2021 Toyota Tundra SR5 4X4: Bargain-priced work horse
The Toyota Tundra is the oldest full-size pickup in production, with the 2021 version first introduced in 2013, an eternity in today's automotive world. Because of that, it was not part of the recent race to produce ever bigger, more powerful, and more luxurious large trucks.
In other words, the 2021 Toyota Tundra is an old fashioned truck that should satisfy a lot of buyers at a lower price that the newer Chevys, Fords, Nissans and Rams. Yes, the ride is rougher. Yes, it only has one engine choice. Yes, the interior includes a lot of hard plastic and the infotainment system seems out of date.
But if what you need is a genuine hardworking truck for thousands less than the competition, the Tundra is the pickup for you. The ride is reasonable enough and settles down when carrying a payload. The 5.7-liter produces a health 381 horsepower and 401 foot pounds of torque. You won't be afraid to get the interior dirty. And Toyota has kept current with safety systems and other advanced technologies.
As a result, our test SR5 4X4 crew cab starts at $41,020 and came into our driveway at $49,367, including comfort, convenience, performance and safety upgrades. If you haven't been following the full-size truck market, those are bargain prices — and less than many well-equipped affordable family sedans.
On top of that, the 2021 Tundra is an attractive pickup that doesn't look like it's trying to be a Mack truck. It's big without being bulky. The front end is blunt without being boxy. The grill is bold without being gaudy. And even though our tester came with four-wheel-drive, it didn't require a step ladder to get into.
Our test Tundra was a four-door Crewmax with a short 5.5-foot bed. That's kind of an odd combination because if you need to carry a work crew, you probably need the long 6.5-foot bed to carry all their supplies. But I found it helpful because it showed how much room the truck offers in the back seat — a lot — and was easier to drive around town than the long bed version would have been. The short bed came with a plastic liner and adjustable tie downs, so it was clearly capable of doing a good day's work at any rate.
Most full-size trucks I've tested are top-of-the-line models, meaning they practically compete against the most expensive luxury cars with full leather interiors, huge display screens and the like. The test Tundra was disarmingly low key, with cloth seats, a relatively small 8-inch touchscreen and a key instead of a push button start. But it came with a wealth of standard equipment that counted, including the Toyota Safety Sense Package that includes Collision Warning, Pedestrian Detection, Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning and more.
Optional equipment included an SR5 Upgrade Package that brought with it a 38-gallon fuel tank, which is a good idea since the EPA only rates the Tundra at 14 miles per gallon average. On the plus side, although the standard 5.7-liter V8 is thirsty, it is plenty powerful and capable of towing up to 10,200 when properly equipped.
If you want more, the Tundra can also be ordered as the more upscale Limited and fully-loaded Platinum models that include full leather interiors and other luxury touches. But even the most expensive of them starts at under $50,000 with rear-wheel-drive, which is still a bargain these days.
If you're in the market for a solid full-size truck at a reasonable price and don't need the latest everything, give the 2021 Toyota Tundra a drive. It may be the oldest large truck on the market, but it's still got a lot of life in it.
2021 Toyota Tundra SR5 4X4
Base price: $41,020
Price as tested: $49,367
Type: Full size pickup
Engine: 5.7-liter V8 (381 hp, 401 lb-ft)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual mode
EPA estimated mileage: 13/17
Overall length: 228.9 to 247.8 inches
Curb weight: 5,100 to 5,680 pounds
Final assembly: San Antonio, Texas
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