These days, pickup trucks can be everything from stripped-out workhorses to ultra-luxurious cruisers. Particularly in the full-size segment, trucks now offer a range of premium features and onboard technology that was once reserved for luxury cars. But then there is the Toyota Tundra.
The last major update to the current Tundra came in 2014, but it still largely uses the same mechanical components when the second-generation truck debuted in 2006. For the 2020 model year, the Tundra SR, SR5, Limited, is available in TRD Pro. And Platinum Trims, with the Western-luxury-themed 1794 version positioned at the top of the line. Both two- and four-wheel drive options are available, and you can choose from a double cab or CrewMax body style with 8-, 6.5- or 5.5-foot beds.
Other truck manufacturers offer innumerable powertrain options for their full-size offerings; From turbo-fours to diesel-powered sixes, largely V8s, there are plenty of options for buyers. Toyota, meanwhile, offers only two V8s: a 4.6-liter engine with 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque, and a larger 5.7-liter engine found in my test truck with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet.
The 5.7-liter V8 2020 is the best thing on the Tundra. It pulls strongly off the line and has a terrible exit note on your wake. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, and always appears in exactly the gear I want.
That said, fuel economy suffers. The 2020 Tundra has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 13 miles per gallon city, 17 mpg highway and 14 mpg combined with four-wheel drive, though I actually saw 18 mpg during my time with the truck. Still, the Tundra’s fuel economy lags behind, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 with its largest V8 engine options.
It is too bad that the powerplant is shocked by some form of handling. No, I do not expect a full-size truck to cruise with the same composer as a, But I don’t expect it to ride so hard either. The ride on the broken pavement is tedious and harsh, and this thing changes with the grace of a large ship. If you want a smooth, stable pickup, buy a Ram 1500.
What about truck luggage? The Tundra can carry a maximum of 1,730 pounds of payload, which is not too bad – average among competition at any rate. But while GMC and Ram are offering trick tailgate options, the Tundra once again brings it to the old school.
When it comes time to tow, the Tundra can pull up to 10,200 pounds in a double-cab, two-wheel-drive configuration with a 5.7-liter V8. This is more than enough for most truck buyers, but again, behind heavy-hitters from Chevy, Ford, GMC and Ram. Do not expect any towing technology aside from integrated electronic trailer brakes. Tundra Ford’s Pro Trailer does not offer any ancillary towing aids such as Back-Up Assist or FancyFrom GMC Sierra.
Step inside, and Tundra’s age becomes painfully clear. There is plenty of space for passengers here, but with the old design, small storage compartments, a center console that doesn’t fully open and inconvenient seats, it’s hard to keep up with Toyota’s full-size truck.
At least in-car technology is getting better, with an available 8-inch touchscreen Toyota running Entune Infotainment System. And Android Auto eventually joins the party for 2020, but the rest of Entune is as useful as last year’s tomatoes. The basic navigation system is unsightly, requiring multiple clicks to enter just one address, and the rest of the Entune is hard to work through and frustrating to use. The Tundra offers only one USB port in the entire cabin, although thankfully there are three 12-volt options, so passengers can charge their phones as long as they bring the right adapters.
That said, the Tundra gets a round of applause for offering a pretty cool feature, especially if, like me, you’re a terrible record-saver. The tundra has a place to record date and mileage for common maintenance procedures such as oil changes, tire rotations, etc. This is not the most glamorous technique, but it is something.
I would definitely have to support Toyota to offer their Safety Sense P driver-assistance suits on every tundra. This means that every truck comes with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking. Unfortunately, it’s not full speed adaptive cruise control, meaning it doesn’t work in stop-and-go traffic (you know, where you want it most). In addition, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts is only available on the upper trims.
The 2020 Toyota Tundra starts at $ 33,425 (excluding destination) for a basic SR and climbs to $ 48,625 for the luxurious 1794 version. Me? I will take an off-road-ready TRD Pro, which starts at $ 48,505, and gets a 2-inch lift and Fox shocks for better off-the-beaten-path skills.
Where Tundra makes a strong case for itself is in value. Consider this: You can’t get a 2020 Tundra for more than about $ 55,000, but if you’re not careful, a fully loaded Ram 1500 Limited will reach $ 60,000. Of course, Ram is better in everything, so you can consider it well spent money.
At the end of the day, I can see you making a case for the Tundra if you need a truck that works flawlessly with a strong V8 engine. But as a daily driver, the best players in the segment of Chevy, Ford, GMC and Ram will continue to lead the pack.