Patrick Rall's picture

A Working Review of the 2016 Toyota Tundra Limited: Luxury on a Budget

I recently had a chance to spend a week behind the wheel of the 2016 Toyota Tundra Limited, which offers the basic “luxury amenities” that you would expect from a new truck while staying away from the $50k price platform – making this the best budget truck for those who want some comforts and V8 power.

Since the newest Toyota Tundra was introduced for the 2014 model year, I have had the pleasure of reviewing both the top of the line Platinum package as well as the performance oriented TRD Pro package. The Tundra Premium wowed me with its level of luxury coupled with the ability to tow and haul like a work truck and as for the Tundra TRD Pro – it is my Favorite Japanese half ton truck of all time…hands down. I loved everything about the TRD Pro and without any question, it would be my choice if I was shopping for a new Tundra.

While I liked both of those new Tundra test trucks, some readers pointed out that “most buyers” don’t want the added cost of the performance items on the TRD Pro or some of the very high end features of the Premium package, and they are right. While I don’t agree that “most buyers” want to avoid those costly items, I understand that the vast majority of new half ton trucks sold in the US are found in the middle of the lineup.

With that in mind, I was excited to get my hands on the 2016 Toyota Tundra Limited, as it sits right in the middle of the vehicle’s lineup. The Limited package includes a standard V8, four wheel drive, a 4-door Double Cab configuration, leather front and rear seats and Entune premium audio for $41,220 and in the case of my test truck, the Limited Premium Package and Destination fees bring the price as tested to $43,825. Sure, $43k is no small chunk of change, but with many trucks that had four wheel drive, a V8 engine, a larger cab, leather and a premium infotainment package having a price that is closer to (or over) $50,000 – the Tundra Limited brings in some interior features that you’d expect while keeping the price closer to $40k.

Luxury Inside and Out
On the outside, the 2016 Tundra Limited features a slightly more upscale look than the SR5 package that comes before it in the lineup, adding a unique horizontal chrome grille, chrome mirror caps, chrome door handles and unique 20 inch wheels, while also including the chrome bumpers which are shared with the SR5 package. While the changes are fairly minimal, the chrome appointments and the 20 inch wheels really do go a long way in giving the Tundra Limited a more luxurious look than the trimlines below it on the pricing scale, but the real differences between the SR5 and the Limited package are found inside.

The three key features of the Tundra Limited interior are the leather seats, a dual zone automatic climate control system and the Entune infotainment system – all of which work together to give the cabin a higher end look and feel.

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The heated, power adjusting leather front seats of the Tundra Limited aren’t quite as plush or ornate as the buckets found in the pricier 1892 or Platinum models, but these seats are the same basic shape, offering the same comfortable support for drivers of all sizes. Between the front bucket seats is a roomy storage compartment (rather than a useless middle seat) topped by a leather, padded armrest with a perfect resting spot for your cell phone.

The rear bench seat of the Tundra Limited is one of the few that I have seen which offers a design where you can actually use the middle seat. It is still tight, especially with three adults back there, but the flattened overall design of the rear bench from side to side allows three people to share the space more comfortably. If you don’t have someone sitting in the middle seat, there is a leather armrest that folds down with two cup holders and if you don’t need any of the rear seating space, the seat flips up against the back of the cab with a 60/40 design – allowing for easier loading of inside cargo. I would like if the Tundra rear seats folded up just a bit smaller, as it would allow for larger boxes to fit in the cab, but the rear cargo space of the Tundra Limited with the seats folded up will definitely accommodate the needs of most drivers.

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Next up, we have the Entune infotainment system of the 2016 Toyota Tundra Limited. The heart of this system is a 7 inch touchscreen, which offers control of the navigation software, the various downloadable Apps such as Pandora or IHeartRadio, the hands-free phone system and the sound system including AM/FM radio, satellite radio and AUX/USB/Bluetooth input. While other automakers offer systems that have bigger screens, the Toyota Entune system offers all of the high tech functionality that you could want, making it easy for the driver to flip between radio stations or to set a new course in the navigation system with the buttons on the steering wheel – one of which activates the voice control system.

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The one “downside” to the Toyota Entune system is that when you have on gloves, as I often did when performing my working tasks with the Tundra Limited, you cannot use the touchscreen on the dash. There are a couple knobs for simple controls in case you need to quickly turn down the radio or change the channel away from a Justin Bieber song, but with the controls on the steering wheel, you can keep your gloves on and make other adjustments to the sound system, the driver information center or, with a push of the voice control button, the navigation system.

One area where you will never need to worry about your gloves getting in the way is when making adjustments to the climate control system, as the Tundra Limited’s dual zone automatic climate control system uses big knobs and big buttons to adjust the temperature, the fan speed, the blower direction and the heated seats. The driver and passenger can make their own temperature adjustments with the “sync” button and all of the HVAC information is displayed on a small screen just above the controls.

In addition to the leather seats, the premium infotainment system and the dual zone climate control system, the Tundra Limited has silver trim around the HVAC vents, along the sides of the center stack, on the inner door panels and on the steering wheel, along with a strip of woodgrain running through the middle of the dash board. It looks very upscale, but more importantly, the cabin of the Tundra Limited – even in its smaller Double Cab configuration – has real room for four adults. This is a truck that four guys can pile into and head off to the worksite, with plenty of legroom for front and rear passengers at the same time. The rear legroom is a bit tighter than the larger CrewMax cab, but even very tall adults will fit in the back seat with just a little compromise from those folks seated up front.

