2014 Toyota Tundra
When the Tundra replaced the T100 in the Toyota lineup for 2000, it was proof that Toyota was serious about taking on the domestics in the full-size pickup truck market. And while sales have never really challenged F150 or Silverado, the Tundra has carved quite a niche for itself among personal use buyers. Now let’s see if a new manly makeover will help them carve out even more sales.
It’s hard to ignore the 2014 Toyota Tundra’s changed face. It’s larger and more in your face, and in tune with the more rugged appearance that graces the rest of the truck. And that more macho design was by design.
Despite being just as capable as domestic light-duty pickups, the Tundra has thus far been unable to shed its soft image. Well, as truck current marketing-think goes; the bigger the grille, the more capable the truck! So the new Tundra’s cow catcher grows in size, yet still blends in nicely with a new 3-piece front bumper.
The stance is certainly wider, and fenders are a little more squared off, all helping to reaffirm this Tundra’s credentials, as does towing up to 10,400-pounds. The rear end is “branded” with Tundra script; an integrated tailgate spoiler, and a 3-piece bumper of its own, while aero tricks on the rear tail light lenses and side mirrors help this brutish brick get through the air as efficiently as possible.
To keep pace with the high dollar pickups now in vogue, Toyota adds a new 1794 model that pegs the bling-o-meter with 20-inch alloy wheels and a power moon roof. 3-Cabs are available; the 2-door Regular cab and a pair of 4-doors – the extended Double cab, and the CrewMax crew cab with a standard power sliding back window. All Tundras add Halogen reflector beam headlights with manual level control; and the 1794 edition adds LED daytime running lights.
We are disappointed to see no major powertrains changes, however. It’s not that they’re inadequate. But, domestic full-size pickups, along with Nissan’s Titan, are making some serious strides in mixing more power with more fuel economy and Toyota is at risk of getting left behind.
As before, a 4.0-liter V6 is the base engine, and a pair of V8’s are available. We spent most of our time in the volume leading 5.7-liter V8 rated at 381-horsepower, and 401 lb-ft. of torque. While it pulls strongly and has a very responsive throttle, compared to domestic V8’s it tends to sound like it’s working much too hard.
It’s paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with tow/haul mode, and gets Government Fuel Economy Ratings of 13-City, 17-Highway, and 15-Combined for our 4-wheel-drive tester. That makes for a very poor Energy Impact Score thanks to 22.0-barrels of annual oil consumption and yearly CO2 emissions of 10.0-tons.
While the exterior has undeniably taken the macho route, the interior has actually gotten even friendlier. Materials vary greatly with trim level, but our CrewMax Limited had very comfortable leather clad seats and wood-style trim. Also, Tundra is the only truck with available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. CrewMax models offer plenty of room in the rear seats as well, whether left in place for seating, or folded up out of the way for cargo. Switchgear is nice and big, with a fairly logical layout; and major controls are closer to the driver than before for ease of use.
One complaint; like most rivals the Tundra’s navigation screen is hard to read in direct sunlight. The Tundra’s frame also carries over from last year, but the suspension has been revised and an improvement is quickly noticed. Ride quality is smoother and you really feel like you’re riding high and breathing thin air. Steering remains hydraulic, providing good overall feel, with better straight line stability.
During our limited off pavement time we found the Tundra to be plenty capable of handling the less traveled way to your favorite camp site or hunting spot; and engaging 4-wheel-drive on the fly was quick and smooth. An automatic limited-slip differential is standard.
And when it comes to pricing, starting at just $26,915 the Toyota Tundra is a lot of truck for the money. The 2014 Toyota Tundra has improved greatly and without a doubt has proved itself to be a viable alternative to the Big-3. Still, in this full-size arena, the domestics do it better. However, while Ford, Chevrolet, and RAM may not be worried at the moment; the Tundra is here to stay, and it’s getting better all the time.
- Engine: 5.7-liter V8
- Horsepower: 381
- Torque: 401 lb-ft.
- EPA: 13 mpg city/ 17 mpg highway
- Energy Impact: 22.0 barrels of oil/yr
- CO2 Emissions: 10.0 tons/yr
Still The Same Mazda3, Just A Bit Better
When the fourth-gen Mazda3 arrived for 2019, it grew a little more stylish, a lot more upscale; and loads more practical too, adding all-wheel drive into the mix for the first time. How does it get better than that? Well, for ’23 the 3 adds an engine update that promises to deliver more power and better efficiency. Time to speak truth to this power.
