver and passengers of broad-in-the-beam structure. The 60/40 split rear seat is big enough for the biggest workmen and their gear or perhaps some square dancing ladies and their puffy skirts, or a whole bevy of big dogs.

There is certainly nothing brutish about its driving feel. It feels as smooth and easy as any Toyota sedan. The ride quality is excellent even unloaded. With most pickup trucks the ride is jumpy when empty because of the stiff suspension required to handle a potential load. The Tundra did not feel jumpy even over rough railroad tracks, of which we have plenty here. I’m sorry to report I did not have an opportunity to test the Tundra under full load. Maybe next time.

Power is smooth and generous as well. The standard 4.7-litre, dual overhead-cam, 32-valve V-8 features Toyota’s VVT-i technology (variable valve timing), which adds considerable horsepower over last year’s V-8. This unit now generates 282 horsepower and 325 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to the 5-speed electronically controlled automatic overdrive transmission with intelligence (ECT-I) the Tundra’s power unit is more than adequate for most jobs and is rated at 15 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. My limited experience with the Tundra was within that range. Fuel capacity is 26.4 US gallons making the cruising range around 425 miles.

Standard on all models of the Tundra is the 4-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD).

One of my stops with the new Tundra was to see Trish Green at my local Toyota dealer, Spartan Motors in Lansing. Trish is a young, energetic fountain of product knowledge and takes me around the truck pointing out all the features I might miss, like the under-the-rear-seat storage compartment, the power retracting rear window, the auxiliary power outlets and skid plates underneath for the off roaders.

Capabilities are comparable to the competition. Payload for our V-8 Double Cab 4X4 is 1635 lbs, Towing capacity is 6500 lbs and gross combined weight rating is 11,800 lbs. Curb weight is 2 tons and gross vehicle weight is 6600 lbs.

The Tundra warrantee is the same as other Toyotas: a 36-month/36,000-mile basic warrantee which excludes normal wear and maintenance items, a 60-month/60,000-mile warrantee on the powertrain, seatbelts and air bags, and a 60-month unlimited mileage warrantee on rust through.

And, speaking of running with the big dogs, we had an opportunity to smooze a bit with NASCAR driver Johnny Benson who drives a Tundra race truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Benson was holding court at the Michigan International Speedway during a press conference revealing the track’s upgrading and remodeling. The old racing adage “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” may still be true even though the race truck has little on common with the street truck. The former weighs more than a thousand pounds less than the latter and has a tube frame, a carburetor, a four-speed transmission, about 4 inches of ground clearance and about 650 horsepower.

But, what the heck, who’ll notice those little differences when rooting for Benson and his Toyota Tundra out there racing with the big NASCAR dogs.