The Toyota Tundra hasn't changed much over the past 10 years — and it hasn't changed much for 2018. But that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to trucks.
The Tundra, unlike many of its rivals, doesn't have a turbocharged direct-injected V-6 engine, a 10-speed transmission or an aluminum body.
Instead, it comes standard with a powerful and simpler V-8 without direct injection, a reliable six-speed automatic transmission and a harder-to-hurt (and easier to fix) steel body.
As Mr. Burns on "The Simpsons" used to say, excellent!
There is some bad news, though, if you don't need more than a two-door.
What It Is
The Tundra is Toyota's full-size pickup.
Unlike the big three 1500s, the Chevy Silverado, the Ford F-150 and the Dodge Ram 1500, which all come standard with V-6s, the Tundra comes standard with a big V-8. Also standard is a best-in-class towing capacity.
The Tundra does cost more to start, and it doesn't offer as many cab and bed configurations as the other automakers do, especially now that the Regular Cab version has been discontinued. Base price is $31,120 for an SR Double Cab with an 8-foot bed, two-wheel drive and a 4.6-liter V-8. Prices top out at $50,130 for the Platinum and 1794 Edition CrewMax Tundras with four-wheel drive, each powered by the larger 5.7-liter V-8.
The major changes for 2018 are the new front clip/grille treatments and the discontinued regular cab.
The formerly optional Toyota Safety Sense system, which bundles automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, pedestrian detection and dynamic radar cruise control, is now standard in all trims.
Regardless of trim, a V-8 is standard.
The standard tow rating of 10,500 pounds is the highest in its class.
The simpler drivetrain technology should provide more long-term durability and less maintenance.
What's Not So Good
The rival trucks mentioned cost less to start and offer more cab, bed and drivetrain configurations.
Crew Cab versions (with four full-sized doors) only come with stubby 5.6-foot-long bed.
There's no more regular cab.
Under the Hood
The lineup starts with a 4.6-liter V-8 that gets 310 horsepower and 327 foot-pounds of torque. The optional engine (standard in Platinum, Limited, Toyota Racing Development and 1794 trims) is a 5.7-liter V-8 that gets 381 horsepower and 401 foot-pounds of torque.
Big, simple V-8s with port fuel injection like the Tundra's may not be latest thing, but they are durable and rugged. Ditto the simpler six-speed automatic transmission.
On the Road
Though it's about the same size as other 1500s, the Tundra somehow feels and drives smaller. First, it projects forward less; it is stubbier from the A pillars at the base of the windshield to the front bumper. The front clip/hood is about as long as a Toyota Camry. You don't feel as though you are on the bridge of a supertanker, the prow miles ahead in the mist. Because there's less on the front end, the truck has more effective clearance. Tight turns are less hairy and can generally be done without having to stop, back up, inch forward and repeat.
At the Curb
The disappearance of the regular cab from the roster will probably disappoint some people who don't need the extra doors or passenger-carrying capacity. The overall length of the truck is greater now as well, so it will take up a bit more room in your garage and need more space to park curbside.
The Crew Cab Tundra has the short bed, but you can make more space by dropping the tailgate. Plus, you get 42.3 inches of backseat legroom with this combo.
Both cab styles come standard with power sliding rear glass (horizontal sidling in the Double Cab, vertical sliding in the Crew Cab).
A 26.4-gallon fuel tank is standard, but you can upgrade to 38 gallons (which is standard in the Limited, Platinum, 1794 and TRD trims) to give the truck long highway legs — almost 500 miles — even with the 5.7-liter V-8 and 13 mpg.
All Tundras have greater ground clearance than usual: 10.4 inches minimum, including the 2WD versions.
There are three power points on/in the center console, but there's only one USB hookup, a small telltale about the Tundra's age. Newer-design rivals have several, and the Chevy Silverado has available Wi-Fi.
The Tundra is less bedazzled with gadgets — there are fewer displays and buttons and menus to scroll through — which makes it easier to just drive.
The Bottom Line
Some things do get better with age.
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.