2011 Toyota Tundra Review and Prices
The 2011 Toyota Tundra is the best pickup for you if you have faith in the Toyota way – and believe it translates to trucks.
The 2011 Toyota Tundra drops 10 slow-selling variations, boosts the power of its V-6 engine, and adds trailer-sway control. It also includes the brake-override system Toyota designed to prevent unintended acceleration. The 2011 Tundra is a solid truck with lots of appealing features. But as Toyota’s first attempt to compete head-on with Ford, Chevy, and Dodge in the big-pickup field, Tundra has had a rough time of it. Early quality snafus, the tough economy, and stubborn domestic-brand loyalty have teamed up to prevent it from achieving its sales goals.
Should you wait for the 2012 Toyota Tundra or buy a 2011 Toyota Tundra? Buy a 2011 Tundra. The 2012 Tundra isn’t apt to change in any material way worth waiting for, though Toyota could continue to fine-tune the model lineup. The 2011 Tundra builds on the subtle styling tweaks and fine new V-8 that came on line for model-year 2010. Its addition of the brake-override and higher-power V-6 are the types of changes that will see this truck through to its model-year 2014 redesign.
2011 Toyota Tundra Changes back to top
Styling: The 2011 Toyota Tundra styling is unaltered except for some new exterior colors. And though some of the least popular cab/cargo-bed/engine combinations are gone, the 2011 Tundra returns with three cab styles and three bed lengths to provide a competitive variety of choices. The 2011 Tundra regular-cab has two doors. The Tundra Double Cab is an extended-cab with a pair of small rear doors. Both these cabs come with a 6.5-foot or 8.1-foot cargo bed. The Tundra CrewMax crew cab has four full-size side doors, a 5.5-foot box, and, like the Double Cab, a three-passenger rear bench seat. The Chevy Silverado 1500, its GMC Sierra 1500 cousin, and the Ford F-150 each offer four bed lengths. The most conspicuous competitive gap in the 2011 Tundra line is a crew cab with a second, longer bed choice. Otherwise this Toyota gives up nothing in size to any rival. Its wide cabs have spacious seating, though the very tallest adults might find head room slightly tighter in the Toyota than in its competitors. Tundra’s dashboard isn’t as stylish as that in the Ford and Dodge or as upscale as one available in Silverado and Sierra. And while the strength of its structure is unquestioned, the heft and feel of some cabin trim doesn’t always measure up to the materials used in the U.S.-brand trucks. The 2011 Tundra lineup continues with two official model designations, base (which Toyota calls “Tundra Grade”) and top-line Limited. However, two major options groups in effect constitute a pair of additional models. These are the SR5 packages and the TRD packages. The latter, standing for Toyota Racing Development, include off-road packages with various levels of suspension, skid plate, tire, and graphics modifications, as well as Sport packages designed to improve on-road handling.
For 2011, Toyota drops four slow-selling regular-cab variations, four Double Cab configurations, and two CrewMax editions. The discontinued two-wheel-drive (2wd) models are the regular-cab with 4.6-liter V-8 and 6.5-foot bed; regular-cab with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 8.1-foot bed; Double Cab Limited with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 6.6-foot bed; Double Cab with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 8.1-foot bed; and the CrewMax Limited with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 5.5-foot bed. The discontinued four-wheel-drive (4wd) models are the regular-cab with 4.6-liter V-8 and 6.5-foot bed; regular-cab with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 8.1-foot bed; Double Cab Limited with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 6.6-foot bed; Double Cab with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 8.1-foot bed; and the CrewMax Limited with the 4.6-liter V-8 and 5.5-foot bed.
Mechanical: The 2011 Toyota Tundra continues with a choice of three engines, a 4.0-liter V-6 and V-8s of 4.6- and 5.7-liters. The V-6 gains valvetrain modifications that increase horsepower to 270 from 236 and torque to 278 pound-feet from 266. Six-cylinder engines are far less popular than V-8s among full-size pickup owners; only 3 percent of Tundra buyers choose the V-6. But initial cost savings, potential fuel-economy benefits, and rising power numbers could spark new interest in sixes, especially as the 2011 Ford F-150 makes V-6s a key element in its revamped engine lineup (see the “2011 Tundra Competition” section below). Still, the 4.6-liter V-8 remains a sensible choice in this truck and is the preference of 27 percent of Tundra buyers. It has 310 horsepower and a healthy 327 pound-feet of torque. (Torque is vital in trucks; think of it as the force that gets you moving, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum.) Seventy percent of Tundra buyers, however, pick the 5.7-liter V-8. With 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet, it’s a formidable match for anything in the class and gives Tundra its highly competitive 10,800-pound towing capacity. (The 4.7 V-8 pulls 9,000 pounds). Tundra’s V-6 teams only with a five-speed automatic transmission and two-wheel drive. The V-8s have a six-speed automatic and can be linked with four-wheel drive. Tundra’s 4wd setup has low-range gearing, but is for use only on seriously slippery surfaces. That’s a slight demerit because a pickup with a cargo bed that’s empty or lightly loaded risks tail-happy tire spin on damp pavement if it can’t rely on the front tires for traction help. Only the GM and Dodge pickups boast 4wd that can be left engaged on all surfaces. In other 2011 Tundra changes, all models gain trailer sway control, which senses a wayward trailer and automatically manipulates the truck’s brakes and throttle to restore towing stability. Tundra still does not offer a factory integrated trailer-braking system, however. All 2011 Tundras have an electronic brake-override system designed to prevent unintended-acceleration. The system prioritizes the brakes if the brake and accelerator are activated simultaneously. Tundra performs admirably, though its ride and handling are midpack in a class in which the 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 sets the standard. Taking into account the empty-bed jitters common to all big pickups, Tundra’s ride quality is good with the standard 18-inch wheels and tires. The available 20-inchers answer bumps and washboards with punch and jiggle. This big Toyota’s handling isn’t ponderous, exactly, but the 2011 Tundra would benefit from retuned steering that dialed in more road feel and quicker response.
