The full-size 2014 Toyota Tundra pickup features evolutionary styling, with most of its body panels sporting a new look, while offering realistic work capability and legendary Toyota reliability and durability. There are three engine choices, three cabs, three bed sizes and five trim levels — including the top-of-the-line 1794, which was my test vehicle.
Towing capacities top 10,000 pounds on some models, with maximum payload ratings exceeding 2,000. While this review will cover the basics of the Tundra line, I will focus primarily on the 1794 edition.
Model Lineup: The 2014 Toyota Tundra offers three body styles: regular cab with an 8-foot bed, four-door double cab with the standard 6.5-foot bed or an 8-foot bed and 4-door CrewMax with a 5.5-foot bed. All Tundra pickups are available with part-time four-wheel drive, and some 5.7 V-8 models are flex-fuel capable. The double-cab version is available in SR, SR5 and Limited trim levels while the CrewMax cab is offered in SR5, Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition models — all with 5.5-foot beds.
The Tundra SR comes in regular cab with an 8-foot bed and double cab body styles, and a choice of 4.0-liter V-6 and 5-speed automatic transmission, 4.6-liter V-8 or 5.7-liter V-8. SR trim includes a fabric 40/20/40-split bench seat, carpet, air conditioning, tilt wheel, power windows and locks, heated power mirrors, dual power ports, cruise control, Toyota’s Entune audio system that features a 6.1-inch touchscreen, AM/FM/ CD/ iPod/ USB/ Bluetooth, fold-up rear seats on four doors, black front bumper and grille trim, tow hooks on four-wheel drive, easy lower/lift tailgate and 18-inch steel wheels. Tundra SR comes with two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. Options on SR trim include cargo rail retention system, tow hitch on 4.6 double cab and a Work Truck package with vinyl seat and floor that eliminates cruise control, power accessories and map lights.
The Tundra SR5 trim adds fog lamps, additional chrome, Entune Audio Plus — with a 7-inch hi-res touchscreen, SiriusXM radio, HD radio with iTunes tagging and weather/traffic in metro areas — plus a dark-tint manual sliding rear window and additional instrumentation with 3.5-inch display. The Tundra SR5 is available in double cab or CrewMax versions with two- or four-wheel drive, and a choice of a 4.6-liter or 5.7-liter V-8. Optional equipment includes alloy wheels and an SR5 upgrade package with bucket front seats, power driver seat, console and shift, tilt/telescopic wheel and a rear-underseat storage tray. The TRD Off-Road Package features Bilstein shocks, unique alloy wheels and Michelin tires, skid plates, rear-side window privacy glass and tow hooks on two-wheel drive.
The Tundra Limited upgrades to dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, heated 10/4-way power front seats, 20-inch alloy wheels, leather tilt/telescopic wheel with audio and Bluetooth controls, power sliding rear window (horizontal on double cab, vertical on CrewMax), auto-dimming mirror, deck rail tie-down cleat system, Entune App Suite, navigation, upgraded audio system and alarm. Optional are TRD package, moonroof and blind-spot monitor/rear cross traffic alert on CrewMax. A Limited Premium package adds auto up/down power windows, front and rear parking sensors, remote keyless entry. All Tundra Limited models come with 5.7-liter V-8 in double cab and CrewMax versions with 4-by-2 or 4-by-4.
The Tundra Platinum gets perforated leather diamond-quilt pattern upholstery, heated/cooled front seats, driver memory system, JBL audio system, color-matched bumpers and grille trim, auto-dimming power-folding outside mirrors, moonroof, parking sensors and glass breakage sensor. All Tundra Platinum models come with 5.7-liter V-8 and CrewMax but offer a choice of 4-by-2 or 4-by-4. Blind-spot monitoring is available.
The Tundra 1794 Edition has platinum-grade features and options, but uses unique upholstery with ultrasuede and woodgrain trim, chrome front bumper and grille, 1794 badging, and offers chrome-clad wheels as an additional option. All Tundra 1794 editions come with 5.7-liter V-8 and CrewMax and offer the choice of two- or four-wheel drive.
Safety features standard on every Tundra include front- and side-impact airbags for driver and front passenger, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensor, driver and passenger knee airbags, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and electronic brake-force distribution, electronic stability control with traction control, and trailer sway control. A rearview camera is standard on all models, while parking sensors front and rear, and blind-spot monitoring are available on some models.
