Toyota didn’t take me to the far reaches of the Alaskan tundra to introduce the all-new 2014 Toyota Tundra, rather they held the introduction at the Suncadia Resort in the wilds of Washington State on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.
For being off in Washington’s wild side the Suncadia resort turned out to be anything but wild, with a beautiful lodge, condominiums and luxury vacation homes along with a 36-holes of golf course.
The reason we were there was to drive the 2014 Toyota Tundra. I don’t think anyone expects the Tundra to outsell the full-size trucks, but it certainly offers an excellent alternative for someone in the market for a big truck.
The Tundra is a totally American truck designed by Calty Design Research centers in Newport Beach, Calif. and Ann Arbor, Mich. It is engineered by Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The V-6 and V-8 engines are built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama, in Huntsville, transmissions are built at a production facility in North Carolina, and it’s all put together at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, in San Antonio, Texas.
The Tundra is offered as a two-door regular cab or four-door double cab with two bed lengths or the super-sized four-door CrewMax with a shorter 66.7-inch bed. Combine that with five grades or trim levels, two- and four-wheel drive, three different engines and what seems to be hundreds of equipment configurations, and you have about tons of ways to customize one of these trucks.
Rather than slapping different badges on each model to distinguish one from the other, each of the trim levels has unique design elements to set it apart.
Inside the trucks are well thought out with large knobs that can be easily used while wearing work gloves. Gauges are clustered to easily scan, and there’s center-mounted multi-information screen in the center of the instrument panel. The console includes multiple storage areas for personal items and electronics. While bucket seats are standard, both the double cab and CrewMax versions are available with a front bench seat.
New for 2014, the 1794 trim level, caught my attention.
The name comes from the ranch that was founded in 1794 at the site where the current Tundra plant is located in San Antonio, Texas. Sharing the top trim level with the platinum model, the 1794 has western theme interior with exclusive saddle brown premium leather-trimmed seating with embossed leather and ultra-suede accents. Like its counterpart, the 1794 model has all the bells, whistles, and technology and luxury appointments. I felt more as if I was in a high-end luxury SUV than a large truck
The entry-level Tundra is the SR, but the SR5 and Limited models are going to be the volume vehicles.
For example, all Tundras have a standard rear backup camera with a cross traffic alert to warn drivers of a vehicles moving behind it. Then, there a features like Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming, four-wheel vented disc brakes, trailer sway control, Entune audio systems, windshield deicer, and on and on. Higher-level models offer much more. One other handy feature they all have is the switch a driver can use to adjust the headlights when the bed has a large load or while towing.
Depending on the model and the configuration, the Tundras have a payload capacity from 1,255 pounds to as high as 2,040 pounds. Owners who tow will have a capacity from 9,000 pounds to 10,400 pounds, again, depending on the model and configuration.
Alternatively, for those really big jobs, don’t forget that it was Tundra that pulled the 300,000-pound Space Shuttle Endeavor the last quarter mile of its trip from the Los Angeles International Airport to the Los Angeles Science center.
Each Tundra model has a rugged new bed and tailgate. The tailgate is lockable and has an easy-lower-and-lift function that slowly drops the large tailgate with no bang.
The 2014 Toyota Tundra continues to offer three engine choices including a 270-hp 4.0-liter V-6, a 310-hp 4.6-liter V-8 and the big 381-hp, 5.7-liter V-8. Fuel economy for the trio ranges from 14 to 17 mpg city to 18 to 20 mpg highway. The V-8 engines are attached to six-speed automatic transmissions, while the V-6 has a five-speed automatic.
My driving partner and I drove several variations on drive loops from the Suncadia resort. The big trucks have an excellent ride quality and were much quieter than we would normally imagine. All the drive routes were on paved roads, so we didn’t get a chance to experience the more natural road surfaces.
Even so, because the Tundras have suspension enhancements to improve ride quality and handling, they certainly seemed to handle the rough spot and undulations we found.