The current-generation Toyota Tundra debuted back in 2007, with a few updates here and there over the years. The truck itself might be ancient in car years, but the 2019 Tundra TRD Pro gets a heavy update after being dropped from the lineup in the 2018 model year. The design hasn't changed much, but Toyota has put its money where it matters on this truck.
Fox racing shocks now provide damping on all four corners. The rear shocks are paired with reservoirs to hold additional oil volume, supporting higher temperatures in extreme use. Then TRD springs are paired with the Fox shocks to give the truck a two-inch lift — beefier leaf springs are used out back. All-in, this gives the truck 1.5 inches more wheel travel up front and just over 2 inches in back compared to the previous TRD Pro. What do you do with all the extra suspension? Well, hit some rough roads and get dirty.
Before we even got to the rutted dirt roads and "scenic" Michigan countryside, the TRD Pro suspension revealed one of its pluses: a cushioned ride in everyday driving. The big tires — 275/65R18s — and Fox shocks provide an impressive amount of insulation from our potholed roads, rolling over the worst of it without ever becoming uncomfortable.
When I turned onto dirt roads, the Tundra continued to exhibit the same soft-for-a-truck ride. It's great fun to kick the rear end out and slide about on loose surfaces while listening to the soundtrack of the Tundra's 5.7-liter V8. Toyota makes the TRD dual exhaust standard on the TRD Pro, and it's the perfect addition to this truck's personality. I just expect it to sound mean and guttural after looking at it, and the TRD Pro does not disappoint.
Using the 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque to blast through deep mud is an absolute blast — though the 13.7 mpg I returned, well, that was not. I sent it into some intimidating-looking spots that looked reserved for heavy-duty tractor equipment, and the Tundra just plowed through as though nothing was even there. Clearly, I hadn't come close to reaching the limits of this truck's capabilities. Toyota says the rubber that comes stock on the TRD Pro is all-terrain-rated, but we think it looks a little meek compared to the setup on trucks like the Ford F-150 Raptor and Chevy Colorado ZR2. That said, those trucks are designed to handle a bit more than what this Toyota is meant to do.
Blasting around dirt and pockmarked roads is fun, but it's difficult to ignore the dated interior, lack of features and absolutely atrocious fuel economy, all valid reasons to pass on the Tundra. Anything from Ford, GM or Ram is going to look and feel 10 years newer inside, and have basic features this truck lacks like automatic climate control, heated seats and a modern infotainment system. Those issues are especially difficult to swallow at the truck's $52,474 price point. Hard plastics rule the interior, but there are some cool TRD features like red accents and TRD logos splashed about. You may not take issue with what Toyota is working with on the 2019 Tundra if you never saw the competition, but we don't live in a vacuum, and Toyota has some catching up to do.
You could call this truck honest and simple, and maybe you could find some romance and refreshment in the pared-down experience, but Toyota needs to price it to reflect the truck's limitations. Until then, this truck will most likely be limited to the garages of off-road Toyota enthusiasts, instead of biting into Raptor, Rebel and Trail Boss sales. If Toyota got its act together and gave this truck an interior as impressive as the badass metal on the outside, it'd have a winner on its hands.