The 2016Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is the most rugged member of the Tundra lineup, specially equipped to zip across desert wastelands, climb right over rocky mountain terrain, conquer severe weather and leap over tall buildings in a single bound.
Okay, the part about the tall buildings may be a bit of exaggeration and, truth to tell, I did not challenge any desert wasteland, rocky mountain terrain or severe weather, either.
How come? Well, my week with the Tundra was spent on the flatlands in and around Avalon, a small southern New Jersey resort town where the weather was clear and warm. The only obstacles to impede me were the hordes of bicyclists, joggers, walkers and children in strollers.
However, I did my due diligence and the research made it clear the 2016 Tundra TRD Pro is one tough truck, willing and able to take its passengers and their belongings almost anywhere.
I learned that this model has a suspension upgrade that raises the front of the truck by two inches and extends wheel travel at all four corners. It also has special high performance shock absorbers and an aluminum skid plate to protect the undercarriage. In addition, it has a towing capacity of 10,000 pounds and the ability to haul about 1.5 tons of stuff in its standard 6.5-inch bed.
You won’t have any trouble identifying the Tundra TRD Pro as it approaches. It has a special dual exhaust system that raises the engine’s growl and lets everyone know a powerful, no-nonsense truck is in the neighborhood. You can also identify it by what Toyota calls its “old style” grille, black badges, black headlight boxes and the TRD Pro logo on the outside of its bed.
As for my personal time with the 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, the first thing I learned was that this 5-foot, 9-inch male could not simply step into the driver’s seat as I would with a passenger car. Instead, it was necessary to grab onto the steering wheel, put one foot on the frame rail, and haul myself into the truck. Attribute that to the 10.4 inches of ground clearance necessary for the truck to go rock hopping, ford streams, or battle blizzard-like conditions.
(Note to Toyota: We “shortish” guys would really appreciate it if you would make a grab handle standard equipment on the left-side windshield pillar. You know, like the one that is installed on the passenger side.)
The second thing I learned is that this truck is big, really big. You notice the broad expanse of the hood as soon as you look out from the driver’s seat and you are reminded again when you pull the double-cab Tundra on to a shopping mall lot and a single space is not enough to keep all 19 feet of the truck from intruding into the traffic lane. Thankfully, the test truck had only the standard 6.5-foot bed, and not the 8.1-foot long bed.
I also learned that the Tundra TRD Pro is reasonably peppy, roomy, feels almost luxurious on the inside and provides a comfortable ride on regular roads. You could take this truck on a road trip with four passengers and everyone would enjoy the surprisingly compliant suspension, compliments of the high-mounted double wishbones in front and a live axle with multi-leaf rear suspension and staggered, outboard-mounted Bilstein shock absorbers at the rear.
The hydraulic rack-and-pinion power steering was accurate but didn’t telegraph much information from the road. In other words, it was typical pickup-truck vague . The brakes, ventilated discs all around, provided adequate stopping power but required a lot of pedal travel before doing their job.
Power was supplied by a 5.7-liter V-8 engine that generates 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. It was teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission. To get off-roaders through the rough stuff the Tundra was equipped with a 4-wheel-drive system that offers the option of two-wheel drive, 4-wheel-drive high range and, for the really 4-wheel-drive low range.
According to the EPA, the Tundra can return an estimated 13 miles per gallon of regular fuel around town and 17 mpg on the open road. In my travels, I averaged 15.5 mpg along mostly level suburban roads and highways. I’m sure that number would drop dramatically if I had a full payload or was towing a 10,000-pound trailer.
Inside, the truck contained many of the comfort and convenience features typical of an upscale automobile. Standard equipment included the Entune infotainment system with 7-inch touch screen, navigation, app suite, premium sound system with auxiliary jack and Ipod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free phone capability, leather seating and power front bucket seats.
Standard safety equipment includes 8 airbags, stability control, traction control, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist, brake override technology, trailer brake control, trailer sway control and a rear backup camera.
Base price of the 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is $42,445 and that includes all of its features. Add the $1,195 delivery charge and the total comes to $43,640.
Although the Tundra TRD Pro is not exactly the vehicle to meet my needs, it no doubt would be a solid choice as a commercial vehicle for a lawn service or a building contractor and it could easily serve as a tow vehicle for boats, horses or even race cars.
To learn about the similar Toyota Tundra CrewMax SR5 TRD Off-Road, one of about 50 available Toyota Tundra configurations, click here.
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