American Classic: The 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax
The 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4.
It was just a shade more than four years ago that I wrote the first of several TireKicker reviews (including a few from the Phoenix Bureau) wondering why it was that the then-new Toyota Tundra wasn't posing a major threat to the full-size American trucks from Ford, Chevy, GMC and RAM.

In it, I said "it's as though Toyota City had moved to Texas."  And in the intervening years, it pretty much has.  Toyota's new North American headquarters opened in the Dallas suburb of Plano this month, and the the 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4 that we tested was built in San Antonio.

A lot has changed in four years---things that should help give Toyota the cred it needs to shake up the full-size pickup truck market the way it did passenger cars almost 40 years ago.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4
2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4.
By coincidence, the 2013 Tundra I wrote about was also a Limited Crewmax 4X4, so direct comparisons can be made.  And this is where the answer comes.  The Tundra is an American classic pickup truck.  But the target has moved.

The 2013 Tundra was competitive against the F-150, Silverado, Sierra and RAM 1500 four years ago.  But there's been enormous change in pickup trucks in those four years.  Ford has changed the game with aluminum construction, ten-speed automatic transmission and the EcoBoost V6 engines.  RAM has broken some significant ground in terms of fuel economy as well in the trucks that aren't aimed at the hotrod market.  Chevy and GMC continue to up the game in terms of creature comforts.

The 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4, with the exception of some changes to the front bumper, rear tailgate and the interior (which were made for the 2014 model year), is pretty much the same truck I drove in 2013.  And the basic truck underneath the updates dates back to 2007---ten years.

The lack of major advances is rapidly becoming obvious, especially when driving the Tundra and the competition back to back (we've recently been in the F-150, F-250 and RAM 1500 Night Edition). Clearly, there are no major innovations like Ford's.  The Tundra is still powered by a 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 with a six-speed automatic transmission, which essentially dooms it to an EPA fuel economy estimate of 13 city/17 highway.  Compare that to 17 city/23 highway for the F-150 with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and ten-speed automatic.  The Ford has six fewer horsepower, but 69 more pounds per foot of torque.

Interior view of 2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax
2017 Toyota Tundra Limited Crewmax 4X4 interior.
The interior is still attractive, though the seats, especially the lower cushions, aren't comfortable after a couple of hours.

Our tester had a base price of $44,195, which brings the Limited trim level, Crewmax body style and four-wheel drive, along with the aforementioned 5.7-liter V8 and six-speed automatic transmission.  That also includes a tow package with a tow receiver hitch, 4:30 axle, engine and transmission fluid coolers, tow/haul mode, heavy-duty battery and alternator, an integrated 4/7 pin connector. And there's a double-wishbone front suspension with stabilizer bar and rear leaf springs with staggered O/B shocks, power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and 20-inch alloy wheels.

There's still more standard equipment, including a rear backup camera, manual headlamp level control, trailer brake and trailer sway controller, tire pressure monitoring, power rear window with privacy glass, a double-walled bed with rail caps, a deck rail system with tie-down cleats, leather-trimmed heated 10-way power adjustable driver's seat (heated and power adjusted, just not 10-way, for the front passenger), 60/40 split fold-up rear seats, dual zone automatic climate control and a premium audio system with navigation, HD Radio, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Siri Eyes Free.

Our tester also had a fair amount of extra-cost options:

  • An upgraded JBL audio system with Toyota's Entune app suite. ($785)
  • Limited Premium Package (front and rear parking assist sonar, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, upgraded power windows with auto up-down for driver and front passenger, anti-theft system with alarm, glass breakage sensor and engine immobilizer). ($1,065)
  • TRD Off-Road Package (18-inch split 5-spoke TRD alloy wheels with black accents and all-terrain tires, Bilstein trail-tuned shock absorbers, engine skid plate, fuel tank skid plate). ($100)
  • Power tilt/slide moonroof with sliding sunshade. ($850)
  • Spare tire lock. ($75)
  • Paint protection film. ($395)
  • Bed mat. ($139)
  • Universal tablet holder for rear seat. ($99)
  • Black "TUNDRA" tailgate insert. ($99)
  • TRD rear sway bar. ($299)
  • TRD performance air filter. ($75)
  • Center console storage tray. ($85)
  • TRD shift knob. ($150)
  • TRD performance dual exhaust system. ($1,100)
  • TRD skid plate. ($425)
  • Alloy wheel locks. ($80)
  • All-weather liners/door sill. ($219)
  • Deck rail camera mount. ($56)
With $1,195 delivery, processing and handling fee, the bottom line was $51,486.  Which is right in the sweet spot of the market and represents good value for the equipment, the quality and the reliability that are givens with the Toyota Tundra.  

More people should have bought this generation Tundra.  But now that the pickup truck is evolving, it's time for Toyota to introduce an all-new Tundra...one that's competitive with, or better yet, leapfrogs Ford, Chevy, GMC and RAM.  

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