The Toyota Tundra full-size pickup, available since model year 2000, is a capable replacement to the old Toyota T100, and is available with three engine choices. They are the 4 liter V-6 and two V-8s, with the largest one putting out 381 horsepower and 401 lb. ft. of torque. It’s what’s called the iForce 5.7 liter DOHC aluminum V-8 with (i)ntelligent variable valve timing and flex fuel capability. It is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with console-mounted shifter, and such were the drive train specifications of my test vehicle this past week.
The Tundra that I drove was the Limited CrewMax with an M.S.R.P. of $46,518, including options and freight. Base price of this model is $43,895, and options on it were the TRD off-road package, running boards, bedliner, full width power sliding rear glass, and remote start. It was part-time four wheel drive with electric control and trailering equipment. The interior was leather and seated five, a JBL stereo with satellite radio was on hand, and Bluetooth connectivity was present. No touchscreen for the radio was in the pickup and a navigation system was not installed.
The “standard” bed that comes with this CrewMax is 78.7” long, wheelbase is 145.7”, length is 228.9”, width is 79.9”, height is 75.8”, and the truck weighs 5,375 lbs. Towing capacity is 10,200 lbs., but apparently that is a lowball figure because Toyota towed the space shuttle Endeavour across the #405 freeway in California last year with the Tundra – weight of the space orbiter, 292,000 lbs. My wife Ruth and I flew to Florida to watch that Endeavour launch from Cape Kennedy in February of 2010. The mission was STS-130 to the International Space Station and of course it was quite a thrill.
Styling of the Limited was upgraded to include chrome door handles, chrome outside mirrors, TRD and Limited badging, five-spoke brushed finish alloy wheels, BF Goodrich Rugged Trail T/A 275/65R18 white letter tires, and the running boards. All the full-size pickups from GM, Dodge, Nissan, and Ford are good-looking, as is the Tundra.
Ride, cab noise, guidance, and visibility were all acceptable in this vehicle. The gas tank holds 26.4 gallons, and the EPA ratings on the previously described engine was 13 city, 18 highway, and 15 overall. I observed 15 miles per gallons during my time with the Toyota.
Toyota sold over 100,000 Tundras last year, a 22% increase for them over 2011 sales. The big American manufacturers sold substantially more than that, with total pickup sales in the U.S. (all sizes) at 2 million. Nonetheless, when shopping for a full-sized pickup, I see no reason to rule out a Toyota Tundra.
Late last year General Motors introduced the new GMC Sierra at the North American Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan. The GMC production models are just now showing up at dealer showrooms and Ryan Green, the internet manager at Weld County Garage in Greeley, made a Fire Red 2014 GMC Sierra SLT available for me to test this past week.
General Motors has been producing pickup trucks since 1930 with the dual brands of GMC and Chevrolet accounting for 575,000 units sold in 2012. For the 2014 model year, the products have been re-designed with sheet metal and drive train improvements. The V-6’s and V-8’s available in the GMC Sierra now feature direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, aluminum blocks, and cylinder de-activation for economy.
The unit I tested was equipped with the 5.3 liter, 355 horsepower EcoTec3 V-8 with 383 lb. ft. of torque. Best-in-class EPA fuel economy ratings for the vehicle were 16 city, 22 highway, and 18 overall (26 gallon fuel tank). Mated to the V-8 was a six speed automatic transmission with a rear axle ratio of 3.42. The four-wheel drive test truck had active electronic Autotrac with a four position rotary dial for traction selection to the left of the steering wheel.
My wife Ruth and I headed for the Eaton area to take some photographs and she almost immediately exclaimed “Wow, this rides like a car!”. Indeed, GMC has managed to greatly improve the cabin noise and isolation situation with items such as new cab mounts on the 2014 Sierra – hydraulic at the rearmost position. As attested to by my wife, ride was fine in the Sierra, and plenty of technology is on hand, including five USB ports, 12v outlets, a 110v outlet, and an SD card reader. The transmission selector has been located on the steering column because GMC feels busy farmers and businessmen like room in the console for clipboards, markers, PDA’s, etc.
I photographed the Sierra near Fagerberg Farms on Weld County Road 31, and the red pickup looked terrific in the field with its chrome plating on the 20” six-spoke alloy wheels, side steps, and door handles. This new model’s bold styling has been updated without taking too much risk with what has been a nice-looking truck all along. And this 2014 design spent more development time in a wind tunnel than any GMC in history. My test Sierra was a crew cab, and sales of this configuration account for about 60% of overall production.
The $50,035 (M.S.R.P.) GMC was loaded with equipment including moon roof, navigation with 8” touch screen, IntelliLink system, Bose stereo, satellite radio, and many other items that would typically be expected in a luxury pickup. Some features were unexpected, such as foot wells in the rear bumper for climbing aboard, a power sliding rear glass, hill descent control, and 2” of additional legroom for rear seat passengers. GMC has definitely stepped it up with the introduction of the new Sierra.