The 2011 Toyota Tundra should carry over model-year 2010 changes that saw this full-size pickup gain a fine new V-8 and the subtlest of styling tweaks. It should also include the brake-override system Toyota was installing to prevent unintended-acceleration. Despite being tarred with the recall brush, the 2011 Tundra will remain a solid truck with lots of appealing features. Still, Toyota’s first attempt to compete head-on with Ford, Chevy, and Dodge on the big-pickup field continues to feel the sales-draining effects of a tough economy and stubborn domestic-brand loyalty.
Should you wait for the 2011 Toyota Tundra or buy a 2010 Toyota Tundra?
Buy a 2010 Tundra
if you can verify that it has been fitted with the brake-override system. Toyota during 2010 began phasing-in installation of the override to model-year 2010 and 2011 vehicles. It says all 2011 models will have it, so wait for the 2011 Tundra if you want to be certain. Otherwise, the 2011 Tundra isn’t apt to change in any significant way. That means buying a 2010 Tundra equipped with the brake-override gets you the styling and powertrain improvements that’ll see this truck through to its next full redesign – plus heavy factory discounts as Toyota tries to make up for sales lost during the recall. The best way to get the full value from a 2010 or 2011 Tundra would be to keep it for more than six years or so, beyond the point at which resale prices would be tarnished by the unintended acceleration controversy.
2011 Toyota Tundra Changes
The 2011 Toyota Tundra sports the revamped grille and revised taillamps that constituted this truck’s model-year 2010 appearance freshening. The 2011 Tundra will return with three cab styles and three bed lengths. The regular cab has two doors. The Tundra Double Cab is extended and adds a pair of small rear doors. Both these cabs come with a 6.5-foot or 8.1-foot cargo bed. The Tundra CrewMax crew cab has four full-size side doors, a 5.5-foot box, and, like the Double Cab, a three-passenger rear bench seat. The Chevy Silverado 1500, its GMC Sierra 1500 cousin, and the Ford F-150 offer four bed lengths. But the 2011 Toyota Tundra otherwise gives up nothing in size to any rival. Its wide cabs have spacious seating, though the very tallest adults might find head room slightly tighter in the Toyota than in its competitors. Tundra’s dashboard isn’t as stylish as that in the Ford and Dodge or as upscale as one available in Silverado and Sierra. And while the strength of its structure is unquestioned, the heft and feel of some cabin trim doesn’t always measure up to the materials used in the U.S.-brand trucks.
Toyota recalled 2010 Tundras to fit replacement driver-side floormats that don’t interfere with the accelerator. It recalled 2007-2008 Tundras for gas-pedal repairs designed to prevent unintended acceleration. Toyota says all 2011 Tundras will have the brake-override, an important electronic safety system that enables application of the brake pedal to override the accelerator. Otherwise, the 2011 Tundra should be a mechanical repeat of the 2010 model. It’ll reprise 2010’s three-engine lineup, with the 4.6-liter V-8 still the most sensible choice. It has 310 horsepower and a healthy 327 pound-feet of torque. (Torque is vital in trucks; think of it as the force that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.) Tundra’s 4.6-liter V-8 has more power and better fuel economy than Tundra’s V-6 (236 horsepower, 266 pound-feet), and goes toe-to-toe with the entry-level V-8s available in the Dodge and GM trucks. It could have its hand full when it comes to the 2011 Ford F-150, which is slated for a revamped engine lineup that could include the high-torque twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 plus a strong new base V-8. As for Tundra’s big 5.7-liter V-8 (381 horsepower, 401 pound-feet), it’s a formidable match for anything in the class and gives Tundra its highly competitive 10,800-pound towing capacity. (The 4.7 V-8 pulls 9,000 pounds). Tundra’s V-6 teams only with a five-speed automatic transmission and two-wheel drive. The V-8s have a six-speed automatic and can be linked with four-wheel drive. Tundra’s 4WD setup has low-range gearing, but is for use only on seriously slippery surfaces. That’s a slight demerit because a pickup with a cargo bed that’s empty or lightly loaded risks tail-happy tire spin on damp pavement if it can’t rely on the front tires for traction help. Only the GM and Dodge pickups boast 4WD that can be left engaged on all surfaces. Taking into account the empty-bed jitters common to all big pickups, Tundra’s ride quality is terrific with the standard 18-inch wheels and tires. The available 20-inchers answer bumps and washboards with punch and jiggle. This big Toyota’s handling isn’t ponderous, exactly, but the 2011 Tundra would benefit from retuned steering that dialed in more road feel and quicker response.
