Consumer Reports Should Stick To Reliability Ratings and Leave The Reviews To Someone Else

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Here’s a video from Consumer Reports about the new 2014 Tundra. While I wouldn’t call it awful, I wouldn’t call it good either.

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Here’s why:

1. Truck users want power, capability, reliability, and value. Therefore, truck reviews should focus on these factors.

Do truck owners want a refined ride? A quiet cabin? Great steering dynamics? Sure – but not at the expense of power, capability, reliability, or value.

With the Tundra, you get a reliable, powerful engine that gets (according to Consumer Reports) competitive real-world fuel economy. You get a truck that cleans up in Consumer Reports and JD Power quality and reliability ratings year after year. You get a truck that’s priced competitively, yet has much higher resale value than the competition.

The “first drive” video above puts more emphasis on refinement than anything else…and that misses the mark.

2. Big isn’t bad. At the 0:58 mark, the reviewer laments the “bigness” of the Tundra…since when is big bad? We’re not talking about some gas-sipping commuter car here, we’re talking about a pickup.

If big pickup trucks are wrong, I don’t want to be right.

3. Full time AWD sucks, at least for trucks. At the 1:20 mark, the Consumer Reports reviewer criticizes the Tundra for lacking AWD or full-time 4WD. To me, this is proof that the reviewer’s understanding of the product he’s testing is limited.

Even the most casual truck owner knows that full-time 4wd is inferior to a traditional part-time 4wd system, at least as far as trucks are concerned:

  • AWD systems are more expensive and less fuel efficient (albeit slightly)
  • AWD systems do not have a low range “crawling” gear
  • AWD systems have an open center differential, which isn’t very useful if one of your wheels is suspended in mid-air as you traverse an off-road trail

AWD is nice for station wagons and SUVs that never go off-road, but a truck owner needs something more rugged.

As for full-time 4WD (aka multi-mode 4WD), the problem is expense and complexity. It’s a great idea, but I have yet to see it executed cheaply.

Besides, what’s wrong with part-time 4WD anyways? Is it too hard for the reviewers at Consumer Reports to turn a knob?

Consumer Reports 2014 Tundra Review

Consumer Reports says the Tundra needs full-time AWD. What?!

4. What makes the Ram and 2014 Silverado so great, again? The Ram has a much lower towing capacity. The Silverado’s engines use a problematic cylinder deactivation system. Both vehicles suffer from low resale value relative to the Tundra, and neither has the Tundra’s reliability rating (by Consumer Reports own data, which you can read more about here).

To be fair, I was one of the first to criticize Toyota for failing to make the 2014 Tundra all new. But I don’t see anything in the video above that tells me Consumer Reports knows the first thing about pickups. They should stick to collecting surveys and analyzing reliability data…that’s what they’re good at.

Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Reviews and Comparisons


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  1. GoBig says:

    That seemed a bit more opinionated that consumer reports normally is. Their magazine just hits reliability issues rather than so much opinion on styling.

    The entire exterior has been updated, not just the grille as he implies.

    After slamming it, he goes on to say how good it is at everything. It was just a bit odd.

  2. Dez says:

    You a little pissed off Tim? 🙂

  3. Mickey says:

    I agree with Gobig that it was strictly opinion or just his view. We can all do that. Another reason why CR isn’t worth a dang is why hasn’t he mentions that the Tundra was the only J2807 standard truck? If CR wants to be on top you state all things about the truck Never put down the Big 3 because we may not get a donation. I will see if I can write a review of this clowns review.

  4. mk says:

    I agree this idiot is way too opinionated for consumer reports. The tundra is the fastest, biggest, most reliable yet the dodge and chevy trucks are better and more refined. Doesn’t make any sense.

    True truck buyers want the biggest, baddest, more reliable truck out there and Toyota would’ve done that for me if they got smart and offered a 6 1/2′ bed crewmax for my needs, but they dropped the ball.

    Gonna consider chevy’s new crewcab 6 1/2′ bed in 2015 once the newness wears off on 2014 models and rebates go way up next year in 2014 sometime, will see how that goes?

