By Peter Perrotta
When you review cars and trucks week in and week out, most passengers who hop in your test vehicle want to immediately know what you think of the particular vehicle you are driving that week.
My wife, on the other hand, isn’t shy about offering her opinion immediately upon stepping into one of my test vehicles before even hearing what I think.
The 2021 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro pickup I recently drove for one week was simply too high off the ground – with no step-in rail or running boards to assist – for her liking. She found it too hard to get into and out of easily. Point understood. However, for me, I didn’t see it as a problem.
My boss, on the other hand, stepped into the Tundra and asked me immediately what I thought of it.
Quite frankly, I like the ride and the power of the Tundra pickup – featuring a massive 5.7 liter, V8 engine that puts out an impressive 381 horsepower – however, the interior ergonomics and design are rather “Plain Jane” in dire need of a more modern makeover.
When I brought this to the attention of my boss, I found his response to be rather interesting. He looked around at the basic looking dash board design of the Tundra and said, “Well, you know sometimes people like that basic, not too cluttered design.”
Another point well taken.
If you are into minimalism, then this 2021 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is for you.
The exterior design of the Tundra TRD Pro isn’t outdated looking. In fact, I found it to be rather attractive – outfitted with a slightly lifted, rugged, off-road appearance.
But, the inside design and look will not overwhelm you, especially when you compare it to the snazzy, more modern looking pickup competitors in its class like the Dodge Ram 1500, the Ford F-150 or the Chevrolet Silverado.
I suspect that folks at Toyota will be introducing a freshened up looking Tundra in the near future.
But, for now, it is what it is.
Like all pickup models there are numerous different configurations you can get the Tundra in. However, new for 2021 was a new Lunar Rock color for the TRD Pro model; a new Tundra Trail Special Edition and a new Tundra Nightshade Special Edition.
I found the new Lunar Rock color to be just ok. It didn’t blow me away or anything like that. Instead of a metallic paint, the Lunar Rock – which actually does resemble the color of moon rocks – has a flat almost matte finish to it.
One observer remarked to me that the Lunar Rock almost looked like primer paint.
The base price of the 2021 Tundra TRD Pro (double cab) is $48,775. My tester was outfitted with no additional options except for the $1,595 destination and delivery charge that was tacked on bringing the bottom line sticker price to $50,370.
The TRD Pro model comes with a lot of standard equipment, including what Toyota calls the Unique TRD Pro Content package which includes: forged aluminum 18-inch TRD wheels; TRD tuned Fox shocks; dual exhaust and front skid plate and black trimmed front bucket seats with red stitching.
As far as fuel economy goes, this Tundra is not all that eco-friendly.
The EPA estimates that the Tundra gets an unimpressive 14 miles per gallon on average – 17 miles per gallon in highway driving and 13 in city driving.
The annual estimated fuel cost to run this Tundra for one year comes in at a pretty hefty $2,900 as it uses about 7.1 gallons of gas for every 100 miles driven.
The overall crash test rating on the government’s five star safety test comes in at a 4. The Tundra received 4 stars for the frontal crash test for both driver and passenger. It got 5 stars for the side crash test for both front and rear seat and 4 stars for the rollover test.
The editors at Car and Driver gave the Tundra high marks for its “desirable standard features.” They also noted that the crew cab model back seat was “huge” and that it featured legitimate “trail ready” options.
Car and Driver gave the Tundra low marks for not being fuel efficient, subpar interior quality and having a clumsy on-road demeanor.
I agree with two of the three low marks Car and Driver offered up. I didn’t find the Tundra to be clumsy at all in the handling department.
In fact, I think the Tundra’s ride, comfort and handling capabilities stack up quite nicely when you compare it to the Ram, F-150 or Silverado.
There is a lot to consider when shopping for a pickup and while the Tundra is not a sales leader, by any means, in its category there are some very strong points to this vehicle which should make it a serious contender for anyone looking to buy or lease a vehicle in this class.
Peter Perrotta’s On The Road column appears weekly. For comments or questions he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.