Tundra v. F150 Comparison 2007 Part III: Ride, Handling, and Comfort
This comparison is from 2007 and is out-dated. Check out our 2009 Tundra vs. F-150 comparison instead.
This is the third and final part of our comparison series Tundra v. F150. In this segment, we’re going compare the two trucks in terms of ride, handling, and comfort. As with the previous segments, we’re going to focus on the aspects that are most important to a typical, non-commercial truck user. Let’s get started.
When comparing the ride quality, a few ground rules must be set. First — both trucks are being compared without loads. We are comparing them empty because that’s how we were able to get them. If you load either truck up, you will find the ride will improve. For this reason, we’re not going to penalize either vehicle for “bounciness”. The springy feel of these trucks is a function of their design, and as far as we can see, something that every truck is going to have to some degree. Also, we think that of all the characteristics, ride is very much a relative term. If your previous vehicle is a 1992 Tacoma or 1992 Ford Ranger, we feel confident saying that anything on the road will ride nicer!! This isn’t a slam against either of those trucks, it’s simply a fact. Conversely, if you’re driving a 2007 Lincoln Town Car, both trucks are going to ride terribly by comparison. You get the idea — don’t buy a truck based solely on ride quality.
As far as ride quality goes, we have to say that the two trucks are very close. The F150 was the first truck on the road to offer such a high-level of refinement, and even though the design is years older than the Tundra, it still holds up very well. Ford was the first to produce a truck with rear shocks mounted outside the frame rails, and Toyota was wise to copy this design feature. Ford also has cast-aluminum lower control arms that are lighter than the typical steel control arms and improve front-end ride due to their lower un-sprung weight. We were unable to confirm if the Tundra matched this feature. In fact, using our mechanical comparison as a basis, we think it’s safe to assume that the F150 should ride nicer than the Tundra. After all, the frame of the F150 is stronger. However, one of the problems we have making this comparison is that the F150 XLT we tested came with 17″ wheels, while the Tundra SR5 had 18″ wheels. We think the extra inch of sidewall might affect the overall results and give Ford the advantage. We hate to admit it, but the finely tuned instruments that we used to measure the ride (our butts) aren’t finely tuned enough. We’re going to have to call it a tie.
WINNER: Ford. How does Ford win in the event of a tie you ask? Simple. The Ford is an older design. The fact that the F150 can haul as much as a new Tundra (more in some cases) combined with being an older design gives Ford the edge.
How to measure handling? First of all, there’s road feel. Both trucks use a rack and pinion steering system with power assist, with very similar results. We think both trucks “feel” great. Planted, solid, very capable, very precise. We’ve had a hard time finding much of a difference here. We like the feel of the Tundra steering wheel a little more, but it’s really very close. We’re going to turn next to some statistics (we’re more numbers guys anyways) but when looking at statistics we want to use some caution.
There’s something called a skid pad that professional vehicle testers use to determine a vehicle/s ultimate handling ability. The results, measured in “g”, indicate how hard a vehicle can be turned before it begins to skid. This is a very telling statistic about overall suspension design — it will indicate which vehicle is built more for going fast around curves. We find it hard to relate skid pad results to a real-world need when looking at trucks. After all, how many people typically push their truck to it’s handling limits? Just like ride quality, we think this is a characteristic that shouldn’t figure to heavily into your purchase decision.
There is a test that is done by the pros that we think is absolutely important, and that is the “slalom” test, which measures the highest speed at which a vehicle can navigate a slalom course without losing control. As far as relating these results to the real world, we think a higher slalom speed indicates a better chance of controlling your truck if you have to make an emergency lane change to avoid an accident. In tests posted by Edmunds.com, the F150 and the Tundra posted near identical speeds (55.1 mph and 54.9 mph respectively). In these tests, the Tundra used had 18″ wheels and the F150 17″ wheels. The F150 was able to post a higher speed even though the tires had more sidewall (and thus more flex), indicating the superiority of the F150 suspension. However, we would like to note that the test results were nearly identical, so the advantage here isn’t very large.
WINNER: F150, but it’s a close win again. We think handling is a small component of a typical truck purchase decision, but you’ve got to hand it to Ford — they build a nice riding, nice handling truck.
Ah comfort, the least quantitative comparison of all. We’ll start by talking about noise. We think that the quieter a vehicle is, the more enjoyable it is to drive. Sometimes we just like to go down the road with the radio off and enjoy the peace of silently moving through the world at 70 mph. Luckily, this is a characteristic that is very easy to measure. In the Edmunds.com tests sited earlier, the F150 has an interior db rating of 69 at 70mph, while a Tundra has a rating of 65.6. Under hard acceleration, the Tundra has a rating of 76.6 db v. a rating of 72 db for the F150. We noticed the difference right away. While we like the fact that the Tundra has a powerful and vocal motor, we think we’re going to get tired of hearing it roar. The F150 is quieter under hard acceleration, but not as quite on the highway. We’re likely to get used to the noise level in either truck, and both are acceptable.
