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Motoring: Tundra taking bite out of truck market

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | September 10th, 2007

I have been told that I don't review trucks much, and they are right. In fact, in the last three years, the only pick-up truck I tested was the Cadillac Escalade EXT, which I know is not exactly a proper truck.

The main reason I had not done truck tests is simple, I don't have much interest in them. However, there is one truck that I was actually looking forward to testing, and that is this one, the new Toyota Tundra.

This is the biggest pick-up truck Toyota has ever made and it is targeted directly at big American trucks like the Ford F150 and the Dodge Ram. The old Tundra did a decent job, but was not as big as the competition, now the story is very different.

I have yet to pull out the measuring tape but I am pretty sure this new Tundra, especially in the as tested “Double Cab” with the long-bed, is the largest truck in this segment of the market.

Yet despite its gargantuan size this truck is as easy to drive as a Toyota Yaris. The controls are all perfectly weighted and thanks to a great driving position it is easy to drive even in city traffic.

Yes, as you'd expect, the fuel economy is not its strong point, especially in the city (in fact I was surprised how much it drank on a easy going highway cruise), but then again this is a proper work truck and its role in life is not exactly looking after fuel economy. So expect about 17-litres/100 km on an urban run. I do hope that one day Toyota will offer Tundra with their excellent hybrid drive system that should make running a truck even more affordable.

Trust me, you won't mind running this truck on a daily basis. This Tundra is as comfortable as a Lexus, and as spacious as a Rolls Royce Phantom.

It won't take a back seat on an equipment comparison either with those luxury sedans, as this truck can come extremely well equipped. My tester had power everything, reversing camera and navigation system. The navigation system in the Tundra is the same you'll find in some Toyota and Lexus cars, so that means it has a touch screen, which means while it is easy to use, the screen quickly gets smudged with finger prints, which are not easy to wipe off. I prefer navigation systems with a separate cursor control, like the one found on the Acura RL.

So a minor issue that can be improved upon. An area this Tundra needs no improvements is the engine. You can either have a 5.7-litre V8 which produces a mammoth 381 hp, or you can have the smaller but still impressive 4.7-litre V8 which produces 271 hp. This is the engine I got to test, and with the five-speed automatic it made for a really quick and enjoyable truck. The gearbox had a manual shift mode too, and while I was expecting this system to be very slow in its reactions and useless, it turned out to be quite responsive and thus fun to use.

But these things I know are not of real importance to truck buyers. What a truck buyer really wants to know is how much you can put in the bed and how much you can tow. With the Tundra, you can carry up to 1,900 lbs. and can tow up to 10,800 lbs. That is really impressive.

Even more impressive is the pricing. A base Tundra is yours for $25,255, my very well equipped model was about $50,000 and a fully loaded model 5.7 V8 is just $55,000. That is not a lot of money for this much vehicle.

So is it the best truck on the market? Since I haven't tested its competition, I cannot say for sure, but I will say this, if any truck turns out to be better than this Tundra, I'll eat my shoes.
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