Walkaround: The second-generation Toyota Tundra is a true full-size pickup by any measure — and is among the largest half-ton pickups on the market. The styling is squared off and more angular, and taking a cue from Ram, it’s the most visually intimidating Tundra yet. The styling is evolutionary, meaning it’s still identifiable immediately as a Tundra, yet the rounded lines are history. The bumper top is lower, so while SR/SR5, Limited, Platinum and 1794 all have visually differentiated grillwork, they’re much larger than before. Fog lights are recessed, with single-bulb unit headlights.
Horizontal styling lines run the full length of the body and are complemented by larger, squarer wheel-well openings.
The completely horizontal rear styling is framed by chiseled vertical lights, and the tailgate has been damped to avoid that heavy “thunk” sound when dropped. Every Tundra has a rearview camera that makes hooking up to a trailer a one-person job. Trailer plugs have been moved into the bumper, with license-plate lights illuminating the area at night.
All four-door Tundras feature running boards lowering the stepup height for shorter drivers. Wheels vary in material and style, with chrome covers available on the 1794 and alloys on all other models.
An available deck rail system along all sides except the tailgate offers tie-down cleats for securing cargo.
Interior: The 2014 Tundra lineup debuts the luxurious 1794 Edition — my test vehicle. It’s named for the year the historic JLC Ranch (just south of San Antonio) was founded; 2,600 acres of that expansive ranch was acquired by Toyota in 2003 and is now the site of the sprawling state-of-the-art facility where the Tundra is built.
The Tundra 1794 has the requisite Texas-sized badging, along with a plush cowboy-themed leather and ultrasuede interior, woodgrain trim and amenities like ventilated power bucket seats — 12-way driver and 6-way passenger — that were as exceptionally comfortable. My 1794 was also equipped with the optional moonroof. The cab is Texas-sized big, and my first reaction after climbing behind the wheel was, “Road trip!”
The dashboard, instrumentation and electronics are all new and reminded me of some Lexus vehicles I’ve driven. The premium Entune infotainment system features a suite of apps that control the navigation, dual climate controls, HD radio, AM/FM/CD/XM satellite radio, iPod, phone via Bluetooth and the powerful 12-speaker JBL sound system — all from a 7-inch, hi-res touch screen.
The console between the front buckets is also Texas-sized and offers lots of storage, along with cup holders.
Rear seats were 60/40 split that both recline and fold down for more room when needed. They are more comfortable than previous models and allow more in-cab storage. Overall, the 1794 interior is as plush, comfortable and quiet as almost any you’ll find in a truck, and in most luxury cars as well.
Under the Hood: My four-wheel-drive test vehicle was equipped with Toyota’s workhorse 5.7-liter dual overhead cam iForce V-8, which puts 381 ponies to the pavement with 401 pound-feet of torque. It was married to the smooth, 6-speed automatic with sequential shift 4-wheel demand and electronically controlled transfer case, for on the fly shifts into 4-by-4 mode when needed. It also had the tow package, which includes a hitch, engine and transfer case oil coolers, and both four- and seven-pin wiring connectors.
Fuel economy is rated at 13/17 mpg city/highway, with a combined rating of 15 — which is about what I got during the testing.
Behind the Wheel: Ride and handling in the 1794 are both excellent. While you know you’re in a truck, you aren’t reminded of it over every bump or dip in the pavement. Like most pickups, the ride can get somewhat lively on bumpy pavement with an empty bed.
Steering response is certain and strong, while braking is solid, with firm pedal feel. The Tundra’s standard four-wheel discs are among the biggest in this segment, as is the rear differential. The ABS includes electronic balancing of brake force, and electronic stability control is standard on every Tundra.
Power delivery is laudably strong at low engine speed and very responsive when quick acceleration is needed. It’s smooth and powerful when cruising.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent in all directions. The standard mirrors are large and can be adjusted to provide a panoramic view behind the front doors.
Whines: Unlike some other half-ton pickups, the Tundra does not offer an integrated trailer brake controller. It should. However, aftermarket controllers work well.
Bottom Line: The Toyota Tundra 1794 is a full-size pickup in every sense of the term. It’s luxurious, comfortable and easy to drive, as well as exceptionally competitive with trucks from Ford, Chevy, GMC, Ram and Nissan, delivering power, payload and tow ratings that handle all but the heaviest loads or largest trailers. When it’s time for me to replace my own Nissan Titan 4-by-4 crew cab, the 1794 will be on my personal short list.