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2013 Toyota Tundra Limited Rocky Mountain Review

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2013 Toyota Tundra

By Dan Poler
Rocky Mountain Bureau
The Auto Channel

Toyota’s full-size Tundra pickup comes into the 2013 model year essentially unchanged – Toyota will be producing an updated model for 2014, but this doesn’t in the slightest diminish the capabilities and comfort of the prior year model. I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with the 2013 Tundra and found it still to be an excellent choice for a full-size pickup.

Despite being available without many changes for about seven years, the Tundra’s exterior still looks fresh and current. It’s interesting to note that new generations of pickups from several manufacturers are carrying over exterior design with very little change – Ram has done this with the 1500, GM with the Silverado and Sierra, and Toyota’s Tundra will look essentially the same for 2014 as well.

The Tundra is available in a dizzying array of configurations; This Tundra came to me in Crewmax 4x4 Limited trim, with a short (5.5-foot) bed. Crewmax means four real doors providing access to the largest passenger cabin offered for the Tundra, and the Limited trim adds such niceties as 18-inch alloy wheels, a color-matched front bumper, fog lights, a rail system with adjustable tie-down cleats in the bed, power-folding and auto-dimming exterior mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, power front bucket seats (10-way driver, 4-way passenger), heated front seats, a power sliding rear window, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with built-in back-up camera display, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a JBL premium audio system with a six-CD changer. The truck also carried the TRD package, which upgrades the wheels and provides Bilstein off-road shock absorbers and skid plates around the fuel tank for better off-road capability.

Upon entering the Crewmax passenger cabin of the Tundra, it’s hard not to see its enormity – I think my first apartment was smaller than this. The driver and front passenger sit high and upright, as proper for a full-size truck. The rear seats slide and recline, and will accommodate three-across comfortably – plenty of hip room owing to the width of the truck, and even taller passengers will find their knees nowhere near the front seats, making the Tundra an excellent trip for longer journeys.

For the driver, controls are well placed and easy to manipulate although some may be a bit of a longer reach across the dashboard. Dashboard gauges are placed in deep circular cutouts, each gauge in its own spot, which causes the steering wheel to block some of them. It’s interesting to note that the tester, which carries an as-tested price north of $46,000, did not come with higher-end niceties like a touchscreen infotainment setup or a sunroof. Whereas this kind of configuration from competitors would carry such advanced features, it doesn’t for Toyota, an interesting choice; while the cabin was overall perfectly comfortable and acceptable, it would be nice to see the inclusion of more advanced options for this price. All the same, the JBL audio system was easy to control and pair to a cell phone, and sounded great. We particularly appreciated the power-sliding rear window – the whole thing slides up or down, providing excellent ventilation.

Driving the Tundra is simply a pleasure. The cabin is pleasantly muted but the deep rumble of the massive IFORCE 5.7-liter V8 is ever present. Despite its size, the Tundra is very easy to control. You won’t forget that you’re driving a truck, but effort for steering and brakes is very light, and the transmission is incredibly smooth – perhaps the smoothest shifts and acceleration you’ll find in a full-size pickup. Tons of horsepower and torque are at the driver’s control, leading to a car-like driving experience.

The Tundra had no problem conquering steep climbs at highway speeds in the mountains west of Denver. Only a couple of quibbles came to light during our testing – there’s no center dead spot to the steering, and owing to that light steering effort it’s easy for the Tundra to want to wander a bit at highway speeds. The second is the off-road suspension. We can’t fault Toyota here, as it does provide excellent capability to the truck on dirt roads and trails up in the mountains, but on the highway it feels like the truck Is seeking out every bump, seam, and groove in the road surface, leading to a bit of a jittery feel.

One area where the Tundra lags its competition is in fuel economy. I observed a combined average fuel economy of just 16.5 MPG against city / highway estimates of 13 / 18. Although a fantastic V8 engine, Toyota will need to put some thought into newer technology like cylinder deactivation in order to bring up their fuel economy numbers to stay competitive.

Ultimately, despite the availability of the new-for-2014 model, the 2013 Toyota Tundra is a competent and capable workhorse without sacrificing the comfort of its occupants, and makes a great choice for a full-size pickup – if you’re in the market for one, it’s worth a look.

2013 Toyota Tundra Limited

Base Price: $25,455.00

Price as Tested: $46,518.00

Engine Type: I-FORCE V8 DOHC 32V w/ dual independent VVT-i

Engine Size: 5.7-liter

Horsepower: 381 @ 5,600 RPM

Torque (lb-ft): 401 @ 3,600 RPM

Transmission: 6-Speed shiftable automatic

Wheelbase / Length (in): 145.7 / 228.7

Curb Weight: 5,645 lb

Pounds per HP: 14.8

Fuel Capacity (gal): 26.4

Fuel Requirement: FFV. Flex Fuel Vehicles use E85, gasoline or a combination of both

Tires: BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A; P275/65R18

Brakes, front/rear: Ventilated disc / Ventilated disc

Suspension, front/rear: Double wishbone / Solid live axle

Ground clearance (in): 10.4

Drivetrain: Part-time 4WD with electronically controlled transfer case and auto limited slip differential

EPA Fuel Economy - MPG city / highway / observed: 13 / 18 / 16.5

Towing capacity (lb): 9,000

Base Trim Price: $43,895.00

Options and Charges

TRD Off-Road Package: $70.00 (18-inch 5-spoke TRD off-road alloy wheels with P275/65R18 BFGoodrich tires, off-road tuned suspension, Bilstein shock absorbers, fuel tank skid plates, and TRD off-road graphics)

Running Boards: $345.00

Bedliner: $365.00

Carpet Floor Mats with Door Sill Protector: $195.00

Remote Engine Start: $499.00

Spare Tire Lock: $73.00

Alloy Wheel Locks: $81.00

Delivery: $995.00

Price as tested: $46,518.00