2016 Toyota Tundra 4X4 Double Cab SR5 5.7L

2016 Toyota Tundra 4X4 Double Cab SR5 5.7L

Just shy of it’s 17th birthday, we spend some time with Toyota’s full-size truck


What do we have here?

You are looking at the Tundra, a truck that since its major rethink in 2007 has meant to show the world that Toyota is serious about taking on the Big Three for truck superiority. Even with Toyota’s exhaustive supply of market research, endless stream of R&D dollars and reputation of steamrolling its competitors in large volume segments (think Camry, Corolla and Prius) probably caused a few sleepless nights just across the Detroit River. And yet, as we ready to celebrate almost two decades of existence it has become clear that these ambitious plans haven’t exactly come to fruition- just last year, one of the best for CanadianTundra sales since 2007 paled in comparison to the Ford F-150, who sold exactly that many in just the first month of 2015. That handily eclipses the Tundra’s yearly volume by some 108,000 units, and it’s a similar story when you compare the numbers for Chevy and Dodge as well.

It doesn’t look like its changed much in 10 years…

Save for a 2014 refresh that played up the truck’s machismo and presence, this is very similar to what rolled off the Tundra’s Texas assembly line almost ten years prior. Drivetrains remain the stalwart 4.6 and 5.7 litre V8 engines attached to 6-speed automatics with the choice of rear or four-wheel drive- the 4.0 V6 is no longer offered. And you still must select from the body styles ranging from the decently roomy Regular Cab to the positively cavernous CrewMax. Out tester came in SR5 form, which isn’t the biggest Tundra you’ll struggle to fit in your driveway but certainly not the smallest. Slathered in Inferno paint with various baubles to ratchet up aggression from the $6,960 TRD Off-Road package we appreciated the way the Tundra unabashedly flaunted its trickiness, from it’s extra large sized door handles to the “TUNDRA” script stamped authoritatively into the tailgate, which now lowers in a nice, damped arc.

What does the Tundra do well?

The Tundra has a lot of things going for it, and it has one feature we particularly like that is becoming a rarity these days- three honest-to-goodness knobs for the climate control system. We’re equally pleased by the straightforward, perfectly legible dashboard with complementary 3.5” info screen serving up pertinent information between the speedo and tach. Colour us fans of the exceptional outward visibility and the general level of ease when maneuvering this brute into a tight parking space. And with all the nooks and crannies on board that will swallow everything from a cell phone to a small cooler, this truck makes for an ideal choice if you plan on carting your family around in the Tundra when you’re not picking your way through a muddy jobsite.

Where does the Tundra fall short?

When the current generation of Tundra bowed in 2007, it’s 5.7 litre was the best-in-class mega motor, easily besting the older pushrod and older overhead cam V8’s from Chevy, Dodge and Ford, respectively. Nowadays, it seems the engine’s best days are behind it. Fire it up on a cold morning and tell us the disconcerting roar that follows for the first few seconds isn’t borderline deafening. It makes all the right noises throughout its operating range but at a time where a turbo six from the F150 makes more torque, it may be time to look into increasing the aging V8’s relevancy. Plus, to access that power requires a big swing of the tachometer which happens only after you give it a healthy amount of throttle. That doesn’t do fuel economy any favors whatsoever; our test average of 20.6L/100km is worse that what’s typical of the class leaders. Perhaps more distressing is that while driving our unloaded Tundra we discovered that we couldn’t manage any better than a sustained 12.6L/100km down a straight, level stretch of highway. While we won’t heap criticism on a full-size work horse for having blunted driving dynamics, we would like to see Toyota tune the steering rack so you don’t have to make constant corrections to simply maintain your lane position.

What’s next for the Tundra?

With Honda about to release their second go at the pickup marketplace with the Ridgeline, we hope Toyota will follow suit for the next generation Tundra. Actually, we hope they follow Nissan’s lead as well by offering a diesel engine. If Toyota can build on the successful attributes the Tundra already enjoys like hugely commodious interiors, welding glove-friendly controls and long lasting durability and throw in a new drivetrain combo or two, we can see the Tundra taking a bigger bite out of the pickup truck sales pie in the future.

2016 Toyota Tundra 4X4 Double Cab SR5 5.7L – Specifications

  • Price as tested: $47,936
  • Body Type: 4-door pickup truck
  • Powertrain Layout: Front engine/Four-Wheel Drive
  • Engine:  5.7 litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
  • Horsepower: 381 @ 5,600 rpm
  • Torque (lbs.-ft.): 401 @ 3,600 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Curb weight:  2,360kg (5,203 lbs.)
  • Observed Fuel Consumption, 20.6L/100km (11 mpg)