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Drives, Toyota — July 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

2013 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4×4: First Look

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2013 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x4Here’s a first look at the latest ride of the week, a 2013 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4×4. The timing on this drive of the second-generation Tundra pickup is perfect. The upcoming 2014 Toyota Tundra is completely redesigned, and this second-generation model provides a baseline for comparison with the redesigned Tundra. In a few weeks, I’ll have a chance to drive the replacement and find out how that third-gen model is improved to better compete with full-size pickups from the Big Three Detroit automakers and Japanese rival Nissan.

Of course, both the Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra are also U.S.-built, the Titan in Canton, Mississippi and the Tundra in San Antonio, Texas. We Americans (and Canadians, too) like our full-size pickups. The Ford F-150, for example, is a consistent best-seller, and the Chevrolet Silverado and its sister model, the GMC Sierra, are never far behind. Like the Tundra, the two GM models are also fresh from a total redesign for the 2014 model year. Current generations of both the RAM 1500 and the Ford F-150 premiered as 2009 models. The Nissan Titan lags way behind the rest of the pack in sales, no doubt due in part to a design that dates to 2004.

Although this is my first drive of a four-door Crewmax version of the Tundra, I have fairly extensive experience with both the first-generation and current, second-generation Tundras in regular cab and so-called Double Cab forms. The latter is basically a big extended cab version. I’ve driven each of these in work applications that truly tested their capabilities with heavy-weight hauling and towing as well as more general usability. In that application, I was always quite impressed and would recommend the Tundra to friends and colleagues.

But those were work trucks. Full-size pickup owners now expect more out of their vehicles – more premium luxury, more handy features and even more miles per gallon. Ford, RAM and Chevy/GMC all offer beautifully outfitted models at the top of their lineups that frankly make the Tundra look cheap by comparison. The top-trim Limited test truck has an interior full of hard plastic, with faux-wood trim that wouldn’t fool my four-year-old kids. At this year’s Atlanta Auto Show, Toyota literally took the wraps off of the 2014 Tundra. The new generation certainly appears to address these concerns with upscale interior appointments and features.

On the other hand, the test vehicle’s 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 and 6-speed automatic are top notch. The suspension is sturdy but relatively comfortable and the brakes are powerful enough for hauling or towing heavy loads. When I drive the next-generation 2014 soon, I’ll be looking for a truck that preserves the excellent driving dynamics of the current model while providing a more attractive and feature-rich interior experience.

Full-size pickup shoppers interested in a top-of-the-line model from Toyota should wait for the 2014 model. Those looking for something more affordable will save some money and likely be thoroughly impressed with the outgoing 2013 model.

Quick Specs: 2013 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Limited 4x4

body type4-door, 5-passenger pickup
as-tested price (incl. destination charge)$49,335
engine size/configuration5.7-liter V8
horsepower/torque (hp/lb-ft)381/401
transmission6-speed automatic
fuelregular unleaded/E85
EPA city fuel economy rating (mpg)13
EPA highway fuel economy rating (mpg)18
optionsTRD Off-Road package ($1,340); Moonroof ($810); Heated power folding outside tow mirrors ($200); Other: tube steps, bed step, bed extender, front skid plate, bedliner, wheel locks ($2,025)