2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5 4x4 5.7L Review

The pickup truck market is dominated by Ford’s F-150, and it’s been that way for many years. The Ram and the GM twins, Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, make up the majority of the remaining sales, but certainly not all. Toyota has a role to play, and its “big boy” truck deserves attention.

Good looks and solid build quality

photo : 2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5, Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com

There’s not a lot that can be done to design a pickup truck that’s a visual knockout while maximizing its practicality and functionality. Whose pickup looks the best these days is a toss-up. I tend to favour Ford’s F-150 for its symmetry and smooth, restrained lines.

That said, Toyota has no need to apologize. The 2011 Tundra is by all accounts a sharp-looking truck that carries its girth with strength and confidence. Visual appeal isn’t lost on the inside, either. Toyota redid it in 2007, so there’s not much new to report for 2011 other than to say that the Tundra’s cabin is very well thought-out, attractive and functional.

I don’t think I’ve seen any manufacturer make better use of cabin space for the storage of items large and small. There are bins, slots and trays spread all over the Tundra’s living space, such that I wondered how one would remember where that “gadget” was safely placed when it came time to retrieve it.

Along with bins and receptacles, the cabin is furnished with full instrumentation to allow drivers to keep an eye on things like engine temperature and oil pressure. And those necessities are monitored from a large, comfortable driver’s seat that supplies plenty of support for aching joints and muscles at the end of a workday.

Fatigued owners will no doubt appreciate the serenely smooth ride of this big-rig truck. I was quite pleased with the Tundra’s overall operational refinement and exceptional ride comfort. The big i-Force engine is delightfully smooth and civilized, while road noise is effectively isolated from the Tundra’s living room.

Counter-intuitive to its civility is the wallop of power the i-Force can deliver when demanded.

Big i-Force power

At 5.7 litres of displacement, it’s a big engine in these days of restraint, but sometimes there’s no replacement for big. This is the Tundra’s optional engine, which ups the output significantly over the 310 horsepower of the base 4.6-litre V8.

The larger i-Force V8 powerplant churns out 381 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 401 pound-feet of torque @ 3,600 rpm, thanks in part to variable valve timing with intelligence (VVT-i). These are impressive figures, which contribute to the generous 4,445-kg (9,800-lb) tow capacity of the 5.7-litre i-Force Double Cab Tundra.

Figures not so impressive pertain to fuel economy, which is rated at a wallet-crushing 16.7 L/100 km and 12.1 L/100 km city and highway driving, respectively. According to on-board data, my consumption for city driving averaged in the range of 17 L/100 km, which is not far off the posted number.

In aid of towing chores, the Tundra’s 6-speed automatic transmission is fitted with a Tow/Haul mode and a transmission cooler. And to assist in keeping it all together on the road, the Tundra is equipped with an electronic vehicle stability program.

Should an off-road excursion be undertaken, the Tundra’s got it covered.

True 4x4 at the flick of a switch

photo : 2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5, Rob Rothwell/Auto123.com

Turning a switch instantly converts the Tundra from two-wheel-drive (2WD) to four-wheel-drive (4WD). A further twist of the switch engages low-range gearing to enact serious off-road functionality. Skid plates protect the electronic transfer case and engine while an engine oil cooler prevents things running too hot.

Traction control is standard Tundra fare; missing, though, is a hill-descent control system to regulate speed on steep, slippery drops when off-roading. Ground clearance for my tester is pegged at 26.5 cm (10.4 in).

Behind the wheel

I enjoyed driving the 2011 Tundra SR5 Double Cab immensely. I was impressed with its ability to rocket up to highway speed and to pass slower-moving vehicles in a snap. A characteristic that annoyed me, though, was the hypersensitivity of the lightly-sprung throttle.

Until I adjusted to it, I tended to invoke neck snap when pulling away from a stop. If not careful, it was way easy to chirp the rear tires and look slightly road-raged to other motorists. Okay… it was perhaps not that severe, but wearing clompy boots and trying to drive smoothly could be a challenge.

Despite its “get up and go” readiness and a so-so base audio unit, my tester performed admirably. It felt well balanced and rock solid; nary was a rattle or thump to be heard over rough pavement or potholes. Visibility from the driver’s perch was excellent, however the side mirrors simply weren’t as all-encompassing as some competitors’ mirrors, in particular Ford’s F-150.

My nicely-equipped Double Cab SR5 4x4 tester, powered by the i-Force 5.7-litre mill, tallied-out at a moderate $40,155. This included an optional $2,953 upgrade package full of comfort and convenience niceties.