2015 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 4×4 w/ TRD Off-Road review: Thumping good

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road

If we wanted to, we could have counted the great thumping exhaust pulses from our test 2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 CrewMax. That’s not so much because of it being a Toyota V-8, though that’s where they start. Instead it’s the TRD dual exhaust system. At idle and low revs, the exhaust comes out in lumps rather than smoothed, and it’s the most noticeable thing about driving the test pickup.

Put this engine—and those pipes—in a street rod, please. They’d love it at Mel’s Drive-in.

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road interior

The 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road interior is workmanlike but not spare. (click to enlarge)

It works rather well in a truck, too, as we noted in our review of the 2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition CrewMax, which was powered by the same 5.7 liter V-8 as our Tundra SR5. The engine is rated at 381 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 401 foot-pounds torque at 3,600 rpm.  The 5.7-liter is offered in both gasoline and “Flex Fuel” variants.

Speaking of engines, the 2014 Tundra is also available with a 4.0-liter dual overhead cam V-6. It produces 270 horsepower and 278 foot-pounds torque. A 4.6-liter V-8 310 horsepower and 327 foot-pounds of peak torque.

There are three cab styles for the Toyota Tundra for 2014. For the traditionalist there’s the two-door Regular Cab. For those who occasionally want to throw some stuff in the cab, carry a couple of extra passengers, the Tundra has a four-door Double Cab. Toyota says our tester,  afour-door CrewMax, is “super-sized,” and it’s worthy of putting some miles on if you have normal-size people for the back seat. The rear passenger room is bigger than in most sedans.

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road back seat

The 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road back seat folds up for cargo hauling to replace humans. (click to enlarge).

The pickup bed also comes in three sizes. The Tundra Regular Cab and Double Cab models are offered in standard bed (78.7-inch) or long bed (97.6-inch) versions, while the CrewMax is available only with a 66.7-inch bed. The short bed cuts hauling capacity significanty, but if people are a priority… All Tundras have a 145-inch wheelbase , except the Double Cab/long bed have a 145-inch wheelbase, except for the Double Cab with the long bed which puts 164.6 inches between the axles.

Of course, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive are available, with 4×2, 4×4 Hi and 4×4 Lo ranges. Drive mode is selected using a big use-it-with-gloves-on dial on the dash. (The heater/air conditioner knobs are big too).  The four-by-four mode includes  4WDemand part-time all-wheel drive, plus Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), which operates like Auto-LSD (automatic limited slip differential) but allows full engine output, transferring power front or rear, transfers power depending on which has the best traction.

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road tube step

The 2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road’s tube step aids access to the cab without collecting a lot of mud. Front seat access would be easier if the tread extended further forward. (click to enlarge)

With the Regular Cab, rear-wheel only drive and the big V-8, the Tundra can tow up to 10,500 pounds. Adding four-wheel drive and the bigger cabs takes away the edge, with our test truck maxing at 9,800 pounds.

Fuel use by the Tundra is about the same what one would expect from this size and type of vehicle. Our test CrewMax 5.7-liter 4×4 is rated at 13 mpg city/17 mpg highway/15 mpg combined.  The economy estimates are just about right. In a full tank of fuel—and it’s a big tank to fill—we recorded 15.1 mpg.

The 2014 Tundra comes in a range of trim levels, starting with the SR, topped by the SR5. (Trivia: Toyota began using “SR5” in the mid-70s on a special version of the Toyota Corolla, with stripes, “bolt-on” wheel flares and—the source of the “5”—a five-speed transmission. You can look it up).

The Tundra SR’s basic equipment that includes a windshield wiper deicer, front and rear mudguards, power window and door locks, heated power outside mirrors and standard High Solar Energy-Absorbing (HSEA) glass, with the SR5 striving for what Toyota calls “professional gear.”  That means, says Toyota, “unique driver and passenger zones, metallic accents and bold contrasting fabric. Premium surface treatments include high-granulated paint on the center cluster and unique seat stitching to enhance interior quality and durability.” To us it means “plain.”

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road (click to enlarge)

But the SR5 also replaces the front bench seat with individual buckets ( with power on the driver’s side), tilt and telescoping steering wheel, a front console with a cavernous storage bin (with 12V power plug and aux and USB ports) and a console-mounted shift lever.

Above the SR5 are the Limited and the 1794 edition, depending on whether you like your luxury city or cowboy.

The trucks come with a variety of options and packages. Our test 2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 CrewMax had Toyota’s Entune audio and navigation with the app suite for future expansion of utility, the SR5 upgrade package, cargo handling accessories, floor mats and more (see the window sticker in the specifications for a full listing).

The defining element for out test truck was the TRD Off-Road package. While capable, it’s not a desert racer, and the long wheelbase does cut back on its agility offroad—not to mention the supermarket parking lot). The package includes special TRD 18-inch wheels, special Bilstein offroad shocks, engine and fuel tank skid plates, and front tow hook (on the 4×2 only), plus rear side privacy glass, and just so everyone knows, TRD decals on the rear fenders.

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road

2014 Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road (click to enlarge)

The rear springs are set for cargo hauling to make the truck level when fully loaded, and that means with just people aboard, the truck is going to, well, ride like a truck. It’s bouncy, but as our notes say, “not too bad.” It’s a good ride for a truck, we noted, but not so much for cars. Maybe if we loaded it down…

The good news is that the 2014 Toyota Tundra SR5 4WD with the TRD package is quiet inside…except for that exhaust. If it throbs at low rpm, it drones on the highway, and that’s either going to entertain or annoy. Like the sound of the engine? Good, because with the dual exhaust it will always be with you. Otherwise… well, Just be sure to drive the dual exhaust before you buy it. Either way it’s a thumping good truck.

Specifications and window sticker on next page.