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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2016 TOYOTA TUNDRA REVIEW


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

INTRO TO THE TUNDRA VEHICLE
Tougher styling and reliable V8 engines make the Tundra a top choice for a full-sized pickup truck. It also doesn’t hurt to possess loads of conveniences and a sense of real luxury to further pursued buyers looking at American counterparts. This vehicle strikes a happy medium if you enjoy the ride of the Sequoia but are ready to try a truck.

I drove a 2016 Toyota Tundra with the 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission and part-time four-wheel drive. Offered in six trim grades along with three bed lengths – the SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, the1794 Edition and the TRD Pro – my Platinum CrewMax came with the following standard feature highlights: upgraded perforated leather upholstery; heated and ventilated seats; seven-inch touchscreen with navigation; backup camera with rear sensors; Entune media services with Bluetooth connectivity; premium JBL audio system; XM radio; tow hitch receiver; wishbone front suspension with stabilizing bar and multi-leaf rear suspension system; a larger 38-gallon fuel tank; and twenty-inch alloy wheels. Price as described came to $49,080.

Aside of some minor revised styling for the SR5 and 1794 Edition, the 2016 Tundra gets an updated electronics interface and standard integrated brake control. Main competitors include the Dodge 1500, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 and Nissan Titian.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: On its own, the Tundra is a truck to be admired – two years ago Toyota took great pains to iron out flaws and place a stronger finish on the cabin presence and related features. What also can be appreciated about the Tundra are the standard highlights for the base Tundra SR trim that include a rearview camera, 6.1-inch touchscreen and some basic Entune features. You also have amble room with the CrewMax configuration (the other choice is a double cab). Yet further contrasting this truck to other competitors shows too much how the Tundra falls short on innovation. I’ll focus on what you’ll appreciate: an Entune media system easy to integrate and equipped with popular apps; a TRD Off-Road Package with Blisten shock absorbers and well-tuned for serious adventure; and an available deck rail system with tie-down cleats rated at 220 pounds.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2016 Toyota Tundra a mixed bag of crash-test ratings: “Marginal” for small overlap front, “Acceptable” in roof strength; and “Good” in all the remaining areas. The 2016 Ford F-150 pickup is the only pickup that is a Top Safety choice with the IIHS. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the 2014 Toyota Tundra and overall 4-Star rating with best results in side crash.

Cost Issues: The base Tundra SR starts at $29,140 with the most popular trim the SR5 featuring the 5.7-liter V8 engine at $30,950. A recent and very impressive 2016 Nissan Titan pickup truck test-drive with the XD Platinum Reserve package was priced out at $60,520.

Activity & Performance Ability: While the Tundra’s suspension has absorbing power and a generous approach angle along with well-tuned brakes and confident steering, the overall ride is a bit stiff and there is no longer a V6 engine option – all the attention goes into the 5.7-liter which gets the most performance technology, or a smaller 310-horsepower 4.6-liter V8. Depending on the body style, the towing capacity rates as high as 10,500 pounds which is more than enough power to get any job done. Again, the TRD Pro is a reliable package to up the performance, but the Tundra continues to come off as limited next to say the Nissan Titan’s impressive 5-liter V8 diesel engine with a Cummins M2 two-stage turbo system rated at 310 horsepower and 555 pound-feet of torque.

The Green Concern: The 5.7-liter V8 with four-wheel drive gets 13-city and 17-high for 15 miles-per-gallon combined, which is expected for a V8.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2016 Toyota Tundra is very straightforward about its performance, leaving buyers with no complaints about the performance and towing ability of the popular 5.7-liter engine – just don’t compare it too closely with some counterparts.

©2016 Katrina Ramser

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