2013 PUTC Light-Duty Challenge – Toyota Tundra Got Screwed?

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The latest PickupTrucks.com light-duty challenge results were released on June 17, 2013 and the Toyota Tundra placed 5th. Did the Toyota Tundra get screwed?

This year’s test was based on a specific set of parameters such as “all test trucks had to be four-wheel drive, have four full-size doors, be able to tow at least 8,500 pounds, and the total as-tested price had to be below $45,000 (including destination charges).”

The competitors were:

  • 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Z71 Crew Cab
  • 2013 Ford F-150 XLT SuperCrew
  • 2014 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE Z71 Crew Cab
  • 2013 Nissan Titan PRO-4X Crew Cab
  • 2013 Ram 1500 SLT Big Horn Crew Cab
  • 2013 Toyota Tundra SR5 CrewMax

The Tundra was the only truck that came to them stock without being specifically built for the test. PUTC’s says:

Our Tundra came to us pretty well-equipped, but did offer the lowest base ($35,825) and overall price of any of the competitors. Although not relevant to how and why we test, it’s worth noting that where other manufacturers built their test units to meet our specifications, Toyota chose to pull its test unit from the existing media fleet. As well-equipped as it was, this was the only vehicle available that could meet our criteria. The base CrewMax gave us the largest cab of the group and quite a few options, which included the high-level radio and CD player with Bluetooth ($510), auto-dimming rearview mirror with the integrated backup camera ($475), 18-inch wheels and tires ($910), a tilting and sliding moonroof ($810), a drop-in, under-the-rail bedliner ($345), carpet floor mats ($195) and remote engine start ($499). Add to that the SR5 Package ($970), which included front power adjustable seats, upgraded fabrics, fog lamps and a center console shifter. Finally, our test unit came with the Max Tow Package ($660), which gave us better engine cooling, a bigger battery and alternator, 4.30:1 gears, a Tow/Haul button, and all the hitch and wiring necessary for trailering. Altogether, our Pyrite Mica Tundra test unit, built in San Antonio, Texas, listed for $41,199.

Facing a competition of trucks built for the challenge and having the oldest model, the Tundra, as you might guess, didn’t win the challenge. Here is the link to all the results broken down by test.

Here is what PUTC’s said:

The Tundra did not win a single one of our testing categories either, but it did perform well during our most extreme tow tests, thanks in large part to a relatively solid Max Tow Package that included 4.30:1 axle gears but no integrated brake controller (just like the Nissan). Unfortunately, the biggest weaknesses centered on the outdated gauge cluster and split center stack, as well as the underperforming tire choice. The 2014 Toyota Tundra is set to debut later this year with a new interior and exterior design, and since our judges scored the current Tundra in last place for our contest in both those categories, we’d say that’s good timing. Our judges all liked the powerful sound that the Tundra’s engine made when hauling and towing, but it somehow seems appropriate given the quality of the all-new or recently updated competitive powertrains that the Tundra finished fifth in our quantitative tests, fifth in our qualitative categories and fifth in total points. As a small piece of advice, we’d suggest giving some serious thought to updating and modifying this truck’s powertrain and chassis choices soon.

PUTC’s does make a good point about the need to upgrade the powertrain and chassis. We will give them that point as a potential knock on the truck, although, it is and has been a solid engine.

What struck as interesting is the poor rating the Tundra received for stopping power.  With the largest in class brake cylinders and Toyota’s focus on safety, we expected the truck to win that category.

While we like Mark and the guys at Pickuptrucks.com, the truth is that the 2013 Tundra was the oldest model in the testing and the only one not specifically equipped for the test. This was mentioned at the outset and in the results. If Toyota would have setup a truck like the others, we have to wonder how it would have performed. For example, Toyota could have the upgraded the brakes for the Tundra (hardly anyone does) using the performance upgrade kit.  Also, for the average consumer buying a truck, shouldn’t all the trucks come from a stock lot NOT directly from a manufacture?

What do you think? Did the Tundra get screwed?

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  1. AD says:

    It didn’t get screwed and if Toyota had sent the 2014 I would have gave it the same. In fact I will say the same thing here I said @ PUTC:

    I am sad to say the 3rd Gen Tundra didn’t address performance and will be lagging behind the competition at launch. I am glad PUTC did some “real word mpg testing” because I am tired of hearing from Toyota reps and fanbois saying we get the same if not better “real world fuel economy as the competition.” They just say that because they can get away with making in unsubstantiated claim and now they can’t. This is another are where Toyota will lag behind the competition at the launch of the 3rd Gen Tundra.

