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Car Report: Toyota Tundra gets updates inside, brawny looks outside

Monday - 8/4/2014, 4:40am  ET

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The magnetic gray paint really looks good on the big Tundra. (WTOP/Mike Parris)
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WASHINGTON -- The Toyota Tundra is a relative newcomer to the full-size truck market. It's only been around 15 years, and in that time, Toyota has gone from barely on the radar to a much more competitive position with a truck that looks ready to work.

The $45,929 Toyota Tundra LTD Crewmax I drove had a powerful 5.7L V8 with 381 hp. It is a large, brawny truck that's ready to work or play with room for five people and the ability to tow big loads.

Toyota has now made a more competitive full-size pickup with the power and features that most buyers are looking for with Toyota reliability and impressive resale value.

With nice leather heated seats up front and a large rear bench in the back, there is plenty of room for five adults. The Tundra Crewmax has a very large passenger cabin, and big rear doors make getting in and out easy -- but be careful if you park close to other vehicles; those big doors need room to open.

The Tundra looks very brawny for 2014. I think Toyota got the styling spot-on. The magnetic gray paint really looks good on the big Tundra. Toyota spent time on the interior, making it easier for the driver to reach the climate and radio controls by moving them closer. They left the bigger knobs and buttons so they are easy to adjust even when wearing a work glove.

Also, the Tundra comes with the new Entune premium audio system and app suite with NAV. The seven-inch touch screen is a good size and it's easy to use. The Entune app suite requires you to add an app on your phone. The interior is a better place than older Tundra's. The competition has also moved ahead, but Toyota is getting close.

The Toyota Tundra Crewmax is a big truck, and it feels like it from the driver's seat, but it's still easy to drive -- you just notice the size a little more. The ride is more truck-like than some other trucks in the class. You feel the bounce and jiggle over bigger bumps, and it's a bit more stiff. I noticed that, with loads in the bed, it drove over those same bumps with no bounce.

I quite enjoyed driving the big Toyota. The growl from the V8 was nice and the power was good. The six-speed automatic transmission kept the Tundra in the power when needed, and the shifts were Toyota-quality good. The steering was light and the truck was easy to maneuver as long as you're aware of the size.

A downside of the powerful V8 is fuel economy. The Toyota Tundra is rated 13 mpg city and 17 mpg highway, and I managed 14.2 mpg in 262 miles of mixed driving using regular gas. Some of the other competition offer V8s with better fuel economy, or transmissions with more gears, because the importance of fuel economy can't be overlooked these days, even in a full-size pickup trucks.

Editor's note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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