Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4
Words and Photos by Mike Levine, Dyno Chart Courtesy of K&N Filters

Eight-cylinder engines are slowly being snuffed out, as manufacturers shift their focus to fuel-sipping cars and smaller, more powerful motors, but they’re still a popular and necessary choice in full-size pickups. There’s nothing -- yet -- that can tow and haul as capably as a V-8.

With the writing on the wall, though -- in the guise of CAFE standards and inevitable hikes in gas prices -- truckmakers are having to work some serious technical magic to wring more efficiency out of V-8 engines to keep them viable and competitive.

The old axiom that “there’s no replacement for displacement” is no longer as relevant as it once was. We’re entering the age of smaller, lighter, more powerful eight-cylinder motors, where the spotlight will shift from quasi-big-block mills with 6.0-liter-plus displacements to V-8 engines in the 4.0- to 5.0-liter range.

That’s where Toyota’s all-new 4.6-liter i-Force V-8 comes in, in the marginally freshened 2010 Tundra. It’s smaller than the 276-horsepower, 4.7-liter V-8 (313 pounds-feet of torque) it replaces, but stronger, lighter and more efficient. The new engine is paired with a new six-speed automatic transmission, and together they’re expected to get up to 20 mpg on the highway.

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

Part of the engine’s appeal is its 310 hp and 327 pounds-feet of torque. Those are the best power ratings per liter of any midlevel half-ton V-8. Toyota is hitting those numbers by applying many of the same technologies found in the Tundra’s 381-hp, 5.7-liter i-Force V-8, which makes 401 pounds-feet of torque. The dual-overhead-cam 4.6-liter V-8 uses dual Variable Valve Timing to precisely control the intake and exhaust valves for better engine performance across all rpm. The old 4.7-liter only had single VVT, for the intake side of the cam.

We got our hands on a preproduction 2010 Tundra Double Cab 4x4 SR5 with the 4.6-liter V-8 and put it through a range of tests suitable for a mid-range half-ton pickup.

Toyota says the 2010 Tundra refresh is a face-lift, but you have to look very carefully to spot the exterior changes. The three-bar grille has been replaced by a beefier two-bar grille, the lower front bumper is different and there are updated taillamps in back. There are interior changes too, but you’ve got us if you can tell what they are. The big-for-bigness’-sake climate and audio controls remain, and the materials are still very plasticky and dark. This is one Toyota product that could learn some best practices on interior design from Chrysler (never thought we’d say that).

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

The Tundra’s a heavy beast, weighing in at about 5,400 pounds. The old 4.7-liter got the job done moving it, but it never generated excitement or high levels of confidence while driving around town or on the freeway, especially compared to the monster 5.7-liter powertrain, which begged for a load from the moment you blipped the throttle.

The 4.6-liter reminds us a lot of the 5.7-liter, but it’s more casual in going about its duties. Sure, less power has a lot to do with that feeling, but Toyota has also geared the 4.6-liter Tundra’s rear differential completely differently. The 4.6-liter Tundra has a final drive ratio choice of either a fuel-efficient 3.90 or a mixed-use 4.10, whereas the 5.7-liter only comes with a launch-optimized 4.30 rear ring and pinion that’s perfect for heavy towing. Our truck had the 3.90 rear axle.

We took the 4.6-liter Tundra to Irwindale Speedway’s eighth-mile drag strip to measure how its zero to 60 mph times compared to our gut feel. To check out its work ethic, we loaded it up with 1,000 pounds of salt (25 40-pound bags) in the cargo box.

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

The Tundra is known for computerized intrusioneering, so we manually disabled vehicle stability control, traction control and the virtual limited-slip differential (it's actually precise application of the ABS system to reduce wheel slippage instead of a mechanical locker or clutch pack) before our runs so the truck wouldn’t automatically cut throttle or apply the brakes. All the runs were conducted in two-wheel drive.

Using zero rollout, but brake torquing for launch, our VBOX-instrumented testing at Irwindale yielded a zero to 60 mph run of 9.16 seconds, with an eighth of a mile clicked off in 11.14 seconds at 66 mph in third gear. With the driver, a full tank of fuel and a true half-ton load in the bed, we were within a couple hundred pounds of the max 1,255-pound load rating indicated in the door jamb for the Tundra’s Bridgestone Dueler H/T P275/65R18 tires.

Even with the electronic nannies turned off, the Tundra exhibited noticeable lag at launch until about 3,200 rpm, or about a second, at which point the power really kicked in. Still, that pause limited performance for the first few feet rolling down the strip. Once it found its groove and hooked up, the Tundra felt very confident down the track with the heavy cargo, finishing the eighth-of-a-mile run in third gear. Shifts points were around 5,400 rpm, falling back to 3,800 rpm with tow/haul mode off.

