Toyota's second-generation Tundra is bigger in every dimension than the model it replaced. Size, power, and towing capacity are right up there with the big boys this time around, as a new stronger frame joins two carryover engines, the 4.0L V-6 and 4.7L V-8 and an all-new 5.7L V-8 that puts out 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. The all-aluminum 5.7L comes with a six-speed automatic and the ability to tow up to 10,800 lbs.
We spent a day with the folks at Toyota, and put the new Tundra through some paces. When we pulled a 10,000-pound, dual-axle trailer, the 5.7L did an excellent job of accelerating and merging onto freeway traffic, and the transmission's tow/haul mode kept the revolutions slightly higher at each shift point, and so, the engine never bogged down. The Tundra's composite-design chassis uses fully boxed frame rails for the front half, and rolled C-channel members for the rear half. A thicker and higher-strength steel was used than seen on previous Tundras. The result is a solid feel that lets you tow with confidence. Another impressive feature was the integrated trailer brake that's adjustable for gain. The trailer was easy to handle, even when the controller was set to its least aggressive brake curve, a testament of the Tundra's improved brakes.
The biggest news of the launch was the new Tundra Crew Max, which put Toyota in Dodge Ram Mega Cab territory. It offered sliding and reclining seats, rear doors that are just as long as those in the front, and in the rear, the legroom surpassing even the Mega Cab. With a short bed, the Crew Max isn't quite as long as the Double Cab long bed, however, it maneuvers well for a large truck. In fact, the new Tundra actually has a tighter-turning radius than the original Tundra, thanks to a higher turning angle.
Inside the Tundra, you'll find a dash that's on-par with the top full-size trucks on the market. Deeply recessed gauges in front of the driver keep passengers guessing how hard you're pressing that 381hp engine. Toyota engineers knew that a lot of truck buyers work out of their trucks and spend a lot of time inside the cab, even when they're not driving. So, the truck was designed with the A/C system to cool the cab 5-10 minutes faster than the system in the last generation. Also, it is designed to pull more air over the condenser at idle to keep the cab cool even when the truck is in a traffic jam. Actually, one of the only complaints we had inside the cab was the odd layout of the HVAC controls. The driver and passenger side controls were in logical places, but the fan control was next to the transfer case selector. It was not necessarily a bad thing; just odd. One of the high notes of the interior was the large center console that featured storage for a laptop, a Thomas Guide, and even a rack for hanging file folders, which completed the rolling- office theme.