As with a number of Toyota’s vehicles (I’m thinking of the 4Runner), the company’s full-size pickup is nearing the end of its current-generation product life cycle. The 2019 Tundra is pretty close to the ones we’ve seen on the roads for the past few years give or take a few updates and cosmetic and option/packaging changes.
Our tested vehicle this time out is a 4×4 with Crewmax cab (like all pickups from virtually all the major players, there is a bewildering variety of configurations to choose from) and 5.7 litre V8 engine.
This big iForce powerplant brings a competitive 381 horsepower (and 401 lb.-ft. of torque) to the platform and promises a 1,700 lb payload in the bed and 10,000 lb towing capacity. I’ll just mention here that buyers can still select Tundra with a smaller 4.6 litre eight-banger as well, should you not require that kind of power.
Porting the power through a 6-speed automatic transmission and making it easy between four-wheel drive modes (and 4×2) with a simple knob on the dash, the Tundra is easy to get used to and doesn’t bring a big learning curve to jump in and start driving.
For 2019, the TRD package brings extra toughness and off-road equipment – and a few new standard features (like the Rigid Industries fog lamps, and Fox shock absorbers) in addition to a lot of badges all over the vehicle, inside and out.
TRD Pro pumps up the cost of the Tundra by almost eighteen grand ($17,900 to be exact) but brings it to a level suitable as a proper truck for real world use.
The offroad capability is boosted with an underbody skid plate and fuel tank protector plates, all-terrain tires (mounted on TRD-specific 18” wheels and Remote Reservoir suspension kit.
The branding adds to the appearance inside and out, with TRD performance dual exhaust tips and black badging, and the name is now stamped into the bed side; and some pretty good looking stitching on the leather seats in the cabin.
Passenger space is generous throughout the Crewmax cab, as is storage area; but here’s an interesting thing Elliott pointed out when compared to his 2013 model: the rear seats have been changed to a flip-up style, which has eliminated a behind the seat hidden storage area.
Technology standouts in our test Tundra were clearance and backup sensors (and blind spot monitor), AVN navigation system and an auto-dimming rear view mirror with compass in it.
I won’t pretend I did any serious rough-country driving during my time in the Tundra, but Toyota boasts of the vehicle’s ability on difficult terrain. I did manage to find some snowy trails and a lot of pothole-cratered roads to navigate though (because I live in Edmonton, you see, where our civic flag is just a picture of a pothole swallowing a car) and the truck dealt with urban hazards with ease and a consistently smooth ride.
Even the price isn’t all that off-putting, though frankly I think I may have become somewhat jaded to pickup prices. Sixty-five grand is sixty-five grand, after all, but you can certainly pay more than that for a number of trucks that double as working and family vehicles (like the Ram 1500 we looked at recently).
Detractions I would offer after my time in this one, in addition to the usual stuff that comes with the overall size (the turning circle, the difficulty in any sort of covered parkade due to the overall height) would be:
No smart key. I could open the doors by pushing a button on the fob, but starting the Tundra required the key to be inserted in the ignition. Seems kind of anachronistic in these modern times.
Climbing into the cab was made more difficult by the test truck having no step-in rail or running board.
And of course, fuel economy – the Tundra is rated at a combined mileage of 16.0L/100 km, and I came in closer to eighteen, though in it’s defense, all my driving was done during a week of pretty heavy snow and deep-freeze temps.
Ultimately, it is a decent truck backed by Toyota’s formidable reputation for build quality and long-term value, and despite the age of this current generation continues to offer the best competition to the traditional Big Three options.