2015 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Finishes PUTC’s Challenge In Last Place – Here’s Why

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Another Pickuptrucks.com half-ton challenge is in the books and, almost predictably, the Toyota Tundra finished dead last. Here’s why.

Pickuptrucks.com V-8 Challenge

This image sums up everything that is wrong for the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro in the 2015 Pickuptrucks.com V-8 challenge test. Namely, if you bought a TRD Pro off-road to consistenly tow, you missed the point. Photo credit: Evan Sears, Cars.com.

The 2015 Light-Duty V-8 Challenge featured all the major truck makers and their largest engine offerings. Officially, PUTC had:

  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Z71 LTZ 6.2-liter
  • GMC Sierra 1500 SLT 6.2-liter
  • Ford F-150 XLT 5.0-liter
  • Ram 1500 Laramie Longhorn 5.7-liter
  • Toyota Tundra TRD Pro 5.7-liter

If one of these trucks feels like it isn’t like the others, you are right. The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro off-road truck doesn’t really belong. It is setup and built for tearing through the desert and not hauling in comfort.

This is especially true when considering the tests PUTC ran. They put all the trucks through the following tests:

In all cases, the Tundra finished last and it all points back to the type of Tundra that was tested. For example:

  • Acceleration test  – result was chalked up to poor grip from the tires.
  • Quarter-mile – traction control hurt it from getting a good start on pavement.
  • Braking test – larger, off-road tires and softer springs contributed greatly into coming in last.
  • Fuel Economy – larger, off-road tires hurt the fuel economy quite a bit. In all fairness though, the Tundra isn’t known for its fuel economy.
  • Davis Dam – larger, off-road tires are slower to get moving and that hurts its ranking in this towing test.

Overall, the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro got destroyed by the other trucks during this test. Yet, that isn’t exactly accurate. The variety of tests doomed the Tundra from the start. In fact, Toyota might have been better served if it followed Nissan’s lead and simply pulled out. Nissan smartly must have realized there was zero chance they could win and it didn’t benefit them at all with a new model coming out.

While this test is pretty interesting, it served no benefit to Toyota. Just like the 2013 test, Toyota sent a poor representation of its brand. One of these days, it would be nice if Toyota sent a true competitor to these types of tests.

Why Send A TRD Pro?

An interesting question is why did Toyota send the TRD Pro and not another type of truck.  It is a bit complicated, but the simple answer is Toyota sends whatever is in their press fleet and what they are promoting. The other makers, either build a truck specifically for these challenges or pull from a larger press fleet assortment.

Currently, Toyota has a small collection of Toyota Tundra pickups in the press fleet. The majority of these models are the new TRD Pro variety. Toyota got the request and simply sent what they had available.

The other makers either have more models available or they will build one to specs. They can do this because they have more production capacity and can more quickly respond to journalist needs.

What do you think? Should Toyota have even entered a truck?

Filed Under: Tundra News


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  1. LJC says:

    I cry foul on Toyota’s part. What the hell were they thinking? Seriously!!!

    Whomever made the decision to send a TRD Pro should be fired as it is a clear demonstration of their incompetence.

    My 11 year old son could have configured a truck better suited for this highly visible test, really, he could.

    This is the second time in a row Toyota did this…

  2. DJ says:

    Respectifully disagree.

    Had Toyota sent an SR5 or Limited the results would have basically been the same. With the execption of rear end sag and possibly lesser breaking (bigger tires), the TRD Pro should score basically the same as any other Tundra, plus it has TRD exhaust for a little more power.

    It’s time for Toyota to face the facts, while the Tundra was a class leader in 07′, eight years without touching the powertrain have finally caught up to the Tundra (same goes for Tacoma). It needs a complete overhaul to stay competitive in the full size class. This test is just further proof. Yes – Tundra is still a great truck, but it’s old and tired.

    • LJC says:

      No way dude. If your going to enter a highly visible contest, you put your best effort forward, period, even if you know you’re going to loose.
      I wouldn’t say the Tundra drivetrain is old and tired, I’d say a little outdated. It’s impressive how well the 5.0 Ford did.

      I totally agree, the Tundra’s class leading effort back in 07 has died. What the hell has happened?

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I’m not saying a stock Tundra would have placed a lot higher. I am saying a stock Tundra would have put up more of a fight.


    • ricqik says:

      I agree, even if it was a non-TRD Pro version, it wouldn’t of made a enough of a difference as far as performance goes. It would’ve done better but would’ve still been last. The 5.7 is s a strong motor, just a little behind in power per liter. This should be a wake up call to Toyota and Sweers….. It don’t matter if your engine is more advance(DOHC) if it is out-powered and out-mpg’s by a lesser advanced engine.

      The only positive I saw from this test was the tundra losing the least amount of mpg’s from emtpy to towing. But still last in mpg’s.

    • Hemi lol says:

      I respectfully disagree with your comments too…….

      1. the tires on the TRD PRO they sent is a PRE PRODUCTION MODEL with a Load E 10 ply tire. That will make an ENORMOUS impact on take off from rolling resistance and grip, the truck would have faired MUCH better with the production 18″ wheel and 275/65/18 Michelin LTX AT2 tire.

      2. the truck acts TOTALLY DIFFERENT wearing these springs and shocks and I personally can say it FACTUALLY as they are ON MY 2010 Platinum Tundra.

