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Driving Impressions

2000 Toyota Tundra 4X4
David Cipolloni 
July 15, 2000

 

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The Jade Mica Tundra looks great under the summer foliage of Pennington NJ

Introduction
Want to build a full size pickup to compete with the likes of the Big 3? Building a 2 million square foot plant on 1,160 acres in Princeton, Indiana will give you a good start.  Toyota means business this time, building a rugged truck that will run with the big dogs. Forget the T-100 and it's V-6 powerplant, the Tundra can be had with a 32 valve overhead cam V-8 that is hard to beat in it's class. The engine that also powers the Toyota Land Cruiser is of luxury car quality and goes a long way in making the meat and potatoes Tundra a civilized highway cruiser.

Our Imperial Jade Mica Tundra is the SR5 V8 Access Cab, 4X4 model with Oak interior. The suggested base price is $25,585 and equipped as tested $28,576 including destination charges. Our Tundra is not the Limited model but is equipped with the Convenience Pkg, Fog Lamps, Alloy Wheels, Deluxe CD Stereo and All Weather Guard Pkg. 



GGGGRRRRRR

Toyota discovered with the T-100 that it's not easy to wrench loyal fans away from the big Ford, Chevy and Dodge trucks. Chrysler was able to get back in the game with the total re-design of the Ram pickup giving loyal GM and Ford buyers a tough looking powerful alternative. With truck sales soaring in the US, Toyota realized they would need to build a full size truck a notch above the rest. Did they accomplish this? You will have to read on and draw your own conclusions on that matter.  

A quick walk around the Tundra will convince most people that Toyota plans on taking a bite out of sales from the Big 3. We found the styling to be bold and at the same time aerodynamic looking. You won't get the Peterbuilt look of the Dodge or the ultra conservative look of the Chevy. We would more closely resemble the design intent to that of Ford F-150 and Expedition models. The truck exudes a strong appearance without looking like a piece of farm machinery. We rate the overall exterior appearance very high with concurrence from folks we have questioned along the way. 

  Interior
The interior is another story. We wish we could tell you that your Linebacker buddies will be tossing the pigskin around in the back seat but it's more likely they will be wondering how they are going to fit in the small rear passenger area. Anyone that plans on using the rear seat to transport adults on a regular basis will more than likely choose one of the extended cab pickups from the Big 3. That's unfortunate though because the shortage of rear seat space is the only real drawback to the otherwise pleasant interior accommodations. The back of the rear seat is almost upright and rear legroom is not what you can get in other full size extended cab pickups. While the Big 3 are wrestling back and forth on who offers the most rear seat room it seems as if Toyota felt it to be of less importance. 


Doors open wide for easy entry/exit

The driver and front seat passenger won't suffer the same ill's though as the area reserved for them is  very well designed for both working and long distance cruising. The front seat offers excellent lumbar and lower leg support for those long road trips. The folding center armrest offers the usual compartments for various items including 2 additional cupholders. One nice feature is the adjustable divider that will keep items from sliding around when tooling around off road. One of the first things we noticed were the easy to read, easy to use controls on the high mounted stereo. The LCD display is larger than most so you won't need to squint in order to read the display. The controls for HVAC are large, easy to read and won't be a problem to operate even with work gloves on. In fact most of the controls are easy to read and operate because they are well marked, large and in arms reach. It's a credit to the design and engineering staff that you can get in this truck and drive away without taking the 3 credit Controls 101 course. In addition to the cigarette lighter there are 2 power outlets on the lower right section of the center dash pod and 2 retractable cup holders that won't interfere with controls when they are in use. 

The dual sunvisor's are a nice touch to block the suns rays from the front and side simultaneously. The overhead console will accept sunglasses or automatic garage door opener and has integrated map lights. The only addition we would like to see is an indicator light on the dash to remind you the fog lights are on. 


Large controls make for easy operation (L). Gauges are positioned for easy viewing (R)

Storage space in the interior are the usual glove compartment, center armrest, and door pocket areas. In addition there is storage space under the rear seat cushion for small items. The best way we can describe the quality of the interior is to say it's the Camry of truck interiors. You won't say WOW when you get in but after spending some time there you will appreciate what Toyota has done.


Rear seat has folding armrest w/cupholders

Our SR5 is not equipped with the power leather captains chairs that come in the Limited but the Oak colored fabric interior is of Camry quality. The only part of the interior that appeared out of place is the small rubber dust boot around the transmission shift lever. It's just a small thing but the boot looks like it belongs on the transfer case and not in the interior.  

