Chatham, Mass. – The Texas license plates elicited more stares than the sheer presence projected by the white 2019 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro which says a lot about full-size pickup trucks in today’s America.
For decades, the full-size pickups were domestic brands from Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge/RAM, not only dominating the truck market, but representing the best-selling vehicles – of any type – in the country.
Toyota with the Tundra and Nissan with the Titan joined the party at the turn of this century and constructed U.S. plants – Toyota’s in the heart of Texas truck country – to build them with this market the only target – an incredibly lucrative one, but unique in the world. (Unusual because most vehicles are conceived to be sold in more than one market.)
So even in this corner of New England, trucks like this, which were once viewed as either work appliances or something moving about the plains of Texas, are so common that the muscle-bound Tundra TRD Pro fits right in with everything else on the road.
Fit, we found when negotiating tight village streets, is a relative term, as the Toyota is big – big on the outside and high enough to need running boards to get in and out of the massive cabin which easily fits five adults. Unfortunately, one of the vehicle’s design flaws compromise this ingress and egress: the two-tiered running boards mean the step is rather thin, making it easy to slip past its surface, especially when wearing large shoes or boots.
Interior like a passenger car
Once inside, the driver and passengers have the comfort, entertainment, safety and convenience features found in the better passenger cars and SUVs – driving today’s pickups does not mean sacrificing compared to the rest of the auto world.
Power windows, 10-way leather-trimmed power driver’s seat; power windows and (heated) mirrors; seven-inch color touch screen operating the infotainment (AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio/CD/MP3 sources) and navigation system; heated front seats; rear power window; fold-up split rear seat; moonroof’, and a huge center console (amongst a myriad of storage locations) are some of the highlights of the interior features.
Somewhat invisible, except for the five three-point seatbelts, are the Tundra’s safety enhancements including eight airbags; rear-view camera; Toyota Safety Sense; Toyota Star Safety System, and trailer-brake and trailer-sway control.
Toyota Safety sense is a suite of safety features includinmg a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection function, Lane Departure Alert, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Automatic High Beams.
Toyota Star Safety System adds Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Technology brake -override technology.
Safety features enhance every-day driving
Adding these safety systems changes the driving characteristics of pickup trucks caused by weight transference (heavy up front and, when not loaded with cargo, light in the back) and tire and suspension systems designed not for on-road performance. The sensors and computers of the safety systems compensate for these dynamic issues, while the other systems can minimize issues caused by limited sight lines. Modern pickups are both easier and safer to operate, even large, powerful ones like the Tundra.
Speaking of power, a twist of the ignition key brings the 5.7-liter i-Force V8 to life. The 401 pound-feet of torque (381 horsepower) allows the Tundra TRD Pro to haul up to 1,560-pounds and tow up to 9,200 pounds. And, depending upon road conditions – slick surfaces or off-road tracks – the truck can be switched between rear-wheel and (part-time) four-wheel drive.
Bringing the 5,640-pound truck to a stop are big 13.9-inch vented front rotors and 156.8-inches of rear brake area.
We keep saying the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro has a big presence, which it does when compared to its model siblings. Fitted with new Fox 2.5-inch front shocks and TRD-tuned springs that provide an additional two inches of front lift, the Tundra TRD Pro is ready to tackle the trails thanks to additional front wheel travel that is increased more than 1.5 inches. Out back, 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks feature piggyback reservoirs to ensure consistent damping performance in the toughest terrain. The suspension changes net increased rear wheel travel of more than two inches.
Continuing with the large theme, this Tundra has 18-inch black five-spoke forged BBS wheels – which reduce un-sprung weight by 3.35-pounds per wheel compared to standard wheels – shod with Michelin 275/65R18 all-season/all-terrain tires.
Further distinguishing this truck from other versions of Tundra, the TRD Pro gets new Rigid Industries LED fog lights for improved visibility on and off the highway. A new TOYOTA grille is found up front, along with a new hood scoop that adds to Tundra’s brawny front end.
Outside, black badging is featured throughout, and TRD Pro is stamped on the bed’s rear quarter panels. Inside, TRD Pro logos garnish the driver and front passenger leather seats, while red stitching accents the dash, seats and armrests. TRD Pro floor mats, shift knob and a center-console emblem help complete the distinctive look.
Providing added growl on the highway and the trail is a dual TRD Pro exhaust, which is fitted with new Black Chrome exhaust tips. A TRD Pro 1/4-inch skid plate sporting signature red Toyota lettering is found underneath the front end.
Tundra TRD Pro is available in CrewMax only and will be offered in three colors that include Super White, Midnight Black Metallic and the exclusive TRD Pro color Voodoo Blue.
Living with the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was a learning experience for me; it was much larger than anything I normally drive. But all of the features helped mitigate the learning curve. Once I was comfortable maneuvering, especially in parking, the size issue disappeared.
The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro has a suggested list price (including shipping) of $51,040. The version we sampled stickered at $55,106. Prominent options included a $1,295 tonneau cover, $320 bed extender, $579 spray-on bedliner, $395 paint-protection film and $99 tablet holder.
Also standard is a full 38-gallon tank of gas, something which will get used up quickly. The federal Environmental Protection Agency rates the truck’s mileage per gallon at 13/14/17 (city/combined/highway). During our time with the 2019 Toyota TRD Pro we saw an average of 15.6 mpg – not awful considering what the truck was designed to do on road and off road. The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was designed to be a BIG truck, making a BIG presence in this market.