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One of the most successful selling vehicles in the world is a Toyota. The latter conquered the sales with its best-selling family sedans and affordable economy cars. But Japan’s biggest automaker was thirsty for more. Toyota set its eyes on the pickup truck sector and aimed to take down a giant like Ford, Chevy, and Ram.
However, the pickup truck segment seems too difficult for Toyota to crack. Domestic giants like Ram, Ford, Chevrolet, and its twin sister GMC are taking over the sales.
The Tundra is Toyota’s offering to compete in the field. From the outside, the Toyota Tundra seems grown and developed, but underneath it is still the same as the first day it debuted. As a result, it fell behind the pack. On the other hand, Ford, Ram, and Chevy took advantage of the fast-changing landscapes of the automotive industry and evolved.
They became flexible and adapted to the new world, something Tundra appears to struggle with. In a world where looks matter, the Tundra is rusty and in desperate need of an update compared to rival brands.
With that being said, what makes the Tundra a worthy competitor?
If it’s outdated, does it mean it’s useless?
Well, let’s get on with our 2013 Toyota Tundra guide and find out!
What’s New for 2013?
If you google the definition of tundra, you will find that it’s a vast ear with no trees and permanently frozen soil. And I think Toyota is taking this definition to its literal meaning. The Tundra hasn’t seen any significant changes since the second generation was introduced.
It has a bold and “in your face” look that screams toughness. Nonetheless, it is old compared to the rest of the pack. If you are looking for a refined ride and modern design in your future rig, the Tundra may not be the one for you.
But that does not mean it is utterly useless.
Under the Hood
Make no mistake, just because it looks old doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. The Tundra is a true workhorse and probably the most reliable in the market. In the heart of this warrior lies three engines to choose from.
The smallest engine is a very thirsty V-6 that puts out 270 horsepower and 278-pounds feet of torque. It is paired with a standard five-speed automatic transmission with an overdrive. It achieves 16 mpg in the city, 20 on the highway, and 17 combined with a 26.4-gallon gas tank and 10.1:1 compression ratio.
The fuel economy drops a bit with the four-wheel-drive versions. If you are one of those drivers who like to floor it, this engine with the current gas prices will suck the soul out of your bank account.
A 4.6-liter V-8 making 310 horsepower and 327-pounds feet of torque is available for grabs. It comes with a six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive. It gets 14 miles per gallon in the city, 19 on the highway, and 16 combined. This powerplant coupled with a four-wheel drive can get you from 0-60 in under eight seconds.
The biggest engine in the lineup is a 5.7-liter V-8 that pushes 381 horsepower and 401-pounds feet of torque. It comes with the same six-speed transmission and poor fuel economy. It averages about 13 miles per gallon in the city and 17 on the highway (17 combined). The numbers are crunched down drastically with four-wheel drive and a full bed.
But it does get you from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than seven seconds. I am not sure if that’s worth it, but it is decent for a full-sizer.
Payload and Towing
Thanks to the massive V-8 and proper equipment, the Tundra can easily tow 10,400 pounds, depending on the model. It is not the class leader (that would be the F-150 with 11,300 pounds), but it keeps it close to the competitors, particularly the Ram (10,450) and the Silverado (10,700).
Some models with the same V-8 can tow between 9000 pounds and 10,100 pounds max. The small V-6 struggles in this category with a maximum towing capability of 6000 pounds, and the V-8 cannot drag more than 8000 pounds.
The payload varies depending on the body style and drivetrain you opt for. Three beds are available for grabs, including a short 5.5-ft bed, a 6.5-ft bed, and a long 8-ft bed.
For instance, a regular cab with a long bed and rear-wheel drive allows a maximum payload of 2090 pounds. The double cab with either four or two-wheel drive can haul between 1450 and 1745 pounds. As for the CrewMax cab, it offers a max payload of 1660 pounds.
Tundra stepped up the game in terms of size. It’s bold, bulky, and brawny. Some may complain that the looks are overcomplicated. It may not be as “in-your-face” as the F-150 or as sleek as the Ram 1500. Nonetheless, it looks imposing next to its rivals, and no one can deny its presence on the road.
