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SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 24,495
Price As Tested                                    $ 29,181
Engine Type              DOHC 32-valve 4.7 Liter V8 w/SMFI*
Engine Size                                 284 cid/4664 cc
Horsepower                                   245 @ 4800 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               315 @ 3400 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  128.3"/79.3"/217.5"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     4673 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  26.4 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                        P265/70R16 mud and snow
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
Domestic Content                                 35 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


EPA Economy, miles per gallon
city/highway/average                            15/18/17          
0-60 MPH                                        9.0 seconds
Maximum payload capacity                        1406 pounds
Maximum towing capacity                         7100 pounds

* Sequential multi-port fuel injection                              

It takes a long time for Toyota to admit it was wrong. When it introduced its T100 pickup in 1993, it was aimed at the full-sized pickup market where buyer loyalty is fierce but without a V8 engine, few pickup buyers took the truck seriously.

But Toyota's new Tundra changes that. Available in two-or four-wheel drive, trim levels include base, SR5 or like our tester, the Limited.

OUTSIDE -Tundra looks like a full-sized pickup, though when compared to the competition, it's just a bit smaller than the opposition. But it's bigger than the T100 truck it replaced, and when put side-by-side, the size difference is very noticeable. The regular- cab model comes attached to an eight-foot bed that can haul full sheets of plywood with the tailgate closed. Our tester came with an extended cab and a 6.5-foot bed. That model uses conventional outside door handles to open the rear doors, which are handier than handles located inside the door jams. A sliding rear window with privacy glass is standard on Limited models, as are 16-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels and all-terrain tires. An optional off-road package adds color-keyed overfenders, contoured mudguards, fog lamps and special wheels.

INSIDE - Tundra's rear doors flip open rearward to create a large opening to climb inside. Interior room is less than its Big Three rivals by a few inches here and there, but otherwise, it's large enough to fit six in a pinch with a front bench seat. Based on the model, either a standard bench seat, a 60/40 split bench with a fold-down armrest or a pair of captain's chairs are available. The rear seat of Access Cab models is snug, with an upright back rest and not much room for full sized adults. There are adjustable shoulder belts for all those seat outboard. The instrument panel is well-conceived, with gauges that are easy to view and clearly legible. The stereo and ventilation system are housed together is a pod centered high in the dash, while three accessory power plugs can transform Tundra into a rolling high-tech office. There is also plenty of storage and cupholders. Standard features include power windows, outside mirrors and door locks, cruise control, air conditioning, variable speed intermittent wipers and a deluxe AM/FM/CD stereo system.

ON THE ROAD - Much like the Big Three truck makers, Toyota has named its engine. Called the i-Force, it's a 4.7 liter V8 engine that produces 245 horsepower and an impressive 315 pound-feet of torque. With dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and aluminum heads (an industry first), its power delivery is silky-smooth, quiet and unobtrusive, and it qualifies as a low-emissions vehicle. It uses a throttle-by-wire accelerator system, much like systems used in luxury cars. Also available is a 3.4 liter V6 engine that is carried over from the T100. Transmission choices are an electronic four-speed automatic or a five-speed stick shift that isn't available on all models.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Toyota claims that its new full frame layout is the most rigid in the industry. The outer rails are formed from a single piece of rolled steel, while the front section is fully boxed and tied together by six cross members. The exhaust and fuel system, along with the spare tire, are tucked up high between the frame rails for added ground clearance. The front suspension is independent, with control arms, coil springs and low-pressure gas shocks. In back is a solid axle with leaf springs. Payload is up to 2000 pounds and the towing capacity is rated at 7200 pounds if properly equipped. The off-road package adds progressive-rate springs, Bilstien-brand high-pressure gas shocks and special BF Goodrich T/A tires. The transfer case operation on 4X4 models is controlled by a dash-mounted switch, but there is no automatic four-wheel drive mode. Power rack-and-pinion steering is standard as are front disc and rear drum brakes. Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are optional.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and side-impact door beams are standard; ABS is optional.

OPTIONS - Uplevel stereo: $600; ABS: $630; leather seating: $1,420; keyless entry: $399; running boards:$699.