I have never considered the Toyota Tundra to be a real competitor of the American full-size pickup icons, or of the Nissan Titan. That statement will undoubtedly raise the hackles of diehard Tundra owners, but my reasoning behind such a bold stand is that the Tundra of old was, by all standards, a “three-quarter-size” version of a full-size pickup.
That didn’t make it a bad truck—it just wasn’t a real full-size. Also note that I said “the Tundra of old.” My take on the redesigned 2007 model is completely different, based on the time I recently spent behind the wheel. This truck is the real deal when it comes to full-size pickups, and the boys in Detroit, Dearborn and Canton, Mississippi, should feel a bit nervous.
The new American-designed and American-built pickup is big—a full 10 inches longer, nearly five inches taller and four inches wider than the Tundra it replaces. Such exterior dimensions put the 2007 Tundra squarely among the biggest of the half-ton pickups on the market.
Strong Towing Performance
For instance, the 2007 Tundra Regular Cab, 2-wheel-drive version can tow 10,800 pounds with a weight-distribution-type hitch, giving it the highest tow rating of any half-ton pickup. Furthermore, all models are rated for 5,000 pounds when equipped with a standard weight-carrying Class III/IV hitch connected to boat trailers with surge-type brakes. So, towing just about any fishing boat short of a big off-shore center-console won’t pose a problem.
Some of that towing prowess is related to the wider, longer, stouter frame, but what I feel makes the new Tundra really stand out is the optional 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter iForce V8. Other power-plant options include the 236-horsepower, 4-liter V6 and the 271-horsepower, 4.7-liter iForce V8.
All American Power
After spending a lot of time driving the various models and engine options, my take is this: The smaller engines provide adequate power when fuel economy is the main decision-making factor.
But there’s only one real choice if you want to maximize the 2007 Tundra’s overall performance and driving excitement—the big 5.7-liter. This state-of-the-art small-block is as stout, and sounds every bit as healthy, as any V8 on the road—including the Hemi. It also erases any doubts that Toyota can build an “American” V8.
That pulling power begins low in the rpm range and continues right up to 6,000, which is great for anglers who spend a lot of time with a boat trailer on the ball. The 5.7-liter engine is home-grown, too. Its block is cast at Toyota’s Bodine Aluminum plant in Troy, Missouri, and assembled at the new facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
Advanced features like Electronic Throttle Control, Variable Valve Timing, Acoustic Control Induction, dual overhead cams, stainless steel 4-into-2 headers, and a tuned exhaust system are just a fraction of what’s inside the all-new “stroker” muscle-truck engine, which gives the Tundra the most horsepower-per-liter (66.8 HP/L) in the 6-liter-and-smaller V8 class.
Here’s the downside: When it comes to fuel economy, the new Tundra will not be the best on the block. If you get mid-teens around town with the 5.7-liter engine, you’ll be doing well. Highway fuel economy numbers should approach 18 to 19 mpg, with boat-towing numbers probably in the low- to mid-teens.
Response And Handling
I drove the three models (Regular Cab, Double Cab and CrewMax) empty, with 9,800 pounds in-tow. All responded quickly and smoothly, and were very stable at interstate speeds and over winding roads.
The rack-and-pinion steering is nicely weighted, and the brakes are in a class by themselves. The same held true with a 1,500-pound load in the bed. The trucks don’t wallow under the burden, and in close quarters, the standard-bed Double Cab had a remarkably short 44-foot turning diameter—best of the half-tons.
What didn’t come as surprise is the 4x4 model’s traction control. Toyota has always delivered good 4-wheel-drive technology and the new truck is no different. Special sensing and software in the A-Trac system provide brake- and throttle-enhanced traction control even when the truck is in 4x4 mode with the front and rear axles locked. The system also allows independent wheel-spin sensing at each wheel so power can be managed across each axle to maximize traction under adverse conditions.
Driving an A-Trac-equipped Tundra Double Cab with the optional TRD Off-Road Package, which includes a specially tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels, B.F. Goodrich A/T off-road tires, Bilstein gas-charged shocks and fog lamps, enhances the off-pavement experience even more.
Some Model Changes
Another intriguing element of the 2007 Toyota Tundra is that there are 31 different cab/engine/bed configurations.
They dropped the “Access Cab” because the 2007 Regular Cab provides nearly the same interior room. Plus, they added a new model called the CrewMax—a four-door-and-a-half that competes directly with the Dodge MegaCab.
All three cab configurations offer strikingly spacious interiors (best in class in most aspects) with workman-like styling and features. You feel instantly at home behind the wheel. All of the Tundra’s knobs, switches and buttons are within close reach of the driver—and all can be easily operated with gloved-hands.
The only criticisms I have about the new Tundra are that the gaps between the body panels are wide compared to its competitor’s, and the quality of the interior materials seems to be a bit cheap. The seats could also be softer to help better isolate the rear seat passengers from the choppy rear suspension. But those are more aesthetic observations than anything else.
As Jim Lentz, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, executive vice president said during our drive, “From bumper-to-bumper, under the hood, and from the inside out, the new Tundra is a true American truck that will set a new benchmark in the full-size pickup segment.”
I have to agree.