    I still love my Supercharged Tundra and wouldn’t trade it for any of these nice rigs but if something were to happen to my truck I WILL NOT REPLACE IT WITH A 3RD GEN TUNDRA.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I agree with your assessment on the real world fuel economy now. The new 2014 GMC and Chevy are getting great gas mileage for a 1/2 ton truck. The true towing MPG numbers though are way off what RAM and Ford were claiming.

      I will say this though, looking at the Tundra fuel economy numbers in their test, the numbers are right where Toyota said they were. So, Toyota is telling the truth with MPG estimates. Yet, they need to improve.


      • AD says:

        I love when Toyota did stuff like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-YaHvGcicow from this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uH_qnCCBY0. This is what Toyota sold me on when I bought my 2nd gen in 2010 and I have no regrets on that decision as I believe Toyota had substantiated proof their performance was the best. The Had EPA numbers that were around the competitions.

        The 2nd Gen Tundra is a engineers truck and the 3rd Gen Tundra at launch is a bean counters truck that lost in area where the 2nd Gen was Best in Class at its launch.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:


          Those videos are part of why I question the brake results. It just doesn’t compute with my understanding. And I agree that for quite a while, the Tundra was the top 1/2 ton truck. I think the competition has caught up and now Toyota is faced with falling back in the pack. It will be interesting to see how they respond.


  2. LJC says:

    The blame for the Tundra getting the short end of the stick rests mostly on Toyota.
    Toyota should have provided PUTC with a 2014.
    If Toyota can cough one up for an autoshow, then why couldn’t they for a high profile test such as the one conducted by PUTC?

    The placement of trucks would have been much closer since the 2014 has an integerated trailer brake controller and improved interior and exterior looks.

    Don’t cry foul when Toyota had a chance for a better showing.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Good question! Did Toyota not take this test seriously?? Maybe not. It seems that they should have and could have supplied a 2014 model.


  3. Brian says:

    Not only that, they pulled a beater out of the press pool to compete.

    Strange, but they really don’t seem to care.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      It does make you wonder about how much Toyota cared about this test.


  4. Larry says:

    These things are kind of dumb.

    The GMC gets 1749 points. The Chevy gets 1715 points. Why even put both in the survey? I bet we could dissemble both, mix up all the parts and build trucks then, which would be the GMC and which would be the Chevy.

    Zero to 60 times, that’s real important for a truck.

    We need to do the tests with the same trucks after 10 years and 200,000 miles on them and include all the service records and costs.

    By then the F150 will be on it’s 3 set of turbos and who knows how many overhauls after it runs around at 6000 RPM all the time.

    Honestly, pickuptrucks.com is not showing their smarts on this subject. I’m surprised they didn’t give points for some paints being faster then others.

    Toyotas only problem is the engine needs an upgrade and the cost needs to come down.

    Not one of these things is a real truck.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Great points as always!


    • LJC says:

      I agree, reliability should be graded. Also, safety and bang for the buck. These are features I considered when I purchased my Tundra. We all know that RAM is gutless when it comes to safety.

      • LJC says:

        And for $35K MSRP, one can purchase a Tundra Dbl Cab 4×4 that can tow a legit 10K lbs. I don’t like the new GM, RAM, or F150 can be had for that price with the same capability.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:


          That’s a good point. The Tundra was the “cheapest” in their test and had some great features plus towing ability.


      • Tim Esterdahl says:

        Agreed. I think they should have added categories based on resale and safety.


    • LJC says:

      I disagree with comments on the ecoBoost engine. Ford gave it some “diesel” traits. For example oil is sprayed on the underside of the pistons. The turbos have a cooling mechanism when the engine is off. The oil pan is very beefy, which provides increases engine block rigidity. The crank shaft bolts are placed at an angle for increased crank strength. There may be more but these are what I remember.

      • Powerken says:

        The Tundra also has piston cooling oil jets.

      • larry says:

        Your comment in support of the Ford Ecoboost V6 is valid but only to a small degree.

        It’s a race car type engine being placed in a truck which needs a long service life.

        Published facts from Ford

        EcoBoost V6
        365 HP @ 5000 RPM
        420 FT/Lb @ 2500 RPM (VERY IMPRESSIVE! and I have seen them pull loads up grades)

        Power Stroke
        400 HP @ 2800 RPM (2800 is too high for a diesel)
        800 FT/Lb @ 1600 (now that is pulling power)

        I realized this is an unfair comparison but it makes point. You also mentioned diesel traits like oil spray. That has been around on gas engines for years. As for turbo cooling, for these load, it better have cooling. There is one really big item which is not common to both. The diesel drives the cams with gears. The EcoBoost uses chains, very long chains snaking all over the place and at more then 2 times the RPM rate. The should have used 1 chain for each side and not sent the chain back down under an idler. That single chain has go to be 6 feet long. This is bad design and I have my doubts about it’s life span. This is not an inexpensive belt replacement, it’s major engine work. As I have stated in the past I expect my trucks to work for 250,000 miles and 20 years without engine rebuild. My current V6 gas truck has 150,000 miles on it and it’s 19 years old. Only repairs, water pump (which was still working) and timing belt replacement at 150,000 and 18 years of use.

