Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
You'll Like The 2012 Toyota Tundra If...
If you need a tough and rugged truck that knows how to pamper its occupants, the 2012 Toyota Tundra is worth checking out. With the right configuration, the Tundra’s payload exceeds one ton and towing capacity can go to 10,400 pounds.
You May Not Like The 2012 Toyota Tundra If...
If you’re used to the smaller and more nimble Toyota Tacoma, the 2012 Toyota Tundra may feel far too large. Maneuverability and fuel economy are hardly the Tundra’s strong points, and unlike some larger competitors, there is no 3/4- or 1-ton model, dually rear end or diesel-engine option.
The 2012 Toyota Tundra pickup has its options list simplified to a few well-equipped packages, adding a new Chrome Package on Double Cab and CrewMax models. The Limited and TRD Rock Warrior trims gain a standard rearview camera.
A big project can call for hauling big people and bigger equipment, and the 2012 Toyota Tundra has both areas covered. CrewMax models can comfortably hold up to six adults plus provide multiple storage areas for toolboxes, jumper cables and extra gear. Adding to the Tundra’s comfort level is a rear seat in the Double Cab model that has more rearward angle than in other trucks, making the small space more suitable for long trips. If 4-passenger (or more) accommodations are what you seek, however, it’s the CrewMax you’ll be wanting. With its fore-and-aft-adjustable rear seats and adjustable seatback, the 2012 Toyota Tundra CrewMax pickup is the ultimate people-hauler.
The 2012 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup boasts the tough, in-your-face attitude demanded by full-size pickup buyers. Although still clearly a product of Toyota design, the Tundra’s huge chrome grille surround, prominent hood bulge and sculpted lower door edges make it as formidable as any of its rivals. While the base Regular Cab model looks rather pedestrian with its black grille and bumper, up-level trims show off a lot more chrome and flashy options. The Double Cab model features shorter half doors for accessing the small rear seat, while the CrewMax models are easily identifiable by their longer cabs, shorter beds and long rear doors. Toyota also offers a Work Truck package that equips the 2012 Toyota Tundra pickup with a vinyl bench seat, rubber flooring and a choice between the 4.0-liter V6 or the 4.7-liter V8.
From behind the wheel, there is no getting around that the 2012 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup is a really big truck. 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. The Limited trim’s rearview camera is a great help when parking or attaching a trailer and really should be standard on all models. As for how the 2012 Toyota Tundra pickup drives, we found the big Toyota offers excellent steering feel and a better highway ride than some of its competitors. The good handling and solid body have everything to do with the Tundra’s frame, which features a fully-boxed front section, partially-boxed C-channel under the passenger compartment and more flexible open C-channel below the bed. 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.
With more than 28 model variations (counting the Flex-Fuel models) the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2012 Toyota Tundra extends from around $26,000 for a 2-wheel-drive V6 Regular Cab to just over $50,000 for a thoroughly equipped CrewMax Limited with the Platinum Package. Dealer-installable options can push that far higher. To find out what consumers are really paying for this vehicle, check the Fair Purchase Price on kbb.com. Over time, the Tundra will hold excellent resale value.
Standard equipment on the most basic 2012 Toyota Tundra Regular Cab pickup includes a V6 engine, limited-slip differential, trailer sway control, dual-zone manual climate controls and an AM/FM stereo with a single-disc CD player. The SR5 trim of the Double Cab and CrewMax includes power front seats, AM/FM stereo with 6-disc CD changer and heated outside mirrors. The Limited trim level includes a billet-style grille, front and rear parking sonar, rearview camera, heated leather seats, a bed-rail system and a JBL audio unit. With 270 horsepower, the standard 4.0-liter V6 is more powerful than many V8s of the recent past. Only those who regularly haul massive loads and tow large trailers will truly miss the extra power of the optional V8s.
Most optional equipment on the 2012 Toyota Tundra pickup is packaged into either the mid-level SR5 or the up-scale Limited trims. One significant stand-alone option is a bundle that includes a DVD-based satellite navigation system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, rearview camera and a JBL audio system. The 2-door Regular Cab and 4-door Double Cab are available with 61/2- and 8-foot bed lengths, while the CrewMax has a 51/2-foot bed. The Platinum Package available on CrewMax Limited trims includes heated and ventilated seats, 20-inch chrome wheels, navigation, a power sunroof and wood-trim interior. The 2012 Toyota Tundra pickup offers a long list of dealer-installable accessories. These include remote engine start, 22-inch wheels, bed extender and numerous TRD (Toyota Racing Development) items.
Comprehensive AccessoriesToyota offers a comprehensive assortment of more than three dozen dealer-installed items, including exterior and interior trim upgrades, cargo-bed accessories and performance and handling enhancements from Toyota’s performance brand, TRD.i-Force 5.7-liter V8The 2012 Toyota Tundra’s optional i-Force 5.7-liter V8 makes 71 more horsepower than the also-optional 4.6-liter V8, yet, with the technology of variable-valve timing and the benefits of a 6-speed automatic transmission, almost matches the fuel economy of the standard V6. Both the engine and transmission are built in the U.S.
Under the Hood
The 2012 Toyota Tundra offers three engine choices: the standard 270-horsepower 4.0-liter V6, a 310-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 or the 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8. The V6 comes with a 5-speed automatic with uphill/downhill shift logic, while the V8s are mated to a 6-speed automatic. Since the 5.7 liter makes 71 horsepower more than the 4.6 liter and gets almost the same fuel mileage as the V6, the vast majority of Tundra buyers select the big engine. All three engines employ several technologies allowing them to produce both big power and reasonable economy. Variable-valve timing optimizes engine performance for changing conditions and demands, and the V8’s 6-speed automatic transmission employs a low first gear to aid low-speed acceleration and two overdrive gears to maximize highway economy. 4.0-liter V6270 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm278 lb-ft. of torque @ 4,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/204.6-liter V8310 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm327 lb-ft of torque @ 3,400 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/20 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)5.7-liter V8381 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm401 lb-ft of torque @ 3,600 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/18 (2WD); 13/17 (4WD), 13/18 (4WD, E85)
Toyota’s full-size Tundra Pickup truck is a genuine workhorse every bit the equal of long-established pickup trucks from Ford, Chevy and Ram. Although offered only as a half-ton model, the 2012 Toyota Tundra full-size pickup is a very capable machine, with horsepower, towing and payload numbers the same or better than its domestic (and one foreign) rivals. The U.S.-built 2012 Toyota Tundra leads the pack in a number of areas, including safety. In fact, the Tundra was the first full-size pickup to receive a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS.org).