Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) may be shrinking in size and capability, but when it comes to towing and hauling, trucks continue to stand tall. Built in my hometown of San Antonio, the 2012 Tundra 4x4 Crew Max improves on capability while remaining one of the most comfortable trucks in its segment.
While an all-new 4.0-liter V6 engine enhanced the line-up in 2011, the optional 5.7-liter i-FORCE V8 engine powered the test model. With 381 horses, 401 lbs.–ft. of torque at 3,600 rpm, and matched to a six-speed automatic transmission, the engine achieves an EPA city/highway estimated fuel economy of 13/17 mpg. A 180-mile round trip between San Antonio and Austin used only half a tank of gas. Both Tundra V8 (4.6- and 5.7-liter) engines meet the Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle or ULEV II, emissions certification.
Equipped with the optional towing package, the test Tundra’s vital statistics included a maximum payload of 1,375 lbs. and towing capacity of 9,000 lbs. Loading anything into the back of the truck accentuates one of the Tundra's better features—a dampened tailgate that drops softly. This is something that competitors seriously need to emulate.
What is surprising on a full-size truck like the Tundra, is its ride, which is exceptionally smooth and comfortable, even on a longer drive like Austin to San Antonio.
The 2012 Tundra is offered in two grades (Tundra and Limited), three cab styles (Regular, Double Cab and CrewMax), three wheelbase lengths (126.8, 145.7 and 164.6 inches, depending on model and configuration) and three bed lengths (78.7, 97.6 and for CrewMax only, 66.7-inches).
Tundra’s option packages were also simplified for 2012. Tundra grade Double Cab and CrewMax models now offer four streamlined packages: Convenience Package, Convenience Package with Bucket Seats, Upgrade Package and SR5 Package.
Standard equipment on all Tundra models includes height-adjustable headlamps and a redesigned seven-pin towing hitch connector that sits above the hitch to help avoid damage during high departure angle driving. A shelf to help organize storage space has been added to the lower glove box.
All Tundra models feature the Toyota Star Safety System, a comprehensive array of safety technology that includes anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist, vehicle stability control, and traction control, as standard equipment. Driver and front passenger knee airbags, driver and front passenger and roll sensing side curtain airbags are also standard. The all-important back-up monitor remains an optional feature on all trim levels.
Tundra-grade models come with a standard AM/FM/MP3 CD with satellite radio capability, an auxiliary input and six speakers (four speakers on Regular Cab), and A standard cargo lamp. The test model was equipped with touch-screen DVD navigation that included a rear back-up camera.
Additional features on the test model included 17-inch alloy wheels, a front and rear parking sonar, and Bilstein shocks.
Pricing for the 2012 Tundra 4x4 CrewMax with the 5.7-liter V8 starts at $34,630. The price as tested came to $40,841.
2012 Toyota Tundra 4x4 CrewMax
Engine: 5.7-liter i-FORCE V8
Torque: 400 lbs¬–¬ft.
Drivetrain: six-speed automatic with sequential shift
Fuel Economy: 13/17 mpg