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By Jim Flammang
April 3, 2003
Vehicle Overview When it emerged for the 2000 model year, Toyotas Tundra was the first full-size Japanese-brand pickup truck. It was also the first pickup with a V-8 engine option.
A new V-8 StepSide Access Cab model joins the lineup for 2003, offered in SR5 and Limited grades. The Tundra features a new, larger grille that extends into the upper bumper, new round fog lamps and newly available heated mirrors. Antilock brakes are now standard.
The Tundra comes in 15 configurations and in three trim levels: base, SR5 and Limited V8. The regular-cab models have a 98-inch cargo bed, while extended-cab trucks with rear-hinged back doors (called Access Cabs) carry a 75-inch bed. Both a V-6 engine and a V-8 power plant are available.
The Tundra pickups serve as the basis for the companys Sequoia sport utility vehicle and are built at the same Indiana plant. Access Cab models account for 90 percent of sales.
The Access Cab has two rear-hinged back doors that cannot be opened until the front doors are open. Unlike some extended-cab models, the narrow rear doors have exterior handles.
Both body styles ride a 128.3-inch wheelbase and stretch to 217.5 inches long overall. A regular-cab Ford F-150 with an 8-foot cargo bed is 8 inches longer. The Tundras maximum payload is 1,800 pounds, while the F-150 has a maximum payload of 3,150 pounds.
A TRD (Toyota Racing Development) Off-Road Package is available, and it features progressive-rate springs, Bilstein gas shocks, a tuned suspension, all-terrain tires on 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, overfenders, fog lamps and contoured mudguards. The TRD Sport Package includes Tokico shocks, tuned springs, a rear stabilizer bar, a limited-slip differential and graphite-toned 17-inch wheels.
Regular cabs and Access Cabs may be equipped with either a pair of contoured captains chairs or a 60/40-split front bench that holds three occupants. Access Cabs add a three-place 60/40-split backseat with a fold-down center armrest. Both halves of the rear cushion fold easily to create additional storage space, or valuables can be hidden in a storage compartment under the cushion. A new console is similar to the one in the Sequoia SUV. The sun visors have pullout extensions.
Leather upholstery is optional in the Limited model. In addition to new steering-wheel audio controls and a power sliding rear window, Limited trucks include a premium 3-in-1 stereo with an in-dash six-CD changer.
Under the Hood
A standard 190-horsepower, 3.4-liter V-6 engine mates with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission. The optional 240-hp, 4.7-liter, i-Force V-8 teams only with the automatic. The V-8 Tundras Touch-Select four-wheel-drive (4WD) system can be shifted in or out of 4WD High on the move by using dashboard buttons. Towing capacity is as high as 7,200 pounds.
Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard. Dual front airbags include a passenger-side cutoff switch.
The Tundra is more refined than typical domestic pickups. It produces a satisfying ride without much excess bouncing or harshness. Except for a little engine drone, its also quiet for a pickup. The seats are comfortable in a roomy cab, and the new StepSide box adds extra flair.