Road Test Reviews, Toyota, Vehicles

2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4×4 – Road Test

Toyota trucks have been known worldwide for year as being indestructible. If you’ve ever seen the TV show Top Gear, then you’ll know how much abuse the Toyota can take and still live to drive home. They’ve sunk it in a lake, set it on fire and put it on top of a building and then blew up the building – and it still works!!!! Check it out HERE

(For a great Tacoma commercial check this out… Here )

So why hasn’t Toyota been crushing the competition in North America in the truck category? One reason is perception – North American’s don’t think that Toyota’s are tough enough. Beyond that though, the biggest problem is size. Toyota have been trying to break into the full-size pickup truck market for a number of years but have always come up way too short… at least until now!  In years past they build a ¾ sized truck, then a 5/8ths truck but finally in 2007 they did it – a genuine 100% full-sized pickup truck – and it’s a monster!

Toyota have decided to go after Ford, Chevy and Dodge in a big way by designing, and building the all-new Tundra in the US of A. If the TV commercials aren’t scaring the competition, then someone in Detroit isn’t paying attention. The hardest part for Toyota is getting all those tradesmen to give the Tundra a test drive. Once they get these guys behind the wheel, then we’ll be seeing the Tundra everywhere, and one more Detroit icon will start to slip.

First Impressions
The Tundra is a BIG truck – even bigger in the CrewMax edition tested this week. Running boards are pretty much mandatory for little guys like me at 5’7’. It’s a big step up to get into the truck, with the large handles on the A-pillars being used every time we got in.

Grabbing the big beefy door handles I opened the door, grabbed the handle and swung myself behind the wheel – trucker-style. The cloth seats are firm and very comfortable with a chair-like seating position. The seats are manually adjustable, but the lumbar adjustment is electric – weird.  The steering wheel tilts and telescopes making it easy to get into a comfortable driving position. I was surprised to see that there were no controls such as audio or climate control buttons on the wheel – just a stark non-descript steering wheel. The dashboard is large and the cowl is quite high – not what I was expecting. Glancing around the interior I noticed all the buttons and dials are over-sized – perfect for operating while using work gloves. There are cubby-holes everywhere for anything from pens and tissues (real men use their sleeves), to three or four sunglass holders and even a spot to store a blackberry and a laptop. My wife’s first comment was: “Welcome to Tundra – Land of cubby-holes and cup holders – a contractor’s dream!”

2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4x4,, Iain Shankland

The gauges in the Tundra are very clear and legible with an almost Lexus look to them. While driving I noticed that the gauge cluster was a little off-centre – probably deliberately designed that way for all those construction guys that drive with their wrist hanging over the top of the wheel while leaning on the door and clogging the left lane of the freeway – you know who you are!!

Both driver and front passenger get their own heating/cooling controls – somewhat of a surprise. The huge dividing console is designed to hold file folders as well as just about anything else you could imagine having to store. There are two good-sized glove boxes as well as a couple of small sunglass-sized compartments in the front door. For those thirsty construction workers, there are three coffee/drink holders in the centre console as well as two in each door. Rear passengers also get two bottle/drink holders in each door as well as two more in the fold-down armrest. That’s thirteen drink holders in a vehicle that is designed to carry 5 people. Do construction guys not throw away their empty cups?

The audio system is nice and easy to operate, with big dials and buttons clearly marked. The sound system in the CrewMax comes with an in-dash 6-disc CD player with AM/FM/MP3/WMA, 6 speakers and an auxiliary input jack. The sound quality is very good, with plenty of bass and crystal-clear sound, although at full-blast we could still carry on a relatively normal conversation without raising our voices to the point of shouting.

2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4x4,, Iain Shankland

Climbing into the back is very similar to the front – you have to use the handles to get in and out. With larger than average doors that open almost at a 90 degree angle, the rear seats are very easy to get in and out of. As you’d expect from Toyota, the interior and the materials used are first-rate and wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury car. Rear seating is bordering on limousine sized. With the sliding rear seat all the way forward, there’s still plenty of room for feet, knees and legs, although getting in and out is a little more difficult. However that leaves a huge area behind the seat to store a lot of stuff. With the seat in the regular sitting position (slid all the way back), only taller people – basketball players for example – wouldn’t consider it limo legroom. The rear seats split 60/40 and fold perfectly flat to allow dirty or sharp objects to be transported inside the cabin. The back of the seats are covered in a hard plastic so there’s no fear of damaging the seats. As well as locking in place when folded forward, the seatbacks can also be adjusted to recline as far back as the interior of the truck will allow. Being back there is just as good as sitting in the front – but with more legroom. There’s definitely room for three big guys back there, so there won’t be any complaints of over-crowding when five burly construction workers are using the Tundra.

2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4x4,, Iain Shankland

The Tundra is loaded with just about every safety feature available as standard equipment – from side-impact curtain airbags, ABS to EBD that includes Brake Assist and VSP (Vehicle Stability Control).

Out on the roads the Tundra behaves more like a luxury SUV than a pickup truck. The steering is nicely weighted, and offers just the right amount of feedback. The suspension is firm but also very forgiving, with potholes and road imperfections kept out of the passenger compartment. Some pickup trucks have a habit of being bouncy – especially 4×4 trucks, but the Tundra is extremely civilized on the roads regardless of whether they’re smooth or bumpy.

