Why I Didn't Buy a Toyota Tundra
Every year for the past several, I've bought a new truck. I'm a Mopar guy and Ram is my thing. In fact, each time I've bought, I've ended up in basically the same truck in a different color and 0 miles. I like to change it up a little and I like owning a brand new vehicle.
This year was starting off a little different. My regular sales guy at Bob Moore Dodge in Tulsa had left the company and I was dealing with a fresh salesman who ended up not winning my business as he was hardly a salesman at all. Not sure where they find these guys.
I turned toward Toyota on a whim. This year I would really change it up and go with a completely different manufacturer and see what I thought. After all, the worst that could happen is I'd have a truck I don't like for a year, right?
Tundra's are expensive. I'm accustomed to an MSRP on my trucks of around $54,000 (fully loaded) and can generally get them at between $6500 and $8000 off that. The Toyota I would deal on, the same as pictured above, was also in the $54k range but Toyota does not like to deal. I managed to get them down to $50k and they were generous with my trade estimate so I went to drive.
I am accustomed to driving the Ram Laramie Longhorn Edition. If you're not familiar with this ride, it's basically Mercedes luxury attached to a truck. The interior and ride quality alone has spoiled me. This, in addition to the powerful 5.7l Hemi and styling that does not seem to age, makes the Ram difficult to consider not going back to.
I arrive at the Toyota dealer and they have the truck I'm dealing on available and ready for me to drive. The thing is a beautiful rust color that changes according to the type of sunlight it's in. I really dig it and am excited to get behind the wheel. That's when my salesman handed me an old-school key to the Tundra 1794, their top of the line, fully loaded beast of a luxury truck (as advertised). This was my first indication that the Toyota was years behind the competition in the area of technology and convenience. It was an actual key the guy handed me. I have not carried a key in over six years. What the hell? At least the Toyota key had a fob attached to it that could unlock/lock the vehicle as well as start it.
As I walked toward the truck I noted lack of convenience didn't stop with the antiquated keyed ignition. The silly thing didn't have touch-sensitive handles or push-button external lock buttons. These are items I regularly use to access my Ram. Rarely do I ever remove my key from my pocket in order to access my vehicle. I had no idea how big of a deal a key is until I see I've written two paragraphs about it.
Opening up the truck and climbing in I felt at home. The interior was plush and somewhat familiar with soft saddle-color leather, nice over-the-top stitching, and ridiculous storage areas everywhere. I also really liked the shifter in the center console on the Tundra. Ram has moved to the knob selector on the dash - the term "goofy" is the best descriptor I can offer for it.
After a couple stabs, I got the key into the keyhole, then twisted. Tundra has a nice exhaust tone on start-up and everything came to life very quickly. My Ram seems like it has to boot up, sometimes taking up to 15 seconds before all options are accessible.
All of the controls on the Toyota are instant. You change the radio station or switch views on the 7" touchscreen display and it's instant. Same for the screen embedded in the instrument cluster. Fast!
I suspect the reason everything was so fast is because the electronics do not go very deep. For example, the cluster screen offers me only avg MPG and avg MPH, plus tire status. No realtime information at all, such as fluid temps, different odometers/trip info, detailed pressures, etc. were offered and certainly the ability to customize the information shown on that screen was not available like on the Ram.
My test drive included highway speeds and some stop and go. I liked the shift points on city streets with the Tundra's 6-speed. Gears one and two were quick and three had a much longer hold. This resulted in quick acceleration off the line and I liked that. Getting on the highway was a different story as changing up a gear was a seemingly long task. I was in fourth trying to get to third in order to merge and there was a lot of hesitation - enough so that I missed my place in traffic. I'll give the benefit of the doubt here and assume it was just a new tranny with some break-in / driver learning needed.
Handling left a little to be desired too. Leaf springs in the rear caused a little bit of hop. Ram has a large advantage here with coil springs at all four corners and the option to add Air Ride for an even smoother ride. Tundra cannot touch that. Aside from wheel hop at the rear, the only other thing I noticed is the front end suspension felt soft. Quick turns resulted in nose dive.
The Tundra wins, hands down, when it comes to body styling. This is a big, sexy truck. In fact, it is as wide as the law will allow! I like the stamped name in the tailgate, I like the grill and hood transition. It has the perfect mix of chrome vs. color. Attention to detail at the paint shop is evident too, even adding a little to the areas closest to the road to help protect from from slung debris and ultimately building a bigger barrier against rust.
While the Toyota truck body is likely my favorite on the road right now, I haven't seen such a poor selection of wheels for any modern vehicle. You'll see a lot of Tundra's on the road with aftermarket wheels for good reason. There is only one wheel that appealed to me out of five to choose from and it even looked pussified on this massive truck.
I passed on the Toyota and am back to dealing on a Ram Longhorn Limited. It's the truck for me because I like creature comforts. The Tundra is a sweet ride and looks fabulous going down the road but for several thousand dollars less, I can have many more features. Perhaps if I drove a vehicle more than 15k miles the Toyota could win out. After all, the company has quite a reputation for building high mileage automobiles.