I’ve been a little bit spoiled lately, with Toyota/Lexus bringing me a new Tundra to drive for a week and then swapping it with an NX 300 for another week. As much as I love my 2007 Town & Country daily driver, it’s fun to step out every now and again to see what’s new on the automotive scene.
I’ll follow up soon with an NX 300 review, but first I want to tell you about the Tundra. In this case, it was the 2020 Toyota Tundra Limited CrewMax 4x4, still with the 5.7-liter, naturally aspirated V8 producing 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque.
Consumer Reports calls the previous (2019) Tundra the second-best in class, second to the turbo-charged Ford F-150 V6, but again, the Tundras we’re testing are naturally aspirated V8s. I would rather they compared apples to apples here, but never mind, we at Georgia Dad after further review have overturned their call, and now both the 2019 and 2020 Tundras are the winners.
Incidentally, we reviewed the 2020 with only about 2,000 miles on it. We’re probably talking springtime before Consumer Reports tells us what they think about this newer model.
I’ll go ahead and tell you what I think now, and I’m going to start with the outrageous body color sported by the copy we reviewed. They call it Cavalry Blue, but I’d call it more of a toddler blue, which lives on the spectrum somewhere between baby blue and little boy blue. Look this color up. It’s an attention getter, and it seemed particularly popular with the women who saw our copy, but not so much with the men.
I’d have expected the 86GT I reviewed this summer to be available in a blue like this, but not a full-size man truck, and especially not one like our copy that was appointed with so many luxury features. To finish that look, Toyota should have wrapped it in Hawaiian print patterns.
I did like the way the blue looked at night, I must admit. In lower lights, it takes on deeper tones and looks pretty sharp.
Once you step inside (and you’ll definitely want help from running boards), the cabin of the Tundra welcomes you with super-comfortable seating (ours was leather and heated) and plenty of places to put whatever and however many beverages you brought along. Two bottle holders in each door are accompanied by three more drink holders in the gigantic front-row center console.
Gone are the days, it seems, when you could open the driver’s door for your wife (girlfriend, “special friend”, whatever), and they could slide through to the middle or right side of the truck. If you’re a console guy, these new Tundras have great ones, but as a husband and father, I’d rather have an extra seat there in the middle.
Looking at the dash, we’re giving this Tundra mixed reviews. On the one hand, we like the eight-inch touchscreen display, and we’re happy to report that the Tundra is now Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. On the other hand, we don’t like the backlit silver buttons, because they catch a glare at twilight and sunset and become difficult to read. As this truck is pitched to middle-aged and older money, Toyota should consider a design tweak there.
Other things we liked: nice sunroof, rolldown rear window, hydraulic-assist tailgate, dual-zone climate control, and the super-clear LED headlights and fog lights.
One of my favorite features of any car, and a sort of standard comparison I make amongst everything I review, is the cruise control. Toyota/Lexus has a good Dynamic Radar Cruise Control system, but it works better on some vehicles than others. It works well on the Camry and ES 350, but it is a bit clumsy on the Tundra. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison, but it’s something I noticed. I do like that the Tundra still has the old stick control for cruise, whereas many of the newer Toyota/Lexus models have incorporated cruise buttons into the steering wheel.
Something that may put people off buying the Tundra is the size. You may think this to be a big, lumbering giant, but in reality it is quite nimble in the parking lot as well as on the highway. It’s no Corolla, mind you, but for a full-size pickup truck, it is easier to maneuver than you may imagine.
One dark morning, I was driving head-to-head toward a school bus with a distracted driver. The bus veered at the last moment into my lane, and I had to go up a railroad embankment. In my minivan, that may have been a dangerous problem, but not so in this Tundra. It handled the situation like a champ, and just for fun I repeated the maneuver.
The 2020 Tundra starts around $33K. The copy we tested had around $52K on the sticker.
Something else we liked was the huge gas tank with its 38-gallon capacity. We didn’t like the fuel economy (13-18 mpg), but at least you’re talking a range of around 550-600 miles on average with that gas tank. The base model offers the 26-gallon tank, but that’s still a good 400-mile range or so. Mind you, filling up the 38-gallon tank in the Atlanta area these days will set you back about $90
Overall, we loved the Tundra. Everything about it, except for the front seat console, screams “real truck”, and even though the interior is more akin to the Lexus line for all of its luxury, the Tundra is, as we say around here, a “hoss”.