By Steve & Tamami Laser
Looking for a Father’s Day gift? Instead of wandering through the mall or losing sleep surfing the web, we have a suggestion: Go to your Toyota dealer and drive home a 2015 Tundra TRD Pro for your pop. Of course, the whole family may have to chip in as this big brute would consume most of your allowance for the next few years. However, if your dad loves trucks – especially tall-riding, off-roading Toyota trucks – this one has all the right stuff to make him a very happy camper.
The new Tundra TRD Pro is designed for those seeking a custom look and improved off-road credentials right out of the box. It’s dressed with factory engineered components backed by Toyota’s new car limited warranty. In other words, Toyota and its TRD Division have done all the heavy lifting so your dad (or your mom, ‘bro or sis) can just hop in and drive to the desert, the mountains or the edge of civilization for Father’s Day.
Before recommending the Tundra as our Father’s Day truck of the year, we put it through its paces during a week-long test drive. While we didn’t have a chance for extreme off-road driving, it passed all our tests with flying colors in terms of its sophisticated V8 powertrain, solid performance, refinement throughout, safety features and built-in cargo hauling and towing capabilities. We also liked the rumbly soundtrack generated by the TRD performance exhaust.
Toyota’s new TRD Pro Series is the most-advanced yet in a long line of TRD packages for Toyota trucks that goes all the way back to 1998 when the first Off-Road package was introduced for the midsize Tacoma. TRD, short for Toyota Racing Development, has been an in-house engine and chassis developer for Toyota’s racing activities across the globe for nearly four decades. It also develops motorsport-derived accessories for Toyota, Lexus and Scion cars and trucks.
Toyota says the new factory-installed TRD Pro Series is aimed squarely at extreme off-roading enthusiasts who push their trucks and SUVs to the limit. If your dad or better half wants something a little smaller, the TRD Pro Series is also offered on 4×4 models of the Toyota Tacoma and 4Runner this year.
The Tundra TRD Pro and its siblings are fitted with TRD Bilstein shocks with remote reservoirs, TRD-tuned front springs, front skid plate, a unique front grille with huge “TOYOTA” badge (it pays homage to earlier Toyota models), TRD floor mats, shift knob and wheels.
The Tundra adds TRD-tuned springs with two-inch lift for the front, decreased spring rate to improve ride quality over harsh terrain, black 18-inch alloy wheels with Michelin 275/65-R18 ORP tires, TRD dual exhaust system, TRD PRO quarter panel bed stamping, unique interior seat color with red stitching and an instrument panel insert.
To test our theory on whether this new Tundra model is a dad magnet, as soon as we parked at the hardware store to pick up some flashlights, a couple of dads got out of their work truck and came over to chat.
“Did you trick out this truck by yourself?” asked the dark-haired dad. When we told him it’s a new Tundra model that comes fully equipped from the factory he was impressed. “So you mean I could buy one just like this, even with the orange paint and big rims?” asked the gray-haired dad. We said the new Inferno paint color is exclusive to the TRD Pro and suggested he visit his Toyota dealer to check it out.
Our tester was the Tundra TRD Pro CrewMax that sports four full-size doors and a 5.5-foot bed length. Those who want a longer bed with a little less space for the second row can opt for the Double Cab and its 6.5-foot bed. An 8.1-foot bed is available on other Tundra models.
While the tall-in-the-saddle ride height and big wheels make it look like the ride might be bumpy, we were amazed by the remarkably smooth suspension control wherever we went. The TRD-tuned Bilstein high performance shocks have ZoneControl three-stage positive valve design that’s sensitive to suspension input while their increased size adds oil capacity for better heat management and increased control of cavitation. Meanwhile the two-inch front lift has decreased spring rates to improve the ride quality over harsh terrain.
Our tester was equipped with the larger of Tundra’s two available V8 engines. The 5.7-liter I-FORCE V8 has an aluminum block with 32-valves and kicks out 381-horsepower and 401 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s teamed with a 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential Shift. The standard 4WDemand part-time system includes an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case.
Tundra’s Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) system integrates traction control (TRAC) to enhance grip on or off-road. The Automatic Limited-Slip Differential is designed to provide better performance in deep sand or mud and on mixed-friction surfaces. Compared to a conventional mechanical limited slip differential, the Auto-LSD system is said to be more responsive and has better wear characteristics since it utilizes the vehicles brakes to limit wheelspin.
The driver can control all this high-tech splendor via a mode selector. In normal mode, VSC, TRAC and Auto-LSD all function to help enable traction and control capability. TRAC Off and Auto-LSD modes activate Auto-LSD to help extricate the Tundra from extreme conditions by allowing full, unrestricted engine output and transferring power to the wheel with the most traction. The VSC Off mode turns off all three of these systems.
The on-demand, electronically controlled four-wheel drive system employs a six-pinion planetary reduction gear set to provide 4×2, 4×4 Hi and 4×4 Lo ranges. The driver selects the drive mode using a dial on the dash. Included with the 4WDemand system is Active Traction Control (A-TRAC), which operates like Auto-LSD, except it allows full, unrestricted engine output and transfers power to the wheel with the most traction for both the front and rear axles.
Our tester was also equipped with a Tow Package including a 4.30 rear axle ratio, hitch receiver integrated into the frame, an engine and transmission oil cooler, Tow/Haul Mode switch, heavy-duty battery and 170-amp alternator, 4 and 7-pin connector and Trailer Sway Control. Toyota says maximum towing capacity is 9,800 pounds. We also recommend reading the owner’s manual for important notes regarding GVWR and GCWR before towing.
Inside the cab, the Tundra TRD Pro is a comfortable place to conduct business for the driver and four passengers whether it’s crossing the desert or the parking lot at the ski lodge.
Front seats are comfortable, supportive and good-looking trimmed with special TRD Pro fabric. The driver gets a 10-way power seat while the front passenger seat adjusts four ways. A huge center console between the seats is so big that we stashed our jackets and a pair of hats in there while taking pictures and videos for this story.
The 60/40-split rear seats are covered with matching fabric and fold up and out-of-the-way so big and tall cargo can be transported securely inside the cab. Our truck was also fitted with a power rear window that really surprised our passengers when we lowered it while stopped at a drive-through restaurant.
Toyota’s Entune Premium Audio with navigation is standard on the TRD Pro including the Entune App Suite. Using a paired compatible smartphone, the driver can access apps through the truck’s touchscreen including Bing™, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, Open Table ®, Pandora®, Yelp and Facebook Places, and real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports, and stocks.
Tundra’s standard Toyota Star Safety System™ includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop (SST) brake override technology. Eight standard airbags include front seat-mounted side airbags, front and rear Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags (RSCA), driver and front outboard passenger airbags with an Advanced Airbag System, and driver and front passenger knee airbags.
Lots of other goodies are standard on the Tundra TRD Pro including an easy lower tailgate, cargo bed deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats, rear backup camera, manual headlight level control, remote keyless entry and alarm with engine immobilizer. With a base price of $43,900 our tester with options and delivery checked in with a bottom line of $45,045.
If that exceeds your Father’s Day budget, or if your dad isn’t into off-road driving yet he needs a full-size truck, keep in mind that Tundra prices start at $28,510 for the base 4×2 Double Cab SR5 with a 4.6-liter V8 engine. All Tundra models are equipped with V8s for 2015. Actually, the Tundra would make a nice gift for just about anyone on your shopping list.
Tundra TRD Pro press fleet vehicle provided by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. All information including prices, features and specifications is subject to change without notice by the automaker.)
Story, photos and videos ©2015 CarNichiWa.com