New Car Review: 2013 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Limited 4X4

Front 3/4 view of 2013 Toyota Tundra CrewMax

Think of big pickup trucks and odds are the names that spring to mind are American...Chevy, Ford, GMC, Ram.

The Japanese have tried to get a significant piece of the American truck market.  They started out too small (and Honda, deliberately, has stayed there with its Ridgeline), and even after learning from that mistake and bulking up, Nissan with its Titan, Toyota with the Tundra, they're still not making the Detroit 3 (Chevy and GMC are both General Motors products) lose any sleep at night.

If ever there was a truck that could do that, it would be the 2013 Toyota Tundra.  It absolutely hits the target of "full-size American truck".  It's as though Toyota City had moved to Texas.

Rear 3/4 view of 2013 Toyota Tundra CrewMax

First, styling matters.  Perfectly serviceable trucks will sit on dealer lots as though their tires had been nailed to the asphalt if the truck doesn't look tough enough.  And, let me know if you disagree (that's what the comment option is for), but the Tundra looks plenty tough to me..especially in 4X4 CrewMax trim.

Power?  Certainly more than adequate. A 5.7-liter V8 making 381 horsepower with 401 pounds per foot of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ruggedness and utility?  A double-walled bed with rail caps, deck rail system with tie-down cleats, a standard towing and hauling package, four wheel drive and 18-inch wheels.

Interior view of 2013 Toyota Tundra

And that touch of luxury that so many truck buyers are demanding these days?  Well, our tester was the CrewMax Limited, so we're talking leather-trimmed and heated 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, 4-way power passenger seat, rear sliding, reclining and folding seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, a JBL 12-speaker audio system with AM, FM, SiriusXM Satellite radio, USB, Bluetooth, and auxiliary jack and a 6-disc in-dash CD player.
Plus the usual accompaniment of airbags, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes and so on.
All for $43,895.

Looks like a winner to me
Drives like one, too.  There's no mistaking this is a truck...and one that can handle worksites, bad weather and a lack of pavement, but it is, within the bounds of that description, smooth and comfortable.  The CrewMax has tons of room for people and things, and our tester was possessed of the deepest-tinted windows we've seen in a long time, allowing the climate control to make things distinctly frosty even in a Phoenix summer.

And, it being a test vehicle, the Toyota Press Fleet folks gussied it up a bit, too...adding a voice-activated touchscreen DVD navigation system including a 7-inch high-resolution touchscreen and backup camera, upgrading the JBL audio system to include a subwoofer ($1,340),  the Memory Package (2-position memory function for driver's seat, outside mirrors and steering wheel), a power tilt and slide moonroof with sliding sunshade ($810), carpeted floor mats with door sill protector ($195)...and the biggest bargain I've seen in 15 years of TireKicking...the TRD Off-Road package...18-inch, 5-spoke TRD off-road alloy wheels, off-road tuned suspension, Bilstein shock abosorbers, fuel tank skid plates and TRD Off-Road graphics for $70.  That's right, seventy bucks.

With $995 delivery, processing and handling, the bottom line came to $47,770, which might be breathtaking if you haven't priced trucks in a few years, but for one this capable and this well-equipped, it's in the ballpark.

It's no economy champ, with an EPA estimated 13 city/18 highway, but how many full-size pickups with V8s are?

Seriously, truck guys (and truck women), if you know...or even have a plausible theory...about why Toyota's not taking chunks out of Detroit 3 truck sales, use the comment feature and let me know.  From where I sat for a week, at the wheel of the Tundra, it's a strong contender.