The 2007 Toyota Tundra is one of those vehicles that provoke the same reaction no matter how many times you drive them. In the Roadfly office, that reaction was either a shaking head or a silly grin.
Why, you ask? Well…this is just an incredible vehicle. There’s no reason a full-size truck should be able to do what this thing does. Sometimes we just had to laugh in disbelief – it’s that good.
First of all, it looks good. Or, rather, bad. In a good way. There aren’t many vehicles out there that look as mean as this truck. You can see the Tundra coming a mile away, and armed with this intimidating presence it managed to accomplish something that few other vehicles in the world can.
With its massive grille and imposing stance, it shined a light of intimidation down I-66 like a beacon of hope. The I-66 slowpokes eagerly moved aside once their mirrors filled with the chrome Toyota logo of our tester. Now we have learned! Northern Virginia drivers respect only one thing… brute force. And apparently nothing delivers like the new Toyota Tundra.
Another thing it delivers is gobs and gobs of power. We just tested Toyota’s small SUV, the RAV4, which was pretty speedy with 269hp. But we really weren’t prepared for what lurked under the Tundra’s hood. Our Limited tester came with the top-of-the-line motor, a 5.7-liter unit that makes an eye-popping 381 horsepower at 5600rpm and 401 pound-feet at 3600rpm. The only 2007 full-size truck that even comes close is Chevy’s new Silverado, which makes 367 horsepower yet needs an extra .3 liters of displacement to do it.
Sure, that’s a lot of power. But you might have known that it’s also a very heavy truck, at a shade over 5,500 lbs. That doesn’t seem to bother the motor much, though. The Tundra is so powerful that achieving quick 0-60 acceleration times is made difficult. Standing starts in 2WD mode shredded the rear tires, muscle-car style, and returned a time of 7.01 seconds. Starting in 4WD took care of the traction issues, and the Tundra took off like a sprinter with a 0-50 time of 5.01. After 50 MPH, the drag of driving with all four wheels started to set in and the next 10 MPH took more than a full second. We played with the various traction control and limited slip electronic controls but unfortunately the Sun set before we figured out how to optimize the settings for a true and accurate 0-60 MPH run. The general consensus seems to be that the new Tundra goes from 0-60 MPH in about 6.5 seconds.
We’re sure that enterprising owners with an eye on the dragstrip can think of some way to get the Tundra to hook up. As the 0-50mph time shows, there is a ton of potential in this truck. It gets the power to the ground well enough; 6.5 seconds is very quick for a vehicle this heavy. But it has the juice to be much, much quicker.
“Sporty” was a word that came to our minds quite often when driving the Tundra. Unlike most of its competitors (as well as some aspiring sporty cars), the Tundra offers a six-speed automatic with a manual shift function. This 6-speed is the only available transmission with the 5.7L V8, and is exclusive to the bigger motor. It’s mounted on the console as opposed to the steering column, for an even sportier feel. The only drawback is that there is a bit of lag, as with most automatics. So given the ferocious manner in which the Tundra rips through its gears, we found ourselves bouncing off the rev limiter quite often. Finally, we figured out that the tranny needed a little bit of advance notice for an upshift, so we settled on tapping the lever forward when the needle was about 1000rpm short of redline.
Bopping around Northern Virginia this way got pretty addictive. Climbing the hill from I-66 to the Roadfly offices, the Tundra felt, sounded, and ate up pavement like a true muscle car. What’s more, despite being a full-size truck built for hauling, its handling was solid and predictable. We understand this might sound like a load of baloney. You might be thinking all those freebie Toyota-branded coffee mugs have compromised our objectivity. But just go drive one and see. You’ll find that this truck moves better than anything in its class, and better than a lot of things in sportier, lighter classes to boot.
Toyota has sunk a ton of money into marketing the Tundra, with gruff demonstrations of its prowess in the areas of acceleration and braking. The brakes are indeed superb, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they stop you quickly when you’re going quickly. Standing on the brakes from any sane speed brings very little drama, and the pedal feel is firm and progressive. No mush here.
It doesn’t end there. Not only are the brakes great for hot-footing around with an empty payload, they promise to be outstanding on long drives with something large attached to the tow hitch. At Roadfly, we do a fair amount of towing, especially up and down the Pennsylvania Turnpike. This is an absolutely brutal trek for a truck’s braking system, as it features many changes in elevation. Adding 10,000 lbs. to the equation is murder. So, as with the rest of the Tundra, Toyota subscribed to the “bigger is better” philosophy. They stuffed 13.9-inch rotors on the Tundra’s hubs, and wrapped them in four-piston calipers.
