For a lot of reasons, some practical and some mythical, the pickup truck has a tight grip on the heart strings of American motorists these days, and while Toyota’s trucks haven’t matched the sale success of pickups from Chevy, Ford or Ram, they have carved out their own niche in the U.S. market.
The Toyota Tundra has plenty of loyal fans in American suburbs and the company has been deft at bringing out special additions that play on their trucks unique appeal and attributes in the effort to keep up with their rivals from Detroit.
Overview: The 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD clearly benefits from the attention as was developed for buyers who expect to go off road while incorporating some of the comfort and convenience features that have become steadily more popular on trucks from the other brands. Plus, the changes and refinements under the expanding TRD badge clear the way for Toyota to charge more for this version of the Tundra.
Exterior: The overall look of the exterior of the 2020 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro depends on the accessories that used to set off the cabin and cargo box, which is a necessary feature of the pickup truck family or families.
The Tundra TRD Pro has been given the full treatment with a special TRD grille, LED highlights and fog lamps, stainless steel door edges and dual and a hood scoop and 18-inch wheels. Running boards, and a unique liftgate complete the look.
Toyota is clearly hoping some of TRD magic that has made the Tacoma TRD a hit with many buyers will rub off on the Tundra, and it does look sharp sitting at the curb or in motion. The price tag is $52,474, including the $1,395 destination charge.
… This isn’t a truck designed to sit anonymously in a fleet somewhere …
Interior: The interior of this truck is one of the vehicle’s strong points. It’s spacious, comfortable, well organized and with widespread use of soft material a long way from the spartan cabins that used to be the standard feature of pickup trucks. The Tundra also has large, easy-to-read gauges, controls on the steering wheel and dual-zone climate controls. Visibility from the driver’s seat also is excellent.
The Tundra TRD also comes with a large screen for entertainment and navigation. The interior also offers plenty of the storage spaces that are part of the appeal of a modern pickup truck as well as a moonroof that gives the vehicle more of a sporty feel even in the middle of winter.
It also features a nice sharp backup camera, which is essential if you have to maneuver a pickup truck out of a driveway or into a crowded urban or suburban parking place.
Powertrain: The power and performance of the Tundra TRD comes from a DOHC 5.7-liter V8, which yields 381 horsepower and 401 foot-pounds of torque. It is teamed with a six-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The Tundra also is equipped Driver-selectable Tow/Haul transmission mode and Trailer Sway Control.
The other element of the powertrain is a four-wheel-drive system that uses a lockable limited-slip center differential to apportion torque to the front and rear wheels, and a two-speed transfer case provides a low range ratio for tackling steep off-road trails. Low range is accessible via a rotary knob, while the center differential locks at the push of a button for travel off-road or on dirt and gravel roads.
Safety and Technology: The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro comes equipped with Safety Sense, an active safety suite that includes the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Braking, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control with full stop technology, plus Automatic High Beams.
In addition, it is equipped with a dual-stage, advanced front-airbag system, seat-mounted side airbags for the driver and front passenger, roll-sensing side curtain airbags plus driver- and front-passenger knee airbags.
… Drivers also get to enjoy a Premium JBL system with dynamic navigation that also is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto …
Drive Impressions: Starting off in the Tundra TRD Pro the vehicle can seem rough and a bit unwieldy. But despite its gruff exterior it turns out the vehicle dynamics are okay. The steering is responsive, but this isn’t the most maneuverable vehicle on the road. The brakes are quite solid even on wet or slick pavement and if you are alert the high-seating position lets you see what’s coming almost before it happens.
However, it is a big vehicle and it really wasn’t made for sharp turns and the overall turning radius is on the wide side. The overall vehicle dynamics are bolstered by the heavy duty TRD suspension and heavy-duty Fox shocks, which help smooth out the ride even on rough or broken pavement.
Wrap Up: Pickup trucks are an American institution despite fewer and fewer people living on farms or ranches.
I have always found that they come in handy the one of six odd days a year you really need a truck to carry special cargo or move something.
But even if you have plenty of heavy-duty errands to run, pickup trucks are aren’t ideal for because they are difficult to park and city and suburban streets. However, if you are a pickup truck fan and a Toyota fan, you will probably enjoy the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.