The 2021 Toyota Tundra works hard to pull its weight in the full-size pickup class, but despite a muscular V-8 engine it falls behind the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 in our rankings. It’s light on luxury, lower on towing and hauling ratings, and in gas mileage too.
We’d still buy one if we put durability and resale value at the top of the rankings, but nobody does full-size trucks better than Detroit.
We give the 2021 Tundra a TCC Rating of 4.8 out of 10.
For 2021, the few changes to the Tundra include new Nightshade and Trail Special Editions, which are mostly visual changes. The major versions—SR, SR5, Limited, TRD Pro, Platinum, and 1794 Edition trims—carry over with the same basic shapes that it’s worn since we had a President-Elect Obama. It’s gawkward (let’s make that word happen) and bulbous, and inside, the Tundra SR looks a little too thrifty.
Toyota pours its efforts instead into its throbby 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8, which passes out smooth, Lexus-style acceleration like flyers in Times Square. Its 6-speed automatic has the right gears for moderate speeds, but it needs a couple more gears at least to do better than its very low 15-mpg EPA combined peak. The Tundra can pull up to 10,200 pounds and can strap on 1,730 pounds of weight into its bed; it’s stuck with a part-time four-wheel-drive system, though, and its TRD Pro off-road model’s fine but it’s no Raptor or TRX.
The Tundra’s standard bench seats make six-passenger seating possible, but we’d upgrade without a second thought to power front seats and a wide center console. That way the Tundra can seat five, though the three in back get a very upright back rest that’s not so restful. Toyota sells the Tundra in three different bed lengths, but the nifty touches like in-tailgate steps, bed lighting, tie-downs, and in-bed storage found in rivals are absent here.
All Tundras get automatic emergency braking, but the IIHS’ low crash-test ratings are a concern. Tundras come with a basic 7.0-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, but more expensive Tundras don’t have the luxury options of rivals. The warranty’s average, too, though Tundra resale values regularly set a torrid truck pace. Stick with the value-minded Tundra SR5 and drive it forever; spendy Limited and 1794 Edition trucks look nicer, but don’t drive any better.