2018 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Review: No, You Don’t Have to Compromise in a Pick Up Truck

A Girls Guide To Cars | 2018 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Review: No, You Don’t Have To Compromise In A Pick Up Truck - The 2018 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Featured Image

Storage and space for all your people and stuff.

Sometimes you just need a pickup truck. To get your boat to the river, your bikes to the park, your RV to an off-the-grid retreat, to do your job. To run things like a boss.

But, a truck isn’t always practical, especially with kids, schedules, and stuff.

But, sometimes you just need a truck. And so, the quandary remains: Should I buy a pickup truck?

Toyota Tundra Crewmax Pick Up Truck

This center console! It fit my huge handbag, a couple of water bottles and my laptop. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Who the Toyota Tundra CrewMax is For:

  • Buyers who need a pickup truck
  • Buyers who need room for extra passengers
  • Drivers who appreciate luxury features
  • Drivers who need flexibility in their truck
  • Families with two or three kids
  • Families with a dog
  • Buyers who need a truck for work and comfortable car for life but only want one vehicle
  • Buyers who need capability for off-roading, towing and hauling
Toyota Tundra Crewmax Pick Up Truck

The truck bed fully loaded and with room for more. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What the Toyota Tundra CrewMax Costs:

  • SR edition, with Toyota Safety Sense active safety features and a front bench seat for total seating of 6, $34,370
  • SR5 edition, which adds chrome bumpers and blacked out detail,  $36,080
  • Limited, which adds a 38-gallon fuel tank and leather-trimmed front bucket seats, $43,635
  • Platinum or 1794 Edition, which adds JBL premium audio, sonar park assist, blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert and heated and ventilated bucket front seats, $50,330
  • Add a power moonroof and power running boards $1,195, tie down cleats $42, skid plate $515, bed step $275
  • Price of the model we test drove, including $1,295 delivery charge: $52,385

Truck or Car? Car or Truck?

If you’re in this quandary, look deeply at a truck. We found during our week with the 2018 Toyota Tundra CrewMax 1794 Edition, that we could do everything we typically need a car for and also, everything we needed a truck for. And, all in comfort and luxury.

First things first, the experience from the driver’s seat was pretty great. The 1794 Edition is Toyota’s top of the line model featuring details such as vented heated and cooled front seats, suede and leather seats and leather-covered everything. Walnut inserts in the steering wheel and a walnut topped gear shifter gave a rich, tactile feeling behind the wheel and a rich look, too. And there’s storage and conveniences at your fingertips. I love it when everything is within reach.

Read More: Need more space and capability but not ready to make the truck leap? Check out the Toyota  4Runner.

Toyota Tundra Crewmax Pick Up Truck

Storage, Storage Everywhere

Probably the biggest drawback to a pickup truck is storage. Where do you put your stuff??? Toyota addresses this head on. First, we found 9 places to store stuff in the front seat, including a center console big enough to hold my hefty handbag, my laptop and a few bottles of water. I could have put a few more things in there, too. And, there are plenty of places to put a phone, tablet or smaller laptop.

The rear seat is very roomy, with enough space to put a week’s worth of groceries on the floor and still have room for passengers.

But the volume of the rear seat is made even more useful with seats that flip up for more room. During our time with the Tundra we moved some furniture and after we filled the truck bed we still had one more 5 foot long table to move. So, we flipped up the seats and slid it into the back seat. It fit like it was made to go there.

Then, there’s the truck bed. The model we tested had a short bed, with dimensions of 66.7” long and 66.6” wide between the wheel wells. The bed offers a lot of options for storage, including installing a bin or a bed cover. These would be great for storing luggage on a road trip or vacation or keeping tools or other necessities in your truck.

For us, the bed offered a great opportunity to haul furniture and boxes. The easy-open liftgate (which locks with the key fob) was easy to manage, both opening it and closing it. The Tundra’s size, however, made me think that were I to buy this truck I’d install the optional bed steps; these would make getting in and out of the bed much easier.

Read more: The mid-size Toyota Tacoma pick up truck is almost as lovable as the Tundra, and in some ways, even more lovable.

