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Auto review: Toyota Tundra TRD Pro likes to get dirty

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

Once unleashed, TRD Pro had a blast. ROOOAARR! I nailed the throttle and the 381-horse 5.7-liter V-8 bellowed, the rear end slewing sideways through muddy bends. With the Fox shocks allowing extended suspension travel, Tundra bounded over a sandbox of moguls like an oversized puppy.

WHUMP! It’s easy to get too excited, and the enormous front skid plate is there for when the suspension travel runs out and the truck’s belly slaps a mogul.

The Mounds’ tight confines are, frankly, more suited for mid-sizers like the Tacoma, but it would be impressed by big bother.

My friend Scott, who bleeds Ford blue, was impressed, too. Walking around the TRD Pro, he liked the menacing, black front grille and hood scoops (OK, so the scoops are fake). The big back seat room. The lifted suspension.

“No running boards for better off-road clearance. Nice.”

The TRD Pro trim is key to giving the Tundra personality. It’s also key to keeping the Tundra relevant in the full-size truck market.

 

The Texas-built Tundra sits on old bones. In today’s high-tech truck world of big Ram screens and digital Ford F-150s, the interior of the Tundra is a generation behind. The instrument display is simple. The chassis competent. The 8-inch console touchscreen devoid of fancy graphics or wireless Apple CarPlay.

On the road back down I-75 to Metro Detroit from The Mounds, the rear end fluttered over road seams. Inside, the cabin lacks the noise insulation of today’s more refined Detroit trucks. But in its simplicity, truck lovers will find comfort.

The Tundra’s tried-and-true design helped it win JD Power’s 2020 initial quality award for light-duty trucks. Its standard V-8 guarantees 9,800-pound towing capability should you want to tow a boat instead of dirt bikes. Standard, too, is adaptive cruise control for long interstate trips.

Competitors offer cool stuff like digital screens and console work surfaces, but TRD Pro’s basics keep its price in the mid-$55,000 range where comparably equipped, off-road-trimmed rivals like the wicked-looking Ram 1500 Rebel (be still, my beating heart) and Ford F-150 FX4 will crest 60 grand.

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