Pickup trucks, by their very nature, have a lot of work ahead of them when they roll off the production line. In America, the Toyota Tundra has more work to do than most. The Tundra is in the unenviable position of being a full-size pickup truck from an overseas manufacturer in a market dominated by domestic models.
However, the Tundra certainly has its strong points. Let’s take a closer look at how it shapes up in today’s incredibly competitive market.
At a time when a number of its domestic rivals are trying out relatively new looks with all-new generations, there’s a comfortable familiarity about the 2019 Toyota Tundra. It’s not going to win any international design prizes, and it won’t turn heads on the street. But the way the Tundra looks isn’t going to put anyone off either.
One of the issues for foreign pickup trucks is they can often look a little, well, foreign. We tend to like our trucks to look a certain way, and the Toyota Tundra seems to fit the bill well. If the Tundra is dressed up a little with accessories, especially in its off-road TRD form, it can actually look pretty cool.
SR and SR5 trim levels come standard with a 4.6-liter V-8 engine under the hood producing 310 horsepower and 327 lb.-ft. of torque, which is sent to the rear or all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.
Both models can be upgraded to a more powerful 5.7-liter V-8, which is the standard in Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition and TRD Pro models. The 5.7-liter engine develops 381 hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque and comes with the same six-speed auto, and this is the combination you’re going to come across the vast majority of the time.
Although the powertrains don’t exactly jump out at you when you compare the numbers against the Toyota’s rivals, especially as the likes of the F-150 offer so much more choice, both engines are actually very good. There’s plenty of power, they’re smooth at idle, and they both sound seriously good, especially when specified with the optional cat-back exhaust system.
The Tundra won’t give you towing and payload ratings as high as its notable rivals, but there’s more than enough capability for light duty. When properly equipped, the 2019 Toyota Tundra can manage a payload of up to 1,730 pounds, and it can tow up to 10,200 pounds. The Tundra is available in Double Cab and CrewMax body styles; both can accommodate up to six people.
On most pavement surfaces, the Toyota Tundra has a soft and composed ride. There’s a little more heft to the steering than with some of its rivals. The back end can bounce around a little when unladen, but that’s the same in most full-size pickups.
There’s one thing that has to be mentioned: the four-wheel-drive system isn’t designed for use on dry pavement. You’re fine if the road surface is wet, icy, or covered in snow, but otherwise, the four-wheel-drive system is reserved for when the pavement runs out.
The width of the Tundra means it’s not especially suited to navigating tighter wilderness trails. But with upgraded shocks on the TRD Pro, the Tundra is great for negotiating dirt tracks, fields, or sand.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that extended-cab versions of the Tundra don’t give those in the second row a whole load of legroom. However, CrewMax Tundras are really spacious. SR and SR5 models come standard with a bench seat up front, but a pair of bucket seats and a center console is a more common configuration.
Compared to most of the Toyota’s serious rivals, there’s a bit of a lack of soft-touch surfaces and quality plastics. This would be perfectly acceptable if this was a budget-priced offering, but it isn’t really. And although there are 5.5, 6.5- and 8.1-foot bed lengths, depending on cab choice, the Tundra doesn’t offer any of those innovative tailgate or clever storage options you find with some rivals.
Despite average crash-test scores, the 2019 Toyota Tundra is ahead of its rivals when it comes to standard and available active safety technology. Every trim level comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high-beam headlights. Most of the time, these are costly options with the Tundra’s rivals.
- Lots of active safety tech
- Strong V-8 engines
- Spacious cabins
- Comfortable ride
- Below-par interior
- Thirsty for gas
- Clumsy around town
The Last Word
It’s easy to go out to buy a new full-size light-duty pickup truck and end up with an F-150, a Silverado 1500, or a Ram 1500. But if you want something a little different, you really should give the 2019 Toyota Tundra a closer look. It checks the majority of full-size pickup boxes, and with a little extra cash and the right trim or color combination, it can be a very cool-looking truck. However, what this truck will give you is a level of durability, dependability and reliability most rivals can only dream of. Buy one of these and look after it properly, and it could last longer than you.