The full-size pickup market has gone though a lot of upheaval in the past year few years, with almost all the competing trucks in this segment receiving full redesigns. The Toyota Tundra proved itself worthy in our most recent full-size truck comparison test, narrowly missing 1st place among the stalwart models from Chevy, Dodge and Ford. This highly respectable finish is due in no small part to the Tundra's burly chassis and powerful 5.7-liter V8 engine option, and the truck's handling precision also helped make it one of the most confidence-inspiring trucks to drive as well.
For 2010, the Tundra also gets a new midrange V8 that now pumps out 310 horsepower -- that's 39 additional horses, yet fuel economy improves by 2 mpg. This V8 now boasts the best combination of power and fuel economy among full-size V8 pickups, with enough towing capability for most full-size truck owners. Returning is the optional (and quite potent) 381-hp 5.7-liter V8 for those who need to do serious hauling.
The 2010 Toyota Tundra lineup has also been expanded to offer trim packages on opposite ends of the spectrum. The new Platinum Package adds features usually associated with luxury cars, while the Work Truck Package is the Tundra's new bare-bones workhorse intended mostly for businesses.
As good as the Tundra is, the recently redesigned Dodge Ram and Ford F-150 are now as good or better than the Toyota. In comparison, the Tundra's interior trades function for form -- the gauges are hard to read and its frequently used controls are difficult to reach. Meanwhile, the Tundra's occasionally bouncy and unsettled ride quality is that much more apparent this year due to the arrival of the impressively smooth-riding Dodge Ram.
On the whole, though, the Tundra still has the sturdy platform that most truck buyers are looking for. During our long-term test, we found it immensely capable when it came to towing and hauling, and it was also comfortable, durable and spacious. Plus, with its new midgrade V8, you no longer need to pony up for the biggest engine. Full-size truck buyers would be well-advised to take a serious look at the 2010 Toyota Tundra when shopping the domestic brands. This workhorse still has plenty going for it.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The 2010 Toyota Tundra is a full-size, half-ton pickup truck available in three body styles: regular cab, Double Cab (crew cab) and CrewMax (really big crew cab). Regular and Double Cabs can be ordered with either a 6.5-foot or 8-foot bed, while the CrewMax comes only with a 5.5-foot bed. Trim levels include base Grade and plush Limited. The regular cab is only available in the Grade trim.
Standard Grade features for regular cab models include 18-inch steel wheels, a 40/20/40-split cloth bench seat, a tilt steering wheel, dual-zone manual climate control, a stereo with CD and auxiliary audio jack and rubber flooring. Upgrading to larger cab models adds a power-sliding rear window, full power accessories, fold-up rear seats, cruise control and carpeting. Bucket seats, a console-mounted shifter and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel can be added with the Bucket Seat Package. Those items are included on the Limited trim level along with alloy wheels, a utility rail system for cargo, automatic climate control, an upgraded sound system with CD changer, satellite radio, iPod connectivity, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls, front and rear parking sensors and power-adjustable leather seats and overhead and center console storage.
Availability on option packages can get quite complicated and depend largely on the chosen body style. The popular SR5 package adds many of the features from the larger cab models to the regular cab along with engine skid plates. The SR5-equipped Double Cab and CrewMax models add towing and cold weather packages. Also very popular are two off-road packages that vastly improve the handling dynamics when venturing off pavement, with an upgraded suspension, trail-capable tires and wheels, skid plates and various cosmetic cues. Other packages largely enhance the Tundra's appearance. New for 2010 Tundras are the Platinum and Work Truck packages. The Platinum package, available on Limited CrewMax models, is the fully loaded Tundra with nearly every available option -- basically turning it into a Lexus pickup. The Work Truck Package goes decidedly downscale by adding vinyl seating, eliminating nearly every comfort and convenience feature, and is available only on regular and Double Cab models.
Powertrains and Performance:
The 2010 Toyota Tundra is available with a choice of three engines and is offered in either two- or four-wheel drive. The 4x2 Tundra regular cab and standard bed 4x2 Double Cab come standard with a 4.0-liter V6 producing 236 hp and 266 pound-feet of torque. This engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission -- manual gearboxes are not available on the Tundra. The EPA estimates fuel economy for this engine at 15 mpg city/19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. Given these figures, we'd skip it. Optional on these models and standard on all other Tundras is a new 4.6-liter V8 with 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy with this V8 is 15/20/17 (14/19/16 with 4WD). This engine comes standard with a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. Equipped with the tow package and depending on body style, the Tundra 4.6 can tow up to 8,600 pounds.
Optional on all Tundras is a muscular 5.7-liter V8 that produces 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. The six-speed automatic is similarly standard here. When fitted with the big V8, this truck is seriously quick, as a CrewMax SR5 4x4 we tested went from zero to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds. Fuel economy is an estimated 13/17/14 mpg (14/18/16 with two-wheel drive). Equipped with the tow package and depending on body style, the Tundra 5.7 can tow up to 10,800 pounds.
Antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are all standard, as are front-seat knee airbags for 2010. As of this writing, government crash tests have not yet been published for the 2010 model, but last year's Tundra scored four stars out of five in frontal impact tests for both driver and passenger. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal-offset crash testing, the 2009 Tundra also earned the highest possible "Good" rating. In side-impact crash testing, a Tundra Double Cab also achieved a "Good" rating.
Interior Design and Special Features:
The 2010 Toyota Tundra's interior has not seen a refresh since this current generation debuted in 2007 and in the face of redesigned Dodge and Ford trucks, the Tundra's cabin isn't as appealing as it once was. Specific complaints we have include audio controls that are out of comfortable reach for the driver, gauges that are less than legible, and interior materials quality that now trails behind the competition. The new Platinum Package addresses some of these deficiencies, but for drivers who intend on using the Tundra for work or play, the regular interior treatment should suffice.
The regular cab offers comfortable seats as well as a generous amount of interior cargo space. In Double Cabs, the backseat is fully usable for adults, while the CrewMax offers the roomiest rear seat of any pickup truck. With a limolike 44.5 inches of rear legroom, even 6-footers can stretch out and cross their legs.
The 5.7-liter V8 makes the 2010 Toyota Tundra one of the quickest pickups on and off the road, while the engine's delivery is impressively smooth. Shifts from the six-speed automatic transmission are prompt, and the console shifter's precise action makes it easy to use the manual mode while tackling steep highway grades or off-road challenges. Towing a sizable trailer is similarly no problem, as the truck can maintain its speed up steep grades without having to resort to full-throttle applications. The truck is similarly capable off-road when equipped with the TRD Off-Road Package.
For normal, daily use, the Tundra's light steering makes the truck very easy to drive, though at times it feels bigger than competing trucks. We were satisfied with the Tundra's ride quality a few years ago, but the new Dodge Ram's rear coil spring suspension and the Ford F-150's sturdier frame make the Tundra's ride seem jiggly by comparison.