I’ll admit, I’ve never been a truck guy. So driving the new 2019 Tundra TRD Pro has been a new experience. It’s not that I haven’t spent time around them, my parents have an eerily similar 2014 Tundra and I’ve been around large four wheel drive vehicles all my life. The difference is that this truck just feels different and it does what it was built to do with near perfection.
In 2015, the TRD Pro trim was added to the Tundra lineup and added a ¼” skid plate, LED headlights, Rigid Industries LED fog lights, TRD tuned leaf springs, TRD Dual Exhaust, FOX shocks, BBS Forged aluminum wheels; and starting for 2019 the CrewMax is standard. It sits tall and looks mean. It’s made for the the trails and that is one thing that it’s very good at doing.
Around town the truck is a menace. It feels like you’re the biggest thing on the road. With a suspension meant to hit off road trails at full speed it wallows about during normal street driving. At over 19’ long and 6.7’ wide the trucks takes more space than almost any parking spot is willing to give. If you quickly come up on another car you can see the fear in the driver’s eyes in the rearview mirror. At least they know exactly what’s coming at the, since there is a giant Toyota logo on the front. A required feature on all off-road trucks since the Ford Raptor debuted.
While it’s impossible to park, the Fox suspension allows you to hit potholes, speed bumps, and roundabout aprons without a care in the world. In fact, I found myself seeking these out just so I could laugh at how little the truck cared. My wife probably called me an idiot on more than one occasion as I would childishly giggle about how much fun it was to run over things while yelling “truck stuff” everytime I did something my Lexus ISF definitely would not.
Unfortunately a few comfort features were glaringly missing, starting with heated seats. I know this might sound like a first world problem, but when I tested the Tundra it was quite cold and this truck had leather seats. It doesn’t even get that cold in Tennessee so I can’t imagine how much more they would be needed up north where this truck could be used even more in bad weather. What’s even worse is heated seats are not even an option. The most loaded TRD Pro truck you can buy is just an SR5 model Tundra inside. Also missing is nearly almost any other luxury feature that you could get on a Raptor. Remember, this is A $53,000+ autmotible. Blind Spot Monitoring? Nope. Parking Sensors? Nope. Automatic Climate Control? Nope. Keyless start? Nope. These are all basic items in a Kia nowadays but Toyota isn’t even trying to compete with Ford. C’mon guys!
Off road the Toyota more than makes up for it. While a set of BFG K02s would be appreciated, it had no problem and performed flawlessly on the light off road trails we and I traversed New Years Day. The Fox shocks unsurprisingly keep the truck nearly as comfortably off road as on. With my wife in the back and my dad upfront, they said they were equally comfortable as we ran through creek crossings trying to get the perfect shot. I kept the truck in four wheel high, easily selectable with a rotary dial on the dash, but honestly I never really needed it.
However, with the massive front end (and hood scoop to boot), there is a huge blind spot right in front of the truck. Ford addresses this by providing a 360 degree camera. This is welcome both around town and off road as I imagine that the front end components can not be cheap to replace and anything less than three feet could easily be missed. Stumps, boulders, small hybrids, and steel poles could all leave you with a lighter wallet.
The party trick of these off road trucks is that, when we were done, we put it back in 2WD and rode back home in comfort. It was relaxed and comfortable, the radar cruise control was awesome though our backs were a tad cold. The TRD Pro is a lot of truck. It’s massive, looks great, and is really good off road. Unfortunately it’s missing some options, and if you can afford the F-150 Raptor, it is likely worth the extra cost. Starting at $52,855, the Raptor is a formidable competitor. I know a truck is built to do many things, among them perform well off road, but first and foremost it should be good to the occupants on it. And to be honest, I could do without the heated seats if cloth seats were an option, but the cameras and parking monitors are a must in such a big truck. Toyota came so very close to having a really good truck.
(Cool splashy pics by Dillon Choate – @Single_Focus_Media)