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By Rick Popely
January 10, 2002
Vehicle Overview The Tundra was introduced for 2000 as the first full-size Japanese pickup, and it carries over for 2001 with minimal change. The Tundra replaced the midsize T100 in Toyotas lineup and challenges the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram and the GMC Sierra, the full-size domestic pickups.
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 Tundras design is the foundation for the companys full-size sport utility vehicle, the Sequoia, produced at the same plant.
Exterior The 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. The Tundra, however, has exterior handles for the rear doors instead of in the doorjamb.
Both body styles have a 128-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 217 inches. By comparison, the Ford F-150 regular cab with an 8-foot bed and the F-150 Super Cab with a 6.5-foot bed are both 224 inches long.
The Tundras maximum payload is 2,000 pounds, while the F-150s maximum is 3,180 pounds.
Interior An attractive, well-designed dashboard places all controls where they are easy to see and reach in the Tundra, and front-seat occupants get comfortable, roomy accommodations. But the three-place rear seat on the Access Cab is too small for adults unless the front seats are pushed well forward. The rear seat is as 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 come with either two bucket seats or a front bench seat that holds three. Leather upholstery is optional on the top-line Limited model.
Under the Hood A 190-horsepower 3.4-liter V-6 engine is standard and teams with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. A 245-hp 4.7-liter V-8 is optional and comes only with the automatic.
The Tundras 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.
Driving Impressions The Tundra offers fewer choices in sizes and engines than its domestic rivals, and it falls short in payload and towing capability. But with the V-8, this is perhaps the smoothest, most refined pickup available. Everything fits and operates with precision, and the Tundra feels like it was made by Lexus Toyotas luxury division.