Features: Changes are minor for 2011. Smokers take note, ashtrays are no longer standard and a 12-volt power outlet has replaced the cigarette lighter. The only other change concerns the headrests, which are now shaped differently. Every 2011 Tundra continues with an impressive array of standard safety features. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes with brake assist are included to facilitate controlled stops. An antiskid system, traction control, and a limited slip differential help get it going and keep it on track. Passive safety equipment includes driver and front-passenger knee airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows and incorporate rollover sensors. Bluetooth cell phone connectivity, USB linking for iPods and other MP3 devices, a navigation system with backup camera, and rear DVD video are among entertainment and communications options. Leather upholstery and front and rear parking assist are available on the Double Cab and CrewMax; a power sunroof is also a CrewMax option. The cabin is festooned with pockets and cubbies, including a big, deep center console. Payload ratings are entirely competitive, but Toyota would be well-served by considering an option similar to the available RamBox system available on the Dodge. Those versatile cargo-bed boxes would give the Tundra even more storage options for cargo.
2011 Toyota Tundra Prices back to top
The 2011 Toyota Tundra base prices start at $24,910 for the 2wd V-6 regular-cab and top out at $43,430 for the 4wd Limited CrewMax with the 5.7-liter V-8. Before adding in destination fees, this represents a modest increase of $425-$480 (up to 1.7 percent) over 2010 base prices, though a small number of models show no price increae. (Base prices in this review do not include options but do include the factory mandated destination fee; Toyota’s fee for the 2011 Tundra is $975. Note that Toyotas sold in Southeastern and Gulf states are delivered by an independent distributor and may carry different destination fees.) Even subtracting 10 models this year Toyota still offers the 2011 Turndra in 28 different cab/bed/powertrain configurations.
Starting prices for popular 2011 Toyota Tundra 2wd regular-cab models include $25,240 with the 4.0-liter V-6 and 8.1-foot bed and $27,385 with the 5.7 V-8 and 8.1-foot bed. This year’s model reduction means you can no longer get a 2011 Tundra 4wd regular-cab with the 4.6-liter V-8. Thus, all 2011 Tundra 4wd regular-cab models come with the 5.7-liter V-8. They start at $30,105 with the 6.5-foot bed and top out at $30,435 with the 8.1-foot bed.
The 2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab is this pickup’s top-selling body style. Base prices for 2wd Tundra Double Cabs range from $27,250 with the 4.0-liter V-6 and 6.5-foot bed to $37,835 in Limited trim with the 5.7 V-8 6.5-foot bed. Base prices for 4wd 2011 Tundra Double Cabs start at $30,445 with the 4.6-liter V-8 and the 6.5-foot bed and range to $40,895 in Limited trim with the 5.7 V-8 and 6.5-foot bed.
Note that the 2011 Tundra regular-cab and Double Cab pickups also offer Work Truck packages that reduce base prices by $685-$1,030, depending on the model configuration. As the name implies, these packages go with the basics, such as heavy duty vinyl seats instead of fabric, rubber-type cab floors instead of carpeted, black grille trim instead of chrome, manual outside mirrors instead of power, and two-speed windshield wipers instead of variable-speed wipers.
Base prices for 2wd 2011 Toyota Tundra CrewMax models range from $30,220 with the 4.6-liter V-8 to $40,370 for the Limited-trim model with the 5.7 V-8. With 4wd, the 2011 Tundra CrewMax starts at $33,270 with the 4.6 V-8 and peaks at $43,430 with the 5.7-liter Limited.
Key options for the 2011 Toyota Tundra include a navigation system with backup camera (about $1,650, depending on model), TRD Off-road Package ($2,730-$3,135, depending on model), TRD Sport Package (about $2,842), and SR5 Package (about $1,300). Exclusive to 4wd Double Cabs is the TRD Rock Warrior Package at $3,630. And exclusive 2011 Tundra CrewMax options include a $1,670 rear-seat DVD entertainment system and 20-inch alloy wheels ($920).
