A big red 2014 Toyota Tundra 4X4 SR5 Double cab arrived in my driveway this week after I requested it from the good folks at Toyota. The Tundra is on a multi-year sales climb and it was time for me to do a deep dive into this vehicle to learn what all the fuss was about. This Tundra had a 350 CID V8 and 6-speed automatic. It also had Navigation. That was pretty much it for options. The MSRP was $37,010. After a week with the truck, it became clear to me who this truck is targeted towards and why sales have surged since it was redesigned.
I’m no stranger to large vehicles, my first car being a 1969 Plymouth Fury III - coupe. I’m also no stranger to trucks. In my twenties, I worked for landscape construction crews for four years and during that time I was almost always driving. I drove pickups, rack-body trucks, large diesel powered vehicles with dump bodies and similar trucks. Still, this double cab with its full bed struck me as just enormous.
Things have changed a lot since I drove pickups for work. For that reason, I enlisted the help of my neighbor and loyal Ford F-150 owner, Dallas. Dallas is a mechanical engineer by profession and he built his own house. The day I asked him to look over the Tundra he had his truck loaded with lumber. Toyota’s tag-line for the Tundra is “Work-ready, family tough.” Dallas’ insight helped me to understand what it is that makes this truck so successful for Toyota, and why that marketing phrase fits this truck to a Tee.
Tundra SR5 Double Cab Cargo Bed
Why did I start here? The reason is my pal looked at the cargo area before he even looked at the cab. There are thoughtful additions everywhere one looks. There are tie-down loops and cleats. The places for 2x4s to be placed to create a two-level shelf are there of course. There is a manual rear sliding window. Dallas loved that but thought power would be standard at the price point. He pulled the headrest off the center rear seat, opened the window and said “This is ideal for putting long thin items into the truck like trim boards.” The cargo area is lit, and the tailgate is soft-down. I liked that. When my 12-year old opened it the first time, I cringed waiting for its weight to overcome him and have it slam down. It did not. Dallas said it was one of his favorite features of the cargo area. None of the five trucks he has owned had that.
Tundra SR5 Double Cab Interior
The Tundra comes three ways. There is a 1-row called the SR. Toyota calls this the workhorse of the family. The next step up is SR5, which we tested. Finally, there are the Limited, Platinum, and 1794 Edition models with ever increasing comfort and amenities. The SR5 can come with the Double Cab, which we tested, and also a larger CrewMax, which offers more space for rear-seat passengers.
The shopper for a truck like the Tundra SR5 Double Cab is a family guy that wants more than just a work truck with an 8 foot bed. He also wants to be able to bring six guys to a Patriots game in relative comfort. Or take his wife, two kids and the grandparents to dinner. The six person seating in the Tundra Double Cab allows that. The vehicle is really a “four-plus-two.” However, the four can ride in real comfort. I’m 6 feet. My 6 foot 3 inch friend was able to sit comfortably behind the driver’s seat, and his knees didn’t touch the seat in front. This Double Cab is built for large men.
Dallas’ wife Jennifer came out to see the truck too. She went right to the back seats. She thought they were much more comfortable than the Ford F-150 they owned (in fairness to the Ford, it and this Tundra were not exactly the same in specifications). The back of the Tundra’s rear seats have a bit of an angle. In the Ford, they are too upright she said. She also thought it felt very roomy. When those rear seats are stowed they split 60-40. With the seat bottoms up, there is a cool cam that allows them fold straight up and lift up a bit off the floor. It makes for a very roomy storage area inside the cab. A large hockey bag would easily fit back there, possibly with just the 60 percent part folded, which would then leave four seats available.
Our Tundra SR5 had a very large driver’s area. The front seat is actually a bench seat. My sons fought over who got to “sit in the middle.” Such a novelty. When the middle of the front is not a seat it is an enormous, multi-chambered storage cubby. It can hold two Big Gulps, a cell phone, lots of sunglasses and a bunch of items from the size of a candlepin bowling ball to a lighter. Fold the console up and under it, where the middle passenger would sit, is another storage area that is flat and shaped like a laptop. It would be perfect for something one wanted out of sight like a thin purse, wallet, iPad or a Glock.
I liked the big buttons that controlled everything. The HVAC buttons are made not just for gloves, but astronaut gloves. The touch screen Nav was wonderfully simple. The Bluetooth synched to my Android phone in about 15 seconds. That included time to delete one of the previous drivers’ accounts. My son got in and synched his iPhone and all his contacts so quick I never even noticed he did it. When I played Pandora through the audio system, it worked perfectly and instantly, and I got album art and all the info, but could not use the station list (which requires an actual in-car app). The back-up camera’s guide lines were welcome. I have no idea how I would have parked it otherwise.
