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Frame and Build

The rebuttal for Toyota to the boxed frame argument is that on the heavy-duty trucks from the domestics the frames are also C-channel. In addition, access to any harnesses or lines is easier, as is cleaning out the frame if there’s mud and dirt from off-roading duties. Toyota claims it’s easier to drive the truck under heavy payload, thereby reducing driver fatigue on long trips. It will be interesting to see how Ford—big-time proponents of the fully boxed frame—will tackle this insubordination. Although official testing numbers haven’t been released, Toyota expects to receive both a 5-star crash-test rating from NHTSA as well as a “Best Pick” from the IIHS. If it doesn’t get these scores, that may settle the boxed-frame issue once and for all.

There are so many build features of the new Tundra, we’ve yet to move to the interior, but that will come soon, we promise. First we want to talk about the brakes, because it is a big story here. Tundra had decidedly one-upped the competition by offering the largest, thickest brake rotors in the segment at 13.9 x 1.26 inches. The standard four-wheel vented discs are matched to a four-piston opposed caliper design, while the rear gets 13.6-inch rotors and single-piston calipers. Big brakes are a necessity, especially if you plan to stop almost 11,000 pounds of boat or trailer. Standard safety braking features include ABS, EBD, and Brake Assist, regardless of trim level.

Let’s do a quick summation so far: Engines: good. Brakes: good. Variety: good. So how’s the suspension? This is where Tundra realized that Ford might have had a better idea, and copied at least part of it. The front setup is a double A-arm design with coilover shocks complemented by a tubular 35mm front stabilizer bar. The design allows the Double Cab standard bed to have a 44-foot turning diameter, the shortest in the segment.

In back it’s a staggered shock design, mounted outboard of the leaf springs, which increases leverage and reduces wheel hop, like the F-150 design. Toyota went one better, though, with a toe-out mounting on the leaf springs to help improve tire contact as well as overall vehicle stability under heavy side loads when cornering or towing.

For those who want more support for off-roading, the TRD Off-Road Package features unique dual-rate progressive springs on 2WD models and stiffer, linear-rate springs on 4WD models. In addition are trademark bright-yellow Bilstein gas-charged monotube shocks with large 46mm pistons for better jounce and rebound control off-road. The TRD package also gets BFG T/A 18-inch tires matched to specific wheels, as well as fog lamps and front tow hooks that are attached directly to the front frame rails for extra strength.

Drive

Speaking of off-road, the Tundra’s shift-on-the-fly 4WD system is only available on V8-equipped trucks and features an all-new transfer case to help reduce effort. A lower reduction gear improves off-road traction and control. A standard automatic limited-slip diff comes on 2WD models, while in 4WD, ALSD becomes Active Trac, which works when front and rear axles are locked together to provide excellent traction. Toyota claims that the Auto LSD reacts quicker to changing traction conditions, and delivers up to 15 percent better torque transfer than mechanical LSD systems, plus reduces yaw on washboard roads for a better ride off-road.

Other systems on the Tundra to improve handling and traction include standard Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control on all models. Before we move from the off-road discussion, one feature that Tundra has that’s not found on the competition is a standard Roll-Sensing side Curtain Airbag “off” switch that can be activated when doing serious off-roading so the roll angle sensor doesn’t deploy the side curtain airbags inadvertently.

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