2012 Toyota Tundra Review and Prices

Last Updated: Mar 1, 2012

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2012 Toyota Tundra Buying Advice

The 2012 Toyota Tundra is the best truck for you if you’re ready for a new full-size pickup and are open to temptation from one that isn’t a Ford, Chevy, or Ram.

The 2012 Toyota Tundra tweaks some features availability but is essentially a styling and mechanical repeat of the 2011 Toyota Tundra. It returns with three cab styles, three bed lengths, a strong V-8, and most every feature a full-size pickup buyer could desire. It also represents Toyota’s attempt to dent the only major market segment in which the Japanese giant doesn’t compete for sales leadership. This generation Tundra launched for model-year 2007 and early quality snafus, economic headwinds, and domestic-brand loyalty conspired to keep it from reaching its 200,000-annual sales goal. Quality problems are in the past, but Tundra hasn’t overcome the other hurdles.

Should you buy a 2012 Toyota Tundra or wait for the 2013 Toyota Tundra? You’ll not gain much by waiting. The 2013 Tundra isn’t likely to see significant changes over the 2012 model and it’ll represent the final model year for this 2007-vintage design generation. So buying a 2012 Tundra instead of a 2013 gets you into a truck with a slightly longer shelf life. And you’ll avoid the inevitable model-year price inflation.

2012 Toyota Tundra Changes back to top

Styling: The 2012 Toyota Tundra’s styling is unchanged and continues a bold-grille-dominated look that meets the macho bar set by the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. The 2012 Tundra remains every bit as large as its Ford, Ram, and Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500 rivals, too. Toyota saw to that when it redesigned this truck six years ago, finally introducing a pickup large enough and powerful enough to challenge the full-size domestics.

With three available bed lengths, the 2012 Tundra trails the Ford and GM pickups by one. Still, there are sufficient cab and wheelbase choices to suit a range of buyers, plus a breadth of well-thought-out trim levels, from the functional Work Truck to the plush Platinum Package Limited.

The 2012 Toyota Tundra two-door regular-cab seats three. The Tundra DoubleCab extended-cab has a pair of small rear doors and a rear bench seat; it can accommodate five or six passengers. The 2012 Tundra CrewMax is a crew cab with four full-size side doors and spacious seating for up to six.  

Front buckets and front bench seats are available, the latter teaming with a center console large enough to hold a laptop computer or hanging file folders. Claiming a big-pickup exclusive, the Tundra DoubleCab has a reclining rear seatback and the only rear seat that slides fore and aft – over a 10 inch range – to enhance in-cab storage versatility.

Tundra regular-cabs and DoubleCabs come with a choice of a 6.5-foot or 8.1-foot cargo bed. Ford and GM crew cabs offer both long- and short-bed cargo boxes but the Tundra CrewMax is limited to a 5.5-foot short box. All Tundra beds have a lockable tailgate damped to open without slamming.

Rival domestics are available in a plethora of models – the F-150 offers nine – but Toyota divides the 2012 Tundra line into just two: base and uplevel Limited. The Limited is exclusive to the DoubleCab and CrewMax and is distinguished by a chrome grille with a billet-style silver insert and chrome power-folding outside mirrors with turn-signal indicators. Both base and Limited Tundras come with 18-inch wheels, though the Limited gets wider tires on alloy instead of steel rims; 20-inch alloys are optional for both models.

Options packages with identifiable styling cues include a pair named for the Toyota Racing Development factory tuning group. The TRD Off-Road Package and the TRD Rock Warrior Package have special graphics, wheels, and off-road suspension elevations. The Rock Warrior Package is confined to DoubleCabs and CrewMax models and also includes off-pavement tires on 17-inch forged alloy wheels, a color-keyed front bumper and grille surround, fog lamps, and a matte-black rear bumper.

Mechanical: The 2012 Toyota Tundra is mechanically unchanged and again offers a V-6 and two V-8s and a choice of two-wheel drive (2wd) and four-wheel drive (4wd). In pickups, 2wd translates to rear-wheel drive.

The V-6 is a 4.0-liter with 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. It’s available with 2wd in regular-cabs and DoubleCabs and pairs with a five-speed automatic transmission. Fewer than 10 percent of Tundra buyers choose this engine.  

Better suited to duty in a vehicle this size is a V-8 because of the torque it generates. Torque is the muscle behind acceleration and towing and is particularly important in trucks. Tundra’s entry-level V-8 is a 4.6-liter with 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque. The 4.6 is excluded from 4wd regular-cabs but is otherwise available in all three Tundra body styles and with 2wd and 4wd.  

