What's New for 2015: The 2015 Toyota Tundra loses its base V6, leaving the two V8s as the only engine options. Also, Toyota has added the off-road themed TRD Pro trim level to the lineup and will offer an integrated trailer brake controller.
After a major face-lift just a year ago, the Toyota Tundra gets another round of changes for 2015. Toyota updated the Tundra's styling last year, and this year it eliminated the V6 engine from the Tundra lineup and added an off-road trim level called TRD Pro. But after comparing the Tundra with the latest trucks from Detroit, we come away thinking that the Tundra is still a few updates short of true competitiveness.
There's no question that the Tundra is still a seriously capable truck. No matter which trim level you choose, you'll be getting a V8 powertrain. And when it's properly equipped, the Tundra's tow ratings can match some of the best in the class. The recent remodel made the interior far more modern and refined, so if you're looking to be pampered while your truck is hard at work, the Tundra will satisfy. And if you're looking to go off the beaten path, then the TRD Pro ranks high, too, as it comes with skid plates, off-road tires, Bilstein shocks and a raised suspension -- all of which make it extremely talented when the pavement ends.
Unfortunately, the 2015 Toyota Tundra's skills don't extend much further. When it comes to fuel economy, neither of the available V8 engines are very impressive. While we weren't huge fans of the Tundra's old V6 engine, at least it had one to compete with the surprisingly impressive six-cylinder base engines offered by its American competitors. Now, you're stuck with the V8s. There also isn't an alternative such as Ford's turbocharged V6 engines or Ram's diesel-powered V6.
The Tundra's dynamic flaws extend beyond the engine bay. While traversing broken pavement, the Tundra feels more like the classic, stiff-riding trucks of the past. Lots of little bumps can be easily felt in the cabin, and there's a significant amount of road noise along the way. The Tundra may be capable in the hauling department, but when it's just you and the kids driving around it feels less refined than competitors.
As such, if you're looking for a full-size truck that's more than just competent, there are definitely some class leaders worth checking out ahead of the Tundra. The 2015 Ram 1500 is our top-rated truck for its wide range of talents, well-rounded nature and available diesel engine. Also on our top-rated list are the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and its GM brother, the 2015 GMC Sierra 1500. Both are comfortable, capable of towing big loads and have respectable fuel economy. The 2015 Ford F-150 is completely redesigned and offers its own distinctive engine selection and more modern underpinnings. While the 2015 Toyota Tundra can hold its own against any of these, it's hard to make a case that it goes above and beyond any of them.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 Toyota Tundra is a full-size pickup offered in three body styles: two-door regular cab, four-door extended cab ("double cab") and the four-door crew cab called the CrewMax. These body styles are mixed among two wheelbases and three bed lengths -- 5.5-foot short bed, 6.5-foot standard bed and 8.1-foot long bed. Double Cabs and CrewMaxes seat five or six, depending on how you equip them.
Depending on which configuration you choose, there are six trim levels for the Tundra: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition and TRD Pro (late availability). The availability of some options depends on the region where you live.
Standard equipment on the entry-level SR regular cab models includes 18-inch steel wheels, a matte black lower front bumper, rear bumper and grille surround, tow hooks (four-wheel-drive models), keyless entry, heated mirrors, full power accessories, a windshield wiper de-icer, a damped tailgate, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a 40/20/40-split bench seat with four-way manual adjustment for the driver and passenger sections, a tilt-only steering wheel, two 12-volt power outlets, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch "Entune" touchscreen interface and a four-speaker audio system with a CD player, a USB port, an iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack. Options for the base 2015 Tundra include a bed rail system and a Work Truck package with vinyl seats and flooring.
Get the SR Tundra in the double cab body style and you add front and rear map lights, 60/40-split fold-up rear seats and two extra speakers.
The SR5 trim is available in the double cab and CrewMax body styles. Additional standard equipment includes foglights, a chrome grille surround, chrome rear bumper, variable intermittent wipers, a manual sliding rear window (power lowering in the CrewMax, which also gets an overhead console), a rear underseat storage tray (double cab only), a higher-resolution 7-inch Entune touchscreen display, satellite radio and HD radio. The optional SR5 Upgrade package adds front bucket seats with an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a front center console, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and an alarm system. Separately, the TRD Off-Road package adds 18-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, an off-road-tuned suspension, skid plates, tow hooks (2WD models) and rear privacy glass.
The Limited trim (available in double cab and CrewMax) adds to the SR5's standard equipment with 20-inch alloy wheels, heated mirrors, a more upscale "silver billet" grille, the bed rail system, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated power front bucket seats (eight-way driver, four-way passenger), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a horizontal power-operated sliding rear window (double cab), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a navigation system and a smartphone app suite that integrates into the Entune touchscreen. The Limited Premium option package provides front and rear parking sensors, one-touch power windows, illuminated entry lighting and a glass-breakage sensor.
