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2010 Toyota Tundra ReviewThe Good
Rugged underpinnings, loads of brawn, Toyota reliability, impressive safety features, and acres of interior space assure the 2010 Tundra its fair share of the pickup market.The Bad
A hefty price tag, awkward entry and exit, an aging design, an over-abundance of tacky interior plastic, and less-than-impressive handling do nothing to vault the 2010 Tundra over the Big Three’s full-size pickup offerings.
The CarGurus View
The 2010 Toyota Tundra, though a more-than-capable full-size pickup, seems in need of a makeover and an economical, torque-laden diesel engine to truly threaten the Fords, Chryslers, and GMs of the world. That being said, much can be made of the Tundra’s better-than-adequate towing and off-road capabilities, its sturdy frame, and its spacious cabin.
At a Glance
Competing against the Big Three, Toyota holds its own in the full-size pickup market with the 2010 Toyota Tundra, despite not offering a diesel engine. This venerable truck comes in three body styles - Regular Cab, Double Cab, and CrewMax - each available with one of three bed lengths, a 6.5-foot standard bed, 8-foot long bed, and the shorter (or, perhaps necessarily shorter) 5.5-foot CrewMax bed. Two trim levels, the base Toyota Grade and the Limited are offered, with the Limited trim offered only in the Double Cab and CrewMax body styles. All trims are available with one of three engines – four if a Flex Fuel option is needed – consisting of a V6 and two V8s. All styles are also offered with rear-wheel drive (RWD) or weather- and terrain-taming four-wheel drive (4WD). Finally, three wheelbases - 127, 146, and 165 inches - are also offered for all styles and trims.
As with all Japanese full-size pickups in the U.S. market, a worrisome aspect for Toyota is the 2009 redesign of both Ford’s F-150 and Chrysler’s Dodge Ram, both of which received significant improvements in performance and styling. For the 2010 Tundra to successfully compete against these perennial favorites, Toyota must do more than the minor cosmetic tweaks, option shuffling, and trim re-alignments that barely distinguish the 2010 Tundra from the ’09, or even the ’08. Pricing and fuel economy also conspire to keep the Tundra from being first or second on consumers’ shopping lists. On the upside, Toyota has upgraded the Tundra’s midrange V8 engine, jacking its output up by some 39 hp while adding 2 mpg to its mileage rating. Two new option packages, the top-shelf Tundra Platinum Package and the super-stripped Tundra Work Truck Package, are additional offerings for 2010. Meanwhile, the mid-level SR5 trim is no longer offered as a separate trim level, but is available as an option package.
For the moment, however, Toyota seems content to let the Tundra’s capable performance, handling, and safety aspects, not to mention the fact that this full-size pickup is assembled in the U.S., speak for themselves. Comfortable cabins, 10,000-plus pounds of towing capacity, off-road capability, and Toyota’s fabled reliability keep this versatile performer trailing the Big Three in market share by the slimmest of margins.
The 2010 Toyota Tundra lineup is offered with a choice of three gasoline engines, a Flex Fuel engine, and, to the disappointment of more than a few present and potential owners, no diesel option. Additionally, two transmissions equip the Tundra, each an auto-manual, and all trims are equipped with a limited-slip rear differential.
The Tundra’s standard base engine is a 4.0-liter variable-valve-timed (VVT) V6 that churns out 236 hp at 5,200 rpm and 266 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. A five-speed auto-manual transmission is standard with this powerplant, which is capable of towing a maximum of 5,200 pounds, when properly equipped, and gets an EPA-estimated 15/19 mpg.
Next up in the Tundra’s drivetrain choices is an upgraded-for-2010 4.6-liter VVT V8, replacing the old 4.7-liter V8. This small eight puts out 310 hp at 5,600 rpm and 327 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm when managed by the standard six-speed auto-manual transmission. When the Trailer Tow Package is selected, a tow/haul mode is available with this well-regarded six-speed gearbox. The 4.6-liter V8 can, when properly equipped, tow some 9,000 pounds at an improved-but-not-overwhelming 15/20.
Finally, there is the king of the hill, engine-wise, for the 2010 Tundra, the 5.7-liter VVT V8 that pounds down 381 hp at 5,600 rpm and 401 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm, good for 0-60 in just under 7 seconds. The six-speed auto-manual transmission that’s standard with the 5.7-liter is, of course, also available with the tow/haul mode. Though capable of towing more than 10,300 pounds when properly equipped, this big V8 gulps fuel at a wallet-wearing 13/17. The 5.8-liter V8 is also available in an eco-friendly, E85-capable Flex Fuel version, as well.
Reviewers note that all three Tundra powertrains are smooth, steady performers, with the 5.7-liter V8 the premier choice for serious trailer-towing and cargo hauling. Virtually all reviewers praise the more-than-capable auto-manual transmissions as silky, alert, and reliable, especially when tasked with the heavy-duty work these vehicles do so well. It should be noted that mileage figures quoted are for RWD Tundra trims, and that 4WD-equipped trims will drop average fuel economy numbers by some 1 to 3 mpg.
Ride & Handling
At one time, the Toyota Tundra led the league in ride and handling. Alas, those days are over, at least at present. Nearly all professional reviewers consider the 2010 Tundra’s ride and handling characteristics inferior to the improved Ford, Dodge, and GM full-size pickups. This does not mean that the Tundra is un-drivable, simply that it’s standard 18-inch wheels, front independent double-wishbone suspension, front stabilizer bar, and solid live axle are not quite up to the improved suspensions that equip much of the competition.
