In recent years, something interesting has happened to the full-size pickup world: There’s a growing demand for off-roaders. It started with the Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, and now it’s spreading, as there’s an off-road version of the RAM 1500 and a 4-wheeler Toyota Tundra. It’s called the 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, and we recently had the chance to try one out for a week in the real world. Here’s what we thought.
In and Out
The Tundra TRD Pro’s exterior styling received rave reviews from our editors. While the truck’s styling enhancements don’t go as far as upgrades to the F-150 SVT Raptor, it still offers some unique updates, such as a giant black grille, an aggressive new hood and black wheels that look like they mean business. "Now, this is a truck!" said one of our editors, noting that he "loves the Inferno Orange color and black accents and wheels." We suspect most drivers will avoid the attention-grabbing shade and opt for one of the truck’s more subtle color choices, like black, white or a military-style tan called Quicksand.
Inside, we weren’t so enthusiastic about the Tundra. With major competitors, such as the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado, recently redesigned to offer entirely new interiors, the Tundra’s once-handsome cabin looks dated. "The interior looks similar to my uncle’s 2007 Tundra," said one editor, while another noted the interior is "lagging behind the industry." Still, we appreciate the cabin’s simple layout and easy-to-reach controls.
Excellent Ride on Open Roads
Nearly everyone who drove the truck commented about how great the ride quality is, despite the Tundra’s aging platform. One editor commented that the Tundra TRD Pro "doesn’t have the bounce I’ve experienced with other large pickup trucks," while another praised the truck’s comfortable seats and minimal interior noise. Another team member noted the Tundra handled pockmarked city roads "like it was riding on pillows."
Unfortunately, these were the only good things we could say about the Tundra TRD Pro in the city. The truck (and all of its rivals) is simply too large for city roads, as its size makes parking and just driving around a challenge. This is a truck for the open roads, the suburbs and the highway — but not the center of town.
Powertrain Pros and Cons
As for the powertrain, we found both pros and cons. All Tundra TRD Pro models are powered by the truck’s massive 5.7-liter V8, which makes 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque. The engine is a monster, and we enjoyed pushing our foot down and feeling the truck’s excellent acceleration. We also liked the TRD Pro’s upgraded exhaust, described by one editor as "not too loud or too subtle."
The problem? Fuel economy. Even drivers who don’t check gas prices or fuel mileage figures when filling up will become frustrated by the Tundra, which returned less than 14 miles per gallon in our combined driving and closer to 12 mpg around town and in traffic. Although this used to be the norm for full-size pickups, the Tundra faces tougher competition from newly updated General Motors and Ford rivals, both of which offer far better fuel economy numbers.
Although this truck is growing older, we enjoyed our time in the 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. We liked the look, the ride quality and the engine power, and we’re happy this off-roader truck exists. If you want the most modern pickup on the market, this isn’t it though, and you’d have to consider a Chevy Silverado, which doesn’t offer an off-road version, or the Ford F-150, as the off-roader Raptor will soon return to dealership showrooms.