Toyota's 'Tundra Prove It!' Tour Races Into Northern California
By: Mike Levine Posted: 04-30-07 02:59 PT
© 2007

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Toyota’s ‘Tundra Prove It!’ tour came to Northern California’s Infineon Raceway last week for its largest stopover on the West Coast. Though, with over eight hundred invited guests, forty pickups, twenty-nine radio stations, five demo areas, two NASCAR drivers, and a cameo by Blink-182’s ex-drummer, it might just as well have been called Tundrapalooza.

A major component in the $100 million launch of the all-new 2007 Toyota Tundra, Tundra Prove It! is a 350-city traveling sales and marketing expo that allows potential Tundra buyers to get behind the wheel and try out the truck’s capabilities for themselves while also driving and comparing it against select competitive haulers.

Some Tundraphiles awoke as early as 4 a.m. to make the trek from Fresno and Monterey to Sonoma, California. Upon arrival these prospects were treated to bags of Tundra schwag and greeted by an impressive parking lot display of every wheelbase, cab, trim, and driveline configuration offered. Hourly clinics covered the truck from top to bottom and oriented new arrivals to what was available at the tour.

No application was ignored, from bare bones work trucks to custom 4x4s. Torn down frames and engines were staged like museum displays to help the curious visualize what’s going on beneath the Tundra’s skin and how it works. And eager product specialists stood next to each rig or rode shotgun during drives to explain its features and demonstrate items like engine choices, backup cameras, and a slick dampened tailgate that doesn’t bang down when released.

While it’s debatable whether drag racing a half-ton pickup really proves one lick about its capabilities, it sure does make for some good entertainment when caffeine-fueled truck shoppers are involved. 92-octane amateur dragsters were invited to race the Tundra on Infineon’s quarter-mile drag strip against comparable pickups from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, and Nissan. A Tundra Crew Max 4x2 with six-speed 381-hp 5.7-liter i-Force V8 running gear pulled a time of 15.6-seconds at 90-mph against a four-speed 345-hp HEMI V8 armed 2007 Dodge Ram Mega Cab 4x2 that did 16.8-seconds at 81.6-mph, a 2007 Nissan Titan Crew Cab 4x2 with a five-speed 5.6-liter V8 that ran a 16.4-second sprint at 87-mph, and a four-speed 300-hp 5.4-liter 2007 Ford Super Crew that turned in a 17.1-second, 81-mph quarter-mile. A slightly smaller Tundra Double Cab was timed at 15.4-seconds at 92-mph and a Tundra Regular Cab took the top spot for the morning at 15.0-seconds and 94-mph.

A 2007 Chevrolet Silverado didn’t show up until late in the a.m. so we missed those quarter-mile runs. It should also be noted that all Tundra times witnessed were behind the 14.8-second, 94-mph speeds we achieved in a 2007 Sierra Denali Crew Cab, powered by all wheel drive and a 6.2-liter 403-hp V8 motor, earlier this year.

Braking, maneuverability, hauling and towing tests were staged in an orange-coned lot so drivers could, again, compare the Tundra to trucks from Ford, Dodge, and Nissan in situations that mimicked something more than straightline stoplight sprints.  Towing ballast and payload were also provided to let testers experience how the Tundra responded near the boundaries of its hauling envelope.

The final hands-on demo was an opportunity for folks to take the Tundra off-road on a brief ‘green-circle’ rated trail. Loose gravel, moderate divots, and short-run washboards gave drivers a taste as to how well 4x4 Tundras could be expected to handle off-pavement excursions in 4-hi. But the course wasn't challenging enough to test out new features like Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which is used to help guide and control the truck down steep inclines.

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