      3. Furthering the differences in everything the 10 ply tire on that pre production model is BIGGER than the production changing fuel economy AND gearing which handicaps the truck IN EVERY SINGLE WAY.

      Here are the facts on the tires:

      1. BFG TA KO 285/70/17 Load E 10 ply 32.8 inch overall 635 Revs per mile. 58.6 Lbs PER TIRE!!

      Link: http://www.bfgoodrichtires.com.....#techspecs

      2.Michelin LTX AT2 275/65/R18 P metric 32.1 inch overall 648 Revs Per mile. 40.9 Lbs. per tire

      Link: http://www.michelinman.com/tir.....#techspecs

      Those are the facts folks with almost 20lbs MORE PER TIRE there is a MONSTER DIFFERENCE on how that truck will react its a mathematical certainty!

      Its ashame no one that was doing those tests ever put this to light.

      • LJC says:

        The fact is Toyota sent the truck to PUTC and therefore Toyota is responsible for it’s poor showing. Period. I totally agree, the tires had a negative impact on the results for the TRD Pro.

        The $64,000 questions are, “who made the decision to send the TRD Pro and whi?” I think I know…

  3. Goldie says:

    Why did PUTC request 4×4 trucks when they didn’t do an off road test?

    • LJC says:

      My guess would be that is the majority of trucks sold.
      It wouldn’t have made a difference in the overall scoring.
      PUTC was put together a pavement test and Toyota should have sent a truck better suited to that test.

  4. breathing borla says:

    Hey Tim,

    Next time you see sweers, show him this and tell him to stop saying the tundra gets the same MPG as the others do in the real world.

    it doesn’t.

    • ricqik says:

      The tundra is pretty good for what it is. But It’s hard to get better when you refuse to except that the competition has moved on. I have a feeling the tacoma for ’16 is going to follow the route that Sweers took the ’14 tundra on. I pray that I’m wrong.

      • ricqik says:

        Pickuptruck.com just posted the 2016 tacoma. My presumption was correct. It took the route of the tundra. Same cab with exterior tweaks. Helpfully the drivetrain isn’t a carry over.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:

          Just saw it as well. I’ll be doing a story for Tacomahq.com in the morning.

          I’m not so sure on the grille.


    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I think it may have used to be the case, but it certainly isn’t that way now. 🙂


  5. Carolina Blue says:

    Toyota better do something. A new titan next week with all new engines and 8 speed transmission. How does the company who invented the 8 speed transmission become the last to use it In their trucks. Wake up toyota.

  6. Randy says:

    It was a really silly test by PUTC.

    Why test the Tundra Off Road truck with the street trucks?

    Not only did the TRD Pro win the Baja 1000 in full size stock class. The other brands either did not show up or failed to finish the race. No Ford, No GM, and No RAM.

    Even in the specialized “single” entry private class (non-stock) made just for the Raptor, it was still two hours behind the Tundra.

    So the Tundra won the Baja 1000, it can tow a boat, and it does not go into limp mode or catch fire on a regular basis. No other truck maker can do that.

    Yes the Tundra is due for some updates.

    • breathing borla says:


      keep in mind this the truck toyota sent them, not the truck that PUTC ask for, so don’t blame them.

      and the tundra is not immune to your “limp mode”, we can just bring up AIP. No truck is without an issue here or there model wide. and no truck catches fire on a regular basis, let’s not exaggerate.

  7. 10PlatCrew says:

    Since we just got the “refreshed” Tundra in ’14, how much longer will we have to wait to get some drivetrain related upgrades? Simple things like electric cooling fans and electric power steering would help with power and fuel efficiency. I just don’t understand the logic behind some of the decisions being made at Toyota these days.

  8. mk says:

    I think the tundra has plenty of power and pickup.

    Comparing it to the 6.2L which is VERY hard to get at any dealer and VERY costly, is not fair. GM should sent one of the 5.3L’s being wimpy and much slower since that is their 95% bread and butter sold.

    I agree though, mpg needs to go up by 2 at 15/20 with 4wd on the hwy being 20 mpg. What is wrong with direct injection? Not so sure an 8 speed will increase mpg, but everyone else has one. Remember when the tundra 6 speed in 2007 was the bomb though, surely a game changer.

    NOTHING new since then in my eyes just cosmetic fluff I could care less about.

  9. Black Snow says:

    I found a comment that was made in the article interesting. ” Most manufacturers build a truck specifically for the test and Toyota just sent what was there.” When your in the real world do you custom desighn your truck for a specific job that you need done that day or do you use the truck you have? The truck has the off road package that has it sitting level unloaded. Then you bash because when you throw 6.7k trailer that there is sag in the back? ( Rapter isn’t rated to tow that high of weight.) If we are building a truck specificly for a test you should have used mine. TRD Supercharged 5.7L quarter mile done. TRD 6 piston brake calipers with 14″ disks x4 60-0 mph done. Regular syspention gives 3″ of squat till level towing done. All items are factory and since we are testing trucks specifically made for a task. Fuel economy, I get combined 16.5 real MPG. Drive train may be old but reliability and overal quality talk volumes. Look at customer ratings in Consumer Reports.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Black Snow,

      I agree with using whatever truck you have available, my point of contention is Toyota should have sent a better truck for this type of test instead of whatever was in the press fleet. Even a stock 5.7L SR5 would have done better in this test than the TRD Pro.


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