One of the “hazards” about being an automotive journalist is that you never quite what you’ll be driving next and because of often-tight test vehicle scheduling, you’re not really able to pick and choose. All too often when the weather is wintery, you get an entirely inadequate vehicle for dealing with freezing conditions and blinding snow.
Thankfully, this was not the case with the Lower Mainland’s recent bout of arctic weather when I happily took charge of not just a Toyota Tundra full size pickup, but one that was built to TRD Pro specifications too. It turned out to be a remarkable truck with which to deal with snow and ice and after a few days, I was actually looking for bad conditions to show off the Tundra’s prowess to friends.
The full size Tundra range is very wide and all kinds of variants and options are available to tailor a truck to exactly what the owner wants and expects. A quick check of the versions available showed 10 models and 16 configurations and with all the extras you can add, it’s possible to build a “one of a kind” vehicle. Spec’ing out a new pickup can be a fun exercise!
My tester was a 4X4 Double Cab TRD Pro and very close to the pinnacle of the Tundra range. For enthusiasts who spend lots of time in the bush exploring the old logging roads, this might be the perfect truck. My Tundra looked especially smart in its light grey paint job, which for some reason, didn’t attract as much grime as I’d expected in the weather we’ve been having. It was set off nicely by its huge 18-inch black aluminum wheels shod with serious-looking off-road rubber. In rough country, I had great confidence in this Tundra and it gave me the impression it would go just about anywhere you could take a wheeled vehicle. Not for nothing does the Tundra star in the Discovery Channel TV series “Highway Thru Hell.”
The Tundra’s 5.7-litre i-Force V-8 is the largest displacement engine in Toyota’s history and generates up to 381-horsepower and (even more important) 401 lb-ft of torque. This mighty rig can tow up to 10,500 lbs. if the right package is selected. All 5.7-litre Tundras come with the towing package and there’s a tow/haul mode that can be chosen that changes automatic shift patterns, boosts torque and uses engine braking to handle heavy loads. The transmission is a 6-speed automatic and 4WD modes are selected with a button on the dash. I found this very handy when switching to 4WD for snow packed side streets and reversing the process when a clear road was reached.
Inside the brawny Tundra, the roominess is amazing and there’s no doubt that a truck like this could accommodate a crew of loggers or construction workers with a good deal of gear and still have space left over. The cab is very much like a well-optioned SUV and offers comfort and convenience in profusion. There was even a very easy-to-use navigation system, but don’t expect much help from it of you’re a few kilometers from a paved route!
Top-of-the-line pickups are understandably expensive, but I had no doubt that the Tundra in the guise I tested it is worth every penny. It’s very well built, rugged, comfortable and highly capable and for anyone who hankers after serious off-road adventures, it has to be one of the top contenders on the Canadian market.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Full size extended cab pickup truck
ENGINE: 5.7-litre V-8
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic plus one-touch 4WD selection
TOWING CAPACITY: Up to 10,500 lbs
FUEL ECONOMY: 17-litres/100 km combined rating
PRICE: $59,408 MSRP, as tested. Base MSRP $44,740