2018 Toyota Tundra

By October 3, 2017

The 2018 Toyota Tundra is distinguished by last year’s model by its new grille and headlamps. Also the 2018 Tundra comes standard with more safety features than before: automatic emergency braking, automatic high beam headlights, lane departure warnings, and adaptive cruise control, in addition to its eight airbags.

A new Tundra TRD Sport with Bilstein shocks and bigger sway bars has been added to the lineup for 2018, while the regular cab, the simple work truck that started it all, has been unceremoniously dropped.

Introduced for 2007, the current-generation Tundra was revised for 2014. Among full-size pickups, the Toyota Tundra is the oldest product and has fallen behind the much newer Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and Nissan Titan. The Ram 1500, meanwhile, is almost as dated as the Tundra.

Two Toyota V8s are available: a 4.6-liter V8 making 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque and a 5.7-liter with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet.

They’re mated to the same transmission, a smooth six-speed automatic. Rear-wheel drive is standard, four-wheel drive is available and includes a two-speed transfer case.

Fuel mileage is relatively poor for the class. The 4.6-liter V8 with rear-wheel drive gets an EPA-rated 16 Combined miles per gallon, while the 5.7-liter with 4WD rates 15 mpg.

Tundra offers two cabs and bed lengths. Double Cabs offer 8- and 6.5-foot beds and feature rear-hinged rear doors and flip-up back seats. CrewMax models have 5.5-foot beds, four conventional doors, and a rear bench seat suitable for six-footers.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Tundra four stars overall in crash testing. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates Tundra Good, but only Acceptable in the small-overlap crash test.

Model Lineup

Tundra SR Double Cab ($31,120) comes with 4.6-liter V8, fabric upholstery, air conditioning, power windows/locks, rearview camera, 6.1-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth hands-free phone/music streaming, USB connectivity, and 18-inch steel wheels. A Work Truck package substitutes vinyl upholstery and flooring. (Prices are MSRP do not include $1,295 destination charge.)

Tundra SR5 4WD ($32,830) features off-road styling and upgrades with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, satellite and HD radio, foglamps, intermittent wipers, Entune Audio Plus, and chromed bumpers. A Scout navigation function works with a smartphone data connection. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is optional. Alloy wheels are optional.

Tundra Limited Double Cab ($40,385) comes standard with the 5.7-liter V8, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, woodgrain trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, and full navigation.

Tundra 1794 Edition CrewMax ($47,080) features a Western look, with special brown leather-trimmed seating with embossed and ultra-suede accents, cooled front seats, a sunroof, and 20-inch wheels. Tundra Platinum CrewMax ($47,080) is subtly upscale in style, with color-matched bumpers and modest badging, perforated leather upholstery, 12-way power driver’s seat with memory, heated/ventilated front seats, 12-speaker Entune Premium JBL Audio with navigation, moonroof.

Tundra TRD Pro ($43,495) comes in Double Cab or CrewMax form, with 5.7-liter V8, four-wheel drive, Bilstein remote-reservoir shocks, thick anti-sway bars, all-terrain tires. Tundra TRD Sport is similar, with sport-tuned Bilstein shocks, TRD anti-sway bars, a hood scoop, 20-inch alloy sport wheels, LED headlights, and a mesh grille.

New for 2018 is the suite of safety equipment: automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams.

Exterior

The new grille and headlamps make the Tundra look more stylish, but it’s still less stylish than the other trucks. It’s burly, without being clean and crisp like the Ford and GM trucks.

The rest of the sheetmetal looks familiar, while the stamped tailgate is ruggedly understated. The cargo bed lacks the utility of the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. Tundra offers no lockable storage in the cargo bed, no damped tailgate, no bumper steps.

Each Tundra trim level has a distinct character, stemming from its set of body details, including the grille, wheel type, badging, and headlight finish. Pickup bodies exhibit certain creative touches, and mild design updates help keep the Tundra fresh. Even so, it’s not quite as stylish or attractive as the competition.

Interior

Tundra seats are roomy and comfortable.

Partly because of abundant silver-colored plastic elements, the Tundra cabin falls short in attractiveness. Even in upper trim levels, the look isn’t upscale. The 1794 Edition blends luscious brown leather upholstery with plastic components that would suit a work truck.

Controls are large and logically arranged on an effective dashboard that’s symmetrical and wide. The central console can hold a laptop. Infotainment systems are well-executed, and plenty of options are available.

Double Cab models have a front bench seat, with a huge folding armrest. Double Cabs don’t have much second-row space, and the back seats have sternly upright backrests. Relatively small windows on the front-hinged rear doors add to the sense of confinement.

CrewMax offers seating for five, with sufficient leg space for every rider. Seats slide and recline, though the backrest reclining angle isn’t comfortable and cushions are low.

Driving Impressions

Toyota’s two V8 engines feel similar in city-street driving with an unladen truck. Both are smooth and deliver good low-rpm acceleration, making the Tundra acceptably quick and easygoing in traffic. Both lose oomph as speed rises or weight increases. Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Ram offer more power for accelerating with a substantial load.

Toyota’s 4.6-liter V8 feels anemic when carrying four tons or so. Despite its 310-horsepower rating, the 4.6-liter V8 cannot quite compare with V6 engines from Ford and GM.

If you’re pulling a trailer, spring for the 5.7-liter engine. Tundras are rated to tow as much as 10,300 pounds. Higher-trim models have a 38-gallon fuel tank.

Acceleration is hardier with the 5.7-liter V8. Push the gas pedal to the floor, and a 5.7-liter Tundra accelerates smartly, with a sporty exhaust note, but it doesn’t match the Chevy or Ram V8s.

Toyota’s smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission smoothly handles its task and responds promptly enough.

On the road, Tundras feel suitably solid. Ride quality is reasonably comfortable, though pavement bumps and seams typically produce impacts beyond the normal range. In urban use, the Tundra handles well. Steering is on the light side, and not as quick as that of F-150 or Ram.

TRD models are the choice for enthusiasts. Offered only with four-wheel drive, the TRD Pro, in particular, targets off-road drivers, behaving with a high level of competence after the pavement ends, not stymied by rock-strewn roads or wilderness obstacles.

Toyota’s easy-to-use 4WD system operates via a dashboard-mounted knob. Because it’s a part-time system, it shouldn’t be used on dry pavement.

Fuel economy with the 4.6-liter V8 and rear-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 15/19 mpg City/Highway, or 16 mpg Combined. Four-wheel drive drops the estimate to 14/18/16 mpg.

The 5.7-liter V8 with rear-drive is EPA-rated at 13/18 mpg City/Highway, or 15 mpg Combined. Four-wheel drive brings the estimate to 13/17/15 mpg. Both V8s use Regular 87-octane gasoline.

Final Word

The Toyota Tundra is a good pickup, but it’s been passed by trucks from Ford, GM, and Nissan. Tundra doesn’t excel by any measure. Tundra’s powertrain choices are more limited than what’s offered by Ford, GM, and Ram. At 10,400 pounds, maximum towing capacity trails the domestic models. Yet, if one of the models fits your needs and the price point is compelling, Tundra can be a contender.

Compiled with staff reports.