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2019 Toyota Tundra Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.0

Unlike most modern full-size pickup trucks, the 2019 Toyota Tundra comes with one of two V8 engines. These large engines deliver lively acceleration but are thirstier than rival V6s and turbodiesels. Off-road, the Tundra is one of the most capable in its class, but its on-pavement manners aren't as polished as they could be.

  • "On the road, the Tundra surprised us with its quiet cabin and pleasant road manners. Off-road, the TRD Sport 4X4 showed it has what it takes to tackle rugged terrain, steep hills and fast-moving creeks, despite the absence of a proper locking rear differential." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "Because Toyota pairs stiff springs for towing with the 5.7-liter engine, there's no getting away from the Tundra's stiff ride, which is a shame. Driving around town, you'll constantly be reminded that your truck is capable of towing a small RV." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "We like the Tundra's relatively compact steering wheel and car-like cockpit, which help give the truck a maneuverable feel. We also appreciate that the cabin remains fairly quiet at highway speeds. Off-road, the Tundra is a formidable performer, especially in the TRD Pro guise." -- Autotrader(2017)

Acceleration and Power

While the base models of most full-size trucks are powered by a V6 engine, the Tundra's comes standard with a V8. The upside to this is that every model has brisk acceleration and plenty of power. The downside is that gas mileage is pretty low in every Tundra, and there are no V6 engine or turbodiesel options to increase fuel economy or towing capacity. All Tundra models come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Tundra's base engine is a 4.6-liter V8 that produces 310 horsepower. Its fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway are among the lowest in our full-size pickup truck rankings. An optional 380-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 is available in lower trims and comes standard in Limited and above trim levels. It gets 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.

  • This bigger engine is wonderfully strong, but woefully thirsty." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With its strong V8, the Tundra offers legitimate performance. It's quick, and it feels capable of hauling itself through any scenario a real truck user might encounter." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "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)

Handling and Braking

The Tundra is a big truck, and it drives like one. Luckily, its responsive steering adds some agility at low speeds, which is helpful when traversing crowded parking lots and tight off-road trails. It also has strong, reliable brakes. Though most full-size pickups have a firm ride, the Tundra's suspension is especially stiff. Some shoppers will prefer a daily driver with a more forgiving ride quality.

Rear-wheel drive is standard in most Tundra trims, and Toyota offers four-wheel drive as a $3,000 option. The exception is the TRD Pro trim, which only comes with four-wheel drive. On challenging terrain, the Tundra's light steering equals excellent maneuverability, and the firm suspension helps smooth out rough roads. Adventurers will want to consider the TRD Pro trim or the TRD Off-Road package, which come with heavy-duty suspension components, all-terrain tires, and skid plates.

  • "The all-wheel-drive TRD Pro can also tackle challenging off-road conditions such as steep hills, fast-moving creeks and generally rough terrain, despite the unavailability of a mechanical locking rear differential. Yet the Tundra can also be quiet and pleasant on the tarmac, although versions with the 5.7 V8 have stiffer springs than those with the 4.6 because of that higher tow rating." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • Like every big truck except for the RAM 1500, with its 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. Even then, it has one of the firmest rides of all." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • 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)
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