Road Test: 2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab
By: Mike Magda, Editor Posted: 06-21-04 17:10 PT
© 2004

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Already the Toyota Tundra is suffering through a mid-life crisis. Introduced as a 2000 model, the Tundra was supposed to make up for the T-100—Toyota’s less than impressive stab at the American fullsize pickup market in the early ‘90s. The T-100 was generally considered a four-fifths-scale pickup and came with just a V6.

Then the V8-powered Tundra appeared at the start of the millennium, but it’s been criticized as being a nine-tenths-scale pickup. It is a little smaller than others and the Access Cab model is handicapped by a rear seat that’s torturous on adult backsides. But the Tundra has intimate qualities that make it delightful personal pickup and separate it from the rest of the pack that tries to outsize and out-tow each other every year. The Tundra seems to rise above the fracas and concentrate on offering a well-groomed pickup that showcases what Toyota does best.

Toyota sells every Tundra that rolls out of the Princeton, Indiana, assembly plant, mostly to Tacoma owners stepping up or Lexus owners who need a pickup for weekend recreation. But now Toyota is feeling insecure standing next to the fullsize trucks from Detroit and Nissan’s massive Titan. The company has given the Tundra its own shot of natural cab enhancement with the release of the Double Cab. Toyota is also bulking up its image by racing against the Big 3 in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series, and doing quite well.

There’s no doubt that Toyota was afraid to step on Detroit’s toes when it developed the T-100. But now Toyota—as a corporation—makes more money than GM and Ford combined and is second only to GM in global sales. Toyota continues to pick up market share every year and will no longer be considered simply as an auto importer. Toyota already has four North American assembly plants and will be opening a new truck plant in San Antonio to build the next-generation 2006 Tundra. Combined with its Indiana truck plant, Toyota will have twice the current Tundra capacity. Toyota must be thinking about conquest sales and picking up owners from the Big 3. To accomplish that feat, Toyota feels it has to start building bigger trucks. And the Double Cab is a hint of such a direction.

We took delivery of two Double Cabs for testing: a 4x2 with the Limited trim and a 4x4 with the SR5 trim. The Double Cab SR5 comes standard with a 4.7-liter V8, 4-speed automatic transmission, anti-lock brakes, CD player with six speakers, cloth-faced seating, power vertical-sliding rear window and power windows/locks. Our test vehicle added a DVD player for rear seat passengers, upgraded 8-speaker sound system, TRD Off-Road package, anti-theft system, carpet floor mats, towing package and bedliner. Total MSRP was $34,057.

The Limited package adds a JBL sound system with eight speakers, power mirrors, 17-inch wheels, color-keyed grille and bumpers and power-adjustable driver’s seat. Our tester was enhanced with a DVD player, heated leather seats, power moonroof, bedliner and tow package. Total MSRP was $35,257.

The towing package includes a Class IV tow hitch, 7-pin connector with converter, 130-amp alternator and supplemental transmission oil cooler. The TRD Off-Road package includes Bilstein shock absorbers, P265/70R16 BFGoodrich tires and color-keyed fender flares. There is one other option available on both the SR5 and Limited that was not on either of our test vehicles but should be considered when ordering a Tundra, especially for driving over hazardous road conditions. Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) with Traction Control (TRAC) helps reduce vehicle skids by using the traction control and anti-lock brake systems together. The sophisticated electronics will even cut engine power under certain situations to assist the driver regain control.

Toyota didn’t shrink the cargo bed to accommodate the extra cab length; instead, the wheelbase was stretched from 128.3 inches on the Access Cab to 140.6 inches so the bed could remain at about 74 inches long. This strategy differs from the Ford SuperCrew, new Chevy Silverado Crew Cab and Nissan Titan Crew Cab, which have shorter beds in the 67- to 68-inch range. And Toyota didn’t just maintain the bed length; it also deepened the cargo area to 20.7 inches, which is nearly four inches deeper than other Tundra models.

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