 

Engine and Gearbox
Horsepower alone doesn't always tell the story. The 245hp and 315lb-ft of torque put out by the 4.7 liter powerplant may not beat Chevy's 270hp 5.3 liter pushrod V8 on paper but it will when the stopwatch is running. With a slick shifting 4 speed automatic and 3.90:1 rear axle ratio the Tundra will nip the Chevy in both 0 - 60 and quarter mile times.  The top speed in limited electronically to just over 100mph but this once again is several mph more than the Chevy. Likewise the Tundra will out brake the Chevy and will pull more g's on the skidpad. The large 4 piston front brake calipers do a good job of hauling the big Tundra to a stop but the rear brakes on the SR5 are from the drum brake shelf. 


245 bhp and 315 lb-ft from DOHC V8

The processors controlling the fly-by-wire engine and 4 speed automatic transmission are well designed and add to the driving pleasure of the vehicle. Cars and Trucks are, after all, just a bunch of parts mated together in an attempt to get a job done. The real trick is to have those parts work together as harmoniously as possible. The better this is accomplished the better the end result will be. This is why looking at a vehicles specifications on paper doesn't always tell the real story. We can say the Tundra is one harmonious bunch of parts. Looking at the steering, chassis and suspension under the Tundra doesn't reveal anything vastly innovative but like other Toyota's it all comes together in execution. 

The 4.7 liter engine gets the EPA low emission certification which is unusual for a V8 truck powerplant. This should be of concern to those looking to go off-road with the least environmental impact. The overhead cam engine incorporates coil-on ignition and liquid cooled engine oil cooler but we would rather the camshafts were chain driven instead of the use of cog belts. The belts offer quiet operation and have been improved lately with Kevlar reinforcement but we still prefer the oil lubricated chain drive found on other overhead cam engines such as Ford's 4.6 liter V8. 

 
Trans Cooler visible in front of A/C Condenser (L).  The Tundra looks good from all angles (R)

Driving Impression
This is where the Tundra really struts it's stuff. The whole enchilada comes together with a smooth powerful drivetrain mated to very compliant steering and suspension systems. Washboard roads will not upset the ride and bumpsteer was not evident. One of the first things we noticed was how quiet the ride is in this truck. Road noise is well isolated as is driveline and wind noise. The first time we popped the hood we looked up to see how thick the isolation pad was and to our surprise there was no pad at all. It almost seems the engine is too smooth and quiet to be a truck engine. Since it's a V8 truck engine shouldn't it be a rip-roaring, snarling, get out of my way, cast iron beast? We think not, we like it just the way it is. 

The optional 16X7" wheels on our test truck came equipped with P265/70R16 Dunlop Grandtrek radials which provided excellent wet weather traction while delivering a quiet highway ride. The brakes provide good modulation and provide shorter stopping distances than the competition. How does 198ft from 70mph sound? How about the fact that this number was achieved with 1,200lbs of your favorite stuff packed in the bed? The rear suspension incorporates the traditional leaf spring, solid rear axle setup that can deliver a bouncy ride in some trucks when they are not carrying a load, but Toyota did a good job with shock rates and tuning out those reverberations. The biggest problem you may encounter is staying awake in the well isolated cabin.

While sitting around the campfire and discussing issues relating to automotive engineering, the subject came up about why some vehicles handle like an extension of your body and others seem to cause fatigue and frustration the more you drive them. This of course goes back to our comment about putting a bunch of parts together and ending up with a truck that isn't struggling to simply support it's own weight. This is a seat of the pants test we like to use to measure this concern. When you drive your vehicle and don't constantly look at the speedometer do you find yourself needing to slow down or speed up? It invariably seems that well engineered vehicles will trick you into thinking you are not going very fast and you will always be trying to slow the vehicle down. Just the opposite it true of many vehicles we have driven where you are always in a state of pushing the vehicle back up to the speed you had intended to go. The same can be said about the tracking ability of many vehicles. Well engineered vehicles seem to follow the road and can read your thoughts about the direction you desire to go whereas others seem intent on driving everywhere except where you intend and you are always steering them back on course. BMW has the market on these attributes as their cars give you the impression they know the way home and simply tolerate your minor inputs to get there. 


The Tundra takes it's place with the Big 3

. The window sticker on our Tundra states 14 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. We have averaged from a low of 15mpg to a tad over 17mpg in combination driving so the sticker is pretty close to real world numbers. A year ago these numbers would not have been an issue but with the cost of gasoline these days most folks take a little closer look at these figures. You will be hard pressed to find a full size V8 powered pickup that will provide much more in the way of fuel economy. 

