What is it?
The Tundra is Toyota’s full-size pickup. The Trail Special Edition is a package built off the second-tier SR5 trim, offering unique paint colors, premium-feeling appearance upgrades and lockable bed storage — including an insulated compartment that serves as a cooler.
Is it new?
The Trail Special Edition package is new for the 2021 model year. The Tundra pickup itself is anything but.
Toyota unveiled the second-generation Tundra allllll the way back in 2006. The last major refresh came for the 2014 model year. (A new Tundra is reportedly on the way for 2022.)
Why is it special?
The Tundra does not compete on the same level as the Big Three's pickups, but like the other truck-based Toyotas, it has cultivated a niche for itself based on off-road capability and rock-solid build quality (which leads to equally rock-solid resale value). It’s not the latest and greatest truck, but it’s a truck you can fall in love with and drive for 15 years.
The Trail Special Edition adds to that charm by compiling some cool and useful features that make buying a lower-trim truck feel a bit more special.
How does it drive?
I’m not going to sugar-coat it: the Tundra is old. It’s heavy, weighing in at well north of 5,000 pounds, and you haul that bulk around with a groaning old 5.7-liter V8. The Tundra also lacks the unnatural body control of the newer Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 models.
It uses a six-speed transmission that's very eager to downshift at anything resembling an incline, instead of a more modern eight-speed or ten-speed. And the EPA rates the 4x4 Tundra for 14 mpg, making it one of the least efficient vehicles on the road. It’s less efficient overall than the F-150 Raptor is in city driving.
I didn’t get to pack beverages in the insulated cooler and hit the trail in the Tundra; my adventuring was more of the “drive around for two hours with an infant snoozing in the back seat” variety. But the Tundra felt pleasant, dependable and more than capable of handling the mild truck stuff I put it to use for (a.k.a. moving a wheelbarrow). The experience would have been fine and dandy...had I not driven an F-150 or a Ram this year...and if I had no concerns about climate change.
What’s it like inside?
The Trail Special Edition is mostly about the exterior, where you get Army Green paint (if you want it), black accents, dark grey wheels, a spray-in bed liner and the 1794 Edition grille. Inside, though, the cabin is spacious. Getting multiple car seats and diaper bags in the back was a breeze.
There’s some unique Trail Special Edition tan contrast stitching, but otherwise, the interior was basic, packing cloth seats — and, for the first time in my recent test car memory, a physical key I had to insert into the ignition.
How much does it cost?
The Tundra starts at $33,675. The Trail Edition requires the SR5 Crewmax 4x4 trim, bringing the cost to $41,020. Most buyers will opt for the $4,775 version of the package that includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, so the total cost will come just under $46,000 (or above if you add a few more options).
That sounds like a lot, but building a comparable F-150 XLT would cost a few thousand dollars more. And this way, you get that sweet Toyota resale value on the back end.
2021 Toyota Tundra Trail Special Edition
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V8; 6-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Torque: 401 lb-ft
EPA Fuel Economy: 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway