|Positives: Bold design looks like no other pickup, truly special interior is almost futuristic, smooth ride and solid handling chops, fancy infotainment screen, great physical controls.|
|Negatives: Twin turbo V6 is seriously thirsty, can't tow or haul as much as some of the competition, front end is a bit too busy, lacks convenience features of rivals.|
|Bottom Line: The Tundra is a fresh face that does enough for most pickup truck drivers who don't have to tow or haul the most. What it delivers is a refined ride and a posh interior with great utilitarian capability.|
The Tundra is quick, comfortable, and composed on the road. It's far more refined than the previous version in just about every aspect of the driving experience.
Ride Quality: The suspension change turns the Tundra into a totally different truck from the previous generation. It manages pavement incredibly well.
Acceleration: The twin-turbo V6 is powerful, and the 10-speed automatic transmission responds well. 0-60 mph comes in a little bit over six seconds without the hybrid power.
Braking: The brakes feel strong and pedal feel is progressive. Stopping the big truck occurs without drama.
Steering: The steering isn't as sharp as the Ram 1500, but it's echelons better than before. It's not floaty or off-center, so that makes long-distance driving easier.
Handling: The Tundra handles remarkably well for a large pickup truck. The suspension and chassis make for good cornering.
Towing: The Tundra can tow 12,000 pounds. While that might not seem as impressive as the Ford F-150's 14,000 max towing, it's 1,000 pounds more than the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500.
It's hard to believe the change from the old Tundra to the new Tundra when it comes to technology, but it was time. The 2021 Tundra came standard with a 7" screen and the optional one was only an inch larger. That said, working the new system will take a bit of getting used to, but it is quite nice to look at.
Infotainment System: The new 14" touchscreen is literally twice as big as the old stock screen. It's crisp, easy to read, and a pleasure to look at. We think it's probably 2" too large, but whatever. It seems Toyota leapfrogged over the system that's still in the Camry and Corolla.
Controls: We love that Toyota kept a conventional shift knob in the Tundra. The single audio knob takes some getting used to with its multifunction capability, but at least it's still a physical knob instead of touchscreen controls.
We won't accuse the Tundra of being handsome, but it is very noticeable. The old Tundra looked like it was formed out of a large dollop of dough, so the sharp lines and creases of the new truck are welcomed. Did they go a bit overboard on the front end? Yes, they did, but just about every pickup truck, shy of the Ram 1500, has gone in that direction. The cabin is fresh and crisp, and it might just be our favorite part.
Front: There are a lot of disparate parts going on here, and none of it looks especially handsome around that enormous grille. For some strange reason, it's not bad on a truck that really needed the new design to get noticed. The t-shaped headlights are a lot to look at.
Rear: The back end is quite nice, considering it's hard to do much with a pickup truck gate. The vertical divisions in the taillights look great.
Profile: Body creases above teh front and rear fenders add depth to the side view, and the black wheels and black trimmed fenders on the TRD Off-Road give it a bit of menace.
Cabin: The two-tone cabin is refined and attractive with big shapes and angled trim everywhere. The patterned SofTex seats look great, as do the big physical controls. We think the gauges look a little bit dated, our only real issue with the Tundra's interior style.
Our CrewMax provides huge amounts of space, and the interior is done up very nicely. Legroom and headroom in both rows are impressive and on par with the competition.
Front Seats: The front occupants have ample room to stretch out, and the seats are well-cushioned and decently bolstered.
Rear Seats: Tall passengers will have no problem with the space or seats back here. 41.6 inches of rear legroom. That's not even close to the Ram 1500 Crew Cab's 45.2 but that doesn't mean the Tundra isn't roomy.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The Tundra is well-built and exhibits no errant noise. There is some minor wind noise at highway speeds, though.
Visibility: The visibility all around is very good, and the seating position helps you place it in tight spots easily.
Climate: copy text
The Tundra is one of the safest pickup trucks on the road, a category where most trucks don't do particularly well. Not only does it nail crash tests, but it also has a plethora of great safety features above the basic set.
IIHS Rating: It earns the much-coveted Top Safety Pick + score with "good" in every crash test and "superior" accident avoidance tech.
NHTSA Rating: The Tundra earned 5 stars from the federal government.
Standard Tech: The Tundra comes with the robust Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Lane Tracing Assist, Automatic High Beams, and Road Sign Assist. It also comes standard with a Blind Spot Monitor.
Optional Tech: None.
The Tundra 5.5 isn't the most cavernous half-ton pickup truck in existence. The good news is that you can now get the CrewMax with a longer 6.5-foot bed. Our non-hybrid tester also had under-seat storage in row two, which makes for good tool and equipment storage that you don't want to expose to the elements. The cabin is very good when it comes to small item storage.
Storage Space: There are a lot of great storage spaces in the cabin including a huge center armrest with trays, a big cubby in the center console with a great phone charging dock and security clamp to keep your phone in place. The door pockets are decent, and there's even a top tray just behind the big infotainment screen.
Cargo Room: The 5.5-foot bed should be plenty for most buyers, but you can always upsize to 6.5 feet with the CrewMax or go all the way to 8.1 feet with the shorter Double Cab configuration.
We were actually surprised by the poor fuel economy in this twin-turbo V6. We weren't even in sport mode for most of the week, and our numbers. We're sure the hybrid version will do better than this, but still. The Ford F-150 with the 3.3-liter V6 engine can get up to 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, with a combined rate of 21 mpg. That's a couple of mpgs better than the Tundra.
Distance Driven: 173 miles.
The excellent JBL 12-speaker audio system doesn't come standard on the Limited, but it's only $565 and you don't have to buy an expensive package with more stuff in it in order to get better than stock sound. We found the system pleasant to listen to and very well suited for the truck. The bass and clarity were solid, and we didn't hear any distortion when the sound was turned up.