Hard plastic is the theme on the dash and doors, and the two-tone cloth manual adjusted seats were very industrial. I saw this as a negative. Dallas didn’t. He got in and said “I wish that nice trucks like this could come with rubber floors and no carpet, so I could just hose it out like a Jeep.” Do check out the link below this story of our test of the fancy Tundra.
Exterior Styling Elements
The Tundra has a tough look. If you think it is overdone, remember, Toyota built a smaller “full-sized” truck first. It did not sell well. Toyota is also the sales leader in smaller pickups with the Tacoma, so they have you covered if you want a truck that is smaller. The front grill has lots of chrome. Parked next to a Ford F-150 I see lots of similarities. Ford fans will likely only see the differences.
The mirrors follow the current trend and are on outriggers. I was concerned about hitting one on a telephone pole, which in my rural area are right at the roadside. I did that once in my work days, and the glass flew into the cabin hitting the spot where a passenger might have been sitting. If I could ask for one thing on this truck it would be mirrors that I could pull in closer when I am driving, and then pop out when I want them to for trailering or tricky parking.
The iForce 5.7-liter V8 with its gutsy 361 horsepower was great. I never really hammered it. How fast does one want to hurtle this beast ahead on public roads? The 6-speed automatic was well matched and never hunted for gears. The gear shift lever was on the column. That took some getting used to, and it did block part of the infotainment system. My boys asked what it was.
I drove the truck unloaded. So it bounced a bit over bumps. It shook a bit over rough areas, but what truck does not in this price range ($37K)? All trucks settle down with some weight. The turning radius was much shorter than I would have guessed. Brakes worked fine, but one has to recalibrate jumping from a convertible sports car to a full size pickup.
Towing And Hauling
Our in-house truck guru and horse owner Patrick Rall, recently tested the Tundra Platinum Crew Max version of this truck. You would do well to also consider his viewpoints at the link below if you want to get right to the nitty-gritty about towing and farm use. This truck I tested had an eight foot bed and would be able to handle anything a homeowner needed to carry.
The same day the 2014 Toyota Tundra arrived I already had a task for it that my Highlander would have had trouble handling. I have a small rental property business and a tenant called to ask that I replace the screen in a large slider. I was not sure the door frame would fit in the Highlander. With the Tundra, I had no worries. I think I could have put the whole condo in the bed if I planned carefully. It occurred to me that this is exactly why some homeowners want a truck this big. There is always a job that can be done, and more space is always welcome
Toyota Tundra V8 Maintenance
My neighbor popped the hood on the Tundra after he was done looking at the cargo area. He couldn't wait to see if the rear two coil-on-plugs were buried up under the firewall. That is something that bugs him on most trucks. In the Tundra, they are easily accessible. Next he popped the clips off the air-box and pulled out the air filter. He did it quickly and held up the air filter element to show me and said it was nice to see a truck built for easy homeowner maintenance. I noticed the dipstick and other fluid check points were all within easy reach of the front of the truck. No need to lean way in. The hood held itself up. Score one for the Toyota fan that likes to do his own maintenance.
Fuel Economy, Value, Safety
I never have any trouble beating the EPA rated fuel economy of my test vehicles. I wondered though about this big truck. It is rated at 13 city and 17 highway. On a long highway loop of about 180 miles, my mileage was 19.4 MPG, so my record stands. The truck I drove has been a workhorse in the fleet for a year and had 10,900 miles on it. It says that its mileage since the truck was born is 16.2 MPG, better than the 15 MPG combined it is rated at. Toyota will need to improve this soon to keep up with the coming Ford F-150’s amazing mileage.
Like all Toyotas, the Texas-built Tundra has excellent resale value. It is second only to the Tacoma according to NADA. The Tundra also comes with 2 years of included maintenance. It is hard to argue against the value of a Toyota Tundra based on objective data. In IIHS testing, the Tundra did well on all the crash tests conducted. Like any truck in this class, when in the Tundra you are in one of the largest and heaviest vehicles on the road. That never hurts.
The Final Word
Few types of vehicles have such loyal fans as do trucks. Die hard F-150 fans are not going to care what the Tundra can do, nor will the most ardent GM or Ram owners. However, those family buyers and small business owners who want the brand with the best reputation for quality, durability, and reliability, or who want the best resale value for their vehicle will consider the Tundra. The 2014 Tundra SR5 Double Cab offers a lot of truck for the money.
A Hard Working Review of the 2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum Crew Max
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Will aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 slow Toyota Tundra's amazing sales surge?
Photography by John Goreham