The 2011 Tundra Limited models come with standard leather upholstery, heated power front seats, JBL sound system, Bluetooth, and more. Key options. In addition, CrewMax Tundras in Limited trim are available with a $4,662 Platinum Package, which throws in virtually every available option and adds unique perforated leather upholstery and headrests with embroidered Platinum logos.
2011 Toyota Tundra Fuel Economy back to top
The happy news for 2011 Toyota Tundra fuel economy is that the V-6 engine is both more powerful and more fuel-efficient. The less-happy news is that Toyota doesn’t expect the revised engine or its higher mileage to boost Tundra’s V-6 take rate beyond its current 3 percent. In any event, fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Tundra with the V-6 and its mandatory 2wd and five-speed automatic transmission are 16/20 mpg city/highway. That’s an increase of 1 mpg in both city and highway driving compared to the 2010 version.
EPA fuel-economy ratings for 2011 Toyota Tundras with the V-8 engines are unchanged. Ratings with the 4.6-liter V-8 are 15/20 with 2wd and 14/19 with 4wd.
Equipped with the 5.7 V-8, 2011 Tundra ratings are 14/18 mpg with 2wd, 13/17 with 4wd. All these engines use 87-octane gas. Four-wheel drive Tundras with the 5.7 V-8 can also run on the E85 ethanol-gas blend; ratings are 10/13 mpg on E85.
2011 Toyota Tundra Release Date back to top
The 2011 Toyota Tundra went on sale in July 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Toyota Tundra back to top
Toyota’s initial breakout from of the compact-pickup segment came with the 1993 T100, which was really a “midsize” truck. It was replaced for 2000 by the first-generation Tundra, which was larger but still not quite as big, heavy, or powerful as the full-size domestic competition. The 2011 Tundra is part of the second-generation Tundra clan, a truly full-size family of pickups introduced for model-year 2007.
If Toyota adheres to a projected 8-year life cycle, the third-generation Tundra would be introduced as a 2014 model. Whether that timetable holds, and what changes may yet be in store for the second-generation, may be influenced by economic forces beyond any automaker’s control.
Tundra is built in the U.S. primarily for sale in North America, and its audience has tended to be heavy with personal-use owners despite Toyota’s attempts to crack the domestic brands’ hold on pickup buyers in the trades and in the farming, ranching, and commercial markets.
Near-term, Toyota could retune one of these second-generation Tundras for high fuel economy, with special gear ratios, tires, and aerodynamic tricks to compete with gas-sipper editions from Ford and Chevy. Don’t expect Toyota to release a gas-electric Tundra anytime soon; it seems content to leave that low-volume field to hybrid versions of the Silverado and GMC Sierra.
Given cordial economic conditions, however, Toyota could revive plans to offer Tundra with a diesel engine. They were dropped as the economy soured and the high cost of a diesel engine and uncertainty about diesel-fuel prices became obstacles. A torquey, clean-running, high-mileage diesel engine would help set Tundra apart from the half-ton herd, intriguing its upscale personal-use buyers while interesting the serious-towing crowd.
2011 Toyota Tundra Competition back to top
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500: The only big pickup with a design as old as Tundra’s, but Chevy’s kept it relevant with competitive pricing and some strategic improvements to a proven platform. Rear-seat space in extended- and crew-cab models is tightest in the class, but powertrains are up to date and reliable. Silverado is second only to the Ford F-150 in sales; the F-150 still leads even when you combine sales of the Silverado and its GMC Sierra sibling. Look for the next-generation Silverado and Sierra in model-year 2013 or 2014.
2011 Dodge Ram 1500: It was all-new for model-year 2009, with aggressively revised styling and the category’s only rear coil-spring suspension. That suspension helps give the Ram 1500 the best balance of ride and handling of any big pickup, and Dodge for 2010 addressed its main drawback by increasing towing capacity to fully competitive levels. Engines include gas and hybrid versions of the respected Hemi V-8. And the RamBox storage system is an attraction. Ram’s a winning choice for work or play. A major revamp expected for model-year 2013 will replace its aging V-6 with Chrysler’s modern Pentastar V-6,
2011 Ford F-150: Redesigned for 2009 with updated styling, larger cabs, and a lighter, stronger frame. Ford’s EcoBoost V-6 with more than 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque comes on board for model-year 2011 as a tempting alternative to V-8 engines -- though not a particularly inexpensive one. The 2011 F-150 will turn to the Mustang for its other new engines, a 3.7-liter V-6 of around 300 horsepower and a 5.0-liter V-8 of around 400. The versatility of full-time 4wd, however, doesn’t seem in the cards. Solid feel, great steering, and cab comfort are among F-150 assets.
UPDATED BY TIM HEALEY