About 70 percent of Tundra buyers recognize the 5.7-liter V-8 as this pickup’s most desirable engine. Its 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque is comparable with that of any direct rival’s and it’s available with 2wd and 4wd in all Tundra configurations. Both of Tundra’s V-8s pair with a six-speed automatic transmission.   

The 2012 Tundra’s tow ratings are competitive, maxing out at 10,400 pounds with the 5.7 V-8 and 9,000 pounds with the 4.7 V-8. All Tundras include trailer-sway control that works with the truck’s antiskid system to quell wayward trailer movement. And V-8 Tundras equipped with the towing package get a transmission Tow/Haul shift mode.

All Tundras have four-wheel antilock disc brakes and come with a limited-slip rear differential. The 4wd system features low-range gearing but is not intended for use on dry pavement. By contrast, the Ram, GM, and Ford rivals offer more versatile 4wd systems that can remain engaged on all surfaces. This is particularly useful at combating fishtailing and rear-tire slip when driving on damp pavement with a lightly-loaded or empty cargo bed.

Tundra’s TRD Off-Road package is available on both 2wd and 4wd models. TheTRD Rock Warrior Package is for 4x4s only. Both packages include off-road-tuned suspensions, Bilstein-brand shock absorbers, and underbody skid plates. There’s also a TRD Sport Package for 2wd DoubleCabs that includes the 20-inch alloys, upgraded interior, color-keyed exterior trim, and TRD Sport graphics.  

Features: With a basic design that dates to model-year 2007, the 2012 Tundra shows its age against the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, both of which were redesigned for model-year 2009. GM’s full-size pickups were last redesigned for model-year 2007, too, and all-new versions are due for model-year 2013 -- one year ahead of Tundra’s next scheduled redesign.

Toyota’s kept its big pickup reasonably fresh in terms of features, though. Trailer-sway control was added for model-year 2011, for example, bringing Tundra abreast of top rivals with an important adjunct to towing safety. Tundra was the first pickup to offer a power tilt/telescope steering wheel and was an early adopter of infotainment features such as USB iPod interface, Bluetooth cell-phone connectivity, a navigation system with backup camera, and rear-seat DVD entertainment.

All these are again available on the 2012 Tundra as standard or optional depending on model.

For 2012, all Tundras come standard with a heavy-duty battery and starter, windshield wiper de-icer, daytime running lights, front and rear mudguards, and heated, power, outside mirrors. The Limited grade and TRD Rock Warrior package include a standard back-up camera for 2012.

Every Tundra also comes with knee airbags for the driver and front passenger and head-protecting curtain side airbags that cover both seating rows and incorporate rollover sensors. Antilock four-wheel disc brakes, an antiskid system, traction control, and a limited slip differential will also return as standard to help Tundra accelerate, stop, and turn with more control.  

Tundra Limiteds have leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, front-and rear-parking sonar, and an automatic-dimming inside rearview mirror that displays the backup-camera image on a portion of its lens. In place of the front bench seat, Limiteds come with heated front buckets that feature a power driver's seat with power thigh and lumbar support and a power front passenger seat.

For model-year 2012, Toyota reconfigures Tundra’s numerous options groups to a roster it says is simplified, though the breadth and variety remains daunting. DoubleCabs, for example, are available in three grades of Work Truck, SR5 and Sport Appearance trim packages, the TRD Off-Road and Rock Warrior packages, and Upgrade, Convenience and Chrome Appearance packages.

Among Tundra’s main options groups, the Work Truck Package is available on regular-cabs and DoubleCabs with any engine and creates a no-frills pickup with heavy-duty vinyl upholstery and all-weather flooring. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Platinum Package for CrewMax Limiteds includes heated and cooled front buckets with embroidered headrests, perforated leather upholstery, power tilt/slide moonroof, and wood-grain-style interior trim.

In the audio department, base-model 2012 Tundras come with an AM/FM CD player, six speakers (four in the regular cab), satellite-radio compatibility (additional hardware and subscription required), and an auxiliary audio jack. Optional on base models and standard on Limiteds is an upgrade that includes steering-wheel audio controls, a three-month satellite-radio trial subscription, a USB port with iPod connectivity, and hands-free phone- and music-streaming via Bluetooth. Limited models also come with a JBL six-disc CD changer and 12 speakers including subwoofer (10 in DoubleCabs).

