(Please extend a warm welcome to the second writer to ever contribute to these pages, GoodCarBadCar’s sometimes-photographer, Steffani Cain. Steffani has ready access to all the test vehicles that visit GCBC Towers, but maternity leave has given her greater opportunity to explore vehicles in-depth, from a mother’s perspective. So what better vehicle is there on which Steffani could base her first review than a full-size pickup truck? – TC)
Trucks always tickled my fancy. Not the new ginormous smoother-riding trucks of today, but a classic, something like a ’79 Ford F150.
Besides the classic looks, I liked the juxtaposition of a young short girl stepping out of an old pickup truck. However, in the last year, GCBC Towers has had the pleasure of hosting a variety of brand-spanking-new trucks from GMC, Dodge and, just in the past couple of weeks, a 2014 Toyota Tundra.
Although I would yet be thrilled if gifted a classic pickup, the practicality of today’s trucks hold a new lure.
No longer do you need to fear the need to schedule an osteopath appointment because you’ve jarred your liver going over a few potholes. You don’t have to try to figure out how to safely install your baby’s seat in the middle of the truck’s bench. Nor do you need to figure out how you will boost your grandmother up into the truck – wait, not every truck has the crazy suspension adjustment I experienced in the Ram 1500.
Range of seat adjustment
Simple control layout
Storage under rear seat
Scary fuel economy
No step assist for high bed
No rear flat floor
GCBC’s boss has been utilizing his robust skills of persuasion over the past year (the year we became parents) to convince me that modern trucks are the new family car. He put me in the driver seat of the Toyota Tundra 4×4 SR 5.7L TRD Offroad Double Cab for a week to let the truck do the talking.
First things first, I heft my son’s Diono car seat into the middle of the back seat. I immediately miss the running boards I have ridiculed in the past. I then reach to put Eli in his seat, but, my reach falls short – way short. I awkwardly climb in with my 24-pound seven-month-old, sit in the seat and then plop him in his car seat. Strike one against this supposed family car.
2014 TOYOTA TUNDRA 4×4 SR 5.7L TRD OFFROAD DOUBLE CAB Base Price * (CDN): $28,640 As-Tested Price * (CDN): $45,105
I then hop into the driver’s seat, where things start to feel a bit more practical. The driver’s seat has seemingly unlimited adjustability. When in a vehicle that offers height adjustments for the driver, I normally leave it on the highest setting to improve my short self’s viewpoint. However, this Tundra’s highest setting had my legs dangling in mid-air. Score one.
Speaking of viewpoints, I was very pleased with the visibility as I drove to the library – turning right highlights the sole A-pillar-derived visibility issue. As I drove, I adjusted the temperature, set cruise and, of course, turned on SiriusXM. My appreciation for the not-so-sleek buttons was solidified. The controls in this truck could easily be operated without removing your winter mitts (thankfully not necessary during this test week). If you crave modernity, there is a responsive touchscreen to satisfy.
When I stop thinking about the simplicity of the controls, I enjoy the feel of comfortably driving down a twisty road and nearly forget I am in a truck. As I merge onto the highway, I notice that, although quick enough, the 381 horses do not feel energized enough to pull the Tundra’s 5467 pounds as effortlessly as one would expect.
Along the way, I start to think about parking at the library. I suddenly wish for the Smart I had a few years ago, but then my precious squealing son wouldn’t be sitting behind me. Nonetheless, I pull into the parking lot and confidently pull perfectly into an open spot. However… I can’t feel too proud of my perfect parking of this 19-foot-long truck since the highly reflective library windows provided picture-perfect parking assist.
After loading up on board books for Eli, we do our little climb dance back up into the rear seat and settle in for a snack session. The rear seat of the Tundra’s double cab, although obviously smaller than Toyota’s CrewMax, proves to be spacious enough to comfortably breastfeed my son.
GCBC Instituted ISTBTP, AKA Interior Storage Tennis Ball Test Protocol, In Early 2014.
The Toyota Tundra’s ISTBTP Results Are In The Spec Chart Above.
Regarding space for stuff, the huge centre console and the underseat storage tray (along with several other compartments) provide sufficient ‘in-cab’ storage. Of course, the 6.5-foot bed offers storage that no regular family car can.
Over the time period of driving Toyota’s truck, the possibility of the Tundra, or any truck, becoming our next family vehicle increases. I like riding high. I like the flexibility of having a truck bed. I like the space inside. I like the look, although not as much as the classic trucks.
As I turn the radio on to drown out the road noise, my positivity starts to slide. The sound quality of the stereo is deplorable. In fact, the rattle of the bass at normal volume woke my sleeping baby up – not a way to win brownie points with a mother.
However, the positivity I was feeling really came crashing down when I pulled into the gas station. 18.1 L/100km! (That’s 13 miles per gallon on the U.S. scale.) Deplorable. My stomach flipped. This practical vehicle no longer feels practical.
Once at home, in the hope that I wouldn’t cross all trucks off my next possible family vehicle list, Timothy quickly did the math to compare this Tundra’s fuel economy with the other 2 trucks we’ve hosted over the past year.
To his great relief, the results of that math are enough to keep trucks on my list. Driving just 100km at today’s gas price of $1.366/L, the V6-engined Ram 1500 would use $6.42 less than the Tundra 4×4 SR 5.7L TRD Offroad. The Sierra 5.3L? $8.06 less!
Toyota’s updated 2014 Tundra was comfortable (inside and on the road) and practical (space, storage and controls). But a family car? Only if your family has a flush bank account that will keep up with the Tundra’s insatiable appetite.