Let’s face it: The second-generation Toyota Tundra isn’t exactly fresh. It went on sale in 2007, then was refreshed in 2014. Five years on from that update, though, there’s still plenty to like about the Tundra, particularly in TRD Pro form. After being dropped from the lineup in 2018, the Tundra TRD Pro is back for 2019—and, thanks to a few improvements, better than ever.
The Good: Legendary Toyota dependability means high resale value. The Crew Max cab offers spacious rear seating and lots of cargo storage. The 5.7-liter V-8 pulls strong, and sounds fantastic funnelled through the TRD Pro cat-back exhaust. It’s surprisingly maneuverable in urban environments, and offers a smooth ride on the highway thanks to re-tuned Fox racing shocks and thickly-sidewalled tires.
Who It’s For: Anyone who wants a new pickup truck that’s simply trying to be a great pickup truck, not a luxury car with a bed: outdoor enthusiasts and action sports types who need their truck to keep up with them every step of the way, or those who often find themselves in wide-open spaces where the impulse to see what’s down a trail or over a hill frequently strikes.
Watch Out For: A 38-gallon fuel tank and a thirsty V-8 make for rough visits to the fuel pump. The EPA estimates fuel economy to be 15 miles per gallon in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, but succumb to the lovely burble that comes from the exhaust when you punch the skinny pedal, and those numbers can quickly drop.
Review: “Wow, that’s really blue,” was a phrase I heard often while spending time with the 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. Toyota’s “VooDoo Blue” is an eye-catching color that wouldn’t look out of place on a pro athlete’s signature pair of shoes—and given the size of the Tundra in Crew Max form, there’s a whole lot of surface area covered in bright blue paint. Still, it made the Tundra pop; among glistening snow-covered mountains and the muted tones of the high desert, the paint made the truck stand out delightfully. (Alternative paint choices are limited to Super White and Midnight Black Metallic; get the blue.)
The Tundra’s design still looks fresh, even after five years since its last facelift. It’s muscular, but unlike many other full-size trucks, doesn’t look like it’s trying too hard. That said, Toyota needs to more than a different grille and some stickers to distinguish the TRD Pro from other Tundra models; a more aggressive body kit would go a long way to making the TRD Pro feel more special.
The truck is plenty capable off-road, thanks to the new Fox racing shocks and TRD springs. The previous generation used TRD-tuned Bilstein shocks, which were fine—but the new setup for the Tundra brings an additional 1.5 inches of suspension travel to the front and two inches to the rear, paired with 2.5-inch reservoirs to hold the additional oil needed under demanding conditions. The suspension’s resulting ability to mitigate unpleasant choppiness over desert washboard roads in the desert was impressive.
Inside, things are more mundane. Toyota has done very little to keep the interior of the Tundra up-to-date; TRD Pro-specific touches like logos on the seats, red stitching, a special shift knob, and red stitching are welcome, but to be expected in a special version. In the highly-competitive pickup truck marketplace, buyers expect brands to go a step beyond—and Toyota has yet to grasp this concept. The Tacoma, 4Runner, and Tundra all still manage to sell well thanks to their untouchable reputations for reliability and long-term value, but one day that’s not going to be enough.
To Toyota’s credit, what the Tundra TRD Pro lacks in optional creature comforts, it makes up for in standard safety equipment like pre-collision avoidance, pedestrian detection, adaptive radar cruise control, and lane departure warning. For many buyers—those that are already faithful to Toyota products, or in the market for a truck that prioritizes safety and reliability—that’s a fine trade-off. However, you have to wonder how much longer Toyota can get by with this strategy on all its most notable four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Still, I very much enjoyed my time with the Tundra TRD Pro, as did my friends who rode in the cavernous rear seat. It may be an aging platform, but it remains a solid one—one that was clearly well-thought-out from the start.
Verdict: If you want a truck primarily to get off the grid and handle other traditional “truck stuff,” the Tundra TRD Pro is a great choice. If you want a modern-feeling truck with luxury features galore, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. The Tundra is far from spartan; it has everything you need. These days, though, most people expect pickups to come packed with extra features and largely-unnecessary add-ons. Rather than saying the Tundra is showing its age, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say it’s sticking to its purpose.
2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Crew Max Specs
Base Price: $49,475
Powertrain: 5.7-liter V-8, six-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Torque: 401 pound-feet
Fuel Economy: 15 city, 19 highway
Toyota provided this product for review.
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