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Eric's Autos: Reviewing the 2018 Toyota Tundra

Eric Peters on

The Toyota Tundra hasn't changed much over the past 10 years -- and it isn't much changed for 2018. But that's not necessarily a bad thing ... when it comes to trucks.

For instance: The Tundra -- unlike many of its rivals -- hasn't got a turbocharged, direct-injected V6, a 10-speed transmission or an aluminum body. Instead, it comes standard with a powerful and simpler V8 without direct injection, paired with a proven reliable six-speed automatic and a harder-to-hurt (and easier to fix) fix steel body.

As Mr. Burns used to say ... excellent!

What It Is

The Tundra is Toyota's full-size pickup. Unlike the Big Three 1500s -- the Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 -- which all come standard with little V6s -- the Tundra comes standard with a big V8. Also standard is a best-in-class towing capacity. However, the Tundra does cost more to start - and it doesn't offer as many cab/bed configurations as they do -- especially now that the Regular cab version has been discontinued.

Base price is $31,120 for an SR Double Cab with an eight-foot bed, 2WD and 4.6 liter V8. Prices top out at $50,130 for the Platinum and 1794 Edition Crew Max Tundras with 4WD - each powered by the larger 5.7 liter V8.

What's New

The major changes for 2018 are a new front clip and grill treatments -- and no more regular cab. Also, the formerly optional Toyota Safety Sense system - which bundles automated emergency braking/lane departure warning/pedestrian detection and dynamic radar cruise control - is now standard in all trims.

What's Good

Regardless of trim, a V8 is standard. Many rivals come standard with V6s; highest-in-class standard tow rating (10,500 lbs.). Simpler drivetrain technology should prove more long-term durable and less maintenance-intensive.

What's Not So Good

Big Three trucks cost less to start and offer more cab/bed/drivetrain configurations. Crew Cab versions (four full-sized doors) come only with stubby 5.6 foot bed. No more Regular cab version.

Under The Hood

The lineup starts with a 4.6 liter V8 that makes 310 hp and 327 ft.-lbs. of torque; optional (and standard in Platinum, Limited, TRD and 1794 trims is a 5.7 liter V8 that makes 381 hp and 401 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Big, simple V8s with port fuel injection like the Tundra's may not be Latest Thing, but they are known good things -- durable and rugged. Ditto the simpler six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard with both the Tundra's V8s -- vs. the seven, eight and 10-speed automatics in the Nissan, GM and Ford trucks.

On The Road

Though it's about the same size as other 1500s, the Tundra somehow feels -- and drives -- less Huge.

Here's how it does that.

First, there's less of it projecting forward. It is stubbier -- from the A pillars at the base of the windshield to the front bumper. The front clip/hood is about Camry-sized, as far as how long it is. You don't feel as though you are on the bridge of a supertanker, the prow miles ahead in the mist. Because there's less schnoz, the Tundra has more effective clearance.

Tight turns -- where there are things you might hit on either side of the thing - are less hairy and can generally be done without having to stop, back up, then inch forward - repeat.

At The Curb

The disappearance of the regular cab from the roster will probably disappoint some people, who don't need the extra doors or passenger-carrying capacity. The overall length of the truck is greater now as well, so it will take up a bit more room in your garage and needs more space to park curbside.

The Crew Cab (four full-size doors) Tundra is only available with a 5.6 foot short bed. But you can make more space by dropping the tailgate -- and you do get 42.3 inches of backseat legroom with this combo.

Both cab styles come standard with power sliding rear glass (horizontal sidling in the Double Cab, vertical sliding in the Crew Cab).

A 26.4 gallon fuel tank is standard - but you can upgrade to 38 gallons (the larger tank is standard in Limited, Platinum, 1794 and TRD trims) which gives the truck long highway legs - almost 500 miles -- even with the 5.7 V8 and 13 MPG.

The Rest

All Tundras have more-than-usual ground clearance - 10.4 inches, minimum, including the 2WD versions.

There are three power points on/in the center console, but only one USB hook-up, a small tell-tale about the Tundra's age. Newer-design rivals have several USB hook-ups and the Chevy is available with in-truck WiFi. But, the Tundra is less bedazzled by gadgets - there are fewer displays and buttons and menus to scroll through - which makes it easier to just drive.

The Bottom Line

Some things do get better with age.

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To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com. His new book, Don't Get Taken for a Ride! will be available soon.

Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
 

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