The Mazda3 has always been a great compact car, big on both fun and value, and has earned numerous MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Awards over the years. This current-gen has been on the road for 4-years now, and it gets even better for 2023.
Starting with the powertrain, the base 2.0-liter I4 has been eliminated leaving just 2 versions of the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, turbo and non-turbo. Base versions get a 5-horsepower bump to 191-horsepower, along with updates for its cylinder deactivation system. The 2.5 Turbo fits standard all-wheel drive and outputs the same 250-horsepower and 320 lb-ft. of torque as last year; provided you use Premium gas. Max ratings drop to 227-horsepower and 310 lb-ft. with Regular.
A 6-speed manual transmission remains available in front-wheel drive 3s, but AWDs come exclusively with a sport-tuned 6-speed automatic. We found it well-sorted and seemingly always on the same page as us whether we were shuffling through back roads or sitting in traffic. There is a softer overall feel compared to Mazda3s of old, which you’ll appreciate when encountering harsh pavement, but it still feels plenty agile when called upon.
That softer feel certainly carries over inside, where it has gotten much quieter, and quite nicely finished, consistent with Mazda’s Audi-like premium intentions. All 3s get an 8.8-inch center display, and all of the fingerprints on our test car’s screen signifies most people assume it’s a touchscreen. It’s not, however, as inputs are made with a rotary controller on the console. It’s not the most intuitive system, but once you’re past the learning curve, it’s tolerable.
The rear seat room doesn’t have the roomy feel of the Subaru Impreza, but space is certainly more than adequate compared to the rest of the compact set. Rear cargo space for this hatchback rates a good 20.1 cubic-ft. with trunk space in the sedan coming in at 13.2 cubic-ft. So yes, the Mazda3 remains available in both sedan and hatchback, but we still prefer the 5-door hatch both for its practicality and for its sporty looks. Top Turbo Premium Plus gets gloss black aero treatments including a roof spoiler and front air dam.
At the test track, power from the 2.5-turbo felt more than adequate off the line, using all-wheel-drive grip to bite into the pavement and get up and go to 60 in 6.0-seconds flat. There was virtually no turbo lag, and the engine felt nicely refined with its power delivery. Transmission operation was equally as smooth and kept the power flowing quite effectively throughout the ¼-mile, which ended in 14.5-seconds at 95 miles-per-hour. We really appreciate a well-tuned 6-speed in this world of overactive 8 and 10 speed automatics.
While there was definitely some understeer to manage in our handling course, the 3 turned in quickly and provided real, sporting feedback through our cone course. I-Activ AWD features G-Vectoring Control Plus, which uses both engine torque vectoring as well as selective braking to minimize body roll, and preserve the lively feel we’ve come to expect from Mazda. In panic braking runs, the pedal was soft, but that kept ABS pulsing to a minimum; and the results were great, as we averaged a very short 106-feet from 60, with minimal nose dive and stable, straight stops.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for an all-wheel drive Turbo are 23-City, 31-Highway, and 26-Combined; we averaged a good 28.4 miles-per-gallon of Regular.
Obviously by eliminating the previous base engine, prices have taken a jump for ’23, but so has everything else. Still they remain more than reasonable. The base S now starts at $26,855, with the top Turbo Premium Plus at $37,815, with many options in between. And sedan prices are even more sensible, starting at $23,715.
Like most brands, Mazda seems to be going all-in on SUVs; as the 3 is the last family sedan and hatchback in their lineup. And it would be a real shame if that were to change. As the 2023 Mazda3, the hatchback in particular, is just about the perfect car, offering utility vehicles levels of practicality along with better than average luxury, plus handling performance that few crossovers can match. So, long live the Mazda3!
- Engine: 2.5-liter Turbo-4
- Horsepower: 227 | 250
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 106 feet (avg)
- MW Fuel Economy: 28.4 MPG (Regular)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto
- Torque: 310 lb-ft. | 320 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 14.5-seconds at 95 mph
- EPA: 23-City / 31-Highway / 26-Combined