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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The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder arrives on dealer lots this summer.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder doesn't have to be capable of rock crawling or deep water fording. What it has to do is service the needs of families in their daily life and give them the opportunity to competently go off-roading on rocky trails should they desire. The new, fifth-generation models does just that and adds in enough nifty features to make it among the most compelling choices for three-row SUV buyers.

The 2022 Pathfinder is thoroughly modern though not the boxy off-roader it once was. The SUV's styling harkens back to that time with a tilted, darkened C-pillar and a return to a more muscular body style. That styling makes straightforward visibility good but for shorter drivers seeing what is immediately in front of the grille is a challenge that necessitates using surround view camera technology (available only in upper trim levels) when navigating challenging terrain.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can easily handle the roads less traveled.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Under the hood is a 3.5-liter V6 that offers up 291 horsepower and torque - plenty to do the job without complaint. The SUV's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the continuously variable transmission (CVT) from the previous generation and delivers smooth shifts. Though low-end torque isn't as robust as I like it to be, once up over 35 mph, the Pathfinder's powertrain delivers smooth, powerful sailing.

The redesigned architecture and components underpinning the Pathfinder make it stable on the road and don't allow it to wallow on winding roads. Even off-road, the suspension provides the right blend of stability while the drive dynamics allowing the driver to feel engaged with their surroundings whether on freshly paved roads, city streets, or muddy trails.

Nissan has given the Pathfinder a 6,000-pound towing capacity and even when maxed out the engine's functionality is strong as ever. The transmission can get held up in a gear mid-range when performing this function, however, with 5,000-6,000 rpms registering on the tachometer but a quick release of the gas pedal recalibrates the offering bringing it down to a more traditional 2,000 rpm range.

The eight-seater Pathfinder clearly has the Toyota Highlander in its sights, with good reason. It's the top-selling three-row SUV in the country. Nissan boasts that three adults can fit across the rear bench seat of the Pathfinder and, as long as they're average size or smaller, the marketing talking point holds up. There is gobs more room back there than there is in the Highlander.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder Nissan has given the Pathfinder ample cargo space.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Getting in and out of the third row is easy thanks to one-touch buttons on the outboard side of the second-row chairs that move the SUV's captain's seats forward creating enough room to get through to the back. Smartly, Nissan's engineers have put duplicates of these buttons on the back side of the same seats allowing third-row passengers to simply press the button to move the seat up.

The third row can also be accessed via a split between the captain's chairs as well, a space traditionally occupied by a center stowage bin/cup holders/arm rest. Owners can quickly remove the center console by opening a panel on the front and pulling the release mechanism. The one-handed operation takes seconds and the console can be easily stored in the under-floor trunk space behind the third row seat for ease.

Speaking of cargo space... The Pathfinder is one of the most spacious midsize SUVs on the market today for both passengers and cargo. There is a substantial amount of room behind the third-row seat and the under-floor storage area is nearly twice the size of the one in the Highlander. Plus, it has a feature that allows the area cover to be automatically propped up when pushed up by a user. This is especially help when carrying groceries or plants home and keeps them from being crushed.

The first- and second-row seats are suitably comfortable, even for extended periods of time and standard trig-zone climate control makes finding the right in-cabin mix easy. Bottle holders in the pockets of the front doors are exceptionally large, fitting even bulky water bottles.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder's front row seats are comfortable.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

In front of the driver is a standard tachometer, speedometer, and 7.0-inch driver information display. Buyers can upgrade to a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and head-up display but they're not reason enough to upgrade to the top-tier Pathfinder Platinum on their own.

Nissan packs the new Pathfinder with a host of desirable features that make living with the Pathfinder easier including one-touch auto up/down windows, a wireless phone charger, grocery hooks in the rear cargo area, USB ports in all three rows, second-row sunshades, rear door keyless entry, wireless Apple CarPlay, and a motion-activated lift gate.

The 2022 Nissan Pathfinder is priced to start at $33,410 for the two-wheel drive S base model and $35,310 for the four-wheel drive S base model. The model tops out around $50,000 with destination and delivery included, which seems fair when comparing the Pathfinder to other vehicles in the market.

2022 Nissan Pathfinder The Pathfinder can tow up to 6,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

If you're thinking of purchasing a Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Honda Pilot, or Highlander, do yourself a favor and schedule a test drive of the new Pathfinder when it arrives at a dealer lot near you. You may just be surprised how seamlessly it fits into your daily life compared to the competition.

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New crossover

Toyota Announces 2022 Corolla Cross

The Corolla Cross is smaller than a RAV4.

Toyota

Almost a year ago, Toyota released yet another crossover, this time in Thailand, but it wasn't the release's location that made news. Toyota unveiled the new Corolla Cross, a crossover based on the automaker's legendarily dependable car bearing the same name. The rumor mill kicked into action, speculating on when the new vehicle would make its way to the U.S., and now we have our answer. Today, Toyota announced the 2022 Corolla Cross for the United States and released many key details on its features and configurations.

Toyota will offer the Corolla Cross in three trims: L, LE, and XLE. All three will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 169 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive by default, but all-wheel drive can be added to any trim level. The CVT has been configured with a physical first gear, which Toyota says improves driver engagement, but it should also help with off-the-line acceleration. The base L trim will ride on 17-inch steel wheels and the top XLE trim gets 18-inch alloys.


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross The Corolla Cross is less "out there" than the C-HR.Toyota


Though it will share a platform with the C-HR, the Corolla Cross will be slightly larger than the funky vehicle. It slots into the Toyota lineup between the quirky smaller crossover and the massively popular RAV4, giving the automaker yet another competitor in the crossover-crazed U.S. auto market.

The Corolla Cross will at least have some capability to back up its name. The vehicle will be able to tow up to 1,500 pounds, and when equipped with all-wheel drive it will offer a torque vectoring system. When needed, the system can send up to 50 percent of drive power to the rear wheels, but disengages when not in use. Beyond improving traction, the system helps conserve fuel, netting the Corolla Cross a 32-mpg combined rating with FWD and 30 combined mpg with AWD.


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Inside, the Cross looks quite a bit like the standard Corolla.Toyota


Inside, the Corolla Cross' front cabin area could easily be mistaken for that of its sedan counterpart. Screen placement and overall design are quite similar to that of the good old Corolla. Standard technology features for the Corolla Cross will include a 7.0-inch touchscreen that runs Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The LE and XLE models will get an eight-inch touchscreen and can be upgraded with an optional nine-speaker JBL sound system.

Toyota will include its Safety Sense suite of advanced driver aids with every Corolla Cross, which includes blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alerts for the base LE model. The XLE trim picks up front and rear parking assist with automatic braking.


2022 Toyota Corolla Cross Passenger space is a priority in the Corolla Cross.Toyota


The Corolla Cross doesn't have a set release date yet, but its 2022 model year is a good indication that we'll see more on the vehicle in a few months. Pricing details will become available as we approach the vehicle's on-sale date.

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