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Overall, the Double Cab is a foot longer than the Access Cab at 230.1 inches—or a couple fingers over 19 feet—and four inches longer than the Silverado Crew Cab. While Tundra has addressed the rear passenger issue with the Double Cab, it also unleashed the demons of driving a bigger truck. The Tundra used to be spirited and nimble under urban driving conditions. Turning circle has gone from 44.9 feet on the Access Cab to a staggering 47.5 feet on the Double Cab (2WD models). Weight has gone from 4450 pounds to 4725 pounds (2WD models). EPA fuel economy numbers dropped from 15/19 to 14/18 miles per gallon in city/highway, respectively.
The first time I drove a Tundra Access Cab in the fall of 1999, I was impressed by the road manners and the quality-for-price perception. I thought the Tundra was the perfect personal pickup because of the attention to detail, pleasant surroundings, excellent visibility and overall athletic ability to handle small and medium chores. It was easy to commute to work, yet the Tundra was powerful enough to tow a family boat to a nearby lake or haul off-road toys to the desert. And no one can dispute that Toyota is ahead of the Big 3 in reputation for reliability and customer satisfaction.
Driving the new Double Cab, I once again am struck by the quality control and fit ‘n’ finish. The Limited brings a Land Cruiser-like luxury to the cab, and the JBL sound system continues to bring the best out of my CD collection. The SR5 is just as comfortable and ergonomically competent. From a safety standpoint, Toyota has all the right equipment, although I wish rear-wheel disc brakes were available. Off-road, the Double Cab loses some prowess with the loss of ramp breakover angle, yet maintains its excellent 12-inch ground clearance. The truck just isn’t as quick through the rough areas, although I did notice a rather smooth reaction to washboard trails with the extra wheelbase.
But the key to the double cab is the increased interior room where it matches up against the competition in some categories but falls short in others.
Although the back seat isn’t as wide as the competition, it is reclined at a comfortable 24-degree angle. But more important, there is enough room for adults. The Access Cab was terribly cramped, offering only 28.6 inches of legroom. Now there is generous space and much easier ingress/egress to satisfy family, recreation and some work needs. As a special treat, the power rear vertical window opens up the cab to the great outdoors and offers extended cargo capacity for certain items of length without having the items stick out from the rear of the bed.
Which brings us back to the overall design of the Double Cab. From a personal standpoint, I wish Toyota would have stayed with the 128-inch wheelbase and shortened the bed to maintain the proper proportions. The success of the Ford SuperCrew has proven that there is a strong market for a personal/family pickup that seats five comfortably yet offers limited cargo capacity in the bed. Not only would the Tundra Double Cab be easier to drive and lighter, it would have been less expensive because there would have been lower tooling costs. Remember, when you stretch the frame there are structural issues that have to be addressed. Also, items such as brake lines and the driveshaft have to be changed. The suspension is tuned differently with the extra wheelbase and weight. In the end, Toyota could’ve brought the Double Cab to market quicker and with less development costs had it stayed with the shorter wheelbase.
Perhaps I’m missing the point of Toyota’s strategy in stretching out the Double Cab, but I do like choices. I know the Tundra was for motorists who wanted refinement and didn’t care for all the hassles inherent with a big truck. Even with the extra size, the Tundra still doesn’t match up with the competition in some categories. At 240 horsepower, the Tundra’s 4.7-liter V8 lags far behind the 345 horsepower of the Hemi in the Dodge Ram; and the Silverado, F-150 and Titan have around 300 horsepower with their V8 engines. Towing capacity is 6500 pounds (6800 pounds for 4x2 models), compared with more than 9000 pounds on the F-150 and Titan, and the Ram and Silverado are rated at least a 1000 pounds more. On the positive, the Double Cab has excellent payload ratings because it is lighter than other crew cab models.
We all know Toyota will bring an even bigger Tundra to market in 2006 in order to match the competition pound for pound and inch for inch. Every year the tow ratings will go up and the claims of being the most rugged, dependable and toughest will be debated in torture tests. But somehow I feel that while Toyota is out busting tailgates with the big boys, Honda and Mitsubishi are going to attract the personal pickup buyer with their new trucks. So maybe there will be plenty of choices.
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