Opt for the Platinum trim (available only with the CrewMax cab), and you'll get more chrome exterior detailing, special 20-inch wheels, LED running lights, power-folding and auto-dimming outside mirrors, a sunroof, upgraded leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, a 10-way power driver seat (power thigh adjustment added), driver seat memory functions and an upgraded 12-speaker JBL sound system.
The 1794 Edition (named for the Texas ranch on which a portion of the Tundra factory now stands) is available only as a CrewMax, and adds unique silver exterior details, saddle-brown leather upholstery with simulated suede trim for the front seats and matching soft-touch materials for the shift console, door trim and instrument panel.
Focused on off-road ability, the TRD Pro trim is available in double cab and CrewMax body styles, and it largely mirrors the standard equipment on the SR5 Tundra. To the SR5's equipment it adds 18-inch alloy wheels, a TRD dual exhaust, Bilstein shocks, a 2-inch increase in ride height, unique exterior styling details, a front skid plate, bucket seats with red stitching and the larger 7-inch Entune touchscreen with satellite radio and HD radio. A spray-in bedliner can also be included on TRD Pro models as an optional extra.
Option highlights on most trims include running boards and extending tow mirrors, while a blind spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alerts is optional on the Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition models. Also available for Tundras equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 is an integrated trailer brake controller (late availability).
Powertrains and Performance
The 2015 Toyota Tundra is offered with a choice of two V8 engines and rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.
For SR double cab models and all SR5 models, a 4.6-liter V8 comes standard. It is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and produces 310 horsepower and 327 pound feet of torque. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16 mpg combined (15 city/19 highway) on 2WD models; 4WD versions also rate 16 mpg combined (14/18). Maximum towing capacity with the 4.6-liter engine is between 6,400 and 6,800 pounds depending on body style.
A 5.7-liter V8 is standard on 4WD regular cabs and all Limited, Platinum, 1794 and TRD Pro trims, and optional on the other models. It generates 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque, and comes with a six-speed automatic transmission. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 15 mpg combined (13 city/18 highway) on 2WD models; 4WD models also rate 15 mpg combined but drop a point on the highway rating. A tow package is standard on all Tundras equipped with the 5.7-liter V8. When properly equipped (and depending on body style), maximum towing capacity is between 9,800 and 10,500 pounds.
In Edmunds testing, a Tundra 1794 with four-wheel drive accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, while a Tundra TRD Pro did it in 6.7 seconds. These are both quicker-than-average times for the segment.
Standard safety equipment on the 2015 Toyota Tundra includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, trailer sway control, front knee airbags, front side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows. A rearview camera is standard across the board, while parking sensors are optional on the Limited and standard on the Platinum and 1794 Edition. A blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alerts is optional on the Limited, Platinum and 1794 models.
In government crash tests, the Tundra earned a four star (out of five) rating for overall safety performance, with four stars for frontal tests and five stars for side-impact tests. Its seat and head restraint design also received a "Good" rating for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
During an Edmunds braking test, a Tundra 1794 with 4WD came to a stop from 60 mph in 130 feet, which is about average for the segment. A 4WD TRD Pro took 134 feet, which isn't much farther, especially considering its all-terrain tires.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Tundra is pretty livable on the inside. Audio and climate dials and buttons are large and easy to reach, and the instrument cluster features two conventional and legible dials for the speedometer and tachometer. We wouldn't describe the Tundra's interior as stylish, but it is definitely functional.
Materials and build quality are acceptable, and the leather appointments in the upper trims are particularly appealing. One of Toyota's user-friendly Entune touchscreen interfaces and Bluetooth are standard across the board, and available smartphone services include features like the Bing search engine, Pandora streaming radio, real-time traffic and sports and stock information.
The front seats in every trim are broad and comfortable, but as this is a truck, you shouldn't expect much in the way of lateral support. There's a vast amount of legroom and headroom in the backseat of the CrewMax, which shouldn't surprise considering the enormity of this configuration's footprint. The folding rear seats in double cabs and CrewMaxes also provide a good amount of protected storage for valuable items you'd rather not leave in the bed.
Despite the 2015 Toyota Tundra's sheer size, nobody's going to feel sold short by the 5.7-liter V8. It isn't a class leader when it comes to horsepower, but it remains a champ for towing thanks to its prodigious torque and well-sorted six-speed automatic. The optional TRD exhaust paired with the 5.7-liter engine makes for a nice rumble on acceleration, too. Casual users probably will find the 4.6-liter V8's performance adequate for most driving situations short of big-time towing, and it provides better fuel economy -- although neither V8 is a class standout in this department.
The Toyota's light but accurate steering makes it fairly easy to drive on a daily basis, but the Tundra feels bigger and less comfortable than competing trucks. A major reason we gave the Tundra a "B" rating was its particularly stiff ride over bumps and ruts, especially with the optional 20-inch wheels. While cruising, it's not very quiet either, which contributes to the especially trucklike feel you get while driving it.