$15,153 - $28,452

2012 Toyota Tundra Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Toyota Tundra was new.


Performance: 7.9

Though the Toyota Tundra provides enough power for most users, its towing ability lags behind most of its full-size competitors. Plus, more recently updated rivals like the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 have better handling, too.

  • "What We Like: 4.6-liter V-8 with broad, flat peak torque curve; 5.7-liter V-8 among best half-ton-pickup engines; 10,400-pound maximum trailering rating; Massive front brakes with excellent stopping power.” -- Cars.com
  • "Maneuverability and fuel economy are hardly the Tundra's strong points.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Tundra has a standard 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. There are two other engine options: a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque, and a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers who have driven Tundra trucks with the 5.7-liter engine say it is powerful enough for nearly anything buyers are likely to throw at it. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on V6 models, while a six-speed automatic comes with either V8.

 The EPA rates the two-wheel drive Tundra with the V6 engine at 16/20 mpg city/highway, while those with the 4.6-liter V8 get 15/20 mpg and 5.7-liter models get 14/18 mpg. When paired with four-wheel drive, the 4.6-liter V8 gets 14/19 mpg and the 5.7-liter gets 13/17 mpg. Most pickup trucks get better fuel economy, even in models with four-wheel drive and the largest available engine. Four-wheel drive is unavailable on V6 models.

  • "Highs: Burly 5.7-liter, refined 4.6-liter.” -- Car and Driver
  • "Of the two V8 engine choices, we prefer the 5.7-liter V8. With 381 horses on tap, this engine has no problem moving the Tundra even with a full cab and a loaded bed.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • “The 5.7 is strong and responsive at all speeds. It’s the obvious choice for heavy-duty hauling and trailering.” -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Reviewers say that the Toyota Tundra isn’t great to drive, even for a full-size pickup truck. They say the Ford F-150 has a stronger frame and the Ram 1500 has a more advanced suspension, both of which contribute to smoother rides. Plus, testers say the Tundra is more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces than other trucks.

  • “A tall, upright seating position makes it easier to see over the big hood, but the Tundra's overall girth, like all trucks in this segment, requires some top-notch driving skills when navigating narrow roads or confined quarters.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Unloaded ride quality is harsh.” -- Cars.com
  • "Rough ride.” -- Car and Driver

Towing and Hauling

Few reviewers comment on the Tundra’s towing and hauling capabilities. The Tundra has a maximum towing capacity of 10,400 pounds when properly configured, so it still falls short of most other full-size pickups except for the Nissan Titan. The Tundra can haul a maximum of 2,090 pounds in its bed when properly configured. 

  • “A Double Cab with the 5.7 pulled a 10,000-pound test trailer with no inordinate strain.” -- Consumer Guide

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