As far as seat position goes, we like the F150 a little better. It feels higher and seems to be a better position for viewing the whole truck. We also think the F150’s front-end is easier to see over. However, we do think the F150 is harder to get in and out of than the Tundra. In terms of interior quality and comfort, we like the cloth in the Toyota better but we like the dash in the Ford more. Ideally, we would be able to blend the best attributes of both trucks to make them both better, but we think that the Toyota’s extra storage spaces and utilitarian design is great. We don’t like the big knobs on the Toyota over the more understated F150, but we could get used to it. Stereo quality on the stock sound systems is average, with neither vehicle gaining an advantage (although the Bluetooth on the Toyota is a great feature and the tie breaker.) Toyota doesn’t offer as many interior options as Ford, and we think the high-end Ford interiors look better than the Limited Tundra. Like we said before, those things really don’t matter to us when making a purchase decision, but they might to you.
In terms of comfort, we want to give both trucks a big thumbs up. They both deserve praise. IF ride, handling, and comfort are a big factor for you in your truck purchase decision, then take a good hard look at the F150.
WINNER: The F150 is a little nicer, but lacking in features. The Tundra needs more refinements to get a win in this comparison. Tie goes to the older design and Ford wins again.
OVERALL COMPARISON WINNER:
We want to be clear — both of these trucks are excellent. If you choose to purchase either, you will be happy for years to come. However, in our minds, the decision rests on a few key factors.
- Power — One of the reasons that people buy trucks is to haul and tow. While we see plenty of trucks that aren’t doing either on the road every day, we think that overall towing and hauling ability is important. Also, good quick acceleration makes merging with traffic and driving in the mountains more enjoyable and a little big safer too.
- Safety — Second only to overall utility, safety is crucial. With more people commuting long distances every day than ever before, the chances of being involved in an accident have never been higher. However, safety is more than just crash test ratings. It encompasses every aspect of a vehicle’s ability to function in an emergency situation. Stopping and handling are paramount, with accident avoidance being the most important part of the safety equation (aside from safe driving that is).
- Value — We need to know that we’re getting the best “bang for the buck” with any vehicle purchase.
- Looks and Comfort — We hate to say it, but we know that people judge you by the car you’re driving. A good looking vehicle gets respect. Comfort makes long commutes more enjoyable.
- Availability of features and options — Buying a truck can often come down to which vehicle you can get with the features you really want or need.
Comparing the F150 to the Tundra, we know the Tundra is superior in terms of power. In fact, the new Tundra is the most powerful half-ton on the road. The combination of a dual VVT DOHC 5.7L V8 and a six-speed transmission make the Tundra as fast as some sports cars, as well as giving it the ability to tow 2000lbs more than the F150 in a normal configuration. Tundra wins the most important category.
Safety is another area that we believe the Tundra outshines the F150. While the F150 has higher NHTSA crash test ratings, we believe Toyota’s superior accident avoidance abilities (better brakes, electronic vehicle stability control) make the Tundra the better choice.
Value is an area that Toyota has a long history of being superior. Baring some incredible, unforeseen event, there is no reason to expect that the Toyota’s resale value won’t be higher than any one of its competitors for the immediate future. Furthermore, while we admit that previous reliability is no guarantee of future reliability, Toyota has proven time and again it knows how to build reliable vehicles. We feel very comfortable recommending the Toyota in terms of value. The Tundra’s up-front costs are higher, but you will probably pay less in repairs and your Tundra will probably be worth thousands more than a comparable F150 if you decide to trade it in or sell it down the road.
If you had to choose between a King Ranch or Harley Davidson F150 and a Tundra Limited on the basis of looks and comfort only, we have to say that the F150 is the cooler of the two. However, if you don’t want to spend $40k+ on your next truck and instead get a more basic model, than the two are pretty close. We like the styling of the Tundra better, but we’re well aware of our bias. On the other hand, if looks and comfort aren’t that important, than the choice is clear.
Features that we like about the F150: Cool interior packages, ability to get a custom-build, two-tone color choices, and the availability of a 6.5′ bed on a crew cab are all great. Features that we like about the Tundra: Back-up camera, front and rear sonar, slam-proof tailgate, TRD package, standard 18″ wheels, dual glove boxes, built-in file cabinet and laptop holder, and Bluetooth radio. The Tundra offers more features that we like standard, so we have to give it the advantage. But, if money were no object, you might see us sporting a super-charged F150 Harley Davidson SuperCrew in addition to our loaded Tundra Double Cab TRD (with a supercharger being added whenever they become available).
While we think it’s pretty clear that the Tundra wins this comparison, we want to give a shout-out to every F150 owner on the road. The F150 is a great truck — perhaps when we compare the Tundra to the new F150 due out in 2009, the results won’t be so clear cut.
Filed Under: Toyota Tundra Reviews and Comparisons