2007 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Review – The Big Three Bully

Monday July 2nd, 2007 at 11:77 PM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

2007 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x2
By Kurt Gensheimer

Blings:

  • V-8 power out the ying-yang with up to 20 MPG
  • Interior nicer and more spacious than my office
  • Terrific seats
  • Slick features and accoutrements

Dings:

  • What, no diesel option?
  • Difficult to maneuver in tight places
  • Major understeer

Ruling: Diesel or no, the Tundra is 100 percent American and 100 percent for real.

Since the days of Hank Sr., country music singers have made a handsome living off trusty old American-made pickup trucks in their colorful ditties. But only so many words rhyme with Chevy, Ford and Dodge. What’s a crooner to do? Well, Toyota has stepped in to help the lyrically challenged with an all-new American made full size truck – the Tundra. But Toyota sure isn’t making it easy. The only word I can think of that rhymes with Toyota is “oat soda”.

And just like the uncomfortable feeling the Big Three is experiencing in NASCAR with Toyota’s entree, the same uneasiness is carrying over to the full-size truck market. What’s more, the Tundra isn’t a foreign-made pickup. Design and engineering took place in California and Michigan, the engines come from Alabama, and the truck’s assembly line is in Indiana and Texas. The Big Three might need to make room for a fourth.

2007 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x2

Our test vehicle was the Limited Edition CrewMax 4×2 with the 5.7 Liter i-Force V-8 engine dressed in a sharp Slate Metallic paint job. Tastefully placed chrome accents on the bumpers, grill and door handles made the truck stand out in a crowd, bucking the growing industry trend of crappy color-key painted plastic bumpers. The long rear doors of the CrewMax are reminiscent of a BMW 745 Li, and once inside, so is the legroom. From a posing perspective, the Tundra made quite a good first impression with us, but how would it fare in action?

Driving Impressions

First thing’s first – this truck is ripped more than Schwartzenegger in Conan the Barbarian. Talk about strengh, the i-Force V-8 cranks out 380 horsepower and over 400 pounds of torque good for over 10,000 pounds of towing capacity. With a 0-60 time of 6.2 seconds, off the line, the new Tundra can out-accelerate a slew of sports cars. And like a soft-spoken heavyweight boxer who can clean your clock with one punch, the Tundra cruises on the highway as quiet as a luxury car (66 db at 65 mph). The six-speed automatic transmission is smoother than Junior Johnson moonshine, and when you bury the throttle, it kicks down two gears faster than you can say “Giddyup!” I’m out of trite analogies, so I’ll spare you and just say that we observed 16.5 MPG in mixed driving. The Tundra merely gulps gasoline instead of chugging it with wanton disregard.

2007 Toyota Tundra 5.7L 381 hp i-Force V8

The suspension has a firm and stout feel, but not so firm that it jounces your kidneys out of place. And unlike other domestic full-size trucks, there are no rattles, squeaks or groans of any kind thanks to Toyota’s patented TripleTech frame construction. However mannerly it rides, there are still reminders that the Tundra is a full-size truck. Maneuvering in tight parking lots and narrow one-lane roads gives us an idea of what big rig truckers face each day. And just to further prove the Tundra doesn’t like to be bullied, pushing it into a corner too quickly results in a counterpush of understeer that will learn you a lesson – don’t bully the Tundra.

Build

Besides it’s brute strength, the other notable characteristic of the Tundra is the way it’s built. For those who collect a paycheck by lifting heavy loads, getting dirty and wearing a hardhat more often than a baseball cap, the Tundra offers everything but excuses. 22-inch deep bedsides with adjustable sliding rails to help keep heavy loads from ending up as rogue flying obstacles, a gas-charged tailgate for slam-free operation and up to a 2,000 lb payload capacity help make short work of a long day

Toyota Tundra - fold down rear seatsTundra 6-speed automatic

And for the worksite bigwigs who wear a hardhat only with a button-down shirt and khakis, we can’t think of another truck that offers better power, space and office-like conveniences than the Tundra. The leather seats are more comfortable than some high-dollar executive office chair, the center console swallows anything you put in it including your laptop and file folders, hands-free Bluetooth technology enables you to synch your cell phone for those frequent phone calls on the road, and available DVD navigation ends the frustrations of finding a hidden worksite.

