Those looking at half-ton pickups probably need a truck that can haul camping gear and Jet Skis, tow a boat or small trailer, and occasionally go off road without fear. The 2012 Toyota Tundra can do all these things with ease, as can rivals from Ford, RAM, Chevrolet and Nissan. But the Tundra has a few extra perks, such as outstanding resale value, near-bulletproof reliability and a coolness factor that scores big with the younger set. It also offers some rare features, such as an available power retractable rear window.
Off-road enthusiasts will naturally gravitate to the SR5 and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) trims, while those who use their pickups as family wagons will appreciate the roomy and upscale Limited CrewMax. And, with 28 possible build combinations, there's bound to be a Tundra to suit just about any need.
Changes for 2012 include a simplified option sheet and the addition of a rearview camera to the Limited trim and Rock Warrior package. Double Cab and CrewMax models receive a new Chrome package.
What We Like
Powerful V8 engine; good repair and reliability record; available power rear window; clean, functional cab; huge back seat on CrewMax models
What We Don't
Only available in half-ton chassis; feedback from the steering and brakes is not as precise as some competitors; too many drab gray plastics in the cabin
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The stock 4.0-liter V6 pumps out 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. A 5-speed automatic is standard with this engine and helps net an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-estimated 16 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. This engine is only offered on 2-wheel-drive (2WD) trucks.
The Tundra offers two V8 engine choices. First up is a 4.6-liter V8, good for 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque. EPA estimates for this engine are 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy with 2-wheel drive, and 14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive (4WD). The real powerhouse, however, is the 5.7-liter V8, rated at 381 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates of 14 mpg city/18 mpg hwy with 2WD and 13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy with 4WD place it in line with other V8 competitors. Both V8 engines are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The Tundra's maximum tow capacity is 10,400 pounds (for a regular-cab model in 4x2 mode).
Standard Features & Options
The 2012 Toyota Tundra is offered in two trims, base and Limited, with long and short beds and three cab styles: Regular, Double Cab and CrewMax. Due to the wide variety of possible configurations (28 in all), we'll list the basics for each trim and some of the more popular options.
The Tundra Regular Cab features a 40/20/40-split bench front seat, dual-zone air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with a CD player, front and rear chrome bumpers, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel and manual side mirrors. Options for the Regular Cab include the SR5 package, which adds most of the equipment from the Double Cab. Also available are 18-inch wheels, Bluetooth, upgraded audio with an iPod/USB port, navigation, a rearview camera and front bucket seats. A Work Truck options package strips the Tundra of most of its luxuries, replacing them with vinyl seats, rubber floor mats and black step bumpers.
The Tundra Double Cab adds cruise control, an 8-way adjustable driver's seat and a 6-speaker stereo, plus power functions for the mirrors, door locks and windows. The SR5 package for this trim also adds power front seats and heated side mirrors. Options for the Double Cab include three TRD packages. The TRD Sport package brings 20-in wheels and tires, special cloth seats and badging. The TRD Rock Warrior package (also available on the CrewMax) adds Bilstein gas shocks, a rearview camera and 17-in wheels with off-road tires, while the TRD Off-Road package adds skid plates and tow hooks.
The 4-door Tundra CrewMax adds a power rear window, adjustable rear seats and a larger cab.
CrewMax and Double Cab models can be ordered in Limited trim, which adds a 12-speaker JBL audio system, leather-covered heated front seats with a 10-way power driver's seat, three 12-volt sockets, a transmission-oil temperature gauge, a rearview camera, power-folding exterior mirrors and the deck-rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats.
Options for the CrewMax include a power sunroof and a rear-seat entertainment system, plus a Platinum package that includes heated and cooled front seats, memory for the driver's-seat position, wood trim and navigation.
As with most Toyota products, the Tundra holds excellent long-term resale values. That's great news when it comes time to sell your truck, but it also means that purchasing a Tundra won't be cheap.
To get a good idea of the Tundra's price range, we suggest using the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at kbb.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2012 Toyota Tundra:
A recall was issued for improper maximum-load-weight labeling for the tires and wheels.
A recall was issued regarding improper calibration for the passenger-airbag seat sensor. This occurred after accessories, such as leather seat covers or seat heaters, were added after production and could result in the passenger-side airbag's failure to deploy.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA gave the Tundra four out of five stars in its frontal-impact and side-impact crash tests. The rear-drive Tundra earned three out of five stars in its rollover roof-strength test, while the 4WD model scored four out of five in the same test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tundra high marks, scoring its highest rating of Good in the frontal-offset and side-impact tests.
From the factory, the Toyota Tundra comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Extended warranties purchased when the vehicle was new are transferable, so be sure to inquire if a possible purchase has an extended plan. With a certified pre-owned (CPO) Tundra, the warranty coverage for the powertrain is extended to 7 years and 100,000 miles from the vehicle's original in-service date. CPO vehicles also come with a 3-month/3,000-mile comprehensive warranty.
Other Cars to Consider
Ford F-150 -- The F-150 offers even more variations, a more sophisticated interior and better fuel economy with its EcoBoost twin-turbo V6, plus it has a higher tow rating.
RAM 1500 -- The RAM is more expressive, both inside and out, and its ride is more comfortable than the Tundra. The RAM's base V6 isn't as powerful, however, and the Tundra has better resale figures.
Nissan Titan -- The Titan doesn't offer as many cab or engine choices as the Tundra, and it can only tow up to 9,500 pounds. The Titan's ride is also much stiffer, and its resale values are nowhere near the Tundra's.
We think the Double Cab SR5 with the 8-foot bed is the best overall combination of utility, comfort and accommodation. If you need to carry four adults regularly, however, check out the CrewMax Limited. No matter which trim, shoot for one with the 5.7-liter V8, although the 4.6-liter V8 is also an acceptable engine choice.