2020 Toyota Tundra

By March 24, 2020

The 2020 Toyota Tundra is a full-size truck that’s heavy on duty and light on luxury. Its design goes back more than a decade.

For 2020 there is just one engine for the six models. Last year’s smaller V-8 has been axed, leaving a 5.7-liter V-8. With 381 horsepower and tremendous torque, it delivers Lexus-like smooth acceleration with a deep and pleasing growl.

The 6-speed automatic transmission works well, but without the 8 or 10 gears that rivals have, the Tundra gets meager gas mileage. With two-wheel drive, the Tundra is EPA-rated at 13 mpg city, 15 highway, 18 combined, on regular fuel. Four-wheel-drive trucks drop like a five-ton boulder to 13/17/14 mpg.

The 2020 Tundra rides well and has reasonably responsive steering, but a very wide turning radius kills parking-lot maneuverability. It can tow 10,200 pounds, but American trucks still beat it handily. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while a part-time 4WD system is optional. The TRD Pro model offers above-average off-road capability.

One area where the Tundra leads the way for pickup trucks is in active safety equipment. It offers standard automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings, and automatic high-beam headlights.

The NHTSA gives the Tundra four out of five stars overall, including three stars in the calculated rollover assessment. The IIHS gives it lower scores, calling it “Marginal” and “Poor” in the driver- and passenger-side small-overlap tests designed to replicate impact with an oncoming car or a utility pole. Additionally, the IIHS calls the headlights “Marginal.”

Model Lineup

The 2020 Tundra comes as SR, SR5, Limited, TRD Pro, Platinum, and 1794 Edition. There are two body styles, extended cab and the longer crew cab with significantly more space for passengers.

The SR5 comes with basic power features, a 6.1-inch touchscreen, and the active safety features. With upgraded infotainment and four-wheel drive, the SR5 goes for about $37,000.

The price climbs to around $51,000 for the Platinum and 1794 Edition trucks, which come with soft leather and boast larger touchscreens, JBL speakers, heated and cooled seats, moonroofs, and more.

Exterior

The Toyota Tundra’s brash styling includes a massive grille, chrome bumpers, big wheels, and tailgate stamped Toyota. The TRD Pro looks best with its body-colored grille and bumper trim, but it’s not subtle. Then again, which truck is?

Interior

The Tundra’s interior is plain and functional, but the 1794 Edition features saddle brown leather upholstery that’s soft and handsome.

The standard front seats are a three-seat bench with a fold-down armrest. The Limited, Platinum and 1794 have power-adjustable front seats that are heated and cooled.

The extended cab doesn’t offer much legroom in the rear, while the crew cab offers an exceptional amount, although the seatbacks are upright. Optional captain’s chairs in the crew cab are separated by a wide center console. Wide door openings and available running boards make the Tundra easy to climb into and out of.

Depending on the cab configuration, the Tundra is available in three bed lengths. A bedliner is optional, as are features such as tie-downs, power outlets, lights, and storage spots.

Driving Impressions

The 5.7-liter V-8 feels like one of Toyota’s winning NASCAR engines. The old-school powerplant makes 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque; it brings smooth performance around town, and opens up with an eager and confident rumble when the driver’s foot goes down. It’s the best thing about the Tundra, and makes us smile every time.

The 6-speed automatic transmission is short by a few gears when compared to rivals, but it’s programmed right, and it does a good job keeping the engine in its power band for acceleration on demand. Of course, with 401 pounds of torque, that isn’t hard.

The power goes to either the rear wheels or all four wheels. The optional transfer case lacks a convenient full-time mode for use on any sort of pavement, so drivers need to shift into 4WD when extra traction is needed, and remember to shift out of 4WD when it’s not.

The ride quality is good. An independent front suspension and coil-sprung solid rear axle provide enough softness (unlike the smaller Tacoma). The TRD Pro uses off-road Fox shock absorbers that swallow big bumps even better, although the TRD Pro’s all-terrain tires aren’t very good on the terrain of smooth pavement.

The Tundra’s steering has good heft, although not much feel for the road. A big turning radius makes parking lots and even city driving a chore.

Final Word

The 2020 Toyota Tundra’s best features include good towing and that marvelous V-8 engine. The 6-speed automatic transmission works well enough, and the ride is also good, but the around-town steering could be more precise.

 

—By Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

You must be logged in to post a comment Login