The one major gripe I have with the Tundra is the lack of a diesel option. Every domestic competitor to the Tundra offers multiple diesel options in their full-size trucks. Travel to Australia, buy a Land Cruiser, and you have your choice of six different diesel engines. I mean seriously Mr. Toyoda (no, that’s not a typeo), would it be too much to ask if we here in the U.S. could maybe get one Toyota diesel? Please? This is a behemoth of a truck we’re talking about here, not a Corolla.

Interior

In addition to its mobile office theme, the Tundra’s interior is well though out. In a world of increasingly complex cockpit controls, we really appreciate the Tundra’s simple climate control knobs that can even be operated while wearing work gloves. To help offset its gargantuan size, drivers can select “sonar” mode so a friendly beep prevents you from accidentally backing into smaller immovable objects like a house or a parked dump truck. The instrument panels have illuminated markings against a black background which add another tasteful element to the most agreeable interior. And the Tundra can definitively claim a unique feature over all other domestic full-size pickups – a tilting and telescoping steering column. But by far, my favorite accoutrement was the electric sliding glass rear window for easy access to the bed.

1st and 2nd generation Toyota Tundra

Styling

Like the gaunt beachgoing weakling who got sand kicked in his face and came back next summer to bench press his enemies, Toyota has transformed the flaccid former design into a stout, musclebound kiester-kicker. From the gleaming chrome bumpers, to the broad fenders to the gargantuan grille, Toyota has thrown its traditionally cautious styling cues in the scrap heap.

Value

Our 4×2 CrewMax Limited came in at about $41,000 which is about $4,000 less than being loaded to the gills. Is that a good value? Well, compare it to the other domestics in its class and buyers will quickly find that they can get a diesel-equipped truck with as much or more towing capability for close to the same money as a Tundra. And depending on options, gas-powered domestics equivalent to the Tundra are a few thousand cheaper.

2007 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x2

Despite price difference, it would be foolish to dismiss the quality that Toyota brings to the table. Yes, it might be more expensive up front, but it may end up being cheaper to maintain in the long run. But that’s strictly speculation based on Toyota’s quality track record. It should be noted though that as of June 2007, Toyota is missing its early sales targets with the new Tundra, and hence have started offering rebates to help accelerate sales.

2007 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x2

Who should buy it?

People who earn a paycheck through getting sweaty, dirty and have occasional back issues from lifting heavier loads than their age and ego can handle, families with a plethora of heavy toys that require a worthy tow rig, and construction bigshots who’ve graduated from the grunt labor but still visit the worksite and require a mobile office.

2007 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x2

Conclusion

The Tundra is a few thousand dollars more than its competitors, and given this is Toyota’s first foray into the full-size market, there may be cause for hesitation. Does the Tundra have solid enough value to justify the price? Of course. It’s a rock solid truck with amentities and quality that domestics could only dream of having. But it depends on what you value. The i-Force is no doubt a terrific engine that can hold its own and still get good gas mileage, but diesels have proven themselves time and again the best for heavy duty use. Until Toyota offers a diesel in the Tundra, they may find themselves struggling to outsell the Big Three, not to mention being referenced in a Top-40 Country tune.

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

4

5

4.5

3.5

4.5

4

4.25/B+

Editor’s Note: Cars similar in class with the Tundra are the Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Titan, Ford F-series, Dodge Ram 1500 and GMC Sierra Classic 1500, Chevrolet Silverado Classic 1500.

>> See all of the Toyota Tacoma pictures in our photo gallery

>> Read more Toyota Tundra reviews submitted by the CarREVIEW.com community

>> 2007 Toyota Tundra specs

>> Toyota Tundra videos by CarReview, Roadfly, The Fuel Show and others

>> Links to more Toyota Tundra reviews on other sites

An appreciative thank-you goes to Stevens Creek Toyota for graciously providing the Tundra demo truck. This review would not have been possible without their support and help.

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