Tested: 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Is the Best Yet

Tested: 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Is the Best Yet

If you’re like us and nerd out about anything and everything automotive, it’s difficult not to be enthralled when a military convoy passes by. The semi trucks look like they’re fresh off the set of a Mad Max movie, and the behemoth Oshkosh eight-wheel-drive tactical vehicles prompt us to start scanning the surplus market for the ultimate off-road rig we don’t need. When the 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro arrived at headquarters dressed in model-specific Army Green paint, blacked-out exterior trim, and sitting on lightweight, forged BBS wheels, its curb appeal alone was enough to spark excitement. It looked like an inordinately dapper escapee from a GovPlanet auction.

HIGHS: Real off-road chops, great ride, Army Green paint.

Okay, so the Tundra is old. This generation dates to 2007, the year a few of our staffers had just started middle school. Its 381-hp 5.7-liter V-8 may suffer a power deficit compared to the 6.2-liter small block in the Chevrolet Silverado and the twin-turbo V-6 offerings of the Ford F-150—not to mention the V-8s in the Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan—but it’s still good for a push to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and a 15.0-second quarter-mile at 93 mph. Not bad for a rig weighing nearly three tons. While two-digit gear counts are becoming more common, the Tundra’s six ratios seem about right for a pickup truck.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

Starting at $54,525, the TRD Pro CrewMax is the most expensive Tundra in Toyota’s lineup, but it’s still far less pricey than the upper-echelon domestic half-tons. Fitted with Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass dampers at all four corners and new TRD springs that increase wheel travel by 1.5 inches in the front and 2.5 inches in the rear, the TRD Pro encourages your desert-racing delusions. In daily use the ride quality is superb, with just enough squish to feel relaxed on the interstates without floating like a ’75 DeVille. When approaching the 0.69-g lateral limit, there’s plenty of body roll. This is, however, a beefy truck on cushy suspension, so we weren’t expecting Supra skidpad numbers.

LOWS: TRD exhaust note gets old, powertrain lags the competition, circa-2007 interior.

We couldn’t find a rough enough dirt road or railroad crossing to exploit the full capability of the new suspension package, so we headed to Bundy Hill, our unofficial off-road proving ground in Jerome, Michigan. The Fox dampers soak up rippled ruts and dragon-back soil with surprising grace, allowing the Tundra to carry an impressive amount of speed. When pushed hard, the dampers will eventually hit the bump stops, but a beefy TRD skid plate provides a last line of defense for the underbelly. You shouldn’t plan on chasing a Ford Raptor across the desert, but this is by far the best riding and most capable Tundra ever built.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

While the TRD suspension components are welcome upgrades, we’ll take issue with our test truck’s side-exit dual-exhaust system, a dealer-installed accessory from the TRD parts catalog. It sounds appropriately throaty under relaxed operating conditions, but when the engine’s working a little harder (like, say, with a trailer in tow), the cat-back system sends a constant drone into the cabin. The ever-present eight-cylinder racket is at odds with the otherwise sane and respectable, albeit dated, Toyota interior.

Other goodies that come standard with the TRD Pro are a rocking 12-speaker JBL audio system, Rigid LED fog lamps, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. In a tacit admission that it’s no longer 2007, pushbutton ignition is now standard. The TRD Pro is a competent truck, but Toyota’s incremental approach to keeping the Tundra relevant—minor tweaks, special editions, and bolt-ons—may be running out of steam. As we patiently wait for a complete overhaul of Toyota’s big rig, we’ll continue to scour the military surplus supply. Which has us thinking: Where can we store an Oshkosh?

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Published at Fri, 12 Jun 2020 15:55:00 +0000