Toyota rolled out the third generation of its San Antonio-built Tundra pickup line for 2014, taking these great trucks up a few notches in styling, technology, utility and drivability.
And even though there’s a wide range of models available, none shouts “Texas” quite as loudly as the Tundra 1794 Edition, a Western-themed version similar to the Ford F-series King Ranch and Chevrolet Silverado High Country models.
In the Tundra, this special version is offered only in the full-size CrewMax cab style, with a short cargo box (5-foot-5), and a choice of either rear- or four-wheel drive.
For this report, we tested the 2016 four-wheel-drive version, which has a base price of $49,080 (plus $1,195 freight). The two-wheel-drive version starts at $46,030.
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The 1794 Edition reflects the year of the founding of the ranch where Toyota built the San Antonio plant.
Among the 1794 Edition’s unique features are saddle-brown premium leather seats, with embossed-leather and suede accents; and a four-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood-grain accents.
The interior is as pleasant to sit in as it is beautiful. There are front bucket seats that seem more like fancy leather recliners; the back seat is as long as a leather couch, with plenty of room for up to three people. And there is a huge amount of rear knee- and legroom, even with the front seats moved back to accommodate larger people.
There is soft-touch trim material on the shift console, doors and instrument panel. A center console between the front seats has a tray on top to keep small electronics secure while driving, and there are three cupholders, along with USB, power and audio-input connections in front of the cupholders, with another area perfect for holding smartphones or an iPod.
Standard features include heated and ventilated front seats, Toyota’s Entune Premium JBL Audio with navigation, a 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory, a six-way power front passenger seat, a power tilt/slide sunroof with shade, and a power vertical rear window with privacy glass.
New for 2016, the Tundra Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition and TRD Pro models have a bigger fuel tank -- 38 gallons, up from 26.4 gallons for 2015. They also get a new integrated Trailer Brake Control system.
There is an upgraded Toyota Entune Multimedia system for 2016. Platinum and 1794 Edition models have the Entune Premium JBL Audio system with In-Vehicle Navigation and App Suite. It’s 85 percent faster, thanks to new dual core processors.
And iPhone users can now charge their phones with the provided USB port while using the Entune App Suite at the same time, Toyota says. App Suite adds Slacker Radio and replaces Bing with Destination Search for 2016.
Other features found on the 1974 Edition include dual-zone automatic climate control with separate settings for the driver and front passenger; an auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and universal garage/gate opener; and a 60/40 split-fold-up rear seat, which allows for creation of an enclosed cargo area when the seat isn’t needed for passengers.
As nice as the interior looks, the outside may be even more appealing. Our tester came with the Our test vehicle came with the Sunset Bronze Mica exterior color, and included such extra touches as 20-inch chrome wheels ($220) and running boards ($345).
Included are heated/power outside mirrors with built-in turn signals, and separate, smaller manually adjustable convex mirror strips at the bottom to show traffic in the adjacent lanes.
There is also a locking tailgate, along with a deck-rail system for tying down cargo.
Cockpit features include a power tilt/telescopic steering wheel, as well as front and rear sonar parking aids, which warned whenever the vehicle was approaching an obstacle such as a pole or another vehicle.
A backup camera system was included, with the image showing up on the seven-inch dash monitor for the audio/navigation system. Also standard on the 1794 Edition are a Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Power came from the top engine available in the Tundra, a 5.7-liter V-8 with a hefty 381 horsepower and 401 foot-pounds of torque. It’s connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, which shifted smoothly just when it needed to.
The part-time four-wheel drive is controlled by a rotary switch on the dash to the right of the steering column, and has four-wheel-drive high and low-range modes for serious off-road driving. We never took ours off road, but the four-wheel drive was handy during a few rainy days we encountered during our test drive.
Standard safety features on all Tundra models include electronic stability control with traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, and Toyota’s new Smart Stop accelerator-override technology.
