$24,201 - $43,163

2017 Toyota Tundra Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota Tundra was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 6.9

The 2017 Toyota Tundra offers a choice of two V8 engines. The larger engine is more powerful, feels more responsive, and is the better choice if you plan to use the truck for towing, though it's also slightly less fuel-efficient than the smaller engine. But if fuel economy is a priority for you in general, then you're better off considering some class rivals, which offer V6 and diesel engine choices.

When you're driving, you'll notice that the Tundra delivers a stiff ride, and it doesn't soak up road imperfections the way that several rivals do. One upside is that it doesn't feel like a large truck while you're driving it, and the Tundra does have reactive steering. Still, it can be a chore to maneuver at higher speeds.

  • "On road and off, Toyota's full-size truck is still formidable." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • While manufacturers in this class typically try to one-up each other with claims of 'most horsepower,' 'most torque,' 'highest payload capacity,' 'highest towing limits,' or 'best-in-class fuel economy,' Toyota doesn't really play that game. The Tundra is competitive but not class-leading in these areas, and for most buyers, that's plenty good enough." -- Consumer Guide (2014)
  • "Overall, we wished we were equally as smitten with this Toyota's driving dynamics as we were with its updated cabin, but that isn't the case." -- Autoblog (2014)

Acceleration and Power

Unlike some class rivals, which offer a V6 as the base engine, the Tundra is only offered with V8s. The base engine is a 4.6-liter V8 that puts out 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque. It has enough power for most tasks, but the larger 5.7-liter V8 is the preferred engine for most test drivers. It produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It's responsive and powerful, and it's also the engine you'll need to unlock the Tundra's maximum towing capacity.

Neither engine will wow you with its fuel economy. With the base engine, the Tundra gets an EPA-estimated 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway. With the larger engine, those ratings drop to 13 mpg in the city and 18 on the highway. While neither engine has terrible ratings for a V8-powered truck, both are far less fuel-efficient than some of the V6 and turbodiesel options found in competitors.

Both engines are mated to a slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

  • The 5.7-liter V8 impresses thanks in large part to its generous torque output and smooth-shifting six-speed automatic transmission. If you don't think you'll need the Tundra's maximum towing capacity, you'll find the 4.6-liter V8 provides adequate performance with ever-so-slightly better fuel economy, though both engines lag behind the category leaders on this point." -- Edmunds
  • "Under the Tundra TRD Pro's hood resides one of my favorite engines in any vehicle: Toyota's 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, the original engine when the current-generation Tundra debuted back in 2007. I'm here to tell you that it hasn't aged a day. Throttle response is quick and emphatic, and there's some serious midrange torque on tap when it's time to haul the mail." -- Autotrader (2015)
  • The Tundra's 6-speed automatic transmission is smooth, though not as buttery as the Ram's 8-speed." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)

Handling and Braking

Like most trucks, the Tundra comes standard with rear-wheel drive and is available with four-wheel drive. In an age where trucks increasingly offer smooth rides, the Tundra retains the rough and tumble feel of the trucks of yore. Its stiff ride means that nearly every bump in the road will be felt by all occupants.

The Tundra has sharp steering and feels smaller than it actually is when you're driving it. Still, it's a large truck, and it can be cumbersome around corners or at higher speeds. Some test drivers note that the brakes are on the sensitive side as well.

  • "At slow parking lot speeds, the 2017 Toyota Tundra seems almost nimble thanks to a light steering feel. That same quality persists at higher speeds, however, where it becomes a liability that contributes (along with the big truck's weight and overall dimensions) to the Tundra's ponderous handling. Another downside is the Tundra's stiff ride quality. Though you expect as much with a truck, some rival trucks are more comfortable." -- Edmunds
  • "It's got an old-school feel that I appreciated -- the steering is light, maybe even over-boosted, but not in that increasingly common synthetic drive-by-wire way. It'll hold a corner surprisingly well, even while communicating road imperfections through the wheel." -- Autoweek (2015)
  • Like every big truck, except the RAM 1500 (with its controversial coil-spring rear suspension), the Tundra's ride is a bit firm and jittery when the bed is empty. Recent updates help the truck's case, but it's still a full-size pickup truck, after all." -- Autotrader (2015)

Towing and Hauling

The Tundra doesn't have quite the towing and hauling capabilities of rivals like the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 or Ford F-150. The Tundra's max towing capacity is 10,500 pounds. That's a respectable total, but it is a full ton less than the Silverado's max rating. And the Tundra's maximum payload – 2,080 pounds – is about 1,200 pounds less than the F-150's.

The Tundra does offer driver assistance features like trailer sway control that make your life easier when you're towing, and the engines have the power to tow heavy loads without feeling strained. However, some note that the Tundra feels a little more unstable than competitors when pulling a load that's near its maximum capacity.

  • "The 310-horsepower, 4.6-liter V8 is totally adequate for lighter duties, while the 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 is up for almost any task (yes, it even pulled the Space Shuttle over a bridge)." -- Kelley Blue Book (2014)
  • It's hard not to recommend the Tundra, but the Silverado does feel a little more surefooted when towing close to its maximum payload." -- Autotrader (2014)

Off-Roading

The Tundra can be equipped for off-roading thanks to the available TRD Off-Road package, and there's even a TRD Pro trim that might be of interest if you plan to venture off the pavement on a regular basis. Both TRD options include rugged features like off-road tires, skid plates, and an off-road suspension. The suspension does a great job soaking up the bumps and bounces that come with off-roading, and the Tundra is more than capable of handling tough terrain like hills, mud, and water.

  • "The Tundra does not offer a locking rear differential, but the big truck had no problems when we drove a 4-wheel-drive (4WD) TRD edition up muddy embankments, crawled down steep hills and waded through water. With TRD Pro Off-Road models you can tackle even more, including small jumps without fear of bottoming out." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "It's hard to believe, but this Tundra feels better the faster I go. At 50 mph, I'm gliding serenely over ruts and rocks that felt treacherous at 20. We're at a Toyota-sponsored event in middle-of-nowhere Nevada on some pretty gnarly terrain, and the Tundra TRD Pro isn't even breaking a sweat." -- Autotrader (2015)
  • "Where we felt the instinct to slow down to save the front end, this new spring and shock pairing just swallowed the ruts right up. After a while, our speeds picked up to 10, 15, and 20 mph faster than when we started. We were increasingly impressed that the setup was able to absorb so much nastiness and at the same time keep all four tires on the ground." -- Boston Globe (2015)

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