The optional navigation system is available only in Tundra Limited models and is included with the Platinum Package. It’s voice activated and includes a dashboard touchscreen and the premium audio setup. Tundra’s optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system is exclusive to CrewMax Limited model and includes a 9-inch fold-down ceiling screen, remote control, and a pair of wireless headphones.

2012 Toyota Tundra Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2012 Toyota Tundra is $26,130-$44,570. The starting point of that range is some $2,000 higher than the entry-level price for rival domestic-brand full-size pickups, while the top of Tundra’s base-price scale is up to $5,000 lower than that of domestic-brand rivals.

Part of the explanation is that ordering a Tundra with the Work Truck Package lowers the base price by $195-$1,030, depending on model; some rival domestics start with work-truck-level equipment and commensurate pricing. At the top end, the base-price ceiling of some domestic-brand rivals is elevated to $50,000-plus by specialty models, such as the F-150 Harley-Davidson edition and the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid. Still, adding the Platinum Package to 2012 Tundra Limited CrewMax boosts its sticker to $46,692, roughly equivalent to similarly outfitted top-trim models in the Ford, GM, and Ram lines.

Note that base prices in this review do not include options but do include the factory mandated destination fee; Toyota’s fee for the 2012 Tundra is $975. Toyotas sold in Southeastern and Gulf states are delivered by an independent distributor and may carry different destination fees.

It’s also important to recognize that part of Tundra’s value equation includes Toyota’s reputation for reliability. Tundra was in fact named “Most Dependable Large Pickup” for the seventh consecutive year in the 2012 J.D. Power & Associates Vehicle Dependability Study, a highly respected source for customer-satisfaction surveys.

Regular-cab 2012 Tundras have a base-price range of $26,130-$28,605 with 2wd. All 4wd regular-cab Tundras use the 5.7-liter V-8 and start at $31,325 with the 6.5-foot bed and $31,655 with the 8.1-foot box.

DoubleCab 2012 Tundra base prices range from $28,340-$38,975 with 2wd and from $32,780-$42,035 with 4wd. Among key DoubleCab configurations, the base-model 2wd 5.7-liter long-bed starts at $30,720, the base-model 4wd 5.7-liter long-bed at $33,770, and the 4wd 5.7-liter Limited short-bed at $42,035.

CrewMax 2012 Tundras have a base-price range of $31,310-$41,510 with 2wd and $34,360-$44,570 with 4wd. The lowest figures are with the 4.6-liter V-8. All other CrewMax Tundras come with the 5.7-liter V-8. Key configurations are priced at $32,555 for the 2wd base-level model, $35,605 for the 4wd base-level model, and $44,570 for the 4wd Limited-grade model.

Among the myriad 2012 Tundra combinations, a buyer of a base-model 5.7-liter 4wd DoubleCab would pay $4,062 to add the TRD Rock Warrior Package, $1,975 for the TRD Off-Road Package, or $1,435 for the SR5 Package, which includes front bucket seats. And the buyer of a 2012 Tundra Limited would pay $1,340 for navigation as a stand-alone option and $1,670 to add rear-seat DVD entertainment.

2012 Toyota Tundra Fuel Economy back to top

EPA mileage ratings for the 2012 Toyota Tundra tend to track within 1-2 mpg plus or minus of big-pickup rivals with similar V-6 and V-8 powertrains, so fuel economy alone isn’t likely to be a deciding factor for most comparison shoppers.

The wild card in this class is the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 available in the Ford F-150.  It has a V-8-like 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque yet V-6-style fuel-economy ratings of 16/22 mpg city/highway and 18 mpg combined city/highway with 2wd and 15/21/17 mpg with 4wd. No rival has anything to match that power/economy punch.

Fuel-economy ratings for the 2012 Tundra with the V-6 engine and 2wd are 16/20 mpg city/highway, 18 mpg combined.

A 2012 Tundra with the 4.6-liter V-8 rates 15/20/17 mpg with 2wd and 14/19/16 with 4wd.

Fuel-economy ratings for a 2012 Tundra with the 5.7 V-8 are 14/18/15 mpg with 2wd and 13/17/14 with 4wd.

2012 Toyota Tundra Release Date back to top

The 2012 Toyota Tundra went on sale in November 2011.

What's next for the 2012 Toyota Tundra back to top

With just one model year remaining for this second-generation Tundra design don’t look for major changes before the all-new replacement rolls out in model-year 2014.