According to reviewers, rough surfaces result in excessive bounce and jiggle in the Tundra, and this is only worsened when the available 20-inch wheels are selected. Rear-end jouncing, a common problem in all pickups when running with an empty bed, remains a more disquieting aspect of the Tundra than it does with certain domestic competitors. The Tundra’s saving grace is that its beefy chassis will tame at least some of those beastly bumps out there. However, it remains weak in cornering, with noticeable nose plow and too much body lean.
Steering characteristics for the 2010 Tundra remain weak, with a less-than-alert response to input and little intimacy with the road. Tundra’s standard hydraulic power steering, however, is thus far markedly superior to the electronic power steering that occasionally, and inadvisably, graces vehicles designed for heavy work. Braking, reviewers note, remains strong, with four-wheel disc brakes able to handle the increased stresses of off-roading and trailer-pulling with little pedal sponginess and, above all, reasonable margin for error.
The 2010 Tundra is offered with available part-time 4WD that features Toyota’s 4WDemand system. This tough and efficient 4WD configuration is only available with the V8 engines, and boasts electronic hi-lo gear selection, auto-locking hubs, and, of course, the standard rear limited-slip differential.
Cabin & Comfort
Though lower-end 2010 Tundra Grade trims offer little in the way of cabin amenities (indeed, the new Work Truck Package offers virtually none), most trims will provide at least a modicum of creature comforts, beginning with standard cloth seating, dual-zone climate control, tilt-wheel steering, and a single-CD player with four speakers. From there, depending on body style and powertrain selection, power windows, door locks, and mirrors, cruise control, six-speaker audio, front and overhead consoles, reclining rear seats, and, in the Tundra Grade CrewMax, remote power windows and door locks, swells the list of standard equipment. Options for the Tundra Grade trims include power-sliding rear windows, leather upholstery, audio upgrades, off-road packages, including the TRD Rock Warrior Package and TRD Off-Road Packages, rear-seat DVD entertainment, touch-screen DVD navigation systems with integrated rear-view camera, power moonroof, remote garage door opener, and various Class II and III towing packages. Tundra’s new-for-2010 Platinum Package, available for the Double Cab and CrewMax trims, incorporates just about all the options available as standard equipment, including the popular SR5 Package featuring, among other things, cruise control, remote keyless entry, alloy wheels, and telescoping tilt-wheel steering.
Tundra’s Limited trims incorporate many of the options for the Tundra Grade as standard equipment, while adding such niceties as standard alloy wheels, automatic climate control, Bluetooth technology, satellite radio, power-adjustable front seats, front and rear audible parking sensors, and a 6-CD changer. Additional options for the Limited trims include driver’s memory settings and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Cabins in the Tundra Double Cab and CrewMax are described by professional reviewers as roomy, but with many inferior plastic surfaces, knobs, and switches. Controls are large enough and well-marked, however, numerous reviewers and owners find too many switches and controls placed at a hefty stretch for most drivers. Gauges, too, are noted by reviewers as often obscured by the steering wheel and occasionally difficult to read in sunlight. Seats, though, are complimented by many reviewers as firm yet comfortable, and cabins are noted to be reasonably quiet at highway speeds, at least over smooth pavement.
Traditionally well-equipped for safety, the 2009 Toyota Tundra is tapped as a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and there’s no reason to think the same won’t happen in 2010. With standard four-wheel disc ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency braking assist, traction and stability control, dual front side-mounted airbags, and front knee airbags, as well as front and rear head airbags, the 2010 Tundra lineup offers some serious driver and passenger protection. On top of that, the Limited trims feature standard dusk-sensing headlights, turn-signal-integrated mirrors, and front fog/driving lights. On top of all that, high-intensity discharge headlights and a remote anti-theft alarm system are optional across the lineup.
For 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Tundra five stars for front and side impact protection, except for the Regular Cab configuration which receives four stars in front driver’s side impact testing. The Tundra RWD trims also received three stars for rollover protection, while 4WD trims earned four stars in rollover testing. It’s expected that the IIHS will once again give the Tundra their highest rating of “good” across the board for 2010.
What Owners Think
Owners of the 2010 Toyota Tundra are vociferous in their praise of this full-size pickup, with value, performance, and cabin comfort topping the list of attributes. Mileage, however, though considered adequate for the upgraded 4.6 V8, draws frowns from owners of the other engines. The cheap materials used liberally in the Tundra cabin, as well as a certain misalignment of gauges and controls, somewhat mitigates praise for its styling, ride, and comfortable seating.
Reliability, always a strong point in Toyota vehicles, receives an “’atta boy” from owners of the 2010 Tundra, though many bemoan the lack of a diesel engine, with others concerned that no economy-boosting cylinder shutdown at highway speeds is offered. Finally, the Tundra’s relatively small gas tank, tepid handling, and the lack of a few amenities common to competitor’s pickups doesn’t impress owners, while its silky six-speed auto-manual transmission, V8 towing capacity, and plethora of standard safety features draw kudos and salutations.
Have Laptop, Will Travel. I'm retired and travelling the country in a 34' motor home. I'm really digging meeting people . . and sometimes their cars . . . getting a sense of what makes this nation tick. The plan is to visit all the national parks in the continental US, then cruise to Alaska to visit Denali, and to Hawaii to check out Haleakala and the Hawaii Volcano's national parks. Anyhow, when I'm not horsing the motor home around the roadways, I'm tooting around in the 2012 Ford Focus that we tow behind, or making runs to Home Depot and various malls with the 2004 F-150 that just won't die.
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Toyota Tundra Questions
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I usually carry about 800 lbs in the bed, but sometimes up to 1500 lbs....and it shows. What is the best thing I can do for truck to handle the extra weight?