  5. Dan says:

    CR’s reliability ratings are not all that good either when they base “least reliable” on infotainment systems. An annoyance should be noted but this would the same as their “big big big” comment – this is not reliability. This is a load of BS specially when the truck I’m buying won’t even have one of these systems.

    I also dislike the video review and their mpg reviews aren’t matching up to what some other reviewers are seeing.

    Basically I dislike all of CR for trucks: reviews not good for trucks, reliability ratings flawed, and testing biased.

  6. Brian says:

    To Jason.
    I couldn’t agree with u more on everything u said! Ive been a truck guy that hasn’t been brand loyal. Ive had all the big 3 trucks (newer ones) and I now have a 2012 tundra and in pretty much everything u said in this article is fact. The tundra is everything and more and in a lot of cases better in my opinion. I could go on and on but I have one other thing I really wanna say is that y do the big 3 talk a big game about the tech and new features in there engines and tailgates and how they put new in lay doors bla bla bla!! Toyotas been doing all this since 2007. And u said something about resale value that’s so true. ford chevy and ram suck something awful when I had them I couldn’t give them away the resale was so bad. U could probably have a tundra for five years and id still be worth more than a 2yr old truck of the other guys! THANKS JASON for the article loved reading it. U and Tim do an awesome job!!

  7. mendonsy says:

    I think that most people miss the point with Consumer Reports, JD Power, and all the rest.
    These people aren’t in business to be accurate, they’re in business to make money.
    They will print whatever sells whether it is for the general public or for the manufacturers ad campaigns.

  8. Randy says:

    Yep car/truck mags that do reviews are usually full of it; been that way for at least 30 years. Virtually none of the reviewers are truck drivers themselves.

    Here is a real world review from someone that has driven trucks for 50 years:

    2014 Tundra “A”
    2014 RAM “C” Poor Build – No Dealer Service
    2014 Chevy “D” almost as bad as Ford
    2014 Ford “F” without an engine what good is it?

  9. LJC says:

    Anybody, anybody that says a truck is too big does not know trucks and has absolutely zero credibility. I once read a review of the F250 at Guess what? The reviewer was a petite woman and she was intimated by the size of the truck. At that point, Edmunds lost ALL credibility with me.

    Wasn’t it just a few years ago the Tundra cleaned house on a Consumer Reports review? To the point where they said the Tundra could tow just or better as well as the domestic 3/4 ton trucks?

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when a reviewer has to put up their own money, the outcome will be different and in favor of the Tundra.

  10. LJC says:

    Consumer Reports is about as trustworthy as MW at PUTC.

  11. AKD says:

    I have a consumer reports account and none of the online test ever mention the competitors in the test. Something is fishy here. BTW. This video is not on CR website. They have not posted a review yet. They have had the big 3 reviews up for months.

    Proud owner of a 2014 SR5 crew max! It is a major redesign in appearance and refinement compared to my 2010 double cab

  12. Rick says:


    That was as biased a review as I have ever seen. The reviewer displays incompetence as he makes no mention of the ’07-’14 Tundra’s known mechanical advantages over its rivals. You have to at least appear fair and balanced to have credit as a magazine. I’ve driven ALL the trucks out there and I KNOW my Tundra is the best riding and handling truck out there. That’s why I bought it. Btw, i’ve owned/driven Chevy’s and Fords in the past and never thought i’d be driving a Toyota.

    To be clear, no one truck is horrible. It’s just that the Tundra is above them overall yet improvements are coming. If I were a Toyota exec, i’d use this CR “review” as motivation to put the competition to rest!

    • Thanks – I agree that none of the trucks on the market are awful. I’d even go so far as to say that the F-150 is a good choice for specific needs (like a cheap fleet truck, a market that Toyota seems to have given up on completely).

      Still, if you care about reliability, durability, and resale value (which is a proxy for quality), than the Tundra is your first choice…or at least that’s my opinion.

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