Friday, February 17, 2012

2012 Toyota Tundra Vs F150, Silverado and Ram, A 2012 Comparison

For those of you looking to buy a 2012 model year half ton truck, never before has their been so many choices available. Only a few years ago there were only a couple of truck makes that stood out above the rest, but today most of the other trucks have caught up.

Ten or fifteen years ago, the only reasons to buy a Toyota truck were low prices, good fuel mileage, and durability. If you needed a truck that could haul a large load or pull a fifth-wheel camper you definitely did not slow down for the local Toyota dealership. If you wanted a roomy cab with lots of extras, Toyota trucks were not for you. Times have definitely changed.

With Toyota's introduction of the Tundra several years ago, it has continually strived to compete in the half-ton pickup market. They have made their larger truck more bulky, more powerful, and more comfortable in order to catch up with Ford, Chevy and Dodge. But have they? Do Toyota Tundra's "measure up," or are the American made half-tons still the better buy for truck buyers?

First off, Toyota has made the mistake of sacrificing too much fuel economy for power. For years Toyota has been known for their economically viable choices in the automobile markets. However, with their change of focus in the pickup market, Toyota has chosen to go more for a high horsepower truck than an economic truck. That will definitely get them a look from people wanting a strong looking and feeling truck, but at a time when fuel mileage is key, Toyota has placed themselves near the back of the pack with Dodge for Fuel mileage.

Yes, their 4.6 L version gets 20 mpg, but that model does not come close to the payload and towing capacities as the other trucks. The 5.7 L version gets 18 mpg, and, although it outpaces both the Chevy (5.3L) and Ford (5.0L) standard engines in HP (Toyota 5.7L - 381 hp, Chevy 5.3L - 315 hp, and Ford 5.0L - 360 hp) it lags in fuel efficiency and still comes up short in max payload and towing. The Toyota engine packages just don't yet have the right mix of efficiency and power to appeal to the mass of truck buyers in the American market as well as Chevy and Ford, yet. I would expect them to put in the effort to catch up in efficiency as quickly as they caught up in horsepower.

There are a few areas where Toyota did a good job.  First, Toyota's Tundra has added a huge amount of size to the cab interior in recent years. Many people see Ford as one of the roomiest cabs in the truck market today, but the only interior dimension that they beat the Tundra in is in head room, and that is only by 1 inch. The Tundra's shoulder, hip, and leg room is leaves room for any rider or driver to stretch out and enjoy the ride.

Second, although Toyota trucks have not been known for their interior extras and innovations, the Tundra has come a long way. The 2012 Tundra has an optional 4-disc changer, when Chevy is removing their 6-disc changer option. It also has bluetooth wireless and rear seat DVD system options. These bring the Tundra up to date and more. The Tundra also has 2 115 volt power outlets making the truck great for everyone who loves the outdoors or using their truck as a work truck.

And Third, just looking at the Tundra exterior, it looks like a large, muscular truck. Although the outer look of a half ton truck does not necessarily sell it, it can definitely help. Most men that buy half ton trucks want the strongest and most dependable. The Tundra's large front end definitely conveys strength and the Toyota symbol is synonymous for most people for dependability.

I would most likely place the 2012 Toyota Tundra in third on the American full size, half ton pickup market, just behind Ford and Chevy. The Tundra is considered one of the most dependable pickup trucks out today, but they have yet to fine tune their engine packages for the best mix of horsepower and efficiency. Also, with recent changes in Ford and Chevy frames and suspension, Toyota will have to adapt to keep up with their maximum payload capacity and their towing capacity. They have plenty of horsepower available in the 5.7L to tow as much, so some changes must be made elsewhere.

Although I did not consider Tundra a truck I would be interested in before researching for this comparison, I would definitely consider them now, when buying a new truck. I have listed some changes they need to make, but overall they are very competitive with the Ford and Chevy and their overall look and size are quite appealing.


  1. Most trucks are kind of like a stripper, great to look at, but on the inside, messed up!
    BRAKES--Manufacturers leave this information off of their "specifications" pages!
    Tundra Grade 5.7L: 13.5" front vented two piston, 9.5" rear unvented single piston
    Ford XLT 5.0L: 14" front vented two piston, 13.7" rear vented two piston
    Nissan SV 5.6L: 12.5" front vented two piston, 9.5" rear unvented single piston
    Chevy/GM 1500 LS 5.3L: 12.99" front vented two piston, 10" rear drum
    Dodge Ram SLT... 4.7L: (5.7 only availabe as "Laramie package" which is $8500 more than standard) 13.2" front vented two piston, 13.8" rear vented dual piston

    GM--you can get rear discs, they are small, unvented single piston.
    How much would the "cost" be if you were to upgrade each of the other trucks to have the same stopping power as the F150? Discs are usually $75 each. A brake upgrade can cost over $1,000.

  2. One more thing, important points of structure in the Tundra frame are joined together by rivets. After many miles of towing, or dirt roading, how soon will this "C" channel frame hold up?

  3. furthermore, if you cut the cab in half, how many sections of sheetmetal are they made out of? Only one truck stands out in that arena and it's the F150.
    More torque at a lower RPM.
    Best fuel economy.
    Most payload.
    Strongest rear-end.
    Strongest frame.
    Beefiest motor mounts
    Beefiest control arms and hubs.
    I don't see why anyone would buy something else......

    1. Preach Brother Judd, Preach!!! I agree with you 100%. Ford has been the top selling truck for the past 40 years for a reason. Ford was the first to introduce the 4-door crew cab truck, among other truck inovations. Ford F-Series pickup is the sole reason why Ford Motor Company never need the bail-out like GM, Dodge, and the others. Even in down economy Ford F-Series pickups is still the #1 selling trucks.