|Toyota’s Tundra TRD Pro is one of the toughest looking pickup trucks on the market. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I can’t tell you how many rubberneck looks it received from passersby during its test week, but suffice to say it’s pulled more eyeballs than most of the ultra-exotic hardware I’ve driven this year, and the sound its big 5.7-litre V8 makes at full throttle is almost as intoxicating as the exhaust note of one of those supercars (the amount of gas it guzzles is almost as dizzying too). At 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque it’s quick for a 2,480-kilo (5,467-lb) behemoth too, but its ultimate capability is meant to be experienced off-road.
TRD Pro trim, which sits just above the similarly named TRD Off-Road model, adds
|Zero chrome combined with cool Cement grey paint makes for quite the rugged statement. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I only had time to take it through an open 4×4 area near my home, where two-foot dried mud ruts and a few extreme verticals were easy peasy for this heavy-duty
|Robust skid plates protect the engine’s oil pan and more, while Bilstein shocks raise the suspension for 10.6 inches of ground clearance. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The rest of my test was left to city traffic, backcountry drives, highway cruising and the like, just the usual day-to-day hauls anyone with a pickup truck must endure. To that end the Tundra TRD Pro handled well and was comfortable enough, but not as easy to get along with as the CrewMax Platinum 1794 Edition I drove last year or the Double Cab 5.7 Limited Tech 4×4 I enjoyed the year before that. You can feel the beefed up suspension’s firmness on rougher pavement, and the
|Glossy black 20-inch rims are wrapped in 32-inch tires. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It wasn’t without creature comforts, the red-stitched padded leatherette trim along the front door uppers as well as the instrument panel ahead of the front passenger quite nice, this matching the seat leather to a T, and its various satin-silver metallic surfaces attractive enough, but the majority of interior surfaces are hard plastic and notably poorer in execution than its full-size pickup truck competitors, while its smallish rear quarters didn’t even go so far as to soften the upper door panels.
Likewise it’s a bit sparse with equipment for a $57,770 truck, its cheap key dangling from a five-and-dime remote fob by chintzy metal rings, no proximity keyless access letting occupants inside, and no pushbutton ignition to get things going.
|The Tundra TRD Pro is hardly short on style. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is decent enough, plus comes filled with a backup camera, accurate navigation and more, but it’s not as slick looking as other systems in Toyota’s lineup and doesn’t include full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or Toyota’s own Entune system either (the latter is coming to the Camry for 2018, but so far no other models). It does have Bluetooth, of course, with audio streaming, plus satellite radio integration if you’re willing to pay the monthly fee, while the sound of the six-speaker audio system is pretty
|With the tailgate lowered, there’s only a slight toehold on the corner edge of the bumper for climbing up onto the bed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
What’s more, this near $60k pickup truck doesn’t even offer automatic climate control, its three-dial, single-zone manual setup once again rudimentary at best, while the dials themselves look good thanks to spiffy metallic finishing, yet are made from hollow feeling plastic and wiggle a bit too much for my liking. Even the heated front seats offer nothing more than single on/off adjustment, albeit a toasty warm setting, while the driver’s position is powered, but its lumbar support only moves in and out, not up and down. I found it comfortable, mind you, a Toyota
|It’s a big stretch up to the TRD Pro’s elevated cabin, but take heart that side steps are available from Toyota’s accessories catalogue. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
A sunglasses holder sits overhead, always handy, but no sunroof was included, although the rear window featured a manually operated centre slider for better fresh airflow through the cabin. And those rear seats? Like I intimated earlier, they’re hardly long on legroom or capable of reclining. Instead you sit upright, which might prove uncomfortable for larger adults on longer trips. This said I had enough space despite my knees rubbing up against the soft front seatbacks, while I appreciated the convenience of flipping the bottom cushions upright for loading gear into the storage bin below.
|The Tundra TRD Pro provides a sporty interior design, but materials quality and features don’t impress. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
A weakness is bed access. Toyota only provides reasonably sizeable hard plastic bumper steps at each corner, but on wet days the semi-grippy surface would be prone to slipping. I like GM’s innovative bumper-integrated CornerSteps better, while Ford offers its complicated yet superbly
|Large clear gauges provide good visibility in all lighting conditions, but the multi-info display at centre is rudimentary. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
On the positive the Tundra TRD Pro comes standard with a tow package including a heavy-duty hitch receiver, 4+7 pin connectors, a supplemental transmission cooler,
|The 7.0-inch infotainment display includes a backup camera and navigation, but it’s not as advanced as other Toyota touchscreens. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All that is good, but the aforementioned 5.7-litre V8 is a gluttonous beast, its fuel economy rated at 18.0 L/100km in the city, 14.2 on the highway, and 16.3 combined. That’s horrendous, and would seriously cut short any extended forays into the wild. Why Toyota hasn’t made the plunge into light-duty diesel is uncertain, or at least a turbocharged V6 like Ford’s Ecoboost. Likewise, only Toyota’s well proven but hardly state-of-the-art six-speed automatic transmission is
|Manual HVAC in a $60k pickup truck? That just doesn’t add up. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
While I’ve been openly critical of this Tundra for many of its shortcomings, there’s a very good reason I’d still consider owning one. No other full-size pickup truck does as well in maintaining its resale value according to Canadian Black Book’s 2017 Best Retained Value Awards, only the Tacoma doing better amongst pickup trucks overall.
That’s money in the bank, and it’s hard to argue against that. Of course money isn’t
|The leather seats are nice, although their adjustment is limited. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
All that reliability and residual value should carry forward into the 2018 model already on sale, while the new truck has been given a mid-cycle refresh that will hopefully
|The Double Cab’s rear quarters provide enough space for smaller adults. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Toyota Canada sold just 7,069 Tundras after the first three quarters of 2017, which is good if you like exclusivity albeit bad if you want your favourite brand to have enough model profit to invest into redesigns, features and OEM accessories. Still, the Tundra is still giving Nissan’s Titan hard time, its Japanese branded rival struggling
|The lower cushions lift up to expose storage bins below. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Still, if Toyota wants to make a serious dent in the full-size truck industry, and the Tundra has truly only caused a few minor scratches on the back bumpers of its big three rivals, they’re going to have to step up their game in a major way. The Tundra TRD Pro is decent effort, but not good enough to cause Canada’s pickup truck faithful to cross the line and change brands.
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