Tundra is the first true full-size Japanese-brand pickup. Introduced last summer as an early 2000 model, Tundra replaces the midsize T100 in Toyota's lineup and directly challenges full-size domestic pickups such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram and GMC Sierra.
Built at a new Toyota plant in southern Indiana, the Tundra also is the first pickup from a Japanese manufacturer to offer a V-8 engine.
The Tundra's design will be the foundation for a full-size sport utility vehicle the Sequoia that will be built in Indiana and introduced as a 2001 model.
Tundra comes as a regular-cab with an 8-foot cargo bed and as an extended cab (called Access Cab) with a 6.5-foot bed. The Access Cab has rear-hinged rear doors on both sides that cannot be opened until the front doors are opened first. Tundra, however, has exterior handles for the rear doors instead of in the doorjamb.
Both body styles have a 128-inch wheelbase and overall length of 217 inches. By comparison, the Ford F-150 regular cab with an 8-foot bed and the F-150 SuperCab with a 6.5-foot bed are both 224 inches long.
Tundra's maximum payload is 2,000 pounds, while the F-150's maximum is 3,220.
An attractive, well-designed dashboard in the Tundra places all controls where they are easy to see and reach, and front-seat occupants get comfortable, roomy accommodations.
The three-place rear seat on the Access Cab, however, is too small for adults unless the front seats are pushed well forward. The rear seat is flat as a board, with a short, hard cushion and backrest. The rear cushion is split and both halves easily fold up to create more storage space.
Regular cabs and Access Cabs can have either a front bench seat that holds three or two bucket seats. Leather upholstery is optional on the top line Limited model.
Under the Hood
A 3.4-liter V-6 with 190 horsepower is standard and comes with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A 4.7-liter V-8 with 245 horsepower is optional and teams only with the automatic.
Tundra's four-wheel-drive system allows changing in or out of 4WD High on the move through dashboard controls. Four-wheel antilock brakes are optional across the board.
Tundra offers fewer choices in sizes and engines than its domestic rivals, and it falls short in payload and towing capability. However, with the V-8 this is perhaps the smoothest, most refined pickup available. Everything fits and operates with precision, and Tundra feels like it was made by Lexus (Toyota's luxury division).
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