2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab
Photos: Toyota. Click image to enlarge

by Haney Louka

The first question most people asked me after laying eyes on Toyota’s Tundra pickup was, “It’s not quite a full-size truck, is it?” And I thought I knew the answer. After all, Toyota has appeared to be somewhat noncommittal about attacking the full-size truck market, lacking the apparent gusto of, say, Nissan, with their gargantuan Titan pickup.

But then I looked at the numbers. The Tundra measures 5,845 mm in length, and that’s – what’s this? – 150 mm longer than the Titan and 110 mm longer than the GMC Sierra Crew Cab. And look at this: at 2,015 mm wide, it bests the Ford F-150 SuperCrew by about 10 mm. The Tundra’s payload rating in 4×4 guise is 735 kg. Compare that to Titan’s 671 and 703 for both F-150 and Ram.

Surprised? I was.

Even after being behind the wheel of the Tundra for a week, it felt smaller and more manoeuvrable than other full-sizers I’ve driven, which is a big advantage for city dwellers.

Base price for the Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4×4 is $39,200 (2-wheel drive models start at $35,640). Standard equipment on the Double Cab includes air conditioning, six-speaker CD system, cruise control, power windows and locks with keyless entry, a nifty vertical sliding rear window, a six-foot cargo bed, and a seven-pin trailer wire harness. Add my tester’s Off Road Package (Bilstein shocks, alloy wheels, moonroof, fog lights, and more), and the price as tested becomes $42,175.

Toyota is still behind the Big Three (and Nissan) in the power department. With only one engine available, and a relatively mild one at that, Tundra drivers won’t be hunting down any Hemi-powered monsters at the lights. Displacing 4.7 litres, the double overhead cam V-8 produces 240 horsepower at 4,800 rpm and 315 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm.

2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab

2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab

2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab

2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab
Tundra Double Cab Limited model shown. Click image to enlarge

Those numbers make the Tundra competitive with the base V-8s of most others in the segment, but those same competitors offer at least one more powerful engine for those looking for some extra juice. Nissan offers a single engine in its Titan, but has wisely chosen a more powerful engine that achieves about the same fuel efficiency.

Towing is another area where the Tundra lags: 3,039 kg is the limit in the Double Cab, where Titan shines at 4,264 kg and Sierra can pull about 3,800 kg at the hitch.

Going beyond just the numbers, it’s apparent that Toyota has provided a powertrain that is well suited to the Tundra’s purpose. With 32 valves and double overhead cams, one would expect a somewhat peaky character from the engine, and they would be right. Thankfully, the five-speed automatic knows exactly where that power band is. It will readily hold a gear under acceleration but does hesitate to downshift when called upon by the driver’s right foot.

It is, without a doubt, the most refined powertrain in the light truck market today.

Most impressive is the Tundra’s ride: while not as soft over the bumps as the F-150, it certainly maintains better control over body motions than its formidable competitor. And even when jarred on bumpy roads, the structure remains solid and rattle-free to perhaps a greater extent than any other light truck on the market.

The feeling of quality is consistent inside the Tundra as well, even if it’s conservative to a fault in typical Toyota tradition. The Double Cab, while well-equipped, is devoid of frills and has interior styling more in common with last year’s F-150 than the newest generation of pickups. For interior style in full-sizers, look to the new F-150 and Nissan’s Titan.

Nice touches inside include the one-touch open and close operation of the moonroof, intuitive wheel-mounted controls for cruise and audio, and a centre console with plenty of storage.

Despite being fairly well equipped inside, the Tundra’s centre console had a few knockout panels that hinted at options available on the Limited model. The last thing I’d want after spending $40,000 on a truck is a constant reminder that I didn’t spring for more options.

Toyota offers the Double Cab in response to increasing consumer demand for light-duty trucks as family haulers. To that end, there are four full doors and comfortable seating for five with 953 mm of rear legroom (GMC boasts 993 mm and Ford offers 991 in their four-doors). The rear seats tumble forward for cargo-carrying duties, but the resulting area is not as large or rectangular as that found in the Sierra Crew Cab.

To Sum It Up

The Tundra is a surprisingly capable and (not surprisingly) high-quality entry in the light-duty truck market. Its formidable size is hidden by tidy styling and tight driving manners – two attributes not usually associated with full-size trucks. Provided you’re not towing anything too large and are not hung up on the macho image that goes with full size trucks, the Tundra should be near the top of your list.

Shopping Around

This market segment has just become a little more crowded (prices shown are for base four-door models):

  • Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab ($37,700)

  • Chevy Avalanche 1500 ($38,705)
  • Dodge Ram 1500 Quad Cab ($28,180)
  • Ford F-150 Super Crew ($35,140)
  • GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab ($37,900)
  • Nissan Titan Crew Cab ($38,200)

Technical Data: 2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab

Base price (Double Cab 4×2) $35,640
Base price (Double Cab 4×4) $39,200
Options 2,975 (Off Road Package)
Freight $1,260
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $43,535
Type 4-door, 5-passenger, full-size pickup
Layout longitudinal front engine/part-time 4WD
Engine 4.7-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves
Horsepower 240 @ 4,800 rpm
Torque 315 lb-ft @ 3,400 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic
GVWR (max) 2,993 kg. (6,600 lb.)
Wheelbase 3,570 mm (140.5 in.)
Length 5,845 mm (230.1 in.)
Width 2,015 mm (79.3 in.)
Height 1,900 mm (74.8 in.)
Fuel consumption
  Hwy – 12.5 L/100 km (23 mpg)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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