Every 2011 Tundra will continue with an impressive array of standard safety features. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist are included to facilitate controlled stops. An antiskid system, traction control, and a limited slip differential help get it going and keep it on track. Passive safety equipment includes driver and front-passenger knee airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows and incorporate rollover sensors. Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, USB linking for iPods and other MP3 devices, a navigation system with backup camera, and rear DVD video are among entertainment and communications options. Leather upholstery and front and rear parking assist are available on the Double Cab and CrewMax; a power sunroof is also a CrewMax option. The cabin is festooned with pockets and cubbies, including a big, deep center console. Payload ratings are entirely competitive, but Toyota could nonetheless enhance the 2011 Tundra’s load-hauling versatility by making available cargo-bed bins to rival the versatile RamBox system available on the Dodge.
2011 Toyota Tundra Prices
Toyota won’t release 2011 Tundra prices until the truck goes on sale in 2010. But 2011 Tundra prices aren’t expected to increase much from 2010 levels. That suggests a base-price range for the 2011 Toyota Tundra of about $23,900 for a 2WD regular cab standard bed with a V6 engine and the Work Truck Package, to around $43,100 for the CrewMax Limited 4x4 with a 5.7-liter V8 engine.
(Prices in this review include the factory mandated delivery fee; it was $745 for Toyota trucks in 2010. Toyotas sold in Southeastern and Gulf states are delivered by an independent distributor and may carry different destination fees. Tundra base prices listed here are for 2WD models and don’t include options. Adding 4WD increases these base prices by about $3,100.)
Estimated starting prices for selected 2011 Tundra models include $25,300 for a regular-cab with the 4.6-liter V-8 and $26,300 for a regular-cab with the 5.7 V-8. The Double Cab is Tundra’s top-selling body style and 2011 versions are likely to be priced from around $26,600 with the 4.6 V-8 and from around $27,900 with the 5.7 V-8.
The 2011 Tundra CrewMax prices should start around $29,500 with the 4.6-liter and around $30,800 with the 5.7. You’re looking at around $40,200 for a 4WD 5.7-liter CrewMax in top-line Limited trim, which means standard leather upholstery, heated power front seats, JBL sound system, Bluetooth, and more. Add the exclusive Platinum Package, which throws in virtually every available option and adds unique perforated leather upholstery and headrests with embroidered Platinum logos, and you’re talking $47,000 or so.
2011 Toyota Tundra Fuel Economy
EPA fuel-economy estimates for 2011 models were not released in time for this review. But 2011 Tundra fuel economy ratings should reflect the 2010 numbers. That means 15/19 mpg (city/highway) with the V-6 engine and 2WD. Ratings with the 4.6-liter V-8 were 15/20 with 2WD and 14/19 with 4WD. Equipped with the 5.7 V-8, Tundra ratings were 14/18 with 2WD, 13/17 with 4WD. All these engines use 87-octane gas. Four-wheel drive Tundras with the 5.7 V-8 can also run on the E85 ethanol-gas blend; ratings are 10/13 on E85.
2011 Toyota Tundra Release Date
The 2011 Toyota Tundra should be in showrooms by summer 2010.
What's next for the Toyota Tundra
Toyota’s initial breakout from of the compact-pickup segment came with the 1993 T100, which was really a “midsize” truck. It was replaced for 2000 by the first-generation Tundra, which was larger but still not quite as big, heavy, or powerful as the full-size domestic competition. The 2011 Tundra is part of the second-generation Tundra clan, a truly full-size family of pickups introduced for model-year 2007.
If Toyota adheres to a projected 8-year life cycle, the third-generation Tundra would be introduced as a 2014 model. Whether that timetable holds, and what changes may yet be in store for the second-generation, may be influenced by economic forces beyond any automaker’s control.
Tundra is built in the U.S. primarily for sale in North America, and its audience has tended to be heavy with personal-use owners despite Toyota’s attempts to crack the domestic brands’ hold on pickup buyers in the trades and in the farming, ranching, and commercial markets.
Near-term, Toyota could retune a second-generation Tundra for high fuel economy, with special gear ratios, tires, and aerodynamic tricks to compete with gas-sipper editions from Ford and Chevy. Don’t expect Toyota to release a gas-electric Tundra anytime soon; it seems content to leave that low-volume field to hybrid versions of the Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Dodge Ram.
Given cordial economic conditions, however, Toyota could revive plans to offer Tundra with a diesel engine. They were dropped as the economy soured and the high cost of a diesel engine and uncertainty about diesel-fuel prices became obstacles. A torquey, clean-running, high-mileage diesel engine would help set Tundra apart from the half-ton herd, intriguing its upscale personal-use buyers while interesting the serious-towing crowd.