        Now the real issue. I bring this up not to bash Ford but to save money for you and me and to advocate the design on new durable products not fads.

        It comes down to this. The twin turbo, variable valve timed EcoBoost motor is a complex engine and Ford is asking you and me to trust them with 60,000 dollars of our hard earned money (truck, financing, tax, license, insurance,etc). Do you trust them? If there is a problem after 100,000 miles (which is nothing), after warranty will they support you, no they will not, you will pay for the bad design.

        I would remind all that this is the company which could not redesign a spark plug and cylinder head both, which have been around for about 100 years without screwing up both. Did Ford pick up the tab for those 1000 dollar spark plug replacements? Now we are supposed to trust them to build a high power, high rpm twin turbo motor which will run 250,000 miles? I will pass, and I hope you pass too, I don’t want you or anyone else to lose money. Let the Ford management drive them to prove the durability.

        Finally, I hope the EcoBoost motors run 250,000 miles under high load with no problems, it would be a good thing for everyone and will force all manufactures to follow.

        • LJC says:

          I agree, the engine is complicated but it also has a large development effort. The concept testing started back in 2005 or 2006. I’ll give Ford credit, they saw the writing on the wall about gas prices–next year at this time say “hello to $3.85 a gallon”.

          If a turbo in a diesel can last for 100K of thousands of mile, why not in a gaser?

          I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, I think the ecoBoost will fair well in the long run, as long as the bugs are worked out, which hasn’t quite been done yet.

          • Goldie says:

            “If a turbo in a diesel can last for 100K of thousands of mile, why not in a gaser?”

            Completely different operating environment. Three main items are EGT, RPM of engine, and RPM of turbo. EGT for gas engines are much higher than diesel. Diesel owners know that EGT is the second most important operating parameter behind oil pressure. Cooler EGT is better for components. Diesels operate in a narrower speed band and also a lot lower speed. Turbo speed for speed for diesels are also about half of gas turbos. Gas turbo turbine speed can get well above 100,000 rpm vs 50,000 to 60,000.

      • Goldie says:

        Tundra have forged steel crank, 6-bolt main bearing caps including cross-bolt, forged con-rod.

    • Justin says:

      Larry: Go back to the many posts from this site in 2007/2008 when the Gen II Tundra debuted. All Tundra owners could talk about is it’s 0-60 times and speed. Now Tundra owners say 0-60 times don’t matter? Too funny in my opinion.

      Turbo’s, especially in diesels have been around for years. Some models have been more problematic than others. But same can be said about N/A motors as well. There is no validity in what you say that in 10yrs the Ford will need such work. Heck, own a 2006 F150 (bought new), which is now 7yrs old and only item I’ve had to replace (other than typical fluids) are the front lower ball joints. Total cost to me was $30 (moog) in parts, 3hrs of my life and a 6-pack afterwards to admire my work. But glad to see you keep the fan boy stereotype alive.

      Have no personal bias against the Tundra, but always love to counter peoples fact-less basis/rationale.

      • hemi lol says:

        justin, we have a parts truck at work which is a 2000 model tundra. v6 engine which had piston rings put in it at 500,000 miles and is STILL in service at 62,260 miles as of the other day and STILL on the original auto transmission! that is real miles with multiple drivers and abused since day 1!

        so how many miles are on your 06 ford? obviously not very many since your dont have timing chain slap/slack and your spark plugs havent blown out of your engine or your truck caught on fire at random in your garage or your trans went out……… these are all VERY common occurrences on your truck. turbos in a diesel work at a much lower rpm than a turbo on a gas engine….. you only know enough to talk crap to other people that dont know anything, your on the wrong site to talk crap to a bunch of real gearheads bro. go bark up another tree.

        • Justin says:

          Great for your ’00 Tundra, sounds like a good truck. Seen domestic trucks and vans, large and small, do the same. A lot deals with maintenance.

          ’06 F150 has none of the issues you describe. Also if you knew, my model F150 doesn’t have the spitting plug issue. That is the prior gen 5.4L. This gen has issues with plugs seizing in the heads (due to bad two piece spark plug design). Which those original plugs were swapped out at 30K miles to ensure no issues.

