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2016 Toyota Tundra: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader September 2015

Although the pickup market has been dominated by the Big Three automakers (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors), the Toyota Tundra is a highly credible alternative that has dramatically improved with each passing year. Now, the 2016 Toyota Tundra is facing new competition from every angle, and it's starting to fade into the background.

A brand-new Ford F-150 came out last year, while the Chevrolet Silverado debuted in 2014. Nissan will release a new version of its Titan pickup for 2016. The RAM 1500 isn't new, but constant changes keep it fresh. As a result, we're patiently awaiting an updated Tundra, since this is largely the same truck that debuted back in 2007.

For now, Toyota's full-size pickup seems to be keeping up with the competition well. There's brawny styling, powerful engines and a wide array of trims from basic and mid-range to off-road-oriented and highly luxurious levels. While we suspect a new Tundra will be eventually released, we wouldn't fault you for considering today's model.

What's New for 2016?

Updates to the 2016 Tundra are minimal. There's a new off-road package for the upscale 1794 Edition, improved Entune infotainment technology, a larger optional fuel tank and expanded availability of the blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert warning systems.

What We Like

Stellar 5.7-liter V8; various body styles to suit different needs; pleasant driving experience by truck standards; updated looks

What We Don't

Some controls require an uncomfortable reach; no diesel option; aging interior and design compared to modern rivals

How Much?

$31,500-$50,100

Fuel Economy

The Tundra's standard engine is a 4.6-liter V8 cranking out 310 horsepower and 327 lb-ft of torque. Meanwhile, the optional 5.7-liter V8 boasts a muscular 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. Both work with a 6-speed automatic.

The Tundra comes standard with rear-wheel drive. The optional part-time 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system has an electronically-controlled transfer case with a low range. Fuel economy is 15 miles per gallon in the city and 20 mpg on the highway with the 4.6-liter V8 (14 mpg city/19 mpg hwy with 4WD) and 14 mpg city/18 mpg hwy with the 5.7-liter V8 (13 mpg city/17 mpg hwy with 4WD).

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Toyota Tundra comes in a wide range of trim levels, including basic SR and SR5, mid-level Limited and upscale Platinum and 1794 Edition. There's also an off-road-oriented TRD Pro model. It's offered with an array of bed lengths and body styles, including 2-door regular cab, 4-door Double Cab and a larger 4-door CrewMax.

The base-level Tundra SR ($31,500) includes a surprisingly long list of standard equipment. In addition to the truck's 4.6-liter V8, it features a 6.1-inch touchscreen with a basic version of Toyota's Entune infotainment system, a backup camera, cruise control, air conditioning and Bluetooth. Shoppers who want to downgrade to vinyl seats and floors for easier cleanup can do so with an available Work Truck package.

Next up is the SR5 ($32,100), which adds chrome accents, variable intermittent wipers, a 7-in touchscreen, satellite radio and a sliding rear window.

In the middle of the range is the Limited ($42,200), which adds 20-in alloy wheels, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery with heated front seats, dual power front seats, a navigation system and Toyota's Entune app suite, allowing drivers to select and use various apps in conjunction with the infotainment system.

From here, the lineup takes a detour. Shoppers who want an off-road-oriented truck can choose the TRD Pro ($43,400), which adds off-road items, such as improved suspension, unique wheels and tires and other accessories.

Above the Limited is the high-end Platinum ($50,100), which boasts extra chrome touches, a power sunroof, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats with driver-seat memory and a 12-speaker JBL sound system.

Topping the range is the CrewMax-only 1794 Edition ($50,100), which celebrates the Texas cattle ranch where the Tundra is built. It offers unique interior and exterior trim to give it a Southwestern flair.

The Tundra also offers a dizzying array of options and equipment, ranging from 4-wheel drive and the pickup's larger V8 to a long list of features that come standard on higher-end Tundra trims.

Safety

The Tundra comes standard with stability control and eight airbags, including knee airbags for front occupants. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are optional.

In government crash tests, the Tundra received an overall score of four stars out of five, but performance varied slightly between the CrewMax, which received three stars in both frontal impact and rollover testing, and the other Tundra body styles, which received four stars in those categories.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety was more impressed, awarding the Tundra its highest score of Good in all crash test categories, though the agency hasn't yet submitted the truck to its challenging front small-overlap test.

Behind the Wheel

Like every big truck except for the RAM 1500, with its controversial coil-spring rear suspension, the Tundra's ride is a bit firm and jittery when the bed is empty. Recent updates help the truck's case, but it's still a full-size pickup truck.

We like the Tundra's relatively compact steering wheel and car-like cockpit, which help give the truck a maneuverable feel. We also appreciate that the cabin remains fairly quiet at highway speeds. Off-road, the Tundra is a formidable performer, especially in the TRD Pro guise.

The Tundra's standard front seat configuration is a 3-person bench, but fancier Tundras have front bucket seats with escalating levels of luxury and power adjustability. The top-of-the-line Limited's power leather seats might be the best in the business, and it's not every day you find a truck with perforated-leather upholstery and power thigh support for the driver.

The regular cab doesn't have a back seat, but the 4-door Double Cab provides decent room for adults in its 60/40-split folding rear bench, while the CrewMax would make 7-footers feel at home with its extended legroom. Note that every CrewMax's back seat slides fore and aft, but the Double Cab's is fixed by default with an optional sliding function.

The Tundra comes with one of three bed lengths: 66.7-in (CrewMax only), 78.7-in (standard on Regular Cab and Double Cab) or 97.6-in (optional on Regular Cab and Double Cab). If you want the CrewMax's extra passenger space, you'll have to live with the shortest bed of the bunch.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Ford F-150 -- The all-new F-150 offers improved fuel economy, an excellent array of engines and added refinement. Using aluminum construction, it's also a lot lighter and more capable than last year's truck. It's worth a spot on your shopping list.

2016 Chevrolet Silverado and 2016 GMC Sierra -- The GM twins received all-new updates for the 2016 model year, placing them a step ahead of the Tundra's mere face-lift. Offering impressive refinement and new engines, these are the new trucks to beat.

2016 RAM 1500 -- RAM's full-size truck offers some unique benefits, like diesel power and air suspension. It also touts some of the boldest styling in the pickup truck world.

Used Toyota Tundra -- If you're intimidated by the pricing of a new Tundra, you might want to consider a used one. Given that this design has been around largely unchanged since 2007, you don't necessarily need the latest and greatest to look and feel like you have a new pickup.

Autotrader's Advice

Since the point of these full-size beasts is to be able to handle just about any job, we'd take a Tundra Double Cab with the long bed and the 5.7-liter V8. It's the closest thing Toyota has to a heavy-duty truck, and it's all the truck we'd ever need.

Find a Toyota Tundra for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Toyota Tundra: New Car Review - Autotrader