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Second Time's the Charm
(For Toyota and PickupTruck.com)
2000 Toyota Tundra 4x4 SR5 LTD AccessCab
last year we reviewed the all-new 2000 Toyota Tundra, which replaced
the underwhelming (in sales and performance) Toyota T-100. The T-100,
introduced in 1993, was Toyota's first attempt at competing head to head
with the full-size trucks from Ford, GM and Dodge.
us, and the Toyota fans out there, the Tundra we drove in the first test
came with the same 3.4-Liter 190 horsepower V6 that made the T-100 so
Of course the big news for the 2000 model year, in addition to the new
truck, was the new, brawny Lexus-derived 4.7-liter 32-valve DOHC i-Force
V8 pumping out 245 horsepower and 315 lb.-ft. of torque. Toyota expects
85% of all Tundra buyers to opt for the V8 engine.
Hey, we review what
Toyota provides - and the day we picked up the first truck they only had
a V6 Tundra in the press fleet. The original review points to the strengths
and weaknesses of a Tundra so equipped. So, when we opened up our mailbox
following the first road test, let's
just say some of the mail we received about the V6 Tundra was 'honest
It's quite clear
there is a loyal group of Toyota Tundra enthusiasts out there every bit
as passionate as the owners of the F-Series, Silverado, and Ram drivers
which Toyota is pitting the Tundra against. They were not pleased to see
us only drive the V6.
So, just as the Tundra
is Toyota's second chance to build a winning truck, this is our second
chance to review the Tundra in the configuration it was meant to be reviewed
in - with the V8.
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Inside & Out
On the inside, the
Tundra upholds Toyota's tradition of fine fit, finish and ergonomics.
The Tundra has the
best overall interior of any truck we have tested. The quality and feel
of the materials seems a notch higher than most of the materials used
in the other full-size trucks. At highway speeds or on surface streets
you only hear minimal road noise penetrating from outside the cab.
Sitting inside the
Tundra is like sitting in a tall Camry with a bed and almost as roomy.
The instrument panel is car-like, the seating very supportive and interior
roomy enough to accommodate up to 5 passengers.
The Tundra's dashboard
is well laid out. The tachometer and speedometer occupy the most room
and are flanked by four smaller gauges including the oil and water temp,
battery voltage and fuel level.
The radio and HVAC
controls are clustered together in the middle of the dash and wrapped
in a warm wood trim. Two 12-volt power outlets are located underneath
the radio and HVAC for your cell phone or laptop computer.
Well worth the $200
option price is the premium, 3-in-1 AM/FM, cassette and 6-CD in-dash player.
The premium stereo option also comes with 6 speakers. Sound quality was
excellent in the Tundra.
Unlike the Toyota
Tacoma we recently reviewed, the Tundra combines most of the HVAC controls
into three easy-to-use dials. Our only nitpick is that the recirculation
control for the AC is too close to the four wheel drive controls so if
you have butter fingers or its dark in the cabin watch out or you may
find yourself shifting into 4WD high.
Another nit is that
for some reason the Tundra's interior designers chose to place the digital
clock at the lowest point on the dash under the HVAC controls where it
is not easy to glance at while driving, let alone find in the first place.
The leather captain
chairs up front scream Lexus quality, refinement and luxury. Do they belong
in a pickup truck? It's your call, but we sure liked them. On long and
short trips the Tundra's seats feel great but at $1420 for the leather
package get it only if you can afford it.
In the back its a
slightly different story. The AccessCab's 60/40 rear split-bench seat
provides seating for three passengers but you will want to make the trip
short for adults because the rear seating is bolt upright and space is
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rear doors come with real exterior door handles - a key differentiator
between the Toyota Tundra and the other full-size, four door extended
cab trucks today which mount their handles inconveniently inside the doorjambs.
The rear doors only operate if the corresponding front door has been opened
On the outside the
Tundra is rather conservative. Though handsome its looks are derivative
of the Ford F-Series trucks which the Tundra comes the closest to in overall
exterior and interior appearance.
Size-wise the Tundra
appears to be about a 9/10 scale full-size truck. It's about 3-inches
narrower than the F-150 and parked next to a midsize Dodge Dakota 4x4
it only looks slightly larger.
The bed is quite
large and able to accommodate just about any contractor's toolbox and
equipment needs. The Tundra we drove came with Toyota's optional plastic
bed liner for additional durability.
The 16x7" aluminum
alloy wheels and the higher 4x4 stance do add some intimidation factor
to the exterior.
On The Road
We didn't load up
the back of the Toyota Tundra other than a few groceries and passengers
in the AccessCab.
The independent front
and live axle rear suspension adeptly handled the highway and the not-so-comfortable
city streets of San Francisco. At freeway or neighborhood speeds steering
was exact and felt good. Even tight U-turns seemed easy in the Tundra.
The I-Force 4.7-liter
engine is the first DOHC, 32-valve V8 offered in the segment. It also
is one of the first V8 engines in the segment to achieve a Low Emission
Vehicle (L.E.V.) classification. The Tundra can tow up to 7100 pounds.
With the I-Force
engine the Tundra set another first amongst the other full-size trucks
we have driven this side of the Ford Lightning, it is definitely the fastest
off the line.
Gas mileage, as expected
in a DOHC engine, was good, measuring an average 15.8mpg during city and
Like any other full-size truck today, shifting from 2WD to 4WD is simple as pushing a button.
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Summing It Up
When the 2000 Tundra
went on sale early last summer it set a sales record for Toyota as its
fastest selling vehicle ever and is expected to easily sell out its initial
100,000 vehicle build for the model year. Buyers
who might have left their Tacoma's or Nissan Frontiers in the past for
the Big 3's full-size trucks now have a new option they are more than
happy to take with the Tundra.
You can bet Ford,
General Motors and Dodge have torn several of the Tundras down to learn
as much as possible for their future trucks.
The Tundra's high
quality and powerful V8 engine is the equal of any half-ton domestic truck
available today. But be forewarned you will pay for the fit and finish
and sophisticated powerplant. The V8 equipped Tundra we tested had a suggested
retail price of nearly $28,000, and that was before the interior options
which boosted the price over the $30,000 mark.
The vocal letters
we received from Tundra owners wanting PickupTruck.com to test the V8
engine leads us to easily believe that Tundra owners are as fiercely loyal
and passionate as their F-150, Silverado, Ram and Sierra cousins.
The Big 3 have been
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