Christopher Little

Family 4×4: 2014 Toyota Tundra

The 2014 Toyota Tundra debuted last year at the Chicago Auto Show. Built on the same platform as the previous generation, the new Tundra gets a reshaped body and an all-new interior. When we drove a 2013 Toyota Tundra Limited, we found it to be a good truck held back by aging technology. For 2014, Toyota seems to have solved many of those issues.

2014 Toyota Tundra 4

Since the 2014 Tundra shares its platform with the previous generation, the same 3 engine choices and 3 cab choices are still available. That means a combination of 4.0L V6, 4.6L V8, or 5.7L V8 with a regular, double or CrewMax cab. Like our previous tester, this Tundra came equipped with the top-end 5.7L i-Force V8. It remains unchanged, making the same 381hp and 401lb-ft torque as it did last year. Unlike our previous tester, however, this Tundra arrived with the CrewMax cab. This means rear occupants get a massive 42.3″ of legroom. The nearly 8″ of extra rear legroom over the double cab is deducted from the bed length. That means a 5.5″ bed instead of the double cab’s 6.5″ bed. This might be too much like a Sequoia and not enough of a “pickup” for some buyers, but none of the adults that sat in the back seat complained about comfort. This truck’s new advertising tag line “Build Anything” rings true. With the Tundra, you can build a ball park, a tree house, and a family – all with one truck.

The Tundra’s new exterior is most different in the front and rear of the truck. The front grille is wider and taller, rising to a flatter hood. The tail gate has an integrated spoiler, a more pronounced crease, and the Tundra logo is now stamped into the sheet metal. Along its flanks, the Tundra new design lines make for slightly brawnier stance. The changes are most pronounced when parked next to the previous generation.

2014 Toyota Tundra 15

The industry trend to become squarer and more chrome-clad are apparent here as well. The front bumper has been broken into three segments. This has the benefit of lowering repair costs and creating new part that can be chrome plated. The Limited, Platinum, and new 1794 Edition get silver grille inserts, chrome mirror caps, and chrome door handles for added bling. They also come standard with 20″ wheels.

Inside, the 2014 Tundra sports its biggest improvements. The audio and HVAC controls have been moved 2.6″ closer to the driver. This makes a huge difference when reaching for the controls. Using those controls have gotten easier thanks to an improved touchscreen and updated Entune software. Searching for a radio station or scrolling through a playlist no longer feels unintuitive. Bluetooth and voice control are still standard across all models. It’s also easier to read the gauges now that they aren’t recessed in individual binnacles. The center console is now wide enough to serve as a file cabinet. The runners on the side are the perfect length to support hanging files. Why drive to the office if the Tundra is comfortable and well-equipped enough to serve as your office?

2014 Toyota Tundra 8

On the road, the Tundra is well-behaved. The power from the 5.7L V8 still routes its power through a 6-speed automatic transmission and selectable 4×4 system. That means a similar level of efficiency to the last generation. We averaged 14.3mpg over 300 miles of driving. Even though the new Tundra isn’t more efficient than the outgoing model, it is better to drive. The steering has an improved road feel. That’s a big change over the vague finger-light steering of the previous truck. The electronic stability control and confidence-inspiring brakes work just as well as they did in the previous model. Our tester had two options that impacted its drive; the TRD Off-Road package and dual exhaust.

2014 Toyota Tundra 2

The 5.7L V8 isn’t a bad sounding engine on its own, but it didn’t turn any heads. With the addition of the split dual exhaust, the Tundra made its presence known immediately on start-up. Get into the throttle and the V8 bellows loudly…too loudly. Around town, the exhaust booms in the cabin. Even on the highway there’s an inescapable drone. It’s an expensive option that we’d forgo for sanity. The TRD Off-Road package is similarly confusing. In Limited trim, the Tundra is an excellent road truck. The leather front bucket seats, 20 inch wheels, and extra bright-work make it acceptable towing a boat or driving to the office. Adding the TRD Off-Road package upgrades to stiffer Bilstein stocks, 18″ wheels with off-road tires, and skid-plates for the engine and fuel tank. It takes a capable road truck and dresses it up like an off-roader. Feel free to disagree, but a serious off-roader isn’t going to want leather seats or a CrewMax cab. All the TRD Off-Road package does is make the truck less capable on the road. The stiffer suspension means a bouncier ride. The off-road tires made more noise than the 20″ road tires on the previous Tundra. We’re sure the package has its applications, but it wouldn’t be for what we used the Tundra for during our week of testing.

2014 Toyota Tundra 7

Our test truck was confused. We wouldn’t recommend its configuration. Off-road drivers aren’t going to want leather seats or an upgraded audio systems as much as road drivers aren’t going to want skid-plates or off-road tires. Thankfully, Toyota builds a host of combinations for buyers to choose from.  When the new Tundra was unveiled, one of the biggest talking points was value. Toyota has delivered value by offering more standard equipment and lowering MSRP across the board. Getting more for less is always a welcome change. In the automobile world, “new” is almost always synonymous with an increase in cost. The 2014 Tundra also fixes most of the problems that we found in the previous generation. The upgraded and more ergonomic infotainment system makes driving safer and more comfortable. The new gauge cluster also makes a marked improvement. The same proven powertrain returns, meaning that the new Tundra is as capable and reliable as the old truck. That means the Toyota Tundra is back and better than ever.

-Christopher Little

2014 Toyota Tundra Limited
$41,895
Entune Premium JBL Audio w/ Navigation $785
Blind Sport Monitor $470
Limited Premium Package $595
TRD Off-Road Package $100
Moonroof $850
Dual Exhaust $1,100
Chrome Tube Steps $534
Bedliner $365
Alloy Wheel Locks $81
Tie Down Straps $45
Destination Charges $995
As Tested MSRP $47,815

Related: Two in One: 2013 Toyota Tundra

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