I mentioned the Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition we tested was a powerhouse that made me wish I had stumps to pull or building materials to haul, but of course that power comes at the price of fuel economy. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, after all.
I started my test week in the Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition by getting pretty abysmal fuel economy numbers on the dashboard readout. After running my paper route on Tuesday afternoon for the day job, I was seeing MPG readouts in the 14s.
“Don’t worry, you always get worse fuel economy doing all this stop-and-go driving in town on the paper route,” I told myself. “It’ll improve once you hit the highway.”
Or, as they say, not. The Tundra’s trip computer never estimated my average fuel economy above 15.0 MPG. For a brief time with the cruise control set while doing quite a bit of highway driving, I did see that 15 MPG figure on the dash, but as soon as I hit the first traffic light in town, that went away.
To be fair, the EPA only rates the Tundra with the 5.7-liter V8 at 13 MPG city, 18 MPG highway, 15 MPG combined. That’s better than the 12 MPG/17 MPG/14 MPG scores EPA gave the Nissan Titan PRO-4X we tested earlier this year. However, we somehow managed to observe 16.5 MPG out of the Titan. That’s even more strange when you consider that not only was the Titan rated worse on fuel economy by the EPA, it also was a four-wheel drive truck compared to our Tundra’s two-wheel drive setup. The Titan test week included about four hours of interstate highway cruising, which might have helped bump up the average a bit, but I honestly figured a day spent fighting hairy downtown Nashville traffic that same day would have kept it in check.
The Tundra’s fuel consumption, like the Titan’s, necessitated a mid-test fill-up. Despite a huge 26.4-gallon fuel tank, I was on “E” by the fifth day of our test. Knowing I had a lot of driving to do that day, I stopped at a gas station first thing and put $50 in at $3.199 per gallon. That was just barely enough to bring the gas gauge’s needle back up to the 3/4 mark.
That kind of gasoline expense isn’t made for a journalist’s budget. Unless you’re swimming in Texas Tea and raking in those petrodollars like the Ewings, the Texan Tundra’s appetite for fuel probably won’t be doing your budget any favors, either. It all makes me wonder why Toyota didn’t make the 4.0-liter V6 engine an option in the 1794 Edition or any of the other upmarket Tundras. Perhaps it was seen as too coarse or unrefined — I wouldn’t know, as I haven’t experienced that particular engine in a Tundra yet. Or perhaps its EPA ratings of 16 MPG city, 20 MPG highway, 17 MPG combined just aren’t sufficiently better than the big 5.7-liter V8′s numbers to justify making it an option in a truck priced well into the $40,000 range, where folks aren’t necessarily thinking about fuel costs.
For those of us of more meager means, there’s the Tundra’s little brother, the Tacoma, which the EPA rates at up to 27 MPG highway when properly equipped. That’s a little more my speed. Based on my finances and hauling needs, the Tundra in just about any form is way too much truck for me. Your mileage may vary, as the old saying goes.
Disclosure: Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.