Trucks & SUVs

The Toyota Tundra is Missing 1 Important Feature

When it comes to full-size pickup trucks, the 2020 Toyota Tundra is the oldest in the class. It has several things going for it including most of the standard safety features truck owners want along with off-roading readiness. There’s a lot of space, and the TRD Pro models are rough and ready.

The folks at Motor Trend took a look at the 2020 Toyota Tundra. There was one important feature that they found the Tundra lacked.

The 2020 Toyota Tundra

The Motor Trend team tried out the 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax near Dallas in an off-road park. They found the half-ton truck to be more than ready to take on the road. They were particularly appreciative of the fact that you can now get the Tundra TRD Pro in both Double Cab and CrewMax bodies in 2020. It’s not, however, available for all cab and bed configurations.

The team favored this edition of Toyota Tundra for its styling; they liked the Toyota lettering and its larger grille. The TRD Pro features 18-inch black wheels and a hood scoop. For 2020, you can get it in an Army Green color that you can also get for TRD Pro models of the 4Runner, Sequoia, and Tacoma. The black door handles offer a nice accent color, making the Tundra TRD Pro stand out.

When it comes to off-roading, the Motor Trend crew was impressed. Now equipped with Fox shocks at the front and back, the off-road performance of Tundra TRD Pros is greatly enhanced. They helped manage the truck’s body motions in corners. The shocks make the ride a bit more comfortable, particularly reducing the impact on the cabin when they drove over large rocks at the off-road park.

The underbody was well-protected by the front skid plate when climbing those rocks. With an approach angle of 31 degrees, the Tundra TRD Pro tackled most of the trails without any problems. 

The brakes are good enough and can halt the truck from 70 mph in just under 190 feet. Those same brakes inconsistently travel and have a little feedback. The steering is light and requires the driver to correct often at highway speeds.

A prehistoric powertrain

2016 Toyota Tundra is on display at the 108th Annual Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place
The Toyota Tundra | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Next to its peers, the powertrain for the 2020 Toyota Tundra is ancient. It has a standard 5.7-liter V8 that gets 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque. It comes with rear-wheel drive standard with an option for four-wheel drive on both setups. Four-wheel drive is not available for all bed and cab configurations.

For the lower trims, the engine will suffice. It’s not a weak engine, but the exhaust note is. It comes paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that’s slow to shift. With competitors loaded with lighter, more powerful powertrains, the Tundra feels dated.

While the Toyota Tundra has one of the more powerful engines in its class, there are no other options. No diesel or turbocharged options that are more fuel-efficient. The six-speed transmission holds it back because the gearbox isn’t as current and refined as the ones you’ll find in its more updated competitors. Most of its competitors have eight- or 10-speed automatic transmissions.

The Toyota Tundra needs more options

At the end of the day, the Motor Trend team wished that the Tundra offered more engine options. Sure, the 2020 Toyota Tundra has a towing capacity of 10,200 pounds, but that’s not going to be enough for it to compete with the top three automakers and their innovation. Ram has the eTorque engines, and Chevrolet has a four-cylinder engine. An updated transmission would be welcome too.

Toyota is in danger of falling way behind its competitors.

As tight as the truck market is today, no automaker can afford to fall behind. The Toyota Tundra has good predicted reliability and plenty of standard features, but that’s not enough for the ordinary truck buyer to select it over similar trucks in its class. While the “Big Detroit Three” are perpetually stepping up their game, Toyota needs to try and at least keep up. According to Motor Trend, multiple updated powertrain options would be a great place to start in updating the Tundra.