There are eight air bags, including front seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side-curtain bags, and driver and front passenger knee bags.
Other standard features included trailer-sway control, tire-pressure monitoring and LED daytime running lights (Platinum and 1794 Edition models only). The 1794 Edition can tow trailers weighting up to 9,900 pounds with two-wheel drive, and 9,000 pounds with four-wheel drive.
This newest generation of the Tundra was designed in Toyota’s California studio, and engineering work was done at the automaker’s technical center in Michigan, part of the company’s efforts to make sure it fits the American pickup market and can compete with the likes of the F-150, Silverado, Sierra and Ram.
For 2016, six trim levels are offered, beginning with the base SR, followed by the SR5, which is the brand’s sales leader, then the Limited, Platinum and 1794 Editions, and two off-road oriented TRD models, available in Double and Crew Cab versions, and only with four-wheel drive.
Prices are identical on the Platinum and 1794 models; the Platinum has most of the same features except for the Western theme.
The TRD models are $42,970 for the Double Cab version, and $45,585 for the Crew Cab.
Tundra comes in three cab sizes – the Regular Cab, with two doors and no back seat (2016 base price $29,450); the Double Cab (base price $28,640), with four doors and a three-person rear bench seat; and the CrewMax (base price $32,770), also with four doors and an even-roomier back seat.
The Crew Max is intended primarily for delivering a five-person crew and a load of supplies to a work site, or for accommodating a family.
With the second-generation makeover, the Tundra got a new front end with redesigned grille integrated into the hood. There are three-piece lower bumpers, and fenders and wheel wells have been squared off for a wider and sturdier stance. The changes were mostly intended to make the vehicle look tougher and more masculine.
Besides the short bed, standard (6.5 feet) and long (8 feet) cargo bed lengths are available, depending on the model. The new bed design continues the chiseled look, and there is a redesigned tailgate with integrated spoiler.
The base engine is a 4.0-liter V-6, standard on Regular and Double Cab models. It’s rated at 270 horsepower and 278 foot-pounds of torque, and connects to a five-speed automatic transmission.
In the middle is a 4.6-liter V-8, with 310 horsepower and 327 foot-pounds of torque, and it comes with a six-speed automatic.
Leather interiors begin with the Limited models, with the grade of the leather improving as the price tags and trim levels rise.
Standard on SR and SR5 models are 18-inch styled-steel wheels. The other models get 20-inch alloy wheels, with options like our 1794’s chrome wheels available. Wheel designs vary with the specific model.
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2016 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 1794 Edition
The package: Premium full-size, five-passenger, four-door, rear- or four-wheel-drive, V-8 powered, light-duty pickup truck.
Highlights: This is one of the two fanciest models of the new, second-generation Toyota full-size pickup. Its name comes from the date of the founding of the ranch upon which sits the San Antonio Toyota plant that makes the Tundra. The truck was all-new for 2014, and is wider and more muscular than before, with a wide range of new features and options, including new safety and connectivity technologies.
Negatives: Poor fuel economy.
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic.
Power/torque: 381 HP./401 foot-pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Length: 228.9 inches (with 5-foot-5 cargo box).
Curb weight: 5,480-5,860 pounds.
Cargo capacity (payload): 1,255-1,550 pounds.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted; side-curtain both rows.
Towing capacity: 9,900 pounds (2WD); 9,000 pounds (4WD).
EPA fuel economy: 13 mpg city/18 highway/15 combined (2WD); 13/17/15 (4WD).
Fuel capacity/type: 38 gallons/regular unleaded.
Base prices (CrewMax 1794 Edition): $46,030, plus $1,195 freight (2WD); $49,080 (4WD).
Price as tested: $50,840, including freight and options (2016 Tundra 1794 Edition 4WD).
Major competitors: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country Crew Cab, GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Crew Cab, Ford F-150 King Ranch SuperCrew, Ram 1500 Longhorn Crew Cab.
On the Road rating: 9.3 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer’s suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.