2016 Toyota Tundra 1794 Is a Road-Trip King


During previous road trips we discovered three important things about Texas: Speed limits are taken seriously by law enforcement, the weather can change quickly and there is a lot of empty space between cities.

A Texas A&M parents' weekend brought us to the middle of Texas from Los Angeles.

We used the trip to test-drive a 2016 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition CrewMax; it served us well on the long haul between L.A. and College Station, where Texas A&M resides, and during our time navigating the local roads in and around the university. Our traveling group was composed of five adults.

Our Test Drive

During a period of four days in College Station, we accumulated more than 500 miles and averaged 16 mpg in combined city/highway driving (most of the time with a full load of passengers and gear).

The 1794 Edition, a tribute to the oldest ranch in Texas where Toyota now builds the Tundra and Tacoma, is the most opulent of the Tundra trim packages. It's a show 'n' go package that tops out in each of those categories. While it was more luxurious than we needed for our traveling purposes, the 1794 is easy on the eye and user friendly on the road, no matter what the load.

The leather-clad opulence of the 1794 Edition and its quality fit and finish inside and out delighted my CrewMax crew. We also liked the value aspect to this package: Where the top-of-the-line Ram 1500s, Ford F-150s and GMC Sierra 1500 Denalis can stretch into the $60,000 range, our fully loaded and optioned Tundra was a touch more than $53,000.


Outside, the dark Sunset Bronze Mica finish was set off by silver and chrome highlights, front to back. The bold front end is busy but not heavy-handed and distinctive from its competitors. The CrewMax cab/bed strikes a well-balanced, proportionate profile, using a utilitarian 5.5-foot box while allowing rear-seat passengers tons of legroom.

Inside, the saddle leather/suede seats were striking against the black-and-silver interior. They felt as good as they looked for the first couple of hours of our trip; after three hours the bolstering became noticeable.

When not carrying human cargo, the rear seats fold up in a 40/60 split to provide extra storage. Larger trucks, especially with four-wheel drive, can present a challenge to people of small stature. A high step-in height makes it difficult to enter or exit the cabin unless you have a running board. The Tundra's overhead handles above the passenger doors helps with this challenge.

Both front seats were heated and ventilated; the driver seat had 12-way power adjustments, and the passenger seat had six. The center console was cavernous, and our model had the optional tray for easier access to stowed items.

Turn the key and the engine barks to life. Judging by the rumbling from the chrome-tipped dual exhaust, Toyota wants to constantly remind owners there's a big V-8 putting out 381 horsepower and 401 pounds-feet of torque. That rumble serves a purpose though – harkening the 10,000-pound towing capacity. Tip-in is easygoing, so you'll find little tire smoking or neck-snapping launches here, due in large part to advanced six-speed transmission tuning. Power comes on as a well-built V-8 should, smooth and solid.

Handling on the freeway, as well as smaller thoroughfares, was rock solid. The burbling exhaust all but disappeared while cruising (except at exactly 55 mph where a weird audio oscillation takes place that sounds like the exhaust is fighting with tire noise). The tight turning radius allowed for easy maneuvering in confined spaces, where the rear backup camera also helps.

The best road trips are the ones where the vehicle doesn't distract from the journey, but simply participates and facilitates movement. This Tundra made it all happen without provoking a thought or concern from driver or passengers.

The most significant features we didn't employ represent the truck's core capabilities: towing and off-road driving. Of course, no pickup is on work duty 100 percent of the time; the 1794 makes you feel at ease during that time off.

The 1794 Edition Toyota Tundra is more than a solid package. It's competent, powerful and a great ride for hauling a family or work crew in comfort. photos by Thomas Voehringer




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