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2017 Toyota Tundra 4WD SR5 CrewMax 5.5' Bed 5.7L FFV Review By Steve Purdy

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2017 Toyota Tundra 4WD SR5 CrewMax 5.5' Bed 5.7L FFV

2017 Toyota Tundra 4WD SR5 CrewMax 5.5' Bed 5.7L FFV
Review by Steve Purdy

The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

It has been too long since I‘ve had a full-size pickup in my driveway for review so I was pleased to spend some quality time this week with a 2017 Tundra from Toyota, a powerful hauler that makes meaty noises and feels like a fine, sophisticated work horse. I’ll not call it a “new” Tundra since there have been no significant changes from last year’s model.

Our tester is the SR5 Crewmax (biggest cab) FFV 4WD(Tundra 4WD SR5 CrewMax 5.5' Bed 5.7L FFV). The sticker shows a base price of $38,470 and with a good list of options led by the $2,030 TRD Off Road Package, $970 Safety and Convenience Package and $1,220 SR5 package, the bottom line is just over $45,000. The basic, unadorned, single cab Tundra with no options and the smaller V8 begins at just over $30,000. And, you can load up the deluxe version called the “1794 Edition” getting your sticker well over sixty grand if you like. Tundra comes in three cab sizes, two wheelbase lengths and three bed sizes.

This one in our driveway is a good lookin’ truck in an unusual tan color (Toyota calls it Quicksand) and it has all the masculine, macho, bulky styling queues appropriate for a truck. A massive, vertical front end implies the heft you expect in a truck. Toyota designers have been skilled at offering some decent aesthetics in spite of the utilitarian nature of Tundra’s mission in life.

Climbing into the Tunda without a running board is a challenge but the well-placed handles allow us to drag ourselves in. A couple of vertically challenged and less-than-athletic friends groaned a bit getting into the back seats, but once in they had room to romp if they so chose. Copious amounts of room up front and particularly in the rear will comfortably accommodate the biggest drivers and passengers – or work crews. The power driver’s seat has a good range of adjustment and the rear seat bases fold up easily for more cargo space. No hidden cubbies or other storage spaces present themselves in the rear and we have no sliding rear window. Some HVAC controls will keep rear seat passengers comfortable, at least on our mid trim level model.

We easily browsed through our touch-screen vehicle management, navigation and information functions finding them a bit better than most, though because of the size of this thing it took a stretch to reach the far side of the screen and the audio tuning knob. Tundra may be less on doing business than Ram, F-150 and the GM entries but not by much. Auxiliary and USB ports and power outlets are handily located. We did not have to guess at the purpose of the buttons, knobs and screen icons as they were nicely self-explanatory.

With the naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V8 making 381 horsepower and just over 400 pound-feet of torque this Tunda is rated by the EPA at 13 mpg in the city, 17 on the highway and 15 combined. We did not challenge the truck much this week but did put quite a few miles on it managing an even 16 mpg. I considered that pretty good for this 5,500-pound hauler. The optional 38-gallon fuel tank allows us an impressive cruising range, along with a big gas bill when we fill. The ‘low-fuel’ indicator comes on with still a quarter tank to go. (What’s up with that?) Both engines get the same 6-speed automatic transmission and fuel economy is about the same for both engines. Our 4X4 features an electronically controlled transfer case, manual mode on the transmission and a good 10 inches of ground clearance for decent off-road cred.

A conventional pickup suspension underpins the full-frame Tundra. With double wishbones in front and live axles with leaf springs in the rear it rides and handles like a truck, for sure. But a well-insulated, tight and quiet cab tends to make it feel more sophisticated than it really is. Driving dynamics reflect the size of the vehicle especially in congested traffic. We found acceleration downright impressive, at least in its unloaded condition, but felt like we were sucking fuel. With direct injection and other modern engine technology these jackrabbit sprints are not as costly in fuel as they once were. Tundra’s 0-60 times are about the same as the other pickups that have big engines.

Towing capacity ranges from 6,400 to 10,500 pounds depending on powertrain and other choices. Our SR5 comes standard with a trailering package and is rated to pull 9,800 pounds – a bit less than the competition. Payload is listed at $1,630, about the same as the competition.

Tundra experienced a mild refresh in 2014 but has not gotten a full redesign in just about 10 years. GM, Ford and Ram continue to make upgrades like lightweighting, offering more efficient powertrains and adding more luxury content, leaving Tundra a bit behind. That doesn’t seem to have been a big problem as Tundra continues to maintain a fairly steady fourth-place market share keeping the Texas assembly plant busy.

Toyota’s warranty covers the whole truck for 3 years or 36,000 miles and the powertrain for 5 years or 60,000 miles.

Tundra has aged well in spite of getting way less attention to updating than its competitors. Toyota seems content with its position in the market, and well they can. I expect the profit margin is better than the others as a result. Tundra has kept up decently with style and content so it looks, feels and presents itself as the equal of them all. While, marginally less capable in towing than some it still posts decent stats.

You know, if I were facing a days-long, cross-country drive I would probably choose one of these big, beautiful, comfortable pickups, and the Tundra would certainly be on the list.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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