Behind the Wheel

2020 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition Review: It's not modern, but it'll do

The Toyota Tundra is due for a redo, but it still has a lot to like if you're not too picky.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Americans buy millions of trucks every year. Even in the midst of a pandemic, folks are still buying trucks. In 2019, between all the various full-size truck models from Ford, Ram, GM, Nissan, and Toyota, U.S. customers bought nearly 2.5 million pickups — and that doesn't include all the smaller midsize models, which add another 600,000 to the truck total.

Nearly all of those truck sales are dominated by the big three of Ford, RAM, and GM, but there's a not insignificant niche carved out by Toyota as well. The endlessly-popular Tacoma is the best-selling midsize truck, and the full-size Toyota Tundra has a loyal and dedicated following.

2019 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition On the outside, the truck looks strong and capable - it is.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

I know a few Tundra owners who love their trucks just as passionately as Ford and Chevy owners do. I've driven most of the pickups on the market, but I haven't spent much time behind the wheel of Toyota's big truck — and I was curious to see what Toyota was doing to compete.

My test unit was the premium, Western-themed "1794 Edition" that honors the founding of the JLC Ranch in San Antonio, Texas on which Toyota now has a truck assembly plant. Unsurprisingly, it's the same plant that built this truck. 1794 is basically Toyota's version of Ford's King Ranch, only with less-impressive brand awareness.

The model weighed in at $55,199, including option-boxes ticked for the TRD Off-Road Package ($155), running boards ($345), moonroof ($850), and a spray-on bedliner ($579). All in, it's certainly not a cheap truck, but it's not crazy expensive either. The big three all have ultra-luxe truck trims that can run well-north of $70,000, so this was a very reasonable top-line truck.

It's also not nearly as well-appointed as those other trucks, but it's certainly nice enough. Inside, there is "1794" embellishment on the floor mats and the center console, plus wood trim on the steering wheel, dash, and gear shift.

2019 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition There are nods to the 1794 Edition throughout the cabin.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

It's very roomy, and things are laid out logically — which is a good thing considering how old the Tundra is. The interior was last redesigned the better half of a decade ago, and this generation of the truck is nearly old enough to enter high school. So, it's a bit old, but aging gracefully which, perhaps, shows why Tundra owners like it so much. They know what they're going to get.

One thing they'll get is a lot of stops at the pump. The 5.7-liter V8 is extremely thirsty, scoring just 14 mpg combined city and highway, though the engine itself is buttery smooth and capable. Pushing 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, you won't have any complaints as long as fuel prices stay around two dollars per gallon. If prices shoot back up north of $4, it might be another story.

The exterior is pleasing enough, with a giant big chrome grille on the front and special 1794 badging on the doors. The Tundra has aged well and was particularly striking in the brilliant Voodoo Blue coloring that my tester sported.

2019 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition The cabin is straight out of the middle of the last decade.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

The interior is solidly dated compared to the competition, but it's all functional enough. The 2020 edition of the Tundra gains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is enough to get me to ignore the massive "Home/Apps/Audio" buttons that surround the screen.

With the competition launching enormous 12-inch-plus touchscreens, I don't think Toyota will be able to wait too much longer before reworking this interior. In the middle console are numerous cupholders and storage cubbies, surrounding an enormous phallic shifter. There's a massive center storage bin under the armrest, which will come in handy for those using their truck as an office.

The rear seats have tremendous amounts of legroom, and the seats fold up to allow for more interior storage, though I wish the rear floor was totally flat to make loading Costco water bottles a little easier.

2019 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition The rear seats fold up allowing for more versatile cargo space.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

In the back, there's a truck bed. It's for putting stuff in. There's nothing elaborate here with in-bed lighting or fancy tailgates like the GMC Sierra has. It's just a truck bed, with a tailgate, that you can fill with things.

That's perhaps the best way to describe the Toyota Tundra. It's a pickup that allows you to haul things around. No fuss, no muss, nothing crazy. It gets you and your stuff from here to there, while slurping down massive amounts of fuel.

