Seriously, why do they keep sending me trucks? I’m not a truck guy, I’ve never owned a truck, I may never own a truck. But, I and I’ll type this big quietly – I’m starting to like them. Other than “be smaller damnit!”, pick-up trucks do just about everything else I need them to do well. Want space inside, there is quite a bit. Want something large that’s also fairly economical, they have smaller engines available now that still make solid power but get good mpg. Want to haul stuff, obviously that’s easy. Want to haul ass, modern trucks aren’t slow and lumbering like they used to be. So how does the 2019 Toyota Tundra Platinum CrewMax stack up? Let’s do it.
2019 marks the Tundra’s 20th anniversary! Production began in May of 1999 on the first generation Tundra, bearing some similarities to the 1990s T100 and the smaller Tacoma. Some trivia for you, dear RFD reader, the original name was the T-150 and after a quick call from Ford’s lawyers Toyota said “nah, we were just kidding” and named it the Tundra. The original Tundra was smaller than the domestic competition, but won quite a few awards when it was introduced. The second generation was launched in 2007 and looked the part of a big truck. And like the competition, it had a series of engines, bed sizes, and options to help make it competitive with Ford, Chevy, and Dodge. That was a dozen years ago, and I’ll bet you were waiting to hear this Tundra that I just spent a week with is all-new, part of a third generation. Only it isn’t. It’s been refreshed a few times since, most recently for 2014, but it’s still pretty similar to what came out over a decade ago.
Which is a bit of a problem, particularly on the inside. While Toyota has honed in on how to make an exquisite interior for its Lexus brand, their own Toyota’s have suffered. For the past few years, while things have been improving, I have been critical about models dubbed “Limited” feeling a bit too cheap. Unfortunately, we upped the ante here with this “Platinum” Tundra and it doesn’t quite live up to the name. Luckily, it’s as-tested price of $52,585 is only a couple grand more than it’s base price of $50,430. So you get what you get and that’s it. The Platinum slots in towards the top of the Tundra lineup, with the starting price as the 1794 Edition. So it doesn’t have any options added, what’s that get you on the inside?
- Automatic dual zone climate control with dust and pollen filter and individual temperature settings for driver and front passenger
- Integrated backup camera
- 5-passenger seating capacity
- Perforated, leather-trimmed, heated and ventilated front bucket seats with embroidered upper backrests; 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, which includes power thigh and lumbar support and a 2-position memory function; 6-way power-adjustable front passenger seat with power lumbar support
- 60/40 split fold-up rear seats
- Carpet flooring and premium floor mats
- Leather-trimmed power tilt/telescopic 4-spoke steering wheel (with wood-grain-style accents—1794 Edition only) with memory function and audio, Bluetooth® hands-free phone, voice command, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA) controls, and center console gated shift lever
- 4.2-in. TFT Multi-Information Display (MID) with odometer, outside temperature, fuel economy, cruising range, average speed, trip distance with timer, TPMS, and Integrated Trailer Brake Controller (ITBC) monitor (5.7L V8 only); shift position indicator
- Power windows with driver and front passenger one-touch auto up/down, power door locks with shift-linked automatic lock/unlock feature and programmable auto door lock logic, remote keyless entry system with lock, unlock and panic functions, cab, driver footwell and ignition key illuminated entry system and one-touch auto start
- Power vertical sliding rear window with defogger and privacy glass
- Auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink® universal transceiver
- Overhead console with sunglasses storage
- Fixed center console with covered storage compartment and second-row vents (front bucket seats only)
- Two front 12V auxiliary power outlets; one rear 12V auxiliary power outlet
- Front and rear maplights
- Front and rear cup and bottle holders (quantity varies by model, package and grade)
So, it has some stuff and I just got my word count a little higher. The issue is that, aside from the fancy quilted bit on the dash and seats, it just doesn’t feel that nice inside. Toyota seems hell bent on using plastics and other materials that just don’t feel like they are very high end. Check out the exposed screw on the left hand picture. That little guy is staring you right in the face every time you turn the (damn-this-thing-still-has-a) key.
It’s the small fit and finish issues that make you second guess the $50K price tag. The Ram Laramie that I tested last week felt a lot more upscale inside, and while it costs $10,000 more as tested, it’s base price is also $10,000 less. That gives the buyer a lot more flexibility to equip the Ram the way they want, while retaining some of the impressive standard features of the Laramie.
However, if you are a pure truck guy that don’t give no damn about no quilted leather anyway, the Tundra offers a nice environment overall. There is a good amount of room in CrewMax guise and on longer drives, the Tundra provides typical luxu-truck experience. It floats over bumps and the heated and ventilated lay-z-boy seats did an admirable job of keeping me comfortable.
The world of semi-expensive, semi-luxury trucks is complicated. You want yours to look the part, you don’t want to pull up at the local bar and park next to some other dude’s truck and feel inferior. The Tundra does an admirable job of looking pretty butch with a few upscale touches. It’s clear that this overall body has been around for a bit, but they have done some freshening here and there. The headlights have the modern-day LED strips to let people know that you have something built after 2015 or so. I dig the black grill, I’m sure Toyota will sell you one with a chrome grill the size of Texas if you like. Along the side, the Tundra has a pretty sculpted, yet slab sided look to it that looks about as good as most modern trucks.
I really found myself wanting to like the 2019 Toyota Tundra Platinum CrewMax, and in the end I did. Despite some of the fit-and-finish issues, it’s a good looking truck that I wouldn’t mind driving every day. It was clearly well engineered, the 5.7L V8 pulled the truck’s heft admirably up to speed merging onto the highway. The Tundra even had one of the best turning circles I’ve ever experienced on such a big vehicle. Plus it’s got all of Toyota’s latest safety stuff like Safety Sense, Blind Spot Monitoring, and front and rear parking sonar which is particularly helpful in such a big truck.
So, $50,000 gets you a pretty solid truck, and the Platinum trim delivers a decent mix of exterior and interior options, without having to choose any options. It is what it is, as they say. Slightly outdated, but still good. I can relate.