Texas looms large in the pickup truck universe, and the domestic big-truck makers each have their own homage to Texas and its history, such as the Ford F-Series King Ranch. Chevy Silverado buyers in the Lone Star State can even get a special Texas Edition package.
Now Toyota, eager to move up in the big leagues of big trucks, has its own top-drawer Tundra model that honors a piece of Texas: the 1794 Edition. Loads of leather, a plethora of features and a mighty dose of Western flair, plus “1794” badging everywhere you look.
Tundra was treated to a major redesign for 2014, its first since 2003. The third generation pickup boasts aggressive new styling, an all-new interior and instrument panel, suspension refinements and such fresh upgrade packages as the 1794 Edition.
For the Texas-lore uninitiated, 1794 was the founding date of the illustrious JLC Ranch on which the Toyota Motors Manufacturing Texas plant is located. That’s some obscure stuff, and anyone who owns a 1794 Edition had better be prepared to answer questions about it. Lots of them.
The Texas plant is plenty busy, by the way. It recently celebrated completion of its one millionth Tundra there. The ranch, south of San Antonio, was acquired by Toyota in 2003 for its assembly plant.
Special-edition luxury pickups costing $50,000 and more have made major gains in recent years, with all the features and comfort of high-end automobiles. These decked-out titans retain all the workaday durability of the less-illustrious pickup models, but you’re not likely to see them on the construction site, except in executive parking. More likely, they’ll be spotted towing expensive travel trailers or large boats.
The Tundra 1794 Edition CrewMax driven here was big as the all outdoors, with Texas-size roominess and a massive footprint that requires wide-open spaces. At 19 feet in length with a 145-inch wheelbase, the CrewMax can be tough to maneuver in such places as tight parking lots. But there is space inside for six guys and their 10-gallon hats.
Tundra’s biggest engine, an aluminum 32-valve 5.7-liter V8, comes standard with CrewMax models, and with 381-horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque, it has plenty of pull. Acceleration is sharp despite the truck’s 5,860-pound curb weight, helped out by a sophisticated six-speed automatic. Towing capacity is rated at 9,000 pounds.
All that power and weight deflate the fuel mileage to a meager 13 city and 17 highway, which is about in line with others in this class similarly equipped.
The suspension improvements for 2014 translate to a fairly sophisticated ride without much of the typical jounce of a pickup truck. This behemoth handles fairly well, especially in terms of highway stability, with typical understeer. Some restraint is obviously required in cornering.
The 1794 Edition comes with essentially every feature available for Tundra, including part-time electronically controlled four-wheel drive, towing package, a full suite of electronic safety enhancements, backup camera (a necessity), full power seat with hot or cold ventilation and the updated Entune premium JBL audio/navigation/app system, with 12 speakers and seven-inch touchscreen.
Pricing for the 2014 Tundra CrewMax 1794 Edition starts at $47,320, and with a smattering of options plus shipping, the test truck reached $49,715. That’s serious money for a pickup, but this one truly has it all. Think of it more as a luxury car with cargo space and towing capability.
Despite Toyota’s strong presence in the U.S. passenger-car market, Tundra sales fall way short of the domestic trucks, with Ford F-Series the perennial leader of the pack by a long shot. Credit the intense brand loyalty of the typical pickup driver, which leaves relative newcomer Tundra out in the cold.
And despite touting its credentials as an “All-American Truck,” Toyota still must contend with a U.S.-centric truck-buying public that heavily favors the domestic brands.Cars, Texas, Toyota, Trucks