It's a Toyota. You know what you're getting. Enjoy it.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Toyota Mall of Georgia, one of AutoNation's dealerships, has raised money to support the caregivers at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Photo courtesy of AutoNation

You know the pink license plate brackets and the pink-leather jacket clad spokeswoman. All that pink is paying off. AutoNation announced that it has raised $25 million for cancer research and treatment through its Drive Pink (DRV PNK) Initiative. Drive Pink launched in 2015.

In 2020 alone, DRV PNK funds have been invested in seven major research projects through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. BRCF focuses their efforts in six different areas: tumor biology, treatment, survivorship, metastasis, lifestyle and prevention, and heredity and ethnicity.

"AutoNation has played a valuable role in enabling BCRF to be at the vanguard of every major breakthrough in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship," said Mrya Biblowit, BCRF President and CEO.

"Every October, we celebrate all that we have accomplished through DRV PNK" said Mike Jackson, AutoNation's Chairman and CEO. "This year, we've taken our mission to new levels, thanks to the incredible support of our Customers, our Associates and our partners."

As part of its DRV PNK efforts, AutoNation works to raise awareness of breast cancer. The company sponsored NTT Indycar Series drivers Jack Harvey, Alexander Rossi, and Marco Andretti who were behind the wheel of vehicles wearing pink liveries.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and AutoNation will be stepping up its efforts throughout the month. Expect to see ad campaigns reflecting such. The company's annual DRV PNK Across America Day by selecting local cancer treatment facilities to receive care bags for patients battling cancer.

For longtime AutoNation Associate and breast cancer survivor, Lisa Logan, DRV PNK is personal. "Sadly, just about everyone has been touched by cancer. I am so proud to work for a company that not only supported me throughout my journey, but that also supports such an important cause."

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The material Jaguar Land Rover is adding to its vehicle interiors is called Econyl.

Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

As automaker work toward more sustainable business practices, Jaguar Land Rover is working with Econyl nylon to develop high-quality interiors made from ocean and landfill waste. The automaker promises that next-generation Jaguar and Land Rover models will feature floor mats and trims made with Econyl fiber from recycled industrial plastic, fabric offcuts from clothing manufacturers, fishing nets from the farming industry, and those abandoned in the ocean– known as 'ghost nets'.

Econyl nylon was created by Aquafil. It's already been sued in the high-end fashion, sportswear, and luxury watch industries to create handbags, backpacks, swimwear, and watch straps. In one year, the company recycles as much as 40,000 tons of waste, making it in to the nylon. For every 10,000 tonnes of Econyl raw material produced, 70,000 barrels of crude oil are saved and 65,100 tons of carbon emissions equivalent are avoided.

Jaguar Land Rover Econyl interior Jaguar Land Rover has committed to including more sustainable materials in its interiors.Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

Turning to sustainable materials isn't a new idea. For years Ford has been incorporating all manner of materials into its vehicles including tomatoes, soy, and coffee chaff from McDonald's. General Motors recently showcased a breakdown of how recycled materials are used inside their automobiles.

Bentley's facility in Crewe, England is collecting rainwater for use in its office building allowing the company to not have to draw from the local water system.

Each year automakers release their sustainability report, which champions all the ways that the company is moving forward in its resources conservation plans. This year's GM report sets forth numerous goals. Among them, by 2030, 50 percent of the parts used in General Motors vehicles will be made with sustainable materials. Additionally, GM's Spring Hill plant in Tennessee will run solely on solar power by 2022.

FCA made big strides in 2019. Their 2020 sustainability report touted their 40 percent reduction in water use and 27 percent carbon footprint reduction per vehicle.

Jaguar Land Rover Econyl interior Photo courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover

This week Polestar announced that its Precept concept vehicle is headed into production. When the Precept debuted a few months ago, the company bragged about its sustainable interior.

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