2016 Toyota Tundra

Starting MSRP: $29,140 - $49,580

Estimated MPG: 15 city / 19 hwy

2016 Toyota Tundra Review

Toyota has been trying to nudge its way into the half-ton full-size pickup truck arena for the past two decades. The 2016 Toyota Tundra speaks the right language for truck buyers. It’s designed and built in America for American truck lovers. While it’s not a sales leader, the Toyota Tundra has what it takes to play with the leading full-size trucks from domestic automakers.

By Randy Stern
Last Updated 10/18/2016

Now in its third generation, the 2016 Toyota Tundra represents Toyota's efforts to become equal with the best-selling half-ton trucks in the U.S. The Tundra is offered in six trim levels for 2016: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition and the off-road oriented TRD Pro. Tundra customers have the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, as well as three cab types, three bed lengths and two V8 engines.

Exterior

Exterior
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The Toyota Tundra has a recognizable cab and box design that adds an industrial feel to a bold looking truck. The Tundra usually sits higher than its competitors, especially if you are comparing four-wheel drive models. Cab sizes are usually larger than what competitors offer as well, with huge front-hinged doors for excellent access into the cabin. Regular, extended (Double Cab) and crew cab (CrewMax) configurations are offered. With three bed sizes (5-foot-6-inch for the CrewMax, 6-foot-6-inch for the Double Cab and 8-foot-1-inch for the Regular Cab) the Tundra offers wide load areas in-between the wheel wells, as well as forward and aft of them.

Each trim level offers its own personality. The Platinum is a mix of sport and luxury, while the 1794 Edition is a true chrome-laden luxury pickup. The trim that stands out the most is the TRD Pro, with its blacked-out grille with throwback “Toyota” lettering, aggressive 18-inch TRD wheels and blacked-out badging. The Tundra is also offered in the work-ready SR trim, the popular SR5, and the luxurious Limited model. Each one offers its own grille and trim, with bumpers and badging that distinguishes each model in the line.

Interior

Interior
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The Tundra’s industrial theme continues into the cabin with angular shapes framing the instrument panel. The dials are sized just right with a smaller thin-film transistor (TFT) screen for vehicle and trip information. The large steering wheel offers switches for audio, cruise control and the information screen. The center stack features a touch screen with an integrated rearview camera that measures 6.1 to 7 inches, depending on model. Climate controls are accessed by buttons and large knobs below the infotainment screen. Also, depending on model, the gear lever is either on the steering column or on the center console. There is a lot of storage space throughout the cabin.

Standard seating is a 40-20-40 split front bench, while bucket seats are found on higher trims. The Tundra’s front seats are large and comfortable, regardless of whether they are bucket seats or a bench. The CrewMax offers the largest rear seat space in the full-size pickup category with a huge amount of legroom and a comfortable rear seat. Rear-seat room in the Double Cab is the best among extended cab trucks in the class.

Performance

Performance
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Tundra customers can choose between two V8 engines. The 4.6-liter V8 has 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque. Models with this smaller V8 are capable of up to 15/19 mpg city/highway.

Most models are equipped with a larger, 5.7-liter V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Choose the larger V8 and the Tundra offers up to 13/18 mpg city/highway. Both engines are matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with standard rear-wheel drive or optional four-wheel drive with a two-speed transfer case.

Tundras mainly use an independent suspension up front and leaf springs and heavy-duty shocks in the rear. The ride is smooth and level. Handling is controlled, though it does lean and roll in the corners. TRD Pro models Bilstein shocks to improve the ride quality off road. On pavement, the TRD Pro rides smoother than other Tundra models. 

The steering system is a bit numb and there’s a sizeable turning radius to deal with. That’s not unusual for a full-size truck, but the Tundra can require a lot of turns to lock for tight maneuvers. Braking is strong with solid stops in normal and panic situations.

Technology

Technology
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Toyota's Entune infotainment system is available on all Tundra models. This system can connect devices via Bluetooth, an auxiliary input or USB connections. HD Radio and SiriusXM satellite radio are available, while upgraded versions of Entune can enable the use of smartphone apps such as Pandora Internet Radio and iHeartRadio.

Safety

Safety
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Every Tundra offers a suite of air bags, a rearview camera, stability control, traction control and anti-lock brakes. A forward collision warning system is not offered, but blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and parking sensors are available.

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2016 Tundra Double Cab top ratings of Good in testing for moderate overlap front and side crash tests. The Tundra also received Good scores in IIHS tests for roof strength and the head restraints and seats.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Tundra with four out of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2016 Toyota Tundra starts at $28,640 for a rear-wheel drive Double Cab SR. Meanwhile, a fully loaded Tundra CrewMax 1794 Edition tops out at just over $50,000. This is significant, since similarly equipped top-shelf full-size trucks often start at $53,000 or more. As a result, the Tundra can represent an excellent value within its class if you are shopping for a fully loaded model.

However, if you are in the market for a basic work truck, just keep in mind that you’ll find a lower starting price by shopping the competition from Chevrolet, Ford and Ram.

Overall

Overall
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The full-size pickup segment is highly competitive with every entry putting its company's fortunes on the line. The Tundra's competitors include the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan.

With excellent value, a strong frame and a reputation for solid reliability, the Toyota Tundra is often overlooked by full-size pickup customers. Truck owners are loyal to their brand and getting one to switch to another pickup is very tough. However, if given a chance, they might discover what Toyota has to offer in the Tundra: a compelling alternative to their old faithful pickup.