Road test: Toyota Tundra is one awesome hauler
THE Toyota Tundra can't help but make just about anyone feel small.
They don't come much bigger or brasher. Inside there is acres of space courtesy of a massive footprint, while a hairy-chested V8 lurks beneath the hulking skin.
Demand has been unprecedented for this behemoth. More than 20 of the $100,000-plus utes have already been sold and importer Performax International has a growing order list of 30.
Performax imports the utes (and others such as the Chevrolet Silverado, Camero and Ford Mustang) from the United States and then undertakes the conversion to right-hand drive.
Due to demand, the Gympie-based operation with dealerships in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth has put on a second production line. The conversions take about two-three weeks, but will get faster as the team becomes more familiar with the vehicle which has only been on the books since September.
Performax's Brett Loweke said the Tundra is the most complex conversion the team had undertaken, primarily due to the hefty wiring requirements.
Buyers have so far come from a wide cross-section, from grey nomads through to city dwellers wanting a hefty cruiser.
Yes, it's massive. Actually 5.82m long, 2.3m wide, 1.925 high and a wheelbase of 3.7m.
Despite those dimensions getting inside isn't a daunting a task courtesy of running boards and well-placed handles. The doors open wide too, at a near 90-degree angle.
Inside there's enough head and leg room to embarrass a limousine and five adults easily find enough space.
The finishes are a mix of Toyota toughness along with some nice luxuries.
There is a simplistic gauges design inside deep tubes, while the hard plastics on the dash, doors and console are broken up by wood-inspired inserts.
Finding your way around the cabin is easy, with well labelled buttons. Four main dials operate the dual zone air con, although reaching the fan control can be a stretch for the driver.
Big plush seats adorn the spacious cabin, they are typically American, flat but ultra cushy. The driver finds getting a position at the helm simple with electric adjustment of the steering wheel and seat.
On the road
This big ute can haul. There's a $220 speeding fine testament to that.
The husky 5.7-litre V8 does a stellar job, answering every prod of the right foot with smooth acceleration.
It won't throw your head back, but it never felt underpowered during our sojourn. Typically American in its performance, the ride is wallowy and soft, yet the Tundra feels extremely well planted.
The steering is light although direct. Parking can be a challenge due to a large turning circle, making the front and rear sensors a vital ally.
Switching to four-wheel drive is simply a case of turning a dial on the dash, where you can choose from two-wheel drive, four-high or four-low.
What do you get?
The variants can be customised, but standard kit includes cruise control, 20-inch alloys, Bluetooth phone connectivity, CD stereo with USB and iPod connectivity and 12 speakers, front and rear parking sensors, trip computer, along with the complete safety kit of six airbags, stability and traction control, trailer sway control and anti-lock brakes.
There really isn't much which combines the Tundra's cabin space, utility body and luxuries. Wagon options include the Toyota LandCrusier Sahara ($113,490), Nissan Patrol ($113,900) and Lexus LX570 ($140,400).
There are no official figures, but a mixture of highway and city driving should return about 16 litres for every 100km.
Servicing and spare parts should not be an issue, and can be accessed through most Toyota and Lexus dealerships.
It's backed by a four-year warranty and there is also 24-7 roadside assist for the same duration.
Insurance would be worth investigating, premiums would vary between companies.
You can load up the whole family along with all their goods and chattels, and even tow the kitchen sink.
Inside there is a massive centre console, about 30cm wide and equally deep with a brilliant centre tray for phones and CDs.
Those Yanks must be a thirsty lot. There are dual bottle holders along with a space for one cup in the console, the centre rear arm rest also has a pair, while every door also has twin bottle storage spots.
Braked towing capacity is four tonnes on this model, while the payload is just over 700kg.
Very few will miss you in this. The footprint is massive, the grille is big…it's a ute supersized.
They don't come much more imposing than the Toyota Tundra. On first introductions the driver feels every centimetre of its bulk, but gets some distance under your belt and the hefty ute is reasonably easy to navigate - even around the city.
It's also an attention grabber, and it's already generating interest from a wide buyer audience.
Our test saw some surprisingly good economy figures…no worse than some much smaller commercial offerings.
For those wanting heaps of space in the cabin and the tray, along with a sizable towing capacity, they don't come much better.
What matters most
The good stuff: Imposing road presence, not much else around in this size or towing capacity.
What we'd like to see: Diesel option - but that would come with a steeper retail price and upkeep.
Warranty and servicing: Four years, 120,000km warranty. Servicing is every 10,000km or six months.
Model: Performax International Toyota Tundra Crewmax.
Details: Four-door massively large four-wheel drive utility.
Engine: 5.7-litre V8 petrol generating maximum power of 280kW and peak torque of 543Nm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Consumption: 15 litres/100km (approximate average).
Towing: 4 tonnes, payload 705kg. Tow ball rating 400kg.
Bottom line: From $100,000. As tested $115,600.