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2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum CrewMax First Drive

Dual citizenship: The 2014 Toyota Tundra is as American as its direct competition. But is that enough to keep up with the Big Three?

What It Is
A full-size pickup truck that can keep up with an active lifestyle without sacrificing some soft touches.
Best Thing
The 5.7-liter V-8 engine is strong enough to pull a space shuttle.
Worst Thing
That same drivetrain lives on, untouched, for the new model year.
Snap Judgment
The 2014 Toyota Tundra enters the latest model year with new styling, more apps, and more leather stitching than ever before. If those things are important to you, then the 2014 Toyota Tundra is a fine choice.


Ask most truck buyers why they bought the truck they have and it usually comes down to one or two reasons. If you're financially stable enough to be picky, the number one reason is brand loyalty, which usually begins early on in life. Depending on where you live, the second reason someone buys the truck they do is because it's designed and built in the good ol' US of A. This is good news for the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram 1500, but not so much for the Toyota Tundra. But then you remember that not only was the Tundra designed, engineered, and styled, in the United States, it's also assembled in that Mecca of U.S. truck consumption: Texas.

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Like all recently debuted light-duty pickup trucks, Toyota offers the 2014 Tundra in a variety of models that suit all walks of life, from the working-man's SR all the way up to the top-tier 1794 Edition. For the 2014 model year, the third generation Tundra offers five different trim packages including SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and 1794 Edition. Toyota hasn't announced pricing for any of these variants yet but we expect this information to be made public closer to the on-sale date. So where does the 2014 Toyota Tundra, the honorary American truck, fit amongst the rest of the full-size truck segment? We recently took the 2014 Toyota Tundra out for a spin, towed some campers, horse trailers, and a tractor, and played in the mud to find out for ourselves. Here's what we uncovered.

Walkaround

It's an epidemic in the full-size pickup truck segment lately: That huge, in-your-face, flying fist, chrome grille. First it was the 2013 Ram 1500, followed by the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, and now, we have the 2014 Toyota Tundra. If the Ford Atlas concept is any indication of the upcoming 2015 F-150, that would be a perfect four-for-four in the light-duty pickup truck segment that use the ultra-chrome-face treatment. There's a reason why everyone's doing it though; because it works, it grabs attention where you go. The 2014 Toyota Tundra is no different, either.

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When we first laid eyes on the 2014 Toyota Tundra, thoughts of the 2013 Ram 1500 and 2014 Chevrolet Silverado came rushing in, as each truck now has an aggressive stance. Each truck, including the 2014 Toyota Tundra, sport chiseled bodylines that accentuate the brute strength trucks are known to possess. Like the 1500 and Silverado, the 2014 Tundra isn't a crazy departure from the one it's replacing, but the exterior styling changes are noticeable enough to make a casual on-looker take notice. For the 2014 model year, Toyota decided to cut back on the Tundra's bubbly frame and bulbous nose. This decision was made in the name of weight loss, as well as at the request of current Tundra customers, and we think this was the right move, too.

Sitting Down

Here's where the 2014 Toyota Tundra really makes some changes. With the third generation Tundra, Toyota was shooting for an interior that exudes that "true truck" look, as they call it. This is evident with the usual over-sized knobs seen at the bottom of the center console. A grip handle made for the Incredible Hulk's hands is also present on the passenger's side A-pillar, solidifying this look. For the 2014 model year, Toyota gave each trim level a distinguished interior with details and features increasing as you climb the options ladder. On the SR and SR5 trims, you get a dark interior, but some silver highlights are added into the mix with the SR5 grade. A new, top-flight model level in the form of the 1794 Edition is added on for the 2014 model year and includes soft touch materials on the dashboard and door panels. A maple wood grain pattern with synthetic leather and stitching also run rampant throughout the interior.

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Right off the bat, we noticed that there was no grip handle on the driver's side A pillar, unlike the passenger's side. When we asked Toyota was this was omitted, they said that it would do more damage than good when the side airbags were deployed, and we tend to agree. Nevertheless, if you're vertically challenged, you're going to need to get a running start to climb into the 2014 Toyota Tundra. Once you get into the driver's seat though, you're met with a supportive seat that doesn't wear you down even after a couple hours behind the wheel. From the infotainment system to the climate and window controls, everything is comfortably in reach for the driver.

Driving

The barren back roads of western Pennsylvania allowed us to test the 2014 Toyota Tundra's limits. Rolling hills and long straightaways showcased the 5.7-liter V-8 engine's power and six-speed automatic transmission harmonious relationship. We'll admit, this combination gets the job done, but it's also the same exact source of motivation last seen in the second-generation Tundra. Put your foot down on the gas pedal, and wait, because power isn't immediately summoned. Once it does show up, the Tundra's 5.7-liter V-8 engine lacks that thunderous sound and giddy-up that other comparable pickups possess.

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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As disappointed as we were with the 5.7-liter V-8 engine's power output, the brakes made up some ground in feel and ease of application. You don't need to stand hard on the 2014 Toyota Tundra's brakes to bring everything to a halt even when traveling at highway speeds. Simply apply some pressure to the brake pedal and the stopping power shows up evenly, bringing the full-size pickup to a controlled stop, with or without something in tow. Winding through the back country of western Pennsylvania demonstrated the 2014 Tundra's comfortable and composed ride, as well. The same story applies when we towed a camper, horse trailer, tractor, and car trailer. Acceleration, braking, and ride composure while towing were all adequate for the segment.

Summary

The full-size pickup truck segment is one of the most competitive segments in North America and we don't expect that to slow down any time soon. With recent additions of the 2013 Ram 1500, 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, and now the 2014 Toyota Tundra, it's a great time to be a truck owner. The tough part is choosing between the three or waiting for the 2015 Ford F-150. But as we said, brand loyalty runs deep in the pickup truck segment and it takes a lot to make someone jump from one brand to another. In fact, it doesn't happen often.

The 2014 Toyota Tundra benefits from redesigned exterior styling that highlights a chiseled look and aggressive stance, giving it more robust styling that's commonplace in the full-size truck segment these days. However, the lack of power from the 5.7-liter V-8 engine isn't on par with Ram, Chevy, and even Ford's current V-8 offerings, so we have to knock the Tundra down a peg for that. And if buying American is important to you, then rest assured that the Tundra's engineering, styling and assembly is done here in the United States.

Does the 2014 Toyota Tundra set the light-duty pickup truck segment on fire? We'd have to say that crown currently resides on the 2013 Ram 1500's head. The 2014 Toyota Tundra can still get the job done though, and if you're in need of a light-duty pickup that delivers a comfortable ride, and is more than capable of towing the weekend fun, then the 2014 Toyota Tundra deserves a look.

Basic Specs

5.7-liter V-8 engine, six-speed automatic transmission with the V-8 engines, five-speed automatic with the V-6, two-, four-wheel drive, 270- hp with the 4.0-liter V-6, 310-hp with the 4.6-liter V-8, 381-hp with the 5.7-liter V-8, pricing TBA, fuel economy TBA

6 comments
Glenn 1
Glenn 1

That is the ugliest front end I've ever seen (aside from the Pontiac Aztec, Nissan Juke and AMC Pacer.)  Toyota  and Lexus designers really suck, lately.  Have they not seen the FORDS, Chevy's, GMC's and those beautiful RAM pick-ups that they must compete with? 

Steve Kahler
Steve Kahler

No integrated trailer brake control.... still?

Mylo Suarez
Mylo Suarez

I think the Tundra would sell more if they equipped it with a diesel engine.

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