It has a large grille in the front with bulging fenders on the side. The big door handles add a bit of toughness to the look. What I am not so keen on is the look of the regular cab with a short bed and steel wheels. In addition, the Tundra badge is placed almost in the middle of the front door.
Anyways, the Tundra sits on three different wheelbases: 126.5-inch, 145.7-inch, and 164.6-inch resulting in an overall length of 209.8-inch, 228.7-inch, and 247.6-inch, respectively. It’s also 79 inches wide and 76 inches tall. That translate to difficulty on tight roads, or when trying to park.
Thanks to the variety of cab styles, bed sizes, and powertrain configurations you can spec the Tundra in any way you like. In addition, there are a lot of optional extras and loads of special-purpose packages from the factory.
The regular cab has massive two doors for easy access. It is fitted with the 4.0-liter V-6 and the five-speed auto transmission. In terms of bed sizes, it gets the six-foot bed as standard and the long eight-foot bed as an option. You can blow more cash and have your ride equipped with one of the big V-8s. Unfortunately, the V-8s come with four-wheel-drive only, so no burnouts. But, the 4×4 system features an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case.
This model is entry-level trim, but it is fairly loaded. Despite being the workhorse, it comes with cloth upholstery and a bench seat that splits 40/20/40. You can fold the center part to create a solid floor for anything. It gets vinyl-covered floors, a column shifter, AM/FM stereo with a CD/MP3 player, and an aux cord port.
Other standard features include tilt steering, manual dual zone AC, power mirrors, doors, and windows, in addition to the classic 18-inch steel wheels. You can add a sliding rear window, park assist sensors, and a deck rail system. The price starts at 25,000 $, but it can rise to 28,000 $ if you tick more options and packages off the list.
The double cab is almost identical to the regular cab in terms of standard and optional features. Except, the double cab can carry up to six people in its back seat. You access the latter via small front-hinged doors. It adds cruise control, remote keyless entry, cupholders, more speakers, and a 60/40 split rear bench seat.
A rear-wheel-drive double cab can go for 27,000 $, but with all the addons and four-wheel drive, the price can reach 31,000 $.
The CrewMax is the roomiest model and probably in its whole class. It has full-size rear doors that allow you to enter a bench seat with more space than the front. It slides, folds, and reclines. It comes with the 4.6-liter V-8 as standard, while the 5.7-liter V-8 is optional. It is fitted with a short bed only (5.5-ft). a price for such model falls between 30,000 $ and 34,000 $.
Again, the price depends on the cab style, powertrain, bed size, drivetrain, additional features, and packages you choose.
The Limited takes the luxury up a notch. It is available in the double cab and CrewMax body styles only. It includes leather upholstery and power-adjusted front bucket seats with ten different settings for the driver and four for the passenger. It also incorporates heated seats, colored front bumpers, dual-zone automatic climate control, foglights, and a full bed rail system with adjustable tie-down hooks.
An auto-dimming rearview mirror plus a built-in rearview camera is available alongside a power sliding rear window. The steering wheel is a tilt/ telescopic wrapped in leather, and the trip computer with the gauges is upgraded. There is also Bluetooth connectivity with a premium JBL sound system (10 speakers on the double cab and 12 on the CrewMax).
The lux styling continues with the topline Platinum. This trim receives a lot of chrome treatment, 20-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, sat-nav, voice command, heated and ventilated seats, and leather interior. Not to mention, heated, auto-dimming, and power-folding mirrors.
The only issue with these deluxe trims is the price. A fully loaded plush Tundra can cost up to 46,000 $.
When it was revealed for the first time, the Tundra set new standards for the other work trucks to follow. Visibility from the inside out is immaculate, and the massive standard mirrors give a 360-surrounding view of the whole truck. The optional towing mirrors offer even greater visibility.
They can extend further out to keep whatever load you are hauling in sight, and you can fold them when you park to avoid expensive damages and repairs.
The tailgate is tall and can block the view while backing up, which makes the backup camera indispensable. It helps the driver hitch a trailer and serves as a safety feature. For instance, you can spot a child hiding or pass behind the truck with help of the camera because the tailgate is too high up.
