2008 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4x4
The Toyota Tundra has had a rough go of it since its introduction in 2007. The powertrain is awesome, and the Tundra was the first full-size truck to give owners a six-speed automatic. Some of us felt it was nearly as good as the F-150 when towing a trailer. But the Tundra lacked in other areas, like interior friendliness and its ride quality offroad and when unloaded.
The Tundra’s 5.7-liter V-8 is rated at 380 hp and 401 pounds-feet of torque. Last year, that was stunning. This year, for our Shootout, it was enough to make it just the fourth most powerful truck, behind the Chevy, GMC and Dodge. Unlike the GM trucks, which consume premium unleaded gasoline, the Tundra only requires regular octane fuel to hit its full power ratings.
The Tundra’s interior was filled with hard plastic, which greatly cheapened the perceived value of the $41,000 pickup. Ergonomics were poor, too. Almost all the drivers said they had a hard time seeing all the dash gauges at once, as they’re seated at the bottom of tubes in the instrument panel. The climate-control buttons in the center stack seemed to be big just for the sake of being big. The cloth seats were middling in terms of comfort, not providing enough lumbar support. We also had to add an aftermarket trailer brake controller to the Tundra.
Though we all really liked the Tundra’s tremendous acceleration feel, it had the poorest unloaded ride quality of the group. We felt road vibrations through the steering wheel on the interstate, and when the truck hit potholes on surface streets it had a tendency to skip sideways. It was so rough we thought we might need to seat-belt our coffee in place. If we owned a Tundra, we’d keep a load in the bed to calm the truck down.
Loaded ride quality was the polar opposite of unloaded. The Tundra really seemed to come into its own in that situation. If its steering feel had been slightly more solid, with less corrective effort required from the driver, the Tundra would have tied or beaten the F-150 in driver towing confidence. We felt like we weren’t even close to its towing maximum, and the trailer didn’t sway at all.
Compared to the less powerful F-150, the Tundra was a screamer, especially in traffic situations that called for acceleration to change lanes or maneuver. The Tundra’s six-speed transmission, however, wasn’t as smooth or as smart as the F-150’s.
Compared to the F-150, which felt great towing, the Tundra felt like a rocket ship.