2009 Truck King Challenge: 2010 Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4x4 trucks toyota
2010 Toyota Tundra. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Howard Elmer

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2009 Truck King Challenge

Head Lake, Ontario – The current Toyota Tundra is the second generation to sport that name, but it’s the third attempt by Toyota to enter the full-size North American pickup market in a meaningful way. (Who remembers the T-100?) Well, success is really no longer a question: Toyota has established a foothold in the market, so now it’s more a question of, what will they do with it? Specifically, the way I see the question is, when will they ramp up to offer what the others do?

To recap, the second generation Tundra launched as a 2007 model to much fanfare and managed to nearly double its sales from the previous version. Part of that success was because of a new engine, the snorting 5.7-litre V8 that, with 381 horsepower, outgunned its competition. But in a very real lesson of “timing is everything” that advantage turned out to be short-lived. With the upward trend in gas prices at the start of ’08 and the subsequent collapse of the auto market (a 27 per cent overall decline in pickup sales in 2008 alone), the Tundra (like all trucks) went for a spill after its honeymoon debut.

As the ’09 model year approached, it brought a new generation of Ford and Dodge pickups. This event magnified the problem faced by the Tundra – a lack of engine choices. And while originally it offered the i-Force 4.7-litre that made 271 hp and 313 lb-ft of torque coupled to a five-speed automatic, this older engine had fallen behind its competitors and could only have been meant as a stop-gap measure.

2009 Truck King Challenge: 2010 Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4x4 trucks toyota
2010 Toyota Tundra. Click image to enlarge

This observation makes even more sense when looking at the fuel economy ratings of the 4.7-litre, which turned out to be poorer than the company’s predictions for the new larger 5.7-litre.

Now, with the release of the 2010 Tundra, Toyota has fixed the problem: the 4.7-litre is gone in favour of a brand-new 4.6-litre V8 engine that is now the base model standard. Unlike the old 4.7 though, this new motor actually offers benefits from its smaller displacement. In addition, Toyota has packaged two new versions of the Tundra around this engine. This new engine’s performance is attributed to two technologies that are new to the Toyota Tundra. The first is a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system which reduces smog-forming emissions and improves overall fuel efficiency. The second is an acoustic control induction system (ACIS) that optimizes power and torque output. These technologies produce 310 hp and 327 lb-ft of torque while still offering a combined fuel consumption rating of 12.1 L/100 km (says Toyota). Versus the outgoing 4.7-litre engine, this is a 12 per cent increase in horsepower and an 11 per cent increase in fuel economy.

For models, Toyota has created two full-size, work-ready pickup trucks built around this 4.6-litre V8. One is a 4×2 model; the other a 4×4. As well, this engine is now coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission instead of the old five-speed. So while this new powertrain combination is the key change for 2010, Toyota has also done a bit of housekeeping (so to speak) on the truck itself, with some modest facia changes and added safety and standard features.