2012 Toyota Tundra Review

We put the 2012 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5 4X4 to the test

They like things big in the state of Texas, so it makes perfect sense for Toyota to build their full-size pick-up truck there. Sales surged initially, as the Tundra offered big rig looks and prodigious power from its 5.7-litre V8. However, much like its rival the Nissan Titan, demand cooled for the truck as the price of gasoline began to rise to unheard of levels. Unlike Nissan, Toyota was quick to react, and in short order they were able to introduce a smaller and  more fuel-efficient 4.6-litre V8 to the build sheet to help reinvigorate sales.

2012 Toyota Tundra Review

Styling

I have always liked the look of the Toyota Tundra as its huge grille and swollen body make it look like a giant, ready to conquer whatever may get in its path. However, I am not as smitten with the side profile of the Tundra in Double Cab form. The odd 3/4 rear side window detracts from the trucks fluid lines and seems very awkward and out of place. It does however make the truck look less heavy than the CrewMax model, but judging by which model I see most often on the road, the typical truck buyer seems to prefer the larger cabin afforded by the CrewMax.

Interior

Once I clambered up into the driver’s seat I was surprised by how simple the layout was. A very compact instrument cluster comprised of five circular gauges is joined by limited switchgear and four glove-friendly dials (HVAC and transfer case controls). The look is uncluttered and precise, in a manner perfected by Toyota’s efficiency experts, and fit-and-finish is exceptional for a vehicle in this category.

Front cabin

The front seats seem to sit higher than those in most trucks, but this helps the driver get a better look over the huge hood that sprouts forward in intimidating fashion. Visibility isn’t great, and I am relatively tall (6’2″), but the truck’s side mirrors are excellent. The odd design of the rear side windows allows for an extra-wide pillar at the rear of the cabin, and the blind-spot it creates is hard to overcome.

As roomy as I found the front seating area, it did feel a bit more snug than that of other full-size offerings in this category. The seats however, were well-bolstered and proved comfortable enough for extended travel. Shorter individuals may find some of the controls hard to reach, but this is a large vehicle after all.

Visibility isn’t great, and I am relatively tall (6’2″), but the truck’s side mirrors are excellent.

Rear passengers

The rear passenger compartment seats three individuals, but due to the short width of the side doors and reduced space for both legs and feet, it is best reserved for children, teenagers, and smaller adults. The seats can be folded up against the back wall of the cab to allow you to carry larger items in this compartment. Unfortunately, there is a shallow, lidded, floor-mounted cargo compartment residing under the seat cushions which robs the user of the opportunity to create a flat floor for cargo.

2012 Toyota Tundra ReviewStorage

There is no need for clutter in a Tundra as you will find two glove boxes and a plethora of storage bins and recesses distributed throughout the cabin. Not to mention, an abundance of extra-large cup-holders.

Tundra Models

There are three different cab configurations available including Regular Cab, Double Cab, or the CrewMax model. There are also three bed lengths available ranging from the standard (6’5″), long (8’1″) and short (5’5′). A 4.6-litre V8 is available in Double Cab configuration, while a 5.7-litre V8 is available in Regular, Double Cab and CrewMax configuration. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, and both can be ordered with two- or four-wheel drive drivetrains.

My Double Cab unit was fitted with the standard 6.5-ft bed, but a long bed option is available if you upgrade to the 5.7-litre engine.

A 4.6-litre V8 is available in Double Cab configuration, while a 5.7-litre V8 is available in Regular, Double Cab and CrewMax configuration.

Under the hood

My test vehicle featured the smaller of Toyota’s V8 offerings under the hood, that being the 4.6-litre i-FORCE V8. This engine was introduced to help attract more buyers to the Toyota fold, as the thirst of the big 5.7-litre engine that was initially the sole source of motivation for the Tundra was turning some customers away. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Toyota’s product planners have chosen to only offer this engine to buyers of  the two Double Cab offerings.

2012 Toyota Tundra Review

Driving Impressions

I found the power plant to be a smooth operator during my time with the truck, and I must admit I was quite surprised to see the relatively low power rating of this engine (310-hp / 327 lb.-ft.) after spending some time behind the wheel. Mind you I didn’t have an opportunity to load the truck up with either cargo or a full complement of passengers, but as a daily driver I found it to offer spritely performance and brisk acceleration. The six-speed transmission was the perfect match to this engine, whether shuttling away from an intersection or cruising on the highway.

I also came away impressed with how well the truck’s cabin seemed to be insulated from both engine and road noise.

Handling proved very predictable and precise, with only the hint of a slight tail wag under acceleration one slippery morning. This is to be expected in most pick-up trucks when operating without a load in the cargo box, but I was surprised that the brand new winter tires on my test truck were that willing to break free. Other than this rare flap, the Tundra Double Cab delivered a driving and ride experience so refined, that at times, it was easy to forget that I was driving such a large truck. That is of course, until I needed to navigate this monster through Vancouver traffic or find a suitable place to park. Surprisingly, while searching for parking, I discovered that  the turning radius of the Tundra Double Cab proved tight enough to make it a livable option for those urban dwellers seeking the kind of utility one only finds in a full-size pickup truck.

Handling proved very predictable and precise, with only the hint of a slight tail wag under acceleration one slippery morning.

Takeaway

As much as I enjoyed my time with this truck, the reality is that if you plan to do any serious hauling, you will want the longer cargo box and the extra grunt offered by the larger power plant. If a you plan to haul items like bags full of damp hockey gear, a pile of downhill mountain bikes, or the occasional load from the landscape supply store, then the 4.6-litre will more than suffice, and you will save a few hard earned bucks at the gas station.

Learn more – Toyota Tundra

CONS:

  • Visibility could be better
  • Double Cab design has odd profile and small rear doors
  • No 5.7-litre available in Double Cab configuration

Technical Specifications: 2012 Toyota Tundra Double Cab 4×4 SR5

Base price (CAD MSRP): $36,235

Price as tested:  $45,815.20 (Includes Premium Package – $7,420.00; Bed liner – $465.00; A/C Tax – $100.00; Freight and PDI – $1,560.00).

Type: Full-size, 5 passenger pick-up truck.

Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel drive with One-Touch 4WD capability.

Engine: 4.6-litre V8, DOHC, 32 valves

Horsepower: 310 @ 5,600 rpm

Torque (lb-ft): 327 @ 3,400 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Curb weight: 2,443 kg (5,385 lbs)

Payload: 565 kg (1,255 lbs)

Towing capacity: 3,580 kg (7,900 lbs)

Fuel economy (L/100 km): City: 14.8 (19 mpg); Hwy: 10.3 (27 mpg)

2012 Toyota Tundra Gallery:

Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.