With a curb weight of 5,320 lbs, the Tundra is considerably lighter than the Dodge Ram (1,209 lbs) and also the Chevy and Ford (51 lbs and 151 lbs respectively) which should mean better fuel mileage in the Tundra.  In all other areas the Tundra is a clear leader, such as: horsepower, torque, ground clearance, turning radius payload and towing. Also noteworthy – traction control, brake assist and dual side airbags aren’t even available in the competing trucks, while they’re standard in the Tundra.

2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4x4,, Iain Shankland

Recognizing that not everyone needs the same type of truck, Toyota has made the Tundra available in 32 configurations, including 3 body styles, 3 cargo bed lengths and 3 trim levels. The 2007 Tacoma CrewMax comes in 2 models and numerous configurations including the choice of two V-8 engines (in Canada only the 5.7 litre engine is available). The base model 4×2 starts at $29,675 [$37,595 Cdn], with the 4×4 with the 5.7L engine starting at $33,985 [$41,660 Cdn].

Standard features include: A/C, AM/FM/CD player with MP3/WMA capability and auxiliary input jack, engine immobilizer, locking glove box, power locks with keyless entry, cruise control and an easy lift, removable tailgate. All Tundra models are standard equipped with a trailer hitch, 4-pin and 7-pin trailer wire harness and an electronic trailer brake control connector.

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Toyota’s main goal with the Tundra is to convert traditional users, such as tradesmen, farmers and landowners to look past Ford, Dodge and Chevy and buy the Tundra. I firmly believe that if any of these guys gave the Tundra a test drive, they’ll be impressed enough to not only consider the Toyota, but to actually purchase one. To that end, I handed the keys over to the targeted purchaser: a tradesman. My friend builds custom homes for a living and is a “Nothin’ beats a Chevy” guy through and through. Within 30 seconds of driving it on the road, he was sold on the Tundra!! He’s made up his mind that this was indeed going to be his next truck. He needs a longer pick up bed, so it won’t be the CrewMax, but it will be the DoubleCab. The features that stood out to him instantly were the power and torque as well as the tight turning while performing a U-turn. His jaw dropped when I told him it was a 6-speed transmission. He wasn’t as impressed with all the cubby-holes because he has plenty of those in his truck and forgets where he put things. He was impressed by the stereo system as well as the towing capacity, and especially by the bonus that the Tundra comes equipped with 4 and 7 pin plugs as well as a towing package as standard equipment. He poured over the owner’s manual cover to cover to see what else was included as standard equipment. When I asked him what he thought the price would be, he guessed it would be in the $47,000+ category. When I told him it was actually only $41,000, he was shocked.

The Conclusion
Toyota has fired a shot across the bow of “The Big Three” and they better be ready for an all-out war. This Tundra kicks asphalt in every way – including price. I wasn’t expecting the price to be lower than the competition, but it’s considerably cheaper. Throw in Toyota’s reliability and high re-sale value as well as outstanding power, torque and quality and you won’t regret this purchase. Tradesmen everywhere should be impressed with this truck as it fits their every need – especially in the hauling/towing category.

The warranty is a comprehensive Bumper-To-Bumper 3 years/60,000 miles [60,000 kms] that includes a 5 year/60,000 miles [100,000 kms] powertrain warranty. Roadside Assistance is unlimited for three years.
Towing capacity is a maximum of 10,800 lbs and a payload of up to 1,900 lbs.

Pricing for the 2007 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4×4
As tested: $36,812 [$41,660 Cdn]
Base price – CrewMax: $29,675 [$37,595 Cdn]
Destination & Delivery: $645 [$1,390 Cdn]

Fuel Consumption:  [Regular Fuel]
The 5.7L V-8 is rated at 14 mpg [16.8 L/100 kms] City and 19.8 mpg [11.9 L/100 kms] Highway
I averaged 14 mpg [16.9 L/100km] during mostly highway driving

Outstanding build quality,
Very luxurious – and BIG
Extremely quiet
A tradesman’s dream with all those storage areas
Outstanding towing and payload capacity


Back Seat Driver Test: 10 out of 10
“You definitely could do with running boards!” “Wow! It’s huge back here!” “This is nice! I can barely touch the front seat” “Look at all the room back here- we could have a party back here!!”

Immediate Competition:
Chevy Silverado Crew Cab, Dodge Ram Quad Cab, Ford F-150 SuperCrew

By The Numbers…
Powertrain:        5.7L 32-valve DOHC VVTi V-8; 6-speed Sequential Multi-mode automatic transmission; 4×4/AWD
Horsepower:     381 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque:             401 @ 3,600 rpm
0-60 mph:         7.15 seconds

10 – Quality
10 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
10 – Special Features (SatNav/Heated Seats/ Sunroof, etc)

8 – Ease of Entry/Exit
10 – Front Roominess
10 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls

10 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish

10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
10 – Ride & Handling

Ownership Value
10 – Bang for the $$
8 – Fuel Economy
146 Total / 150

2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4x4,, Iain Shankland

Copyright © 2008 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland

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