It is always nice to interview a Texas native, or — as in this case — to drive one. The 2012 Toyota Tundra is built in San Antonio (as is the Tacoma) and it resembles a proud Texan with its robust front end and a decidedly Lone Star vibe.
A few weeks ago I had to opportunity to do a week-behind-the-wheel with a Super White Limited DoubleCab 4×4 that boasted many of the available option for this vehicle. Price for the base was just over $41,000 with the Flex Fuel 5.7L DOHC i-Force V8 mated to Toyota’s six-speed automatic transmission.2012 Toyota Tundra 4×4
I am not a super fan of all-white trucks unless their general use is as a work vehicle, but everyone doesn’t feel the same way. My preference would have been for a more flashy exterior color, and I know those are available, but colors don’t made the truck. This one had lots to offer.
This vehicle had leather trimmed and heated bucket seats with 10-way power adjust for the driver and 4-way power adjust for the passenger. The leather-trimmed bench seat in the second row offers seating for an additional three passengers, and folds up easily for cargo storage in the cab. There was also wood-grained interior trim.Fold up rear seat
Curb weight for the five-passenger version that I drove was 5,460 with the standard 6.5′ bed. Haul and tow capacities are good at 1,515 lbs. for the former and 9,800 lbs. tow — comfortable for most sport applications. MPG is 13 city and 18 highway, not the best or worst in this half-ton truck category.
The bed is double-walled with rail capsand deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats. The bed was not coated but there is a factory-installed option available, and aftermarket coatings and liners are virtually everwhere.
At the rear of the cab there is a power rear window and the Limited was also equipped with a rear view camera and perimeter warning system front and back.Instrument panel – Tundra
I’m a lover of BIG wheels, especially on trucks and, while the model I drove had 18-inch alloy wheels and corresponding tires, I would have opted for the 20-inch machined wheel/tire combo for another $920.
Options that were included on the ride/drive vehicle included running boards ($345), heated power folding and manual extending side mirrors ($200) and carpet floor mats with door sill protectors for $195.
The Infotainment system was upgraded for $1,340 and included a voice-activated touch screen nav systrem with 7″ high res display linked to the rear view camera, a JBL radio system had a 4-discCD carger with MP3/WMA playback, 10 speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod conductivity and hands-free phone.
As delivered with these options, the vehicle priced out at $44,115, nicely equipped.
There are a great many options and packages available, including three engine choices with compatible transmissions, two cab sizes, different bed sizes and a range of trim packages including the Platinum Package with numerous luxury interior features and the TRD Rock Warrior Special Edition with dramatically-enhanced off-road capability, including a specially tuned suspension, Bilstein gas-charged mono-tube shocks, P275/65 BFG off-road tires, fog lamps, and skid plates.
Tow, tow, tow your boat
One upgrade that I would strongly encourage is the enhanced tow package (available on all V8s) to increase tow capacity to 10,400 lbs. (depending upon model and drive train). A one-piece towing receiver is integrated into the frame prior to factory bed installation. This unit is nearly two feet down the lengthg of the frame and attaches to each side around the rear spring shackles cross member with 12 bolts. The seven-pin towing hitch connectors sits above the hitch to hel avoid damage durng high-departure-angle drives.
The tow package also upgrades the cooling and electrical systems. An integrated engine oil cooler helps handle the demands of towing a full load and a power steering fluid cooler is also included. Electrical upgrades include an under-dash connector pre-wired for a third-party brake controller, 4-and 7-pin trailer brake connectors near the hitch and an up-rated alternator.
With the towing package on the 5.7L models, the transmission also gains a tow/haul shift mode which can be selected via a dedicated switch. Tow/haul mode applies specific logic for adjust8ing the throttle sensitivity and transmission shft control, favoring and holding lower gears when accelerating or decelerating to improve control and safety. Trailer Sway Control, standard on all models, uses vehicle stability control to help counteract the impact of trailer sway.
For heavy-duty towing
For my drive week, I focused on city and highway driving since I didn’t have the off-road model, and had no trailering capability. Everything was as advertised, and the Tundra performed at my expectation level, as it always has. With its great service and warranty packages, it would be a excellent choice as a sport truck that has to put in a good week’s work, too; or just lives for the weekends.
I have driven both off-road and heavier duty versions of the Tundra and can attest to performance and aesthetic. This vehicle has been recognized for outstanding value and dependability by IntelliChoice and J.D. Powers — both for multiple years.
I am not expecting a major refresh or new model for 2013 Tundra, but I have heard rumblings from some in-the-know folks that we may see something really fresh for 2014. It would be great to see that.
There are great deals available on 2012 models as the 13s are being phased in. Check them out online or with your local Toyota dealer.