The backup camera is included with a sat-nav system, and it’s a terrible one. Compared to the rivals in the same category, the Tundra is lightyears behind. The base regular cab model has the very least going for it. As you expect from a work truck, it is most of the time part of a fleet. The interior is bombarded with rubber and plastic for extra toughness and longevity.
Nonetheless, all the cabs are ridiculously roomy. The regular cab might have one bench seat but offers optimal space for three adults. The double cab features a traditional front-hinged small rear door that makes getting in and out of the back effortless. Unlike the competitors. In addition, the CrewMax models are class leaders when it comes to the back seats. They are comfortable, spacious, and can recline back to make long journeys tolerable.
The parking sensors come in handy when maneuvering in tight spaces or parking since the Tundra is a large full-size pickup. The rear headrest can bock the view to the back if they are not in their lowest position. You can take them off or fold the seats, but it is a hassle and may take lots of time.
The seats are cozy and well-cushioned with good support for the thighs. They have side bolsters that hug you in place. You can choose between cloth or leather seats. Both options are made with durability in mind.
The interior storage is more than sufficient. The glovebox is two-in-one and can fit chargers, papers, and even large bottles. There is a big enough space behind the seats for a five-gallon bucket in addition to a supplementary cubby and open bins. Even the door armrest has small compartments in them.
If you choose bucket seats, you will get a large center console with cupholders. The controls and buttons are large and clear, and the knobs are easy to operate with gloves on. The downside is that the controls are closer to the passengers than the driver, which means you have to take your eyes off the road and reach for them.
The Tundra handles well for a big rig if used as a daily driver. The steering is light and helps a lot in maneuverability. The power delivery is subtle and slick. In addition, the engine puts 90% of the power and torque in the early RPMs. It is perfect for towing. The V-6 is a bit dull but it puts out more power than its competitors.
The V-8s are wonderful and sound amazing. However, for such massive V-8s, they are underwhelming in terms of power production. And they are very thirsty. The available transmissions are smooth in shifting up and down through the gears and work perfectly with the engines.
The TRD sport package performs better on pavement and twisty roads, and off-road models shine best on rough terrains. The brake pedal is firm and feels decent in general thanks to the four-wheel brake disks and ABS. it is worth noting that a nose dive might occur under sudden braking.
All in all, the Tundra rides nicely on the road, but it is stiff and bouncy compared to the enhanced ride quality you get from a Ford or Ram.
The pickup truck sector, full-sizers in particular, is a competitive playground dominated by domestic automakers. Tundra is up against giants like Ford, Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC.
The Ram 1500 is armed with a composed ride, agile handling, and a refined cabin while Ford is offering a more diverse engine lineup, model selection, and fantastic features. On the other hand, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and its twin sister GMC Sierra 1500 are giving their rivals a hard time with refined ride quality and powerful V-8s.
Question: How long does a Tundra last?
Answer: Toyota aims at improving the quality of its manufacturing process. In other words, any Toyota product is built to last, and probably outlast the owners. A Tundra can drive for well over 200,000 miles, more if you maintain it on regular basis.
Question: What is the best year for Toyota Tundra?
Answer: The best years for a Toyota Tundra to consider are the 2008 Limited edition (Motor Trend Truck of the year award winner) and the 2013 model. They received magnificent reviews from their owners and scored 5 out of 5 on reliability.
Question: What Tundra year model has the most recalls?
Answer: Toyota Tundra built between 2000 and 2003 has 110,000 recalls to their name due to serious rust issues.
The Tundra is a full-size pickup truck in every meaning of the word. It offers excellent power, hauling, and payload figures that satisfy every shopper’s needs. It is comfy, easy to drive, loaded with features, and comes in different configurations.
Would I recommend it as a first option? No! the Tundra is indeed a great workhorse, but it is “expired”. While Ram, Ford, and Chevy adapted and enhanced their lineup, the engineers at Toyota showed little to no effort in upgrading the Tundra. And the poor fuel economy will ruin you financially.
If you still want a pickup truck for heavy-duty work, consider other options before settling with Tundra.