2012 Toyota Tundra Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Though the Toyota Tundra provides enough power for most users, its towing ability lags behind most of its full-size competitors. Plus, more recently updated rivals like the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 have better handling, too.
- "What We Like: 4.6-liter V-8 with broad, flat peak torque curve; 5.7-liter V-8 among best half-ton-pickup engines; 10,400-pound maximum trailering rating; Massive front brakes with excellent stopping power.” -- Cars.com
- "Maneuverability and fuel economy are hardly the Tundra's strong points.” -- Kelley Blue Book
Acceleration and Power
The 2012 Tundra has a standard 4.0-liter V6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. There are two other engine options: a 4.6-liter V8 engine that produces 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque, and a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produces 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers who have driven Tundra trucks with the 5.7-liter engine say it is powerful enough for nearly anything buyers are likely to throw at it. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard on V6 models, while a six-speed automatic comes with either V8.
The EPA rates the two-wheel drive Tundra with the V6 engine at 16/20 mpg city/highway, while those with the 4.6-liter V8 get 15/20 mpg and 5.7-liter models get 14/18 mpg. When paired with four-wheel drive, the 4.6-liter V8 gets 14/19 mpg and the 5.7-liter gets 13/17 mpg. Most pickup trucks get better fuel economy, even in models with four-wheel drive and the largest available engine.
Buyers should note that four-wheel drive is unavailable on V6 models.
- "Highs: Burly 5.7-liter, refined 4.6-liter.” -- Car and Driver
- "Of the two V8 engine choices, we prefer the 5.7-liter V8. With 381 horses on tap, this engine has no problem moving the Tundra even with a full cab and a loaded bed.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- “The 5.7 is strong and responsive at all speeds. It’s the obvious choice for heavy-duty hauling and trailering.” -- Consumer Guide
Handling and Braking
Reviewers say that the Toyota Tundra isn’t great to drive, even for a full-size pickup truck. They say the Ford F-150 has a stronger frame and the Ram 1500 has a more advanced suspension, both of which contribute to smoother rides. Plus, testers say the Tundra is more difficult to maneuver in tight spaces than other trucks.
- “A tall, upright seating position makes it easier to see over the big hood, but the Tundra's overall girth, like all trucks in this segment, requires some top-notch driving skills when navigating narrow roads or confined quarters.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Unloaded ride quality is harsh.” -- Cars.com
- "Rough ride.” -- Car and Driver
Towing and Hauling
Few reviewers comment on the Tundra’s towing and hauling capabilities. The Tundra has a maximum towing capacity of 10,400 pounds when properly configured, so it still falls short of most other full-size pickups except for the Nissan Titan. The Tundra can haul a maximum of 2,090 pounds in its bed when properly configured.
- “A Double Cab with the 5.7 pulled a 10,000-pound test trailer with no inordinate strain.” -- Consumer Guide