2004 Toyota Tundra Double Cab
Toyota’s 2004 Tundra Double Cab hauls every bit of its rated tow capacity—and even a bit more.
In much the same way rental cars can do things ordinary cars can’t, press fleet vehicles are often capable of extraordinary feats. For instance, everyone knows rental cars can travel in reverse faster than regular passenger cars. They can take speed bumps faster than the car in your garage. They don’t seem to mind being put into park while the car is still moving and their hand-operated emergency brakes are often a good way to negotiate U-turns more quickly.
Naturally, we didn’t perform any of those hare-brained stunts with Toyota’s new Tundra Double Cab, but we did ask it for more than it was rated to give. Without looking at the spec sheet, we hitched up a Formula 271 FAS3Tech and headed out on the route we use for testing tow vehicles. Judging from the truck’s performance and its manners while towing, we never would have known our 8,000-pound boat and trailer was a full 1,500 pounds heavier than what the Double Cab was rated to tow. Oops.
Throughout the test route, the Double Cab did everything we asked it to do, including climbing a 2-mile long 7 percent grade. The truck had to downshift to second gear and wind up to 4,300 rpm to maintain 60 mph, but it did it—and still had a little bit of pedal left. On flat terrrain, the Double Cab’s plodded along at 2,100 rpm at 60 mph. Since the turbine-smooth 4.7-liter iForce V-8 loved to rev, it didn’t feel overtaxed by the admittedly flagrant overburdening.
However, by the time we arrived at the top of the grade, we noticed the oil-pressure needle had dipped a bit, likely the result of much of the engine oil being at the top of the engine. Again, the truck was towing 1,500 pounds more than it was rated for, but it made us want numbers on the instruments rather than the H and L on the oil-pressure gauge or H and C on the water-temperature dial.
Like the Access Cab, the Double Cab boasted an awesome braking system that left you shaking your head in disbelief that there were drums at the rear, not discs. Overall power was confidence-inspiring and enhanced by the feel. Pedal effort was feather light and the antilock system engaged quickly and quietly, and at the proper threshold.
The Double Cab’s chassis also felt noticeably stiff. Side rails on the ladder frame were simple C channels with six crossmembers. Despite the fairly common construction, the chassis was all but devoid of vibration. Rattles were nonexistent.
The ride was firm, yet not harsh or jarring in any way. At the rear, the Double Cab was fitted with multileaf springs. Up front, double wishbones with coils over the shocks, which were Toyota/Bilstein low-pressure gas units.
One of our complaints with the Access Cab was the lack of front-seat legroom, and the Double Cab does offer more of it, but still not as much as full-size four-door trucks from domestic automakers. Perhaps the reason there wasn’t more front-seat legroom was to save room for rear-seat passengers. A self-behind-self test revealed that a 6-plus-footer could sit in the rear, even with the front bucket seat all the way back, and there was room for three adults in the rear.
Beneath the rear bench, which split 60/40 and folded forward, the Double Cab had storage in the floor on the left side and a compartment for the jack on the right. The rear seat also featured a flip-down armrest with two cupholders and two more in the rear of the console.
The test model also came with a flip-down video screen on the ceiling. The system came with a pair of wireless headsets and a remote control, which fit into its own holder. You also could plug in a camcorder using the jacks at the rear of the console, which also included jacks and volume controls for two more headsets. The DVD player was mounted conveniently in the storage compartment in the console where front- or rear-seat passengers could access it to change discs.
The optional leather seats offered adequate thigh support and the optional heaters were handy on crisp winter mornings. We also appreciated the HVAC vents built into the B-pillars.
Perhaps the coolest interior feature was the rear window, which powered down and out of sight into the rear cabin wall forward of the bed. The switch to the left of the steering wheel would lower it in one motion—an express down option would be nice to have—but when raising the window up, it stopped halfway to ensure that everything—hair, hands, feet, small children—is all clear. Very cool.
The power window provided excellent access to the bed and was handy for backing a trailer. Since the window is tinted, it’s a little easier to see out the back when it’s down. It’s also easier to hear whoever’s helping guide you back into your garage.
The 6-foot bed was a full 20.7 inches deep and featured a load floor high enough that the wheel wells were much less intrusive. They only measured 6.5 inches high from the bed floor. What’s more, there were 49.3 inches between the wheel wells, which means you can lay a 4-foot by 8-foot sheet of plywood flat with the tailgate open.
The features and benefits add up to make the Tundra Double Cab a very liveable truck. It’s not so big that it’s overly cumbersome as a daily driver, and it is—obviously—a powerful tow vehicle. It’s not usually a good idea to exceed towing capacity by three-quarters of a ton, but it’s nice to know a truck can do it.
EPA Fuel Economy Estimates
City... 14 mpg
Highway... 17 mpg
0-60 towing... 25.86 seconds
40-60 towing... 12.77 seconds
0-60 non-towing... 9.19 seconds
40-60 non-towing... 5.23 seconds
Engine... 4.7-liter DOHC iForce V-8
Horsepower... 240 @ 4,800 rpm
Torque... 315 pound-feet @ 3,400 rpm
Compression ratio... 9.6:1
Transmission... Four-speed electronic automatic
Axle ratio... 3.92:1
Fuel capacity... 26.4 gal.
Tire size... P265-70R-17
Brakes... Front disc, rear drum with antilock
Suspension... Front: double wishbone with coil-over shocks; Rear: multileaf with low-pressure gas shocks
Tow rating... 6,500 lbs.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating... 6,600 lbs.
Gross Combined Weight Rating... 13,100 lbs.
Overall length... 230.1"
Maximum width... 79.7"
Curb weight... 5,020 lb.
Price as tested... $38,587
2002 Formula 271 FAS3Tech
Customer service... 800-331-4331
Web site... www.toyota.com