At this point, the 2019 Toyota Tundra has faded so far into the background of the pickup truck party, it’s basically buried under coats and the host’s cat. Basically, the situation is this: all of the Tundra’s competitors have been recently redesigned whereas it’s entering its 12th year since being completely overhauled. Oh, there have been updates over the years, but nothing in comparison to the innovations and improvements showcased by its rival trucks — especially this year’s all-new Ram 1500.
Now, Toyota’s full-size pickup still offers brawny styling, excellent reliability, the massively spacious CrewMax cab and — unique for a full-size pickup — standard accident avoidance tech. However, there’s also its subpar fuel economy, jittery ride, dated interior and general lack of innovation. Even its TRD Pro model, which returns for 2019 and offers compelling off-roading capability, is attached to an eye-watering price tag compared to rival off-road-oriented trucks.
So, sure, the Tundra will certainly get the job done, but these days, pickups are capable of much more than that. If we were you, we wouldn’t disturb that proverbial cat.
What’s New for 2019?
After taking a year off, the TRD Pro trim is back with revised styling and suspension. See the 2019 Toyota Tundra models for sale near you
What We Like
Excellent reliability; accident avoidance tech is standard on every model; exceptional back seat room.
What We Don’t
Aging mechanicals and interior design; subpar fuel economy; transmission has only six gears; some controls require an uncomfortable reach; TRD Pro is extremely expensive
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 system has an electronically controlled transfer case with a low range.
With the 4.6-liter and RWD, the Tundra returns 15 miles per gallon in the city, 19 mpg on the highway and 16 mpg in combined driving. The 5.7-liter returns 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined. Opting for 4WD yields a negligible difference. All estimates are worse than the engines offered by its main rivals.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 Toyota Tundra comes in a wide range of trim levels, including basic SR and SR5, midlevel Limited, off-road-oriented TRD Pro, and the upscale Platinum and 1794 Edition. The Tundra is offered with an array of bed lengths and two body styles: the 4-door double cab and a larger 4-door CrewMax.
The base-level Tundra SR ($31,520) includes a surprisingly long list of standard equipment. In addition to the truck’s 4.6-liter V8, it includes 18-in steel wheels, an integrated trailer brake controller, forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, trailer sway warning, automatic highbeams, adaptive cruise control, a windshield wiper de-icer, a damped tailgate, keyless entry, cloth upholstery, air conditioning, a backup camera, a USB port, Bluetooth and a 6.1-in touchscreen. A 40/20/40-split front bench is standard that allows for six passenger seating. The regular cab is also SR only.
Next up is the SR5 ($33,320), which adds chrome accents, variable intermittent wipers, fog lights, a 7-in touchscreen, HD and satellite radios and a sliding rear window on the CrewMax. The TRD Sport package, exclusive to SR5, adds 20-in wheels, sport-tuned Bilstein shocks, front and rear anti-sway bars and sporty styling elements.
The middle range is the Limited ($40,785), which adds 20-in alloy wheels, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated power front seats with a center console and thus 5-passenger seating, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel, a navigation system, additional speakers (seven double cab, nine CrewMax) and Toyota’s Entune app suite, allowing drivers to select and use various apps in conjunction with the infotainment system.
Available on the SR5, Limited and 1794, the TRD Off-Road package adds all-terrain tires on 18-in wheels, trail-tuned Bilstein shocks, skid plates, tow hooks, LED headlights and fog lights, off-road floor mats and special styling elements.
This equipment is included and/or bolstered in the TRD Pro (CrewMax only, $49,745) that gets special styling, BBS forged alloy wheels, Fox internal bypass off-road shocks, a sunroof and a special Voodoo Blue paint option. It loses the leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats and dual-zone climate control. There are no options available.
Above the Limited is the Platinum ($47,100), which boasts extra chrome touches, LED running/accent lights, a sunroof, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory settings and a 12-speaker JBL sound system (optional on Limited CrewMax). A Safety & Convenience package consisting of parking sensors, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning systems comes standard on the Platinum, but is optional on SR5 and Limited.
The CrewMax-only 1794 Edition ($47,100) is really just a Platinum with unique, Texas ranch-inspired interior and exterior trim.
Some equipment on the upper trim levels is available on lower ones.
The Tundra comes standard with antilock brakes, stability control, trailer sway control, a backup camera and six airbags (front, front-side, side curtain). Unique to full-size pickups, accident avoidance tech is standard, including forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning and automatic highbeams. Blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are optional.
In government crash tests, the Tundra received four out of five stars for overall and frontal crash protection as well as five stars for side protection. The double cab scored three stars for rollover versus the CrewMax’s 4-star score. The nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tundra double cab the best-possible rating of Good in all crash tests but the new small overlap front test, where it received a second-best Acceptable score. Interestingly, the CrewMax received a second-worst Marginal score in that test, along with an Acceptable score in the roof strength test. Both got the best possible score of Superior for their forward-crash prevention systems.
Behind the Wheel
Compared to the smooth-riding Ford F-150 and the even smoother-riding Ram 1500, the Tundra is firm and jittery when the bed is empty. Its handling and overall driving experience just aren’t as refined either, a sign that the Tundra has gone a decade without a complete redesign while its competitors are basically fresh out of the oven.
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. Those seated in the 60/40-split folding rear bench of the 4-door double cab will find it to be one of most spacious extended cabs on the market. There is no such qualifier needed for the CrewMax, which would make 7-footers feel at home with its extended legroom and reclining seatback. 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 inches (CrewMax only), 78.7 inches (standard on double cab) or 97.6 inches (optional on 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
2019 Ram 1500 — The new king of the segment. Yes, it’s plenty of capable and definitely gets the job done, but it goes several extra steps further with a superior ride, a luxurious interior and class-leading feature content.
2019 Ford F-150 — Constant updates keep the F-150 just as competitive as always. It offers strong fuel economy, an excellent array of engines and impressive refinement. Read 2019 F-150 vs 2019 Tundra: Which is Better?
2019 Chevrolet Silverado and 2019 GMC Sierra — Also all-new for 2019. Although they can’t match the innovation and excellence achieved by the Ram, they still generally represent stronger efforts than the Tundra. Read 2019 Silverado vs 2019 Tundra: Which is Better?
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. The Tundra’s strong reliability may also give it a leg-up on other used trucks.
The Tundra’s fancier trim levels and the TRD Pro just aren’t good value when you stack them up to rival trucks, especially the luxury trim levels of the F-150 and the Ram. As such, the Tundra is a better deal at its lower end for those who want a reliable, well-equipped work truck and don’t care so much about the latest-and-greatest frills. Find a Toyota Tundra for sale