The high-trim Platinum model certainly makes a good case for it.
Many people believe that the coolest cars in the world are sports cars. With their sleek bodies and high performance, the people who drive them are the envy of all other road users. However, the sports car is not the ultimate status symbol of wealth and power in every state. No, in certain places in the US, that accolade goes to the mighty pickup truck. Next to Texas and California, Florida is one of the biggest pickup truck states in the country, something we learned to be true after we spent a week in the 2017 Toyota Tundra Platinum CrewMax in the Sunshine State.
Our tester came painted in Blazing Blue Pearl, which is definitely one of the most exciting colors found on any pickup. Our Tundra was the Platinum Trim, which is tied with the 1794 Edition for being the most expensive and luxurious in the lineup. The as-tested price of our Tundra came in at $49,184 with RWD, a 5.5-inch bed and a 5.7-liter V8 engine. Lower trim Tundra models are available with a smaller 4.6-liter V8 engine, but we had the big boy with 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. This engine may not be the most modern, but it has plenty of charm. The Tundra is rated at 13 mpg city, 18 mpg highway and 15 combined. During our testing, we averaged 14.2 mpg around town and 17.6 on the highway.
These certainly aren't good numbers, but this is a massive vehicle after all. We would gladly sacrifice good fuel economy for this awesome 5.7-liter engine. Just starting the Tundra is a rewarding experience thanks to the deep growl that the engine makes upon turning the key. Getting on the throttle in the Tundra rewards the driver with a V8 roar. This truck still uses a slightly old fashioned six-speed automatic, which allows the Tundra to always have good access to power no matter what speed you are driving. Simply dip into the throttle at any speed and the Tundra will gladly downshift and rocket away with a wonderful V8 soundtrack.
Even with well over 5,000 pounds to haul around, the Tundra is capable of hitting 60 mph in around 6.4 seconds, which is extremely impressive. Driving the Tundra made us wonder why automakers have tried so hard to downsize engines and build transmissions with nine and even ten gears. The Tundra's sheer simplicity made us yearn for the days when automakers kept it simple. As the most luxurious trim, we thought the Platinum would be more like a Lexus that happened to have a bed in the back. Unfortunately the Tundra drives nothing like any modern Lexus, but it did remind us of old American luxury cars that put a premium on space and comfort at the sacrifice of speed and refinement.
Driving the Tundra felt like we were at the helm of an old luxury tank from Cadillac or Lincoln. The amount of space in the Tundra is unparalleled even in the most high priced luxury cars. The steering is extremely vague, like in old luxury cars, and takes many turns to go lock to lock. This is necessary to help the massive Tundra move around in tight spaces, which is extremely difficult given the truck's massive 229-inch length. The Tundra is built in Texas, the number one pickup-buying state in the US, which adds to this trucks credentials. Yet the interior of the Tundra isn't the most advanced in the segment. It isn't what we'd call spartan either.
The Platinum Tundra comes standard with 12-way power adjustable seats with memory, perforated leather with heating and ventilation, a power moonroof, sliding rear window and LED running lights. Also included is a seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, rear-view camera, JBL Audio with 11 speakers and a subwoofer, and dual-zone automatic climate control. This truck is essentially a leather-soaked luxury vehicle on the inside. There are also safety features such as front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and a trailer brake controller to help drivers take advantage of the truck's 8,800 pound towing capacity.
Some of the technology in the Tundra is starting to feel a bit dated. Toyota's infotainment system is perfectly easy to use, but lacks any sort of app integration or any Apple or Android mirroring. The Tundra was also devoid of a passive entry system with push button start, which is available on several trucks in the full-size segment. Toyota may need to update the Tundra to fully compete with some of the flashier new trucks on the market like the aluminum Ford F-150. Anyone who wants the feeling of driving an "old fashioned" truck before all the turbocharged and safety equipment take over, however, should really consider the Tundra. Don't let the Toyota badge fool you, this truck is the definition of "built in America."
As a luxury vehicle, there are more comfortable options out there. The Tundra bounces around when you go over bumps or try to execute a quick turn, but the high ride height gives you the satisfying feeling that you are the king of the road. We quickly got over the squishy ride, because the Tundra's interior is a great place to sit for long periods of time. On the highway there is a fair amount of wind noise, but the JBL Audio system is more than capable of making this noise fade into insignificance. What you are left with is an enormous area where five full-size human beings can stretch out on long road trips. We would have taken greater advantage of the Tundra's bed, but since it rains practically everyday in Florida, it becomes a necessity to buy a bed cover.
As our test model was RWD, we quickly found its offroad limitations. Toyota does sell a 4WD version with an electronically controlled transfer case and automatic limited-slip differential, however. Off-roading enthusiasts should opt for the less expensive Tundra TRD Pro, which starts at $43,495. The Ford F-150 Raptor, which is said to be the best off-road truck in the world, starts at $49,265. However, when we tested the Raptor it checked in at $69,995. For people who want the practicality that a truck offers, with the comfort, reliability and dependability of a Toyota, the Tundra is really in its own unique class. Pictures courtesy of Simply Shrimping Media.