Life has never been easy for the Toyota Tundra. Competing as it does against a trio of popular full-size rigs from General Motors, Ford and Stellantis has been like scrambling for leftover dessert at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Even so, the Tundra’s many attributes — power, sturdiness and rugged countenance — have put it in good stead over the years with a dedicated group of buyers.
The 2021 model marks the end of the road for the second-generation Tundra as Toyota has a brand-new model waiting in the wings.
The current version of the U.S.-made Tundra dates back to the 2014 model year and, other than minor adjustments to the grille and the cancellation of regular-cab models, little has changed. Base trims are available in extended-length Double Cab and four-door CrewMax configurations, while upper-level models are tagged as Crew Max only.
Regardless of trim level, the Tundra’s interior and dashboard layout is fairly basic. While other trucks have gone all-out with available luxury-grade fittings (cowboy Cadillacs, as some call them), the Toyota gives off more of a work-truck vibe. The gauges, knobs and switches are uncomplicated and the foot-pedal emergency brake as reminder of an earlier time. The silver trim is also very 2014.
Passenger space is more than adequate, made even more so in CrewMax versions that have limo-like legroom. The rear seat in both cabs folds flat for securely stowing your gear.
Bed length varies with cab size. Extended-length Double Cabs can be had with a 6.5- or 8.1-foot-long box, while the Crew Max’s is 5.5 feet.
Since the base 4.6-litre V-8 was dropped following the 2019 model year, the Tundra’s sole powerplant is a 5.7-litre V-8 that produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.
The engine’s low-rumble changes to a soul-stirring roar under hard acceleration. On the downside, the throttle response is soft and getting the truck moving with any kind of gusto requires a heavy foot. The Tundra also suffers from a case of the jiggles over uneven road surfaces.
With a light foot on the accelerator, the Tundra’s fuel consumption is 17.7 l/100 km in the city, 13.6 on the highway and 15.9 combined. By comparison, a 5.3-litre-V-8-equipped Chevrolet Silverado’s combined city/highway number is a more respectable 12.7 l/100 km.
The Tundra’s V-8 is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive is standard.
Pricing starts at $49,000 for the 4x4 DoubleCab, which includes destination charges. It’s one of four distinct models and comes reasonably equipped.
At $66,700, the premium CrewMax Platinum 1794 Edition provides the most luxury content, such as perforated and ventilated leather-covered seats, power back window (that lowers and raises), a premium JBL sound system and navigation.
For more dedicated off-roading, the DoubleCab can be had with a TRD package that includes special off-road suspension, skid plates and mud guards.
The available TRD Pro package for the CrewMax SR5 adds special Fox-brand shocks, performance exhaust system and 18-inch BBS-brand wheels.
A new Tundra is slated to arrive in late 2021 as a 2022 model and the V-8 will be replaced by a twin-turbocharged 3.4-litre V-6 producing an estimated 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. That engine will also be installed in the Toyota Sequoia and the related Lexus GX utility vehicles. An optional electric motor assist (mild hybrid) system for the V-6 will boost output to 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet.
Exciting, yes, but the outgoing Tundra will be missed by those hooked on the sounds and performance produced by Toyota’s rough-and-tumble V-8. For these folks, the price of progress could be a tough pill to swallow.
What you should know: 2021 Toyota Tundra
Type: Full-size four-wheel-drive pickup
Engine (h.p.): 5.7-litre V-8 (381)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Market position: While a capable truck, the Tundra doesn’t come close in volume to full-size light-duty pickups from Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Ram that collectively continue to own the category.
Points: Very few changes since the current generation launched for 2014. • The standard V-8 makes decent power, but it’s thirsty. • Four-door CrewMax’s cabin comes with serious front and rear passenger space. • Good assortment of standard safety tech, but why do blind-spot warning and cross-traffic alert cost extra?
Driver assist: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (std.); front and rear emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (n.a.); lane-departure warning (std.); pedestrian detection (std.)
L/100 km (city/hwy): 17.7/13.6
Base price (incl. destination): $49,000
Ford F-150 4x4
- Base price: $40,700
- Comes in three cabs and six engine picks. All-electric Lightning arrives for 2022.
Chevrolet Silverado 4x4
- Base price: $37,300
- Three cab choices including a two-door. Plenty of engine/cab options.
- Base price: $51,500
- Four-door, 4WD pickup can be had with gasoline or turbo-diesel V-6 engines.
– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media