There’s nothing like a fast zero to 60 mph time to throw the gauntlet down between automotive journalists with overinflated senses of their divine right to low track times. Normally, that gauntlet would be about as bold or memorable as a latex dishwashing glove, but when we heard that our friends at Motor Trend had dashed out a 4.4-second zero to 60 sprint in a TRD supercharged Toyota Tundra — the quickest time they’d ever recorded in a pickup — well, then we were talking about a Hellboy Hand-of-Doom-sized mitt being dropped at our feet.
We’ve driven Toyota’s hell-raiser before. The 2008 Tundra regular cab that MT turned a double-quatro with started life as a $24,380, two-wheel-drive work truck. Then the in-house performance wizards at Toyota Racing Development got their hands on it. After TRD was done, the 380-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 with 401 pounds-feet of torque had become a 504-hp, 550-pounds-feet-of-torque demon worthy of working the farm for "Children of the Corn." In our first drive, we did a 1/8-mile run in 9.07 seconds with a top speed of 81.16 mph.
Of course, Faustian pacts come with a price. TRD’s enhancements to the Tundra started with a roots-type compressor grafted to its V-8 that cost $5,875, or about $48 per additional horsepower. The lowering kit ($1,699), TRD Big Brake kit ($2,795), rear sway bar ($299) and 22-inch forged wheels with soul-gripping 285/45R22 Toyo Proxes S/T tires ($4,699) further added to the bill. The TRD dual exhaust was $1,065, but it added another 5 to 8 hp and a fiendish growl. The lockable SnugTop hard tonneau cover — used to collect the souls caught at stoplight races — was $1,495. Total cost: $17,927 for the upgrades and $42,307 for the finished truck (excluding labor).
We teamed up with the saints at Autoblog for our second drive in the supercharged Tundra. The fine folks at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Calif., let us revisit the 1/8-mile strip we’d originally run the truck down.
TRD kindly left us a written copy of the technical incantation needed to turn off the Tundra’s multiple electronic nannies. We pushed the stability control button once to turn off traction control, then pushed it a second time and held it down for 3 seconds to switch off stability control. Finally, we held it down a third time for another 3 seconds to disable the truck’s 'virtual' limited-slip differential. All this ensured the truck wouldn’t automatically cut throttle or apply the brakes when we spun the tires to warm up the rubber or stomped on the accelerator to reach for the 4.4-second mark.
Laying down rubber at Irwindale was devilishly easy. All the torque was shunted directly to the Tundra’s rear wheels, where it was converted into enough heat and smoke to make us feel like we’d brought the underworld to the track with us.
We made eight runs from a standing stop in the Tundra. In the first start, the Tundra showed us that it was boss. Torque braking and mashing the throttle only resulted in a bone-jarring launch, as terrible axle hop shook us violently down the first 30 feet of pad and killed any chance of a decent time — we’re talkin’ Linda Blair-levels of shake.
For the second launch we changed our strategy and eased back on the accelerator. Bingo. The right pedal wasn’t fully depressed until about 15 yards down the lane, but we were able to hold a straight and level line. The tach quickly climbed to 5,550 rpm before we got our upshift and ran out of track: 5.55 seconds.
For the rest of the runs, we aired down the tires, losing about 10 psi of pressure from each wheel. Same launch strategy as before, and we hooked it up with 5.45 seconds, 5.32 seconds and finally 5.2 seconds, the best of the day. The remaining runs hovered just behind the 5.2 mark.
Clearly, though, 5.2 seconds is hideously short of 4.4 seconds.
With our egos bruised, we went back to scratching our heads about MT’s numbers and what we could have done differently. We think if we’d aired down the tires another 10 or 15 psi to gain extra traction we could have nailed 4.9 seconds from a standing start. But we also noticed that the penitent folks over at Edmunds.com measured the same Tundra in the quarter-mile using both standing and rolling starts. Edmunds’ standing start was 5.1 seconds (we were feeling better already), and the one-foot rollout launch knocked its zero to 60 time down to 4.7 seconds.
Of course, testing methodology and experience also comes into play determining 0 to 60 times. Thomas Voehringer, who drove the Tundra for Motor Trend, wrote an in-depth piece about how they setup and tested the truck. It's an excellent backgrounder on the minutiae and black magic of acceleration measurements and calculations. As they say, the devil is in the details.
So, 4.4 seconds just might be within the realm of possibility. Our hats are tipped to the crew at MT for nailing that fast time, though we think they might have sold their souls to you-know-who to get it.