It's easy to understand why so many people are buying trucks and SUV's these days. All you have to do is spend some time in a truck like the Tundra with it's car-like ride, commanding view of the road and excellent road handling manners and you're hooked. There is no substitution for the ability to see what's happening on the road way up ahead or to peer over guardrails and other cars to catch the view of the world around you.  You may not have the view the big rigs have but you'll be a far cry better off than the guy driving the new 2000 mini-spec watching your drive shaft go around. 

 


The aerodynamic shape helps keep the cabin quiet (L). Good stereo controls & positioning (R)


Stuff We Liked:

  • Good low speed response from the engine.

  • Smooth shifting 4 speed automatic transmission

  • Well laid out instrument panel

  • Exterior styling

  • Smooth quiet powerplant 

  • Good outward visibility

  • Quiet ride

  • Can tow with the big boys

  • Excellent chassis rigidity

  • Excellent braking power 

  • 5 year 60,000 mile drivetrain warranty

  • Quick and precise steering/handling

  • Optional sound system with large display

  • Rear doors open out 90 degrees

  • Your spouse will leave the expensive sports sedan home and take your truck

Stuff We Didn't Like:

  • Your spouse will leave the expensive sports sedan home and take your truck  

  • Special edition chiropractor rear seat

  • Watching your spouse drive away with your truck (did we say that again?)

  • ABS is not standard

  • Skid plates are not standard

  • Compact car horns don't belong on big 4X4 trucks

 

  Technical Specs  
 


Tundra takes on "tough truck" apperance (L).  Handles for rear doors are on the outside (R)



 

ENGINE
Type..........V-8,  Double overhead camshafts
Bore x stroke..........3.70 x 3.31 in, 94.0 x 84.0mm
Displacement..........285 cu in, 4664cc
Compression ratio..........9.6:1
Engine-control system..........Toyota with port fuel injection
Emissions controls..........3-way catalytic converter, feedback air-fuel-ratio control
Valve gear..........belt driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
Power (SAE net)..........245 bhp @ 4800 rpm
Torque (SAE net)..........315 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm
Redline..........5400 rpm

DRIVETRAIN
Transmission..........4-speed automatic electronically controlled
Final-drive ratio..........3.91:1
Gear..........Ratio
I...................2.80
II..................1.53
III.................1.00
IV................0.71

DIMENSIONS AND CAPACITIES
Wheelbase..........128.3 in
Track, F/R..........66.2/64.9 in
Length..........217.5 in
Width..........79.3 in
Height..........71.3 in
Ground clearance..........11.2 in
Curb weight..........4707 lb
Weight distribution, F/R..........57.2/42.8%
Fuel capacity..........26.4 gal
Oil capacity..........6.0 qt
Water capacity..........12.3 qt

CHASSIS/BODY
Type..........full-length frame with rubber-isolated body
Body material..........welded steel stampings

INTERIOR
SAE volume, front seat..........60 cu ft
rear seat..........40 cu ft
cargo..........45 cu ft
Front seats..........bucket
Seat adjustments..........fore and aft, seatback angle, height
Restraint systems, front..........manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger airbags
rear..........manual 3-point belts, center lap belt

SUSPENSION
F:..........ind, unequal-length control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar
R:..........ind, rigid axle located by semi-elliptical leaf springs

STEERING
Type..........rack-and-pinion, power-assisted
Turns lock-to-lock..........3.3
Turning circle curb-to-curb..........44.3 ft

BRAKES
F:..........12.6 x 1.1-in vented disc
R:..........11.6 x 2.0-in cast-iron drum

WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheel size..........7.0 x 16 in
Wheel type..........cast aluminum
Tires..........Dunlop TG35 Grandtrek, P265/70SR-16

ACCELERATION..........Seconds
Zero to 30 mph..........2.9
40 mph.......................4.3
50 mph.......................6.3
60 mph.......................8.5
70 mph.....................11.2
80 mph.....................14.9
90 mph......................19.7
100 mph....................26.9
Standing 1/4-mile..........16.6 sec @ 83 mph
Top speed (governor limited)..........105 mph

BRAKING
70-0 mph .......199.8ft

HANDLING
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad..........0.72 g

FUEL ECONOMY
EPA city driving..........14 mpg
EPA highway driving..........17 mpg

INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
Idle..........43 dBA
Full-throttle acceleration..........74 dBA
70-mph cruising..........69 dBA
70-mph coasting..........68 dBA

PRICE AS TESTED
$28,576 ( including destination)
I

 

 
(L) No mistaking the V8 powerplant in this Tundra. (R) Roaring through country roads in Pennington NJ 

Note: All Photos copyright AutoRacing1.com and Dave Cipolloni

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