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The 2002 Toyota Tundra is exceptionally quiet and smooth for a pickup truck.

2002 Toyota Tundra Road Test
Payload and power -- yet very quiet

By Bill Roebuck

Many truck enthusiasts may not think that a Toyota could rank with the full-size pickup heavyweights from GMC, Ford and Dodge, but its new Tundra ranks right up there with the big boys in both payload and power.

The first thing you'll notice if you drive a Tundra is the exceptionally smooth, very quiet ride. It's the quietest pickup I've ever tested. Its ride is like a luxury SUV, not a cargo-hauling, high-capacity, half-ton pickup.

The front passenger seating is very comfortable, especially for a bench seat. The rear bench splits 60/40 and folds forward. The rear seatback forces you into an uncomfortable upright position, however.

The instruments and controls raised no complaints, being both clear to read and easy to use.
Like its competitors, the Tundra comes in V6 and V8 models, in regular and extended cab versions, with two- or four-wheel drive transfer cases. One drawback of the extended Access Cab model is that the rear doors are hinged at the back and require the front doors to be opened first before they are released. However, they open wide and access is good.

The V6 is a 3.4-litre unit producing 190 hp and 220 lb-ft of torque at 3,600 rpm. An optional V8 generates 245 hp and a generous 315 lb-ft of torque at 3,400 rpm. Both are smooth-operating double overhead cam designs. The V8 I tested was quick and responsive.

Towing capacity can be as much as 7,200 lb, almost matching the Dodge Ram. Its payload capacity is up to 1900 lb, depending on the configuration, more than the Ram offers. The Tundra's capabilities in the cargo-hauling category are similar to its competitors, although the Big Three offer larger V8 options for applications where more torque and horsepower are required.

If you like the control of a standard transmission, you'll have to look elsewhere, as the Tundra comes standard with a four-speed automatic. However, it's smooth shifting for those who don't want to think about gearing. A floor-shifter is used to engage the part-time four-wheel drive system on models so equipped.

The short box is 6.4-ft long and the extended is 8 ft, as to be expected in this pickup category. There are four tie-down hooks in the box, but they are recessed and awkward to get rope through easily.

Prices range from $23,915 to over $40,000, depending on the configuration, which is reasonable for a vehicle you'd be happy to use for a comfortable weekend drive with the family and that also has the capabilities to tackle tough hauling jobs at work through the week.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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