Christopher Little

2013 Toyota Tundra Limited: Two in One

The second generation of Toyota Tundra has been around since 2007, making it one of the older models on the market.  That’s about to change with the introduction of the updated 2014 model at the Chicago Auto Show last week.  Even with the well-deserved refresh, the Tundra doesn’t feel old in comparison to other full-size pickups.  We’ve had the opportunity to spend some time in Tundra Limited over the last few months on both dry roads and through the recent winter storm.  It may show its age in some places, but its still a class act.  Does the aging design hold up just before the new model rolls out to dealers?

2012 Toyota Tundra 2

Almost every pickup has a multitude of engines, cab sizes, and bed lengths to choose from.  The Tundra is no different.  Our truck here is a Limited grade Double Cab with the standard 6.5 foot bed.  It also includes the 381hp 5.7L V8 and electronically controlled four-whee-drive system.  The Limited separates itself visually from other Double Cabs with 20″ wheels, a different grille, and a multitude of chrome accents.  It’s one of the most dressed-up Tundra setups available before you get to the Crew Max-only Platinum grade.  The Nautical Blue Metallic paint fits the extra flash just fine.

Inside, the Limited features leather seats over the usual cloth interior.  Up front, the standard bench is replaced with heated bucket seats.  There’s also an optional voice-activated touch-screen infotainment system.  This is where the truck shows its age.  The system is slow and clunky to use.  The interface, especially the satellite radio screen, is extremely unintuitive.  This problem is exacerbated by how long the reach is to use buttons on the far side of the screen. What’s even worse is how much of a digital nanny is built in.  Want to enter a navigation destination on the move?  That would be dangerous.  Want to change what phone is connected to the car’s Bluetooth? Better just hold the phone to your ear.  At some point it just seems like Toyota thinks you’d be safer without the system at all.

All this tech and comfort clearly make this truck more of a heavy hauler that doubles as a daily driver rather than a down-and-dirty work truck.  The Double Cab provides rear passengers with just under 35 inches of leg room.  It’s no substitute for a full-size SUV, but it’s awfully close.  A 6’2″ adult can sit in relative comfort, though the seat back is a little too straight.  Opting for the Crew Max would add another 10 inches of leg room for rear seat occupants, but the trade off comes in the form of a 5.5 foot bed which seriously cuts down on cargo volume.  Its a balance of uses that really comes down to personal preference.  Do you have large passengers or large cargo?

2012 Toyota Tundra 3

Driving the Tundra is a smooth experience.  With 401 ft-lbs torque on tap, there’s no shortage of grunt off the line .  The 6 speed automatic transmission provides enough cogs to quite the engine down at speed.  Body roll feels minimal, which is surprising for how high up the seating position is.  The high seating position, large side mirrors, and relatively short hood make visibility excellent.  The front seats are firm and supportive, though the passenger must make due with a lowly 4-way power adjustable seat to the driver’s 10-way setup.  The only let-down in the driving experience is the steering, but the problem doesn’t lie with the wheel itself.  It’s one of the most comfortable units I’ve ever handled.  The problem is with the hydraulic system.  Its light and quick to turn in, but there’s absolutely no feeling.  It’s a joy in tight parking lots but becomes worrisome on highway on/off ramps.  There’s just no telling what the front wheels are up to.

When the roads get slick, the traction control keeps everything pointed in the right direction.  It seamlessly cuts throttle when it senses the rear wheels slip.  There’s also a trick electronic rear limited slip differential that makes a rather discomforting mechanical noise but gets the job done.  With the traction control  turned off, it lets you pull some pretty fancy drifts in a snowy empty parking lot.  Switching over to 4WD locks the front axle in automatically; no locking hubs here.  Driving around in winter storm Nemo posed no challenge.  For those inclined, bolting a snow plow to the Tundra won’t void the factory power-train warranty.  The same can’t be said for the Ford F150.

2012 Toyota Tundra 1

The Tundra Double Cab starts at $30,860.  Dressing it up to the Limited Grade that we drove brings the MSRP to $41,360.  Add in the $2,260 infotainment system, $624 stainless steel step rails, $499 remote start, and a few other exterior add-ons and you’ve got yourself a $45,000 truck.  It’s not cheap, but you have to consider its purpose.  The Tundra Limited essentially replaces the need for a daily driver.  This is a truck that you can drive to work Monday-Friday and then take the family and a trailer on a trip over the weekend.  That makes it sound a whole lot more affordable.

-Christopher Little

Related: Family 4×4: 2014 Toyota Tundra

5 replies »

  1. The new Tundra still clearly have almost identical doors as the current one , it’s much like the 2010 Lexus LS & 2013 Lexus LS , front & rear received dramatic change but the door section stayed .

    Even though the interior received almost a full change , there’s still some things clearly they doesn’t care to change , the door handle , the gear knob & even some of the buttons .

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