In the near-term, addition by subtraction seems Toyota’s strategy for this pickup: increase sales by shrinking the lineup to the most profitable models. That’s as good a plan as any as Toyota works to salvage its effort to break into the last bastion of domestic dominance – the full-size pickup market. It’s been unsuccessful so far. Sales of the current-generation Tundra fell just 3,500 short of its 200,000-unit annual projection in the introductory 2007 model-year, but have been running under 94,000 since.

Quality and product-planning snafus got Tundra off to a slow start back in 2007. Then came the one-two punch of rising gas prices and the recession. That depressed sales of all big pickups. But unlike the domestic brands, Tundra didn’t enjoy the fallback of a broad following among commercial buyers, farmers, and tradespeople to balance the exodus of casual-use owners from the full-size pickup market.

As for the third-generation Tundra, we expect it to be introduced in the spring of 2013 as a 2014 model. It’ll continue to be assembled in the U.S. primarily for sale in North America. The 2014 Toyota Tundra won’t abandon its stout body-on-frame engineering for some sort of lighter-duty, car-type unibody construction. It could, however, get marginally smaller exterior dimensions if Toyota concedes that the primary audience for this truck is indeed recreational users and not contractors and ranchers. A slightly tidier size would also mean less gas-gulping weight – a serious consideration for any manufacturer looking to satisfy tightening fuel-economy standards.

2012 Toyota Tundra Competition back to top

Chevrolet Silverado 1500/GMC Sierra 1500: This design duo hasn’t received a full makeover since model-year 2007 and shows its age with cabins that are less spacious and less modern cabins than those in the Ram, F-150, and Tundra. Still, brand-loyal buyers recognize an admirable overall design and the value of proven V-6- and V-8-powertrains, so sales remain strong. Prices are very competitive, too, and there’s a well-thought-out selection of cab/bed combinations, work-ready specifications, uplevel comforts, and most of the modern conveniences. A V-6 and two V-8 engines are offered, the most popular being GM’s workhorse 5.3-liter V-8 rated at 315 horsepower, 335 pound-feet of torque, and 15/21/17 mpg with both 2wd and 4wd. Top V-8 is a 6.2-liter with 403 horsepower, 417 pound-feet of torque, and ratings of 14 mpg combined city/highway. Towing maximum is 10,700 pounds. A gas V-8-electric hybrid version also is available and boosts fuel economy to 20/23/21, but it’s pricey. Model-year 2012 base-price range is $22,940-$50,190 for the Silverado 1500 and $26,180-$50,560 for the Sierra 1500.

Ford F-150: This is the auto industry’s most popular vehicle, car or truck, outselling Siliverado and Sierra 1500 combined and trouncing Tundra by a 7-1 margin. Like the  Ram 1500, the F-150 last received a full  redesign for model-year 2009, though it added new powertrains for model year 2011 that included a stronger base V-6 (302 horsepower, 278 pound-feet of torque) and fresh V-8s, including the volume-leading 5.0-liter with 360 horsepower, 380 pound-feet of torque and ratings of 15/21/17 mpg with 2wd and 14/19/16 with 4wd. Star of the show is Ford’s twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, which happens to boast an impressive 11,300-pound tow rating. No big pickup offers a wider range of bed and cab combos and the F-150 can go toe-to-toe with any rival for available high-tech features, including an in-dash computer with Internet connectivity. Base-price range for the 2012 F-150 is $23,895-$48,895 for mainstream models, with the off-road-racer-style SVT Raptor starting at $43,565 and the Harley-Davidson Edition 4wd SuperCrew crew cab topping the line at $52,990.   

Ram 1500: Last redesigned for model-year 2009, Ram remains fresh, with brash styling and class-leading ride and handling. Credit the latter to its category-exclusive coil-spring suspension versus the leaf-spring setup used by every other full-size pickup. Ram crew cabs don’t offer long-bed versions but this pickup is otherwise available in the usual cab/box combos. Available features include the RamBox in-bed storage system. A V-6 and two V-8s are offered, the r headliner being the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 390 horsepower, 407 pound-feet of torque and ratings of 14/20/16 mpg with 2wd, 13/19/15 with 4wd. Note that this pickup is no longer the “Dodge” Ram. Parent company Chrysler Group has spun-off Ram Truck from Dodge and markets it as a separate brand. Model-year 2012 base price range is $22,270-$44,120. Ram won’t see major changes until model-year 2014 and its future almost certainly includes the corporate Pentastar V-6 and an eight-speed automatic transmission in place of the underachieving V-6/four-speed automatic combo.

2012 Toyota Tundra Next Steps