Second Time's the Charm
2000 Toyota Tundra 4x4 SR5 LTD AccessCab
Late 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.
Unfortunately for 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 underwhelming. 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 and candid'.
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.
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 slightly cramped.
The AccessCab's 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 first.
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 highway driving.
Like any other full-size truck today, shifting from 2WD to 4WD is simple as pushing a button.
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 warned.
2000 Toyota Tundra SR5
Specifications as Tested
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 Miles
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle.
N/A: Information not available or not applicable.