By Lesley Wimbush

2005 Toyota Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4X4
Photo: Lesley Wimbush. Click image to enlarge

Ironic, isn’t it, that an import manufacturer that made its mark by producing high quality, economical compact cars, has done an about-face and is thinking big. Really big. A badge customarily worn by zippy hatchbacks and well-built sedans is now mounted on a big bold grill and is bearing down hard on the heels of full-size domestic trucks.

Entering the full-size truck market, long dominated by domestic brands with a fiercely loyal following, takes audacity. Not to mention – that most North American of institutions – NASCAR, has experienced a big shake-up in the Craftsman Truck series. Domestic trucks are being left behind the receding tailgate of an import with increasing regularity. That tailgate belongs to the Toyota Tundra.

The Tundra first rolled off the assembly line in 1999. Since then, its line-up has grown to include a Regular Cab, an Access Cab, and new in 2004, the four-door Double Cab – the tallest and widest truck the company has ever built. The Double Cab offers a cool new feature – a retractable rear window that slides silently behind the wall of the cab at the touch of a button.

2005 Toyota Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4X4

2005 Toyota Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4X4
Photo: Toyota. Click image to enlarge

The 2005 Tundra Access Cab I test drove recently impressed me as a really good-looking truck, deep burgundy with an attractive fascia updated in 2003. Bulging fenders give it an aggressive look. The cabin, one of the nicest of any truck I’ve ever driven, was extremely comfortable and well-insulated with hardly any wind or road noise, riding almost as quietly as a luxury sedan. Oversize mirrors provide good rear visibility. Instrument gauges pod is attractive and unobstructed. The centre cluster contains the Touch Select system for off-road models, with buttons to switch the electronically controlled transfer case from 2WD to 4WD Hi and Lo.

There were plenty of side pockets and storage compartments. A centre console has four nice, big cup holders; dual map pockets; and covered storage bin. The Access Cab model adds interior storage space and room for two extra passengers – although the rear seats would be somewhat cramped over extended periods of time for adults. The seat bottom on the split bench can be flipped up to provide extra cargo room.

It’s not the 650 horsepower powerplant that drives the NASCAR race trucks, but the 4.7 litre DOHC V8 has had a significant power boost for 2005 with an output of 282 horsepower and 325 lb. ft. of torque.

2005 Toyota Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4X4
Photo: Lesley Wimbush. Click image to enlarge

Then again, the Craftsman truck can’t pull a boat or trailer as well as this one can (with tow ratings ranging from 4800 to 7200 depending on model) The engine is silky smooth and extremely responsive, with a refined but
muscular sound. It was mated in the test model, to a five-speed automatic with overdrive. Shifts were smooth, with no hunting for gears. There is also a newly beefed up 4.0 litre V6 offered, with 245 horsepower and 282 lb. ft. of torque.

2005 Toyota Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4X4
Photo: Lesley Wimbush. Click image to enlarge

The Tundra’s chassis is rigid with boxed front frame rails. The company claims this truck offers the highest ground clearance in its class, with everything underneath tucked above the frame rails. The tested model came with the optional TRD (Toyota Racing Development) package, which included Bilstein high-pressure gas shocks, progressive rate spring, tuned off-road suspension, fog lamps and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

All in all, a big, good-looking, good handling truck that’s fun to drive.

Technical Data: 2005 Toyota Tundra Access Cab V8 SR5 4X4

Base price $38,150
Options $1,945 (Offroad package)
Freight $1,310
A/C tax $100
Price as tested $41,505
Type 4-door, 5 or 6-passenger ext. cab pickup
Layout longitudinal front engine/4WD
Engine 4.7 litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves, VVT
Horsepower 282 @ 5400 rpm
Torque 325 @ 3400 rpm
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Tires P265/70R-16 all-season radials
Curb weight 2060 lb. (4541 kg)
Towing capacity 3175 kg (7000 lb.)
Payload capacity 662 kg (1460 lb.)
Ground clearance 295 mm (11.6 in.)
Wheelbase 3260 mm (128.3 in.)
Length 5545 mm (218.3 in.)
Width 1945 mm (76.6 in.)
Height 1820 mm (71.7 in.)
Bed length 1943 mm (76.5 in.)
Fuel consumption City: 15.7 L/100 km (18 mpg Imperial)
  Hwy: 12.3 L/100 km (23 mpg Imperial)
Warranty 3 yrs/60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km

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