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The D-Cab offers two notable new features beyond the two new full size rear doors: first is a rear 60/40 split bench seat with a more comfortable seat back angle of 24 degrees, and rear seat sections that fold and tumble forward, providing for increased cargo protection, flexibility and versatility. The next item is the vertical power-sliding full-rear window (a segment first), which when coupled with the optional power sliding moonroof and power windows in all four doors, creates an open air atmosphere.

In its V8 4x2 SR5 configuration, the D-Cab offers up to a 1,875-pound payload capacity (which includes occupants, equipment and cargo) and up to 6,800-pound towing capacity. Standard SR5 wheels are steel 16-inchers, with 17-inch, five-double-spoke alloys available as an option or standard on the Limited models. Tailgates are removable.

Base pricing ranges from $25,645 for an SR5 4x2 to $32,600 for a 4x4 in Limited trim. My driving partner and I tested both SR5 and Limited versions in 4x4 drive configurations, with the latter finished in a Graphite metallic exterior coat and sporting a price tag in excess of $35,000. It is possible to spend more for a fully loaded D-Cab in Limited trim. Options offered include: a center console mounted DVD rear entertainment and audio system with dual headphone jacks or the wireless variety; and rear cargo net.

SUMMARY: What is it like to pilot the new Tundra D-Cab? The new truck really shines in off-pavement situations in its 4x4 setup. On road however, the steering felt too light, especially in heavy cross-wind scenarios -- it seemed to lack the same directional stability offered by some full-size truck competitors. I'm confident that this is a correctable issue. The ride quality provided was very comfortable both on and off road, with the rear seat back angle better than most. Acceleration seemed more than adequate and gear changes were delivered smoothly by the four-speed automatic.

The Double Cab's bed makes no compromises in length despite the increased rear passenger room. It measures 74.3-inches -- nearly seven inches longer than that of either the bed of Ford's F150 SuperCrew or Nissan's Titan Crew Cab. At 20.7-inches, the bed is approximately four-inches deeper than other Tundra models and ranks as one of the deepest of any full-size four-door pickup.

For those interested in more rigorous trail driving, Toyota offers an optional TRD Off-Road package that includes progressive rate springs, Bilstein monotube high-pressure gas shocks, an off-road tuned suspension, 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels with P265/70R16 B.F. Goodrich tires, front and rear mudguards, fog lamps and overfender guards.

Bottom line, the Tundra Double Cab is an outstanding full size pickup truck but it's up against lots of tough competition in the segment, especially for those of the Texas persuasion. Perhaps when Tundra launches its NASCAR campaign next season, the tide will turn more favorably. Hey, Nextel is replacing Winston, so anything is possible.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab

Base Price:
$25,645 (4x2 SR5)
$29,270 (4x2 Ltd)
$28,975 (4x4 SR5)
$32,600 (4x4 Ltd)

Engine Type and Size:
3.4 liter DOHC-24-valve V6 / 4.7 liter DOHC 32-valve i- Force V8

Horsepower (bhp):
240 @ 4,800 rpm - V8

Torque (ft./ lbs.):
315 @ 3,400 rpm - V8

Transmission:
Four-speed automatic

Drivetrain:
Longitudinally mounted front engine / 4x2 Rear-wheel or 4x4 All-Wheel Drive

Suspension:
Front - Independent coil spring double wishbone with low-press
ure nitrogen gas shocks

Rear - Leaf springs with staggered low-pressure nitrogen
gas shocks.

Brakes:
Power-assisted front vented discs with four-piston calipers Drum rear.

Tires:
Dunlop GrandTrek AT P265/65R17 mounted on five-double spoke alloy wheels (optional) - Standard 16-inch steel wheels.

Wheelbase: 140.5 inches
Length Overall: 230.1 inches
Width: 79.7 inches (Ltd.)
Curb Weight: 5,020 lbs. (Ltd. 4x4)

Fuel Capacity: 26.4 gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates: 14 mpg city / 16 mpg highway (4x4)

Drag Coefficient: Not listed
0 - 60 mph: Not tested


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