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

We unloaded the salt from the bed and repeated the same tests, with noticeable improvements in performance. The Tundra hit 60 mph in only 7.97 seconds and ran 660 feet in 10.56 seconds at 69.37 mph. For comparison, during unloaded tests in our 2008 Light-Duty Shootout, the 5.7-liter Tundra yielded a zero to 60 mph time of 7.16 seconds. At Irwindale, the unloaded 4.6-liter Tundra finished the eighth-mile in third gear, with the same launch lag we experienced when the truck was loaded. The shift points, however, moved slightly higher, shifting at 5,800 and dropping back to 4,100 rpm. Without all the salt in back, the ride was a bit wilder, though still confident and true down the track.

One interesting thing we picked up on while running the Tundra at Irwindale was how well Toyota has insulated the Tundra’s cabin from engine noise. Sound levels remained low during all the runs, so motor thrash wasn’t a distraction. The subdued sound levels worked well with the engine’s constant application of torque to provide extra driving confidence in the powertrain. Standing outside and watching the truck run down the track was a different experience. The 4.6-liter exhaust note is strong and smooth to observers.

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

Of course, zero to 60 runs can only tell so much, so we took the Tundra to the performance-obsessed staff at K&N headquarters in Riverside, Calif., to see what the torque curve looked like across the rev range. Essentially, it’s flat from 3,500 rpm to 5,900 rpm, with a slight peak at about 4,500 rpm. Toyota says peak torque is expected at 3,400 rpm, so that result is a bit unusual. With the transmission in third gear, max rear-wheel torque was measured at 266 pounds-feet. In second gear, it was virtually identical: 265 pounds-feet. Rear-wheel horsepower builds steadily until about 5,600 rpm, as Toyota says it should, and peaks at 262 hp (both measured at the rear wheels instead of the crank that’s used in the Tundra’s advertised 310-hp, 327-pounds-feet rating). The engine continues to pull with only a slight drop until 5,950 rpm, when it bumps into the rev limiter.

Toyota expects the 4.6-liter V-8 to provide the 2010 Tundra with a 15/20 mpg city/highway fuel economy rating from the EPA. That’s up from 14/17 mpg for the 4.7-liter and only 1 mpg less than special fuel-efficient pickups from Ford and GM. Much of that improvement can be chalked up to the fact that the new six-speed transmission keeps the same first-to-fifth gear ratios as the old five-speed, but adds a new second overdrive gear with a .59:1 ratio for optimal highway fuel economy, as well as the 3.90 rear axle.

Road Test Review: 2010 Toyota Tundra 4.6-Liter V-8 Double Cab 4x4

In our experience, driving a 211-mile loop unloaded through West Los Angeles to the Pacific Coast Highway, up to Ventura, Calif., and back to West L.A. on the 101 freeway, we were able to achieve 16 mpg combined with the 4.6-liter -- a tolerable number considering LA's stop-and-go surface streets and we were keeping up with late night traffic traveling at more than 70 mph on the return portion of the trip.

The rest of the Tundra remains the same. Ride quality still suffers greatly when the truck is unloaded, making it very uncomfortable at times on some of L.A.’s notorious freeways. We like the Tundra when there’s payload in the bed or a trailer hanging off the back. In those cases, it’s a completely different pickup suitable to just about any task the other half-tons can do, if not more.

The 4.6-liter has a lot of ground to make up for Toyota. When the 2007 Tundra debuted with a choice of two V-8 powertrains, Toyota expected its then-new 5.7-liter V-8 to make up about 50 to 60 percent of the mix. Today, it makes up 80 percent of sales. That’s because the power-challenged legacy 4.7-liter V-8 drove buyers to the bigger engine. Only 13 percent of Tundra buyers opt for that engine; the remaining 7 percent choose the 236-hp, 4.0-liter V-6 with 266-pounds-feet of torque.

“We’ve been underrepresented,” said Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales USA vice president and general manager. “If you look at the full-size truck segment, about 20 percent is small V-8. We feel very confident that with the new 4.6-liter V-8, you’re going to see us become slightly overrepresented in the mix.”

Toyota 4.6-Liter V-8 Comparison Chart

The 4.6-liter Tundra is the first Toyota to offer water-cooled, computer-controlled exhaust gas recirculation, which allows for more accurate control of combustion temperatures through more of the power band for a wider, flatter torque curve, as verified in our dyno run at K&N.