          Have no beef with the Tundra. All manufacturers make vehicles with issues. The Fords have their share, as do the Tundra’s and GM’s, etc. No vehicle is immune.

          As for the rpm issue, show me where the new ecoboosts are failing or having issues due to running higher RPM’s than their diesel counterparts? The ecoboost is still in its infancy though and still has lots of ground to grow.

          I’m on the wrong site? Not talking crap. As stated previously in many threads, Tundra has goods/bads, as does the F150, as does every truck. No truck is truly better than another, and if it is, it doesn’t hold that crown for long. Competition breeds competition. And dude, don’t talk to me about no gearheads, bro. I’ve been visting this site much longer than you have.

  5. m whelan says:

    The tundra finished poorly in braking because it is so heavy. All the other trucks besides the f150 are 200-300 lbs lighter.

    The Tundra also would have done a lot better in acceleration, handling, and braking with better tires, such as the BFG duelers or the dunlop sp5000’s that are offered stock on the 20’s.

    • LJC says:

      Quick Post: The braking results are suspicious because if the brakes are applied quickly and hard enough, EBA kicks in. This saftety feature applies extra braking force in panic stop situations.

  6. Goldie says:

    Where’s the off-road test? What’s the point of asking for 4×4 models and then not have an off-road portion? That would have exposed the low hanging chin spoilers on the domestic trucks. That’s why they get better MPG unloaded.
    The autocross makes zero sense at all. These are trucks, not sports cars. The payload and towing capacity section is not even a test. It’s based on numbers provided by the manufacturers. A real test would have been to put 2000 lbs in the bed and see much it squat then drive it to see how it handles being overloaded. Trucks get overloaded quite often.
    This just shows why Toyota didn’t take PUTC test seriously. Canadian Truck King Challenge is more legit. Their writing data acquisition sucks though.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Great points! Not really sure why there wasn’t an off-road portion.


    • LJC says:

      The crew cab Tundra does not have a 2000 lb payload capacity, it’s more like 1200 lbs.

      • Goldie says:

        All of the trucks have less than 2000 lb payload. That’s why I said that a true test would be to but the same weight in them see how much they squat and how they drive with that load. I just picked 2000 lbs because if you were to go get a yard of landscaping material (dirt) it would be a little more than 2000 lbs. Also note, I said “overload”. Let see how they handle being overloaded. I personally know that a Crewmax Tundra will handle 2000+ lbs just fine. It’s the tires that limits the Tundra not the suspension or frame.

  7. Mickey says:

    What does gauges have to do with their so called tests? Just another snow job from wannabe’s. Just like consumer reports. I can see why Toyota didn’t play their game. As mentioned before why 4×4? As far as mpg’s it depends on the driver. I can get over 20+mpg in my 07 CM with 160k miles on it. As far as towing and taking standards from the manufacturer’s only prove the point why Toyota didn’t take them serious. Why should they. None of the rest still won’t do “J” standards. So for me it’s just another group just trying to make a name for themselves with the big 3. I know what I got and what it can do. So no test will change my mind.

  8. TJRP says:

    Disappointing and disappointed is how I would sum up the results and the methodology of the tests. Pickuptrucks.com lost credibility with me a long time ago. They cater to the manufacturers to much and are too worried upsetting them for these tests to be credible. A real shootout would take all the trucks to Bullhead City, AZ for official testing (J2807)and test those tow ratings and post the videos of how the trucks did (smoke and all) for everyone to see.Toyota…buy the competitors trucks and shoot a commercial to force J2807 compliance maybe?

  9. Justin says:

    Toyota supplied PUTC with the Tundra. If it failed because it wasn’t equipped as well as the other trucks is Toyota’s fault not the competitions or PUTC’s.

    Also, the Nissan is the oldest truck platform of the group, dating back to 2004, not the Tundra.

    As to the brakes, bigger isn’t always better. But at the same time, the stock tires may also be part of the stopping distance problem.

    Tundra scored right about where it should have and wasn’t screwed. Was the the 2nd oldest and finished 2nd to last. Only truck worse was the older Titan. The Tundra didn’t do anything truly outstanding in the test, but wasn’t a poor performance either. Just a dated truck that needs updated to compete.

    • Goldie says:

      The Tundra performed will in the performance test. It’s the subject tests that the Tundra lost big points in. It was right there with the newer Ford and Dodge in all the acceleration test both loaded and unloaded. A tenth or two of a second behind only. It also got better mileage towing than the Ford and Dodge. Speaks to how solid the drivetrain in the Tundra is when Ford and Dodge are now just catching up to a 7 year old design.

    • Mickey says:

      One thing Justin. “J” standards your company stated it will do but has yet to be compliant. I won’t state anymore about the worthless tests that twas done .

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