Toyota Tundra Crewmax Pick Up Truck

The Tundra feels bigger than it is; you can see it fits in a normal sized parking spot. Photo: Scotty Reiss

Yes, It’s a Big Truck, But Not Too Big

When I first saw the Tundra I thought, oh no, I won’t be able to park anywhere. Or take it to the car wash. Or get in it, for that matter. I was wrong. While it’s a full size pick up truck, it fits in any standard parking spot (though it fills the spot!). I didn’t feel comfortable parking between two cars that were also parked close to the space’s lines, so I opted to park toward the edge of the parking lot.

I wondered if I’d be able to pull it into a parking garage, another issue for city-dwellers. While the trucks height is significant, it was fine; the Tundra cleared the height bar, a few inches shy of the max height for a standard parking garage. I also made it through the car wash with a few inches to spare. All of these are key considerations since my daughter’s doctor’s office requires parking garage parking!

During my test drive, I even drove it to Brooklyn for an event. I was afraid the narrow New York City streets and parking garages that often refuse large SUVs and trucks would be a challenge. But nope. The Tundra did just fine.

Toyota Tundra Crewmax Pick Up Truck

This is a tall truck but not so big it won’t fit in the carwash! Photo: Scotty Reiss

Tall, But Not Too Tall, Even For Short People

Despite the truck’s height, and even without running boards, getting in and out was easy. I could grab the steering wheel and slide right in. My friend Kim-Marie drove the Tundra and she did the same thing, easily hoisting herself up into the driver’s seat. I think she really liked the physicality of the truck, getting in and out and driving something so big. It can really make you feel capable and accomplished.

However, if I were to buy this truck I’d opt for the automatic running boards, which are included in a $1,195 package with the sunroof. Running boards would help getting in and out of the truck, especially for kids and dogs.

Read more: Downsizing from your pick up truck? Toyota’s RAV4 could be the perfect transition.

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The reason the Tundra is so big?

For hauling, towing and off-roading of course! It comes equipped with a V8 381 HP engine, plenty of power for a boat, RV, trailer (for your vintage cars of course!) or construction equipment. The Tundra can tow up to 10,000 lbs and can carry up to 1,730 lbs of payload, or people + cargo.

And let’s not forget about off-roading. For weekend adventurers the Tundra may be the perfect vehicle: bring your RV, your kayaks and your kids to the wilds of wherever you live and drive through all the ditches, over all the hills and across all the sand dunes you please.

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Put the Windows Down. All of Them

This may have been my favorite feature: between the sunroof, windows on the four doors and the rear window that fully retracts, you can drive with the wind in your hair, soaking up the fresh air and sunshine. I especially loved the retractable rear window. That feature was awesome.

The Price. The Price

Typically this is the first thing I ask about a car: How much is it? And, if you noticed, I broke down the price of the Tundra at the start of this story. But what I didn’t say was that the 1794 Edition we test drove is top of the line and had almost every feature this truck offers. I’d only add two more things – running boards and a bed step (or two). And still, the Tundra comes in at $10,000 -$20,000 less than the top of the line models its competitors offer. And, at $52,000, it’s quite competitive with both the Sienna minivan and the Highlander SUV. Further muddling the quandary: Car or truck; truck or car? Good to know, you can have the best of both.

Toyota Tundra Crewmax Pick Up Truck

Seats easily flip up with a tug on the handle. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What We Loved

  • That HUMONGOUS center console
  • The smooth ride, even on pot-hole filled New York City streets
  • Tons of room for cargo
  • Rear seats that flip up for extra storage
  • The leg room! Lots and lots of legroom
  • Suede and leather seats
  • That Vintage Brown paint; embedded with metallic flecks, it gets lots of compliments
  • The sunroof and fully retractable rear window
  • 38-gallon fuel tank means you can go quite a while between fill-ups
  • Toyota Safety Sense with lane departure warning, sway warning, pre-collision alert, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams

What You Need to Know

  • Fuel economy is 13 MPG city/17MPG highway
  • A 38-gallon tank can mean a pricey fill-up
  • Seating for 5 
  • All charge and USB ports are located in the front seat and under the center armrest
  • Truck bed storage components are an additional cost
  • A running board is a great addition for passengers who might appreciate the step up
  • Uses regular gas

What We Listened to in the Toyota Tundra

With room for everyone, we turned up the premium JBL sound system, rolled down the windows and sang our hearts out. Until we got dirty looks from strangers on the road. All the more reason to take the Tundra off the road!

Disclosure: Toyota provided the Tundra for our test drive; all opinions are my own.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss