Review: 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO – Small Changes Add Up

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The 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO may have a lot of “carry over” equipment, it is still one of the best stock off-road trucks on the market. Plus, a few minor changes make it that much better.

Review: 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO - Small Changes Add Up

Good looks, TRD capability and a cheaper price than the competition, the 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO shouldn’t be overlooked.

In the stock, off-road market, most consumers (and journalists attention) is spent on the Ford Raptor. This is for good reason since this truck certainly sets the bar. However, there is about a $7k difference in price in our opinion and this will likely stay the same when the 2017 Raptor hits the sales lots. Current expectations is the new Raptor will start around $50k. Now, arguably, the new Raptor will have additional equipment over the Tundra to justify the price, yet for the average off-roader, I would argue the TRD PRO is more than enough for their needs.

Also, the Ram Rebel is on the market and while reviewers seem split on which model they prefer – Rebel vs. TRD PRO – again the pricing is in the TRD PRO’s favor in my opinion. (You could throw the Z71 into this same argument.)

Why bring all of this up? Because I still believe the TRD PRO is simply being overlooked as a strong competitor in this segment. After another week behind the wheel, I’m even more convinced than I was before about being overlooked. This truck rocks for all the right reasons.

What Makes The TRD PRO Special?

Review: 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO - Small Changes Add UpIf this is your first time reading this site, you may be wondering what all the hubbub is about with the TRD PRO. Basically, it is a stock Tundra up-fitted with a host of off-road goodies specially tuned by Toyota Racing Development engineers.

From the shocks, suspension tuning and tire choice, the off-road team over at TRD has setup this Tundra to excel off the road. Add in the 1″ raised front end and skid plate, this truck can handle a beating.

IMG_9769_550It looks good too with the old school Tundra grill, blacked-out badges and new interior styling. Plus, our test model had a new wrinkle, the Tundra name embossed on the tailgate featured a chrome insert ($99 option).

IMG_9763_550The new Quicksand exterior color is also a really nice addition this year and it definitely grew on me. For the record, initially, at the Chicago Auto Show, I thought it looked terrible. I certainly don’t feel that way now.

Finally, the Tundra has a TRD exhaust featuring a glorious, deep throaty sound which makes you swear you are driving a truck with a different engine (diesel perhaps?).

What’s New for 2016

For the 2016 model year, Toyota has finally added some long sought after features.

For starters, the truck now comes with a 38 gallon tank (26.4 before). This is a great addition and saved me some money since I drove this truck to the Denver Airport prior to going to the 2016 Chicago Auto Show. During a week of running around town and the 200-mile trip, I typically would need to put a little gas in the tank for the loan company to pick up the truck. Not this time. I was able to do nearly 400 miles of driving with still more than a quarter tank of gas left.

trailer-brake-controllerNext, the 2016 model has the integrated trailer brake assist. Again, another feature that was delayed inexplicably, the Tundra now joins the rest of the segment by offering this feature. While I didn’t get the chance to do any towing, I certainly appreciated the placement of the brake assist versus aftermarket offerings which I’ve hit my kneecaps on entering and exiting the cabin.

Finally, all Entune Multimedia units are upgraded to the “2.5 version which features 85 percent faster functionality thanks to new dual core processors.” And yes, it is indeed faster.

What Still Needs Work

Certainly, I’m a big fan of the Tundra TRD PRO, yet it still needs a little more work. For starters, my fuel economy was really bad for the week I drove it. Now, yes the off-road tires and 4.30 rear axle in our test model (towing package), eats away at the fuel economy. However, it would be nice if Toyota at least offered more rear axle differentials to help improve fuel economy.

IMG_9756_550Next, the radio volume. Honestly, I didn’t even really notice this until a comment from one of our readers. Checking this out, I turned on Ozzie’s Boneyard and cranked up some AC/DC. Now, my hearing isn’t what it once was, but I had it full blast and could have handled more volume. An interesting thought occurred to me that the head unit could be to blame for not only the lack of volume, but also the lack of USB plugs in the Tacoma and Tundra. I remember Chief Engineer Mike Sweers saying the USBs draw power from the head unit. Maybe then, the radio volume isn’t the issue, the head unit itself is something that could be improved on.

Finally, the rear seat. Yes, I’m harping on it, but something has to be done. Whether the slide and recline comes back or not, more storage under the seats and/or more functionality when the seats are folded up (see: the Ram 1500 and the various options to store items and hold groceries) has to be done. Right now, it is a half-finished idea in my opinion.

IMG_9759_550All in all, these are small items in the big picture. The Tundra remains the most reliable pickup on the market via numerous studies and is extremely capable of fulfilling any truck job. I also find it stylish and really enjoy the voluminous cargo room in the rear of the Crewmax. If you are looking for an off-road pickup that can also haul the family or gear comfortably, it is hard to find a better pickup than the TRD PRO. Period.

Model: 2016 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO

Engine: 5.7L V8

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

EPA fuel economy: 13/17/15 city/highway/combined

Options:

  • Paint protection film: $395
  • Chrome “Tundra” tailgate inserts: $99
  • Bed mat – $139
  • Spare tire lock – $75
  • TRD Performance air filter – $75
  • Alloy wheel locks – $80

Price as Tested: $47,118 with $1,195 destination and handling fee

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Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Reviews and Comparisons

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  1. Speedster says:

    Agreed! The new back seat is horrible! Not comfort-wise, but not only is there no storage space below or behind, but the raised pedestal floor doesn’t offer much when the seat is folded up.

    F-150 has a completely flat load floor. I still prefer my 2010 CrewMax with the slide and recline seats. I have so much stuffed under and behind my rear seat, that there is no way that I could keep the things I do in the new one. That is the single biggest reason I’m not driving the new generation. I would love to get one of the Toyota surveys that asks previous owners what they think of their vehicle.

    I am a Sales Consultant at a Toyota/Ford/GMC dealer, so I get to compare them all and I definitely see where the shortcomings of each truck are.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Toyota, Ford and GMC. Those are clearly three different truck in my opinion. Each one has their plusses and minuses for sure.

      Thanks for reading.

      -Tim

    • Truck buyer says:

      Speedster,

      If you had 59k to spend on a tuck which one would you buy? Thanks!

  2. Gobig says:

    Tim, I got a chuckle out of the larger fuel tank saving you money. I could see this biting the other way. If you loan the truck to a friend, it would be even worse when they return it with an empty tank.

    The letter inserts are for sale on EBAY for anyone wanting to go with that look on their 2014-16 Tundra.

    I hear you on the color. My ’85 is that eighties Toyota beige. I wasn’t crazy about it at first, but in thirty years, it has grown on me.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Gobig,

      Yeah, I’m fortunate I didn’t have to fill it up. 🙂

      I’ve seen the letter inserts elsewhere. In fact, I recall doing a story on it. Just hadn’t seen it come from factory before.

      -Tim

  3. Captain Critical 101 says:

    A couple of things.
    1) The weak marketing for the Tundra is the main reason why the truck gets overlooked.
    2) It’s worth pointing out that the TRD Pro suspension components are compatible with 2nd and 3rd gen Tundra.

  4. suraj pawar says:

    The Tundra remains the most reliable pickup on the market via numerous studies and is extremely capable of fulfilling any truck job. I also find it stylish and really enjoy the voluminous cargo room in the rear of the Crewmax.

  5. Randy says:

    After owning the others, I will only be in a Toyota truck from here on out.

    Yes I would like a load flat floor with storage.
    Keypad
    The larger gas tank
    The brake controller

    I will keep my 2014 for a very long time. It has not broken yet; and that can not be said for the other brands.

  6. SpringDrive says:

    “From the shocks, suspension tuning and tire choice, the off-road team over at TRD has setup this Tundra to excel off the road.”

    Tire choice?

    A skinny highway tire is the best choice to excel off the road?

    Tim you’re starting to get ridiculous.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      LOL. Hold on a minute before calling me ridiculous. What’s skinny about the tire?

      -Tim

  7. DJ says:

    Didn’t see the shocks talked about much.

    What can you tell us about the ride around town with the TRD PRO suspension?

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      DJ,

      I actually prefer the TRD PRO setup to the base Tundra for ride comfort. Seems like an odd thing to say, but, like you point out, the shocks absorb bumps better and I don’t get the road noise I would expect. If I were to buy another Tundra, I would strongly consider the TRD PRO since it rides better IMO.

      -Tim

  8. Breathing borla says:

    Tim,

    Since most dealers are msrp or msrp+ on the pro, your better off getting the pro suspension on a platinum for about the same money

    TRD pro suspension is about 2500

  9. Chris says:

    Tim,
    Thanks for bringing up my original comments about the weak-arsed stereo. Various Tundra forums are littered with comments about how weak the stereo is, even the “upgraded” JBL system, and they all ask what can be done. Other than gutting everything south of the head unit, not much. That system is complete junk in my opinion.

    Off my pedestal….
    Chris

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      No thank you! Honestly, I just hadn’t paid much attention to it. It is indeed an issue that I’m sure Toyota will address since I feel like it could be a simple fix of getting a more powerful head unit ordered and installed.

      -Tim

  10. Ryan says:

    TRD PRO overlooked? Have you tired to buy one? Let alone test drive one. In Denver looking for a D-Cab. Toyota Doesnt even send them here. All on the Costal stated, and good luck not paying sticker if you can even find one!

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Ryan,

      I meant overlooked by automotive journalists and consumers on a whole. Too many of them lust after the Ford Raptor, for good reasons sometimes, but the TRD PRO will provide 99% of consumers the same driving experience.

      -Tim

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