The 2016 Toyota Tundra Limited isn’t going to blow your mind with super high tech gadgets, but with a premium infotainment system featuring navigation, leather heated front seats and the silver trim inside and out – the Limited package brings the luxury goodies that we all really want, along with a touch of class from the extra chrome.

Driving the 2016 Tundra Limited
The 2016 Tundra Limited is powered by the iForce 5.7L with 381 horsepower and 401lb-ft of torque, which makes the full size Toyota pickup pleasantly quick from a stop or when cruising down the highway. With this being one of the more powerful trucks on the market, you won’t have any issues keeping up with fast moving traffic or accelerating away from a stop light to merge into fast-moving traffic and at no point during normal driving does the Tundra’s big V8 ever feel short on power.

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However, I am well aware that very few new truck buyers are all that concerned with going fast with their new Tundra. Most truck owners are more interested in how well they can handle a load of wood or a daily drive to the office. The Tundra with the 5.7L iForce V8 is quick, but more importantly, this truck might offer the smoothest ride in the half ton segment. Even when traveling along the rough Detroit highways, the Tundra’s ride is smooth and quiet, with very little of the road harshness making it into the cabin. When I hit the local dirt roads, the “normal” roughness of the unpaved roads is nicely muted by the suspension as well, so more than any other half ton truck I’ve tested – the Tundra offers the smoothest ride.

The issue for not having the same stiff, rigid suspension in the new Tundra is that in some situations, you compromise performance for ride quality. Most notably, the smooth suspension translates into a little more body roll than I experienced with the competitors and on the roughest dirt roads – with large craters in the hard-packed mud – the Tundra doesn’t take the serious ruts as well as the competitors.

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In other words, if you spend the majority of your drive time on smooth, paved road surfaces and you aren’t too concerned about how quickly you can speed around a highway cloverleaf, the 2016 Tundra Limited might be the ideal truck for you. Even if you spend some time on rougher roads, the Tundra will perform very well, but those who are concerned with cornering ability and rough road performance will want to opt for the Tundra TRD Off Road. You can read more about that by clicking here.

Putting the Tundra Limited to Work
While the 5.7L iForce V8 makes the 2016 Tundra Limited pleasantly quick, it also affords this half ton truck the capability of towing more than 9,500lbs (when equipped with the trailer tow package) and hauling 1,585lbs. This allowed me to make a trip to the grain store for a half ton of horse feed and after I loaded twenty 50lb bags of grain loaded into the bed, I hit the road for a quick spin before taking the food back to the stable. The powerful V8 engine hardly breaks a sweat with the extra thousand pounds in the bed and while the body roll mentioned above is still present with the loaded bed – it didn’t increase enough to make a difference. Really, the extra weight in the bed didn’t cause the Tundra Limited to drive any worse, so it passed the hauling test with flying colors.

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Once the grain was unloaded, it was time for a quick towing test for the 2016 Tundra Limited. With the use of the backup camera, mating the truck and trailer was a breeze, although I would like to see the camera centered, as that would make it easier for those folks who are new to hooking up the truck and trailer. Once the trailer was on the 3.5” drop hitch, my standard 2-horse trailer plugged into the 7-pin connector – powering the lights and the electric brakes on my trailer with the use of the integrated trailer brake controller.

After I was all hooked up and had the horses loaded, I headed onto the road with the 2016 Tundra Limited and the same 5,000lb load that I use to test every new truck. As you might expect, the V8 engine moves the extra weight very nicely, accelerating smoothly up speed from a stop to lower speeds along with climbing up to highway speeds without a whole lot of effort. The Tundra slows just as well as it accelerates and for the sake of those without electric brakes, I turned the electric brakes off to see how the standard brakes of the Tundra would handle the extra 5,000lbs. Obviously, braking distances were increased, but the big Toyota pickup stopped the horse trailer smoothly and safely. Around town, the Tundra handled well with the trailer, but when I got on the highway. I ran into my only “working” complaint with the Tundra Limited.

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In much the same way that the suspension feels too soft for some high speed driving situations, I found that to be an issue when towing the trailer as well. At speeds in the 60-70mpg range, you get a bit of a “floating” feel due to the softer suspension and while I have experienced this when testing other new Tundra pickups, I found that the TRD Pro with the Bilstein suspension is far more stable and confident at higher speeds with and without the trailer. Mind you, I am not talking about a dangerous situation, but in a battle of inches, the Tundra Limited doesn’t handle highway speeds as smoothly with the trailer as the TRD Pro. At the same time, I would confidently pull our champion show horses to every event with the Tundra Limited without any concern, as at lower speeds, these suspension issues were not present.

The Final Word
If you are looking for a new half ton pickup with an interior that features leather and a premium infotainment system, a powerful engine that tows and hauls well, an impressive level of ride quality that is hard to find in this segment and a lower price point, the 2016 Toyota Tundra Limited is one option that you need to drive before making your new purchase. While I put this Tundra through the paces and found some weaknesses, most truck owners will never run into those issues due to the fact that they don’t spent a world of time driving on the highway at 70mph with a trailer or rushing down a rough dirt road.

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If you do spend tons of time on dirt roads or pulling a 2-horse trailer, you might want to go drive (and fall in love with) the Tundra TRD Pro, but for the buyer looking for a truck with the basic luxury amenities, a smooth ride and the ability to do some hard work from time to time – the Tundra Limited is a great option for the price.

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