The new 4.6-liter V-8 can tow up to 500 pounds more than its predecessor, depending on cab configuration. A 2009 4.7-liter V-8, regular cab, two-wheel-drive Tundra was rated to tow up to 8,500 pounds. A 2010 4.6-liter V-8, regular cab, two-wheel drive Tundra is rated to tow up to a healthy 9,000 pounds. That’s capable enough to handle most half-ton towing needs, and only 100 pounds less than the maximum tow rating of a 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 with a premium 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.

Overall, the 2010 4.6-liter V-8 Tundra’s biggest challenges will come from the Ford 4.6-liter three-valve V-8 (9,500-pound maximum towing with 3.55 rear axle, 4x2 crew cab) and GM’s 5.3-liter two-valve V-8 (9,700-pound maximum towing with 3.42 rear axle, 4x2 extended cab). Both of those engines come equipped with six-speed transmissions, like the 4.6-liter. Having driven all three powertrains, the 4.6-liter Tundra stacks up well with them in terms of power, refinement and efficiency. Depending on pricing, which hasn’t been announced yet, the 4.6-liter could turn out to be a very good deal for half-ton truck buyers looking to save money but retain lots of capability.

The 2010 Toyota Tundra with all-new 4.6-liter V-8 goes on sale later this month.


Drivetrain layout: Front-engine, RWD or 4WD
Engine type: 1UR V-8, aluminum block/heads
Valvetrain: DOHC, four valves/cyl., chain drive (dual VVTi)
Displacement: ci/cm 3:281.2/4608
Bore & stroke: 3.70 x 3.27
Compression ratio: 10.2:1
Horsepower: 310 hp @ 5,600 rpm
327 pounds-feet @ 3,400 rpm
Hp/L: 67.4
Transmission: A760E six-speed auto

  • 1st    3.52:1
  • 2nd     2.04:1
  • 3rd     1.40:1
  • 4th    1.00:1
  • 5th    0.72:1
  • 6th     0.59:1
  • Rev.  3.22:1

Ring and pinion: 3.90:1, 4.10:1
Fuel efficiency: 15/20 mpg city/highway (preliminary numbers)
Emissions cert.:  ULEV II


The topic is Tundra Truck not buy American . I am more experienced buyer than anyone of you here . I buy 8 to 10 trucks a year for my company . I was reluctant to buy the Tundra , Let me tell you I am really impressed with this Truck .This Truck feels rock solid compare to Dodge ,GM or Ford .
Whether we agree or not , the fact is a fact ... I have to say that Toyota is indeed the best Truck in North America .....After driving this Truck , my Ford, Chevy, and Dodge feels left behind ....I am sorry guys , if you disagree with me try it yourself i mentioned before i buy more Trucks than any one of you ...The second best is Ford ..
Since it is your money , buy whatever you like , it does not matter , you have to enjoy the Truck , not Me! ..Ford GM Dodge Toyota or Nissan all good if you like it ..

Seems like the people that have never driven a tundra say it sucks and the people that have driven the Ford, GM, and Dodge trucks seem to say the Tundra's better. Interesting little pattern i've noticed with in the previous comments. Haha. Buy what ya want, if it makes you happy thats all that matters. People who bash what someone else likes or has obviously views the vehicle as a threat or they wouldn't bother.

I dont know if tundra owners are well educated or not, but I do know they must not be using these trucks for what most people use a truck for. A truck is for towing, hauling, and otherwise carrying large amounts of heavy objects across various and sometimes rough terrain. It is a widely known engineering fact that a Tundra is simply NOT up to this task. Primarilly due to the fact that it has a high output engine made out of lightweight materials better suited for passenger cars as well as torque converter and transmissions that are notorious failures because they are built out of the same passenger car grade material. Secondly but probably just as important, The truck its self is designed like a car with a unibody instead of a frame, which should just be mandatory on anything claiming to be a "truck" You could drive a tundra around all day long everday for years and it could outlast a ford or GM or not. But you start loading that baby up for work and head out into a field or construction sight, and your truck will be laid to rest before you are finished making payments. Think about it... when is the last time you saw a Tundra loaded up workin in the real truck world?... I mean besides in a toyota commercial? If you like to look like a guy with a truck and find something appealing about the tundra, then buy it. It is the second highest contributor to US Jobs among the full size truck market after Ford. But if you have something to do, Especially if it requires you to take loads off road, You Only want big 3... I hope that Ford will continue to EARN their top spot in the truck market, but they will have to keep working on it and not let it slip away as they and GM have done with cars.

I have came across so many old Toyotas that still have allot of life in them that I cannot resist but to get one myself. I have seen models from the 80's that run better than my 02 dakota which has been treated like a baby.

lets talk about facts;
1. 80% parts content usa on tundra, thats more than EVERY other truck on the road.
2. the ONLY 100% assembled truck in the usa is the Tundra.
3. The only one that the engine, and trans were engineered and built in the usa is the tundra.
4. toyota employes 60,000 plus americans in the usa, and continue to build more and more plants here in the usa.

now that we have that out of the way, look at the trucks guts.
1. the tundra has brakes as big and bigger than the HD's the others produce, its a fact.
2. the rear diff ring gear of the tundra is as big at 10.5 inches as the HD's they produce and it even has longer runners in the gear face than they're HD's, another fact.
3. The wheelbase is longer per trucks package for more stablility, yet has a MINIMUM of 2 FEET shorter turning radius than the next truck.
4. The tundra has 2 Fluid to fluid heat exchangers, one for oil and one for trans to HEAT them up quicker and then is a cooler. NONE of the others have that at all.................
5. and last thing i feel like typing is look up the statistics and you too can read that the typical Toyota buyer is MUCH more educated being that a much larger majority of them have a college education, and i DONT THINK THATS EVEN RELEVENT but it irritates me that someone would make such a stupid shallow comment. Good day

A few things all of you guys have forgotten about the USA car market goes back 40-50 years. My uncle told me in 1966 (owns GM dealership) that the unions were going to ruin the car makers. The unions were striking all the time. Toyota doesn't have unions. 2009 they were also bailed out by Japan for 20 billion. The states where they are built pay for employee training and build their plants. Their health care is also taken care of. It's like 2 hardware stores in the same block. One is burdened with extra fees, taxes (zoning) & state regulations and the other stores fees & taxes are picked up by the state with no regulations. Not fair. I've driven chevys for 44 years and averaged 65 thousand miles per year and never had a motor, trans or diff problem. They start at 40 below and never let me stranded. I would like to see all car makers in this country be mandated to make 80% of the parts in this country and 100% of vehicles assembled here. I also don't agree with a global economy. You younger guys would have enjoyed the 50's and 60's when they built real cars. I think GM and Ford still make the best and Dodge is getting better.

I made the mistake of switching to "american" to help support our economy only to find that my GMC was built in Mexico. I now have 11,000 miles on it with NO abuse and it has more squeeks and rattles than my toyota did with 95,000 miles of ABUSE!!! And I mean abuse. I expect a lot out of my trucks and and actually afraid to even test this GMC. People can say real men drive american.... but smart people buy toyota! In reality toyota is the new american truck anyway. Im going back to Toyota if I can even remotely come close to not loosing my shirt on this Piece of junk GMC. Any takers can get it cheap.

Why are all these Ford, Dodge and GM guys all bent out of shape because of the Tundra? I guess it may be because they feel threatened by the new kid on the block. Name calling like a bunch of school kids. Chill out guys and go back into your trailer crack a Bud and relax life is too short.

This is in response to Briannn, I don't know about the earlier Tundras, but 2007 till now are fully boxed frames and not unibody.

Ha... American Trucks?
35% of Chevy truck is made in Mexico
Toyota has a plant in US and it's made here in 90%.
hmmmm which truck i an American Truck?

The Tundra 4.6 is the best truck I have EVER owned! From Detroit, my family either worked for GM or Chysler...they, eventually, all drove cars from Japan. I could never afford a Dodge, GMC, or Chevy truck. The cost for repairs kept me broke while I was in the USAF; I finally got smart while in college. I WISH it weren't true - but I don't think I'll ever own another American made truck...was it 53 billion to bail out GM and 37 billion to bail out Dodge/Chysler? Why did we need to bail out these companies? Because they made great vehicles? No...because they made poor vehicles that Americans felt obligated to buy. Unfortunately, these die-hard Dodge, GMC and Chevy owners will probably never know what it's like to own a reliable truck. Oh...Yeah Ford! You didn't need a bail out...maybe someday, I'll buy a Ford!

I love my tundra, hauls my 8,500 lbs boat like a breeze. I find it ironic that the people who are bashing the Tundra have yet to own one. Speak from experience people, not ignorance. Most Tundra owners love the truck, they do everything they ask of it. I don't see any problems in that

I have had 3 F150's and 1 F350 Fords and 1 Dodge. I depend on a truck for a lot of reasons and when my old Ford was totaled I tried to buy another one but was so impressed with the 2011 Tundra with the 4.6 engine for less money for the same features I wanted that is what I bought. I have not been sorry as I love the truck and have been getting 15 around town 19.4 on the road. Extremely pleased as I have hauled 5 people in the cab on the road with a pleasant quiet ride. I highly recommend this truck.

Seems non-productive, to add all these comments about social/economic, and/or education bias to this thread.

Best to keep it to "what folks think about their out truck". That said, Consumer Union [Consumer Reports mag.] sends out a questioneer ever years, to their subscribers, and the end result regarding the rating of full-size trucks, boiled down to one product, and one product only. When asked who was most satisfied with their trucks, only one brand was consistent throughout, and that was the Toyota Tundra, and the Toyota Tacoma. There were no Ford, Dodge, or Chevy owners that even came close; clearly, they had far, far more issues.

At the end of the day, you have to make your own decision on which brand to purchase. I made mine! :O) I want the biggest bang for my buck, and I refuse to throw good money after bad on any product, regardless of where it's made, or who makes it. I buy a truck for how it works, and how reliable it is. I'm less engaged on how the interior is put together. For me, that's not the issue.

Strangely enough, for some of you, it is.......... but we all make choices, and have to live with them.

It's funny how some of the people say"BUY AMERICAN".These people don't realize that the Tundra is designed and built buy the american workers. The Truck only has a Japanese badge on it. If this truck was build in japan, this truck won't be racing in the NASCAR TRUCK RACE. Not all Toyota's are build in Japan. For all the people that say "Buy american", good luck on that! You better look at all your appliances at home and look where they are made. Most people in the world like Japanese products,I know I do and I'm a proud american and i'm serving this country. I buy what is good not because it's not american made.

I had a 2006 Ford f-150 with the 2.4 liter v-8 and traded it in for the small v-8 2010 Tundra. I had major transmission problems with the Ford at 5000 miles and started having problems again at 85,000. Come on Ford. It's no wonder people like me are going over seas for our trucks.

The Tundra had the same size engine as the F-150 but would make the Ford look stupid in the quarter mile.

I'm not in love with the plastic in the cab. It scratches easily but I'm willing to forget that as long as the ride and the prefromance keep excelling as well as the gas mileage.

why buy a 50,000 dollar truck (dodge, ford, chevy) when you can get the same quality (better quality American made baby) for 15,000 less just because it says ford, chevy or dodge on it doesnt make it any better i own a toyota tundra havent had any probs out of it off road on road or anywhere in between... so come on people they may be a little bland but a 4x4 truck is a 4x4 truck it gets me from point A to point B....

I guess many people on this site do not realize while Toyota cars are japnese the tundra is built in sanantonio, tx and has more american parts than your so called american cars so I will drive my 2010 tundra into the ground before I think about buying a dodge, ford, or Chevrolet.

"...why buy a 50,000 dollar truck (dodge, ford, chevy) when you can get the same quality (better quality American made baby)..." - Joshua

That is the problem with America (Americans). The money conscious, all about me mentality, cheapskates. There are a few people left that value a name brand and it's quality. Too many people worry about saving a buck and screw American manufacturing.

For example, I would really like to buy a winch for my Jeep Wrangler. I could easily go down to Harbor Freight Tools and buy one of their Made In China specials for around $300.00. Will I? Hell no. I am holding out to buy a, quality, Made In The U.S.A. Warn winch that cost $1,000.00.

I believe in looking out for more than just myself. I want the best product for me that will also benefit American companies & America the most. It is nauseating to see how more and more Craftsman tools are being Made In China because they are struggling to compete with the likes of Harbor Freight Tools. Flooding the market with Chinese junk!

I would like to see a competition of; F-150 5.0L, Sierra/Silverado 4.8L, and the Tundra 4.6L. That would be a fun test.

Now we have a great walkway that goes to the beach and to the canals that came from the partnership of community with government

I've had a ford,dodge, chevy, and now I have a 2010 tundra 4x4. Out of all these trucks,I found problems with all except the tundra.I always liked dodge. But since I have this tundra, I will not go back to anything else. I have pull a 24ft. rv,I've pulled dodge out of the mud,I have hauled numerous fords on trailers. I can't say enough good about my tundra.All I can say is my hats off to who ever made my truck.I found a keeper. Good job Toyota. Keep up the good work.

I had both 2003 Chevy Trailblazer and 2003 Pontiac Vibe (Toyota Matrix). Within the last 6 months, I sold both of them for the exact $10000 figure. Both vehicles had less than 50K miles on them and excellent shape. The Chevy cost $10000 more in 2003, but the value dropped like a rock. I'm also looking at resale of vehicles and constantly seeing Toyota retain their value years later. Just writing from experience. Fool me once, not twice.

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