What’s more, the Tundra’s braking system is ingeniously designed for ease of repair, so brake jobs will be faster and better on the wallet. The pads will come out easily with the use of a cut-out in the caliper, requiring a lot less futzing, and a complete brake pad change shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes per wheel.
We could spend all day talking about the Tundra’s towing and hauling capabilities. The towing ball is an easy-on, easy-off operation, and with the help of our tester’s backup camera, hooking our Tundra up to the trailer was a cinch. Towing capacity for our tester, a 4WD Limited with the Double Cab configuration and the 6.5-foot bed, was rated at 10,300 lbs. Our Tundra was equipped with the towing package, which includes a hitch receiver, pre-wiring for trailer brake controls, a cooler and temperature gauge for the transmission, and a 4.30 rear differential.
To complement this recipe for towing excellence, our Tundra was equipped with a set of “Tow Mirrors”, giving it the most massive set of mirrors we’ve seen on a full-size passenger pickup. The tow mirrors feature integrated turn signals, heated lenses, and a convex mirror at the bottom of the housing. They extend by about 3 inches, but even when not extended you can see pretty much anything you might be towing. How much does Toyota want for this excellent set of mirrors? In a welcome reversal of convention, opting for the tow mirrors will knock $210 off your Tundra’s sticker.
Our Tundra also came with a very neat option that made hauling large, heavy objects a snap. The “bedliner with rails” option features a system of anchors and rails for tie-down straps. These little anchors can be moved laterally within a groove on the vertical sides of the Tundra’s bedliner, in order to accommodate items of all different shapes and sizes. At $345, it’s a no-brainer if you even think you might have to haul around shifting cargo. And with the Tundra’s payload of 1,560 lbs., it’s a good bet that you will.
There’s also a tailgate-assist feature, which was a standard feature on our truck. Basically, you just open the tailgate and let go, and it will fall down softly. We also got a cold-weather package, which for a measly $100 gets you a heavy-duty battery and starter, heavier anti-corrosion protection, and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Despite all this rugged functionality, the Tundra’s cabin is actually a pretty fine place to be. Standard on our Limited were leather seats, with power adjustability and heating functions for the front. Our tester had the “Double Cab” option, which is halfway between Toyota’s base regular cab and its most spacious “Crewmax.” The double cab has two conventionally hinged rear doors, which are slightly smaller than the full-size ones on the Crewmax. I am six-foot-three and, once I adjusted the drivers’ seat to my liking, I could sit in the back seat with no issues.
The controls have a high-quality feel, with a black lacquer over much of the center console for a futuristic feel. The navigation system is great, primarily because it features a touch-and-drag function like Google Maps or other computerized mapping programs. In a neat touch, the screen also pops out and pivots to reveal the slot for the 4-disc CD changer. That changer was part of the navigation package, which equips the Tundra with (in addition to the excellent nav system and backup camera) a ten-speaker audio system, an eight-channel amplifier and subwoofer, Bluetooth, an auxiliary audio jack, and steering wheel controls for the audio system. The package costs $1,650, but that’s a ton of gizmos for your buck.
Any full-size truck sold in the American market is measured by its capabilities as a work vehicle. And in this area, as in every other, the new Tundra excels. The armrest in our truck was huge, and had a tray with a little sign on it that read “remove for file storage.” We removed the tray, and sure enough there was enough depth for a full set of hanging file folders, as well as a little lip to hang them from.
There is also a narrow storage compartment in the center, alongside the cupholders, and its rubber top peels off and stows neatly underneath the armrest lid. It’s little touches like these that make the Tundra an outstandingly practical machine. The armrest is so cavernous that it’s literally laughable, and could probably double as a poker table in a traffic jam.
There is so much to say about this new truck that we could fill an entire website. From the massive V8 and stupendous brakes to the comfy cabin to the hassle-free bed, Toyota has upped the ante on all truck manufacturers, be they domestic or foreign. If pickup trucks are continuously evolving and improving, and this is the best truck on the market today, we can see an argument for this being the most capable full-size pickup ever made.
As you might expect, you get what you pay for. Fully loaded Toyotas aren’t exactly the blue-light specials they once were, and our 4×4 Limited Double Cab carried a starting MSRP of $38,550. Added to that were the navigation package, the optional 20″ alloy wheels at $920, and a couple of other doodads that pushed the sticker for our tester to $42,623. Not exactly cheap. We’ll see what kind of response this triggers from the rest of the field, and how much more equipment and space can be jammed into this segment. Re-designs for the competition have happened within the last year or two for the most part, so Toyota has leapfrogged everybody and should stay at the top of this competitive segment for quite some time.