2018 Toyota Tundra

Performance


$31,320 MSRP
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2018 Toyota Tundra Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.0

The 2018 Toyota Tundra stands out from the crowd when it comes to performance, but not necessarily in a good way. While rivals offer a wide variety of powertrains, the Tundra only gives you a choice between two V8s. And because the engines are so large, the Tundra can’t provide above-average fuel economy. The Tundra rides more stiffly than many other full size pickup trucks, and it can feel cumbersome on winding roads.

  • "On road and off, Toyota's full-size truck is still formidable." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "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

Every Tundra features a V8 engine. 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 more useful. 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. Both engines are mated to a slick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission.

The Tundra gets worse gas mileage than many competitors – though to be fair, many other trucks offer V6 and turbodiesel powertrains, which tend to be more efficient. This Toyota gets an EPA-estimated 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway with the base engine. The larger V8’s ratings are slightly worse: 13/18 mpg city/highway.

  • 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 (2017)
  • "Under the … 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

Rear-wheel drive is standard in the Tundra, and four-wheel drive is available. Steering is precise, and though the Tundra is more maneuverable than you might expect, it’s still sluggish around turns. The ride is stiffer than rivals' rides; it’s not always uncomfortable, but it doesn’t absorb road imperfections that 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 (2017)
  • "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 is one of the worst choices in the class if you want the best possible towing and hauling capacities. It tops out at a 10,500-pound tow rating and a 2,080-pound maximum payload. Those numbers are considerably lower than the ratings of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and GMC Sierra. On the bright side, the Tundra has features like Trailer Sway Control, which makes it easier to pull a trailer safely down the road. The engines also have ample power to pull heavy loads without feeling overworked.

  • "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

Like all full size trucks, the Tundra is available with four-wheel drive. You can also get the TRD Off-Road package, which includes rugged features like off-road tires, skid plates, and Bilstein shocks and sway bars. The suspension does a great job of 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." -- Kelley Blue Book (2015)
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