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2007 Toyota Tundra 4x4 SR5 Double Cab 5.7L V8 Review

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As American as Pineapple Pie
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

As Toyota spars with GM over being the world’s largest automaker they must compete head-to-head in the full-size pickup market against the icons of the segment, Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram. That’s not a segment easy to break into for a variety of reasons not the least of which is brand loyalty. Nowhere in the industry is brand loyalty as big a factor as in the work truck segment. And where work trucks dominate so will the dressed up versions sold in big numbers to work-truck-wanabes.

This is the second generation Tundra pickup. The first generation was fine for getting Toyota’s feet wet in this most American of vehicle segments. It was competent and well built but was not prepared to lead in terms of overall capability. This new Tundra, larger and stronger in every dimension and measurement, makes the statement that they are ready to match specs and performance with any other full-size, regular-duty pickup. And, because it is such a classically American genre, Toyota is doing everything possible to downplay the Japanese connection.

Tundra is built in both the brand new Texas factory and in the existing Indiana truck plant. Advertising and promotional projects center on tough-guy, rough and tumble themes like ranching, construction and sports. And let’s not forget the NASCAR connection where Toyota can get out front with women buyers as well. Did you know that nearly half of all NASCAR fans are of the female persuasion?

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We would have to admit Tundra looks like a good, tough competitive truck. The CALTY design studio in California has done an admirable job of making the truck look classically American. From the massive, taunting front end to the bulging rear flanks the Tundra has a don’t-mess-with-me look. The wheel wells are filled up with the 18-inch, 70-series tires on stylish wheels. The low character line adds to the bulky upper body look. And the rounded, sculpted hood suggests power beneath.

So, how about its competence? Is it a legitimate contender?

In terms of chassis design, payload and towing capacity, we’d have to say, “Sure is.” Payload is three-quarters of a ton and towing capacity is a segment leading 10,800 pounds, with the big engine and towing package. Underneath are fully boxed frame rails in the front and rolled C-channel members in the rear. Double A-arm front suspension with coil-over spring/shock units and rack-and-pinion steering with forward mounted steering box gives Tundra more sophisticated solid ride and competent handling characteristics. Staggered shocks in the rear outside the leaf springs add to stability. Spring rates have been tuned to provide a level stance when the truck is fully loaded. An automatic limited-slip rear differential is standard.

Tundra can be had in 31 different configurations considering engine options, drive mode, cab configurations, trim levels, bed size and wheel-base. Something for everyone, I guess, if you’re a pickup buyer. Our test truck this week is the double-cab (middle size), 4-wheel-drive, SR5 (middle trim level), with the biggest engine. Sticker price, before options is $31,160. The options list includes: Cold Kit (heavy duty battery and starter, extra corrosion protection and windshield wiper deicer) for $100, JBL Audio system with 6-CD changer, 10 speakers, 8-channel, 440W amp, Bluetooth, auxiliary audio jack and steering wheel controls) for $1,160, a cloth bucket seat package (8-way power driver’s seat, 4-way passenger seat, adjustable headrests, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, floor shift, center console with laptop or file storage and trip computer) for $605, power and heated outside mirrors for $30, mudguards for $60, daytime running lamps for $40, sliding rear window with tinted glass for $345, back-up camera/monitor (a tiny screen mounted above the windshield that is tough to use with bifocals but probably very useful for seeing a hitch) for $695, bed liner with rails for $345, carpet with floor mats and sill protector for $178 and the utility rail kit with 4 bed cleats for $210. The bottom line on the sticker is $35,573 – just about mid range for a dressed out full-size pickup these days.

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Let me tell you how much I loved the drivetrain. The power from the 5.7-liter (largest of three engines available), 381-hp/401-lb.ft., V8 gave me goose bumps. I had to put my foot in it regularly this week just to feel the willing, smooth thrust right up to redline. The 6-speed automatic with manual mode (Toyota calls it “sequential mode”) is a wonderful match for all that power. We spent nearly two tanks of regular fuel on a good variety of highway and city driving, and managed 16.5-mpg. This Tundra is rated at 14-city and 18-highway so I guess those estimates are reasonably accurate. And this engine is ULEVII certified. Of course, I wasn’t hauling big loads – just hauling ass.

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Of course, all the big pickups now have little offices built in. The big console in the Tundra would be mighty handy if I were a contractor or business guy, with the big bin for laptop or hanging files. In typical Toyota fashion every available space has a bin or cubby for storing stuff. The big cloth buckets were plenty comfortable even for this oversize reporter. The no-nonsense dash design is clean and attractive with logical controls easily operated even with thick gloves. Dual zone climate control is standard on every Tundra. The rear seats fold up easily with one hand for flat-floor storage or cargo. Like all these big pickups, of course, it ain’t easy crawling up into it. My pretty blonde had to use both grab handles to pull her shapely self up into the passenger seat. You might want running boards if you have a lot of passengers.

We did do a little haulin’ this week. A couple big pieces of furniture needed to be relocated from my brother’s garage to mine. The locking tailgate is nicely designed, opening easily and closing just as easily with little effort - well damped, modestly assisted. The Toyota-provided bed liner, tie-downs and cleats made the job easy without scarfing up the bed.

Safety features are typical Toyota, that is, everything standard. Passive restraints like front seat side and roll-sensing air bags, side curtain air bags, and adjustable head rests combine with active chassis systems - Toyota’s STAR™ Safety System - which includes ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, vehicle stability control, and traction control to make everyone feel and be safe.

Three wheel base options, three bed sizes, three trim levels, three cab styles, three engine sizes, two drive systems, and two transmissions, make for a lot of choices. Prices start at around $22, 290 for the unadorned regular cab to over 50-grand for a loaded 5.7L CrewMax.

Basic warranty is good for 36 months or 36,000 miles. Powertrain is covered for 60 months or 60,000 miles. Corrosion protection is 60, months and unlimited mileage.

Watch out, Big Three. There’s a new kid on the block. And, he looks mighty pugnacious.

Steve Purdy, Shumpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved