Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2016 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR 5.7L 4x4

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

Chuck Norris – for those who dare to pretend they don’t know who he is – is a former U.S. Air Force serviceman, martial arts expert and star of such screen masterpieces as The Delta Force and Walker, Texas Ranger. He is also known as the most fearsome and toughest badass the world has ever seen if the prolific Internet meme featuring Chuck Norris is to be believed.

The Toyota Tundra is the Chuck Norris of the truck world. It’s like Truck Norris.

When the Boogeyman goes to bed, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

The Toyota Tundra is the Chuck Norris of the truck world. It’s like Truck Norris.

Cornball? Sure. A bold claim? Perhaps, but consider the now 70-year old Mr. Norris (the human one, not the truck one) does not cast quite the imposing shadow of, say, The Rock or even Tom Hardy, but he has proven to be one tough dude over decades of films. Likewise, Toyota’s Tundra looks and feels pretty old compared to a new F-150, Ram or Silverado. Toyota doesn’t offer a giant 1-ton dually format powered by a locomotive’s diesel engine for the Tundra either. Instead, its 5.7L i-FORCE V8 starts up with a gruff roar not found in the turbocharged competitors’ mills displacing two-thirds the size of the Toyota’s engine.

Truck Norris’s torque pulls out a whole forest by the roots, not just a stump.

The Tundra has been around. It’s seen some stuff. Bad stuff. Hard stuff. And it’s survived it all. That’s what’s so appealing about this thing – it always reminds the driver that it’s a real truck. It’s big, it’s not particularly quiet (especially the road noise from the all-terrain Michelins) and it doesn’t try to coddle its occupants needlessly, especially in this SR5 trim.

This here is Truck Norris, and it’s not here to mind its manners. It’s is here to work and it’s going to keep on working until the job is done. And the next job. And the ones after that for decades to come as long as you give it basic maintenance, and fuel it up regularly. And regularly you will. We saw an average of 15.3 L/100 km during a week of mixed city and highway driving (the government figures on 16.3 L/100 km combined for this rig).

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Fuel efficiency figures a little higher than the turbo V6 competitors doesn’t scare Truck Norris – that’s the price that comes with a proper V8 bellow and an impressively smooth engine. 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque may not be the top of the class, but mated to its six-speed automatic (no silly 8, 9 or 10-speeds are needed here) it all just works and never feels wanting for power. Car and Driver got their Tundra to 96 km/h from a standstill in 6.4 seconds, which is not too shabby for a utility vehicle that can also kick up some dirt. 

We loaded the Tundra up with as many heavy house furnishings as we could fit in the 6.5-foot box and noticed no difference in its willingness to get up and go. Toyota rates the Tundra Double Cab 4x4’s towing capacity at 4,490 kg and payload at 645 kg. A Trailer Brake Controller and Trailer Sway Control are standard fare even at this trim level.

If Truck Norris accelerates hard in four-wheel-drive clockwise, it slows the earth’s rotation.

The Tundra makes no apologies for a stiff ride and considerable road noise – and why would it? With the TRD Offroad Package comes a set of Bilstein Shock Absorbers front and rear and a host of skid plates making Truck Norris even more capable at punching dirt in the face than lesser-equipped trucks. While no match for a jacked up rig with a set of true off-road tires, this truck nevertheless acquits itself confidently in most reasonable off-road scenarios.

On road, stiff ride notwithstanding, the Tundra’s steering is slow, but in keeping with what’s expected of full size pick-up trucks. What’s unexpected is how communicative it is, relaying the relative squirm and squishiness of the all-terrain tires on the tarmac. Unlike the Tundra’s little Tacoma brother with its rear drum brakes, the bigger truck uses four-wheel ventilated discs that provide good, even stopping power.

Truck Norris’s Inferno Orange Paint is so bright; it makes the sun wear shades.

The TRD Offroad package adds some good looking black-and-brushed aluminum 18-inch wheels and fog lamps and the big toothy chrome grille, not to mention the TRD decals along the rear flanks. More importantly, this package also adds Toyota’s useful Bed Rail System with a set of four tie-down cleats.

When a 787 Dreamliner needs a jumpstart, Boeing calls Truck Norris.

Inside the Tundra, there’s certainly nothing fancy going on. You want satellite navigation? Go get your mommy’s minivan. Automatic climate control? A sunroof to let your hair blow? Supple leather seats or steering wheel trim? Not in this truck, bub. There’s none of it, though in fairness, those items are all available on upper trim level Tundras. Strangely, the TRD Offroad package does add a mirror with a compass and Homelink connectivity.

Not unlike Chuck Norris’s all-denim get-up, the Tundra’s fashion sense inside the cabin is practical and durable, if dated. Primary controls for climate are massive and simple to use. Plus the heater unit in this truck could broil a chicken in fifteen minutes. If you’d like toasted buns to go with it, the seat heater buttons are hidden at the bottom of the centre stack and virtually impossible to find without a lengthy search even after you’ve been shown previously where they reside. The Bongiovi Acoustics Power Station stereo pumps out some healthy bass to complement the hairy-chested induction roar that enters the cabin under acceleration.

Truck Norris doesn’t have A-, B- and C-pillars; it has bridge girders to support its roof.

Outward visibility is surprisingly limited due largely to the extremely wide B-pillars. The door-mounted mirrors are roughly the size of elephant ears, but provide a great rearward vantage and cause surprisingly little wind noise.

While not the massive CrewMax cab, the Tundra’s DoubleCab here provides adequate space to accommodate adults, three-abreast, in the back seat. With the exception of pick-up truck buyers regularly chauffeuring around point guards, the DoubleCab should be ample for most passenger duties. All the seats are decently supportive and comfortable.

During natural disasters, the back seat in Truck Norris is spacious enough to safely house every Texan.

There’s a lot to like about Toyota’s Tundra, especially for buyers looking for long-term peace of mind in a truck that puts hard work ahead of showing off. Just as Chuck Norris portrays an enduring, no-nonsense toughness, so too does his vehicular equivalent that’s particularly enticing when there’s some serious business to be taken care of.

3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/100,000 km powertrain; 5 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 3 years/60,000 km roadside assistance

Chevrolet Silverado
Ford F-150
GMC Sierra
Nissan Titan
Ram 1500

Model Tested 2016 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR 5.7L 4x4
Base Price $39,120
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,730
Price as Tested $47,910
Optional Equipment
TRD Offroad Package (key features include: Front Bucket Seats with power-operated driver’s seat and heated feature; Console Mounted Shift Lever and Storage Box; Fuel Tank Protector Plates; Telescoping Steering; Bilstein Shock Absorbers; 18-inch Offroad Aluminum Alloy Wheels; Power Windows; Keyless Entry; Rear Privacy Glass, Power Sliding Rear Window; Clearance and Backup Sensors; Bed Rail System; Tie-down Cleats; Theft Deterrent System; Fog Lamps), $6,960