Kent Sundling: Mr. Truck 3-28-11 |

Kent Sundling: Mr. Truck 3-28-11

Kent Sundling Denver, Colo.

The Tundra SR5 Double Cab is a bold looking truck and I was surprised it had steel wheels. It is a V-8 with great acceleration, it is a towing machine. The full-size half ton is a top towing truck in its class with 401 torque from it’s 5.7L V-8, a six-speed auto, 4.30 rear axle ratio, engine and transmission cooler. EPA fuel mileage rated at 13 city and 17 highway. The big knobs for heat and ac are done right. I drive several truck models each year and the big knobs are the easiest for me to figure out quickly, like when you need defrost and it’s night.

Any truck that has tilt and telescoping steering wheel gets extra points. The gated shifting improves control for downshifting down the mountain. Electronic Brake Force Distribution and trailer sway control makes trailering safer. For normal driving, traction control, Vehicle Stability Control, and the front and rear parking sonar take away the need for trucking skills. Anyone can drive it.

The SR5 Package for towing includes receiver hitch, 4.30 rear axle ratio, trailer brake controller pre-wire, tow-haul switch, transmission temp gauge, supplemental transmission cooler, engine oil cooler and HD alternator for $915.

With the price of fuel you may need an oil well above or a load of hay to ride your horse to Starbucks. Tacoma handles the Titan Trailers dump trailer well. Tacoma with 4.0L V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission is rated EPA 16 mpg city and 20 highway. This Titan dump trailer is 6-by-8-feet and dumps your mulch, sand, hay, etc., without messing up your truck bed. Titan rated 6,000 pound GVWR, just right for the Tacoma.

Tundra has become a larger truck in 2007 and can tow with the best of the half tons. Towing ability is the hidden equation with most trucks. Truck manufacture marketing departments keep the public confused on how much trucks can tow by bragging about a trailer towing weight and then in the fine print explaining that weight is only for a 4-by-2 regular cab. Finally there’s hope comparing truck models towing ability. SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) has established towing standards that go into affect 2013.

The Society of Automotive Engineers along with a group of truck manufactures, trailer manufactures and hitch companies decided to determine which tests and rules should be used to give consumers the most accurate and comparable tow rating, classified as standard J2807.

Toyota takes the lead with tow ratings, being SAE J2807 standard compliant on all 2011 models already. Many of the new tow ratings on identically equipped vehicles from the previous year have gone down, in some cases considerably.

This may not mean the vehicle has changed in any way, just that it is being tested more thoroughly than before. Pay special attention as to whether the pickup truck you are interested in buying is SAE-rated or not.

The Tacoma Access Cab is not a full size nor are the seats. The driver seat sets low so your thighs are in the air. But I’m not the demographic (old fat guy), it’s a young drivers truck that wants to play on the weekends. Rated to tow 6,500 pounds of trailer with the V-6, it’s sufficient to tow a two-horse Cimarron trailer and the 6,000 pound Titan dump trailer I hauled hay with. It feels good on the highway, solid ride, in pot holes it does bounce harder than a larger truck but good control.

The TRD Off-Road package gives you all those toggle switches, from rear diff lock, traction control, hill decent, locking diff, and on/off switch for the AC converter. An AC plug in the bed is what I add to my trucks, very useful. Small compartments in the bed and under the rear seats in the Tacoma bed will come in handy. Both the Tundra and Tacoma had the cargo hooks in a track that I think all trucks should have. Securing cargo in truck beds is so often over looked.

As an off-road truck, the TRD TIX Pro Package has performance exhaust, beadlock 16-inch wheels, off road tires and adjustable tire air settings. This way you can set tire pressure for sand or mud. To complete the well equipped off roader, you can manually engage the rear locker, use hill decent to crawl down the trail and Traction Control to crawl up the hill. Vehicle Stability Control keeps the truck and steering wheel going the same direction on slick roads and improves how empty trucks handle. Electronic Brake Force Distribution is an interesting feature for truck braking to match brake pressure empty or loaded.

The V6 Tow Package $650, Class 4 receiver hitch, oil coolers, HD alternator and battery are a must for trailering.

The TRD Off-Road Extra Value Package $4,035 and TIX Pro Package $1,699, is what makes this Tacoma a sport/off-road specialty truck. All the toys on a truck you can go anywhere on the weekends. Which explains why it’s just $3,190 less than the Tundra SR5 instead of $10,000 on a lesser equipped Tacoma.

Cimarron two-horse bumper pull trailers are one of the easiest trailers to tow. I wish I had a wind tunnel to see why. The tongue is narrow, but the V-nose angle is similar to a lot of trailers. This trailer has a total empty weight of 2,700 pounds. The coupler weight is 280 pounds (10.4 percent), axles weight is 2,420 pounds (89.6 percent). It’s easy towing aluminum two horse bumper pull is just 400 pounds heavier than a lightweight Brenderup.

This is important for towing fuel mileage. Not all trailers tow the same, some are lead sleds and some, like Cimarron, can be towed with smaller vehicles.

The feed doors sit on the trailer side. The aluminum siding is also inside the fender well. A trailer of beauty you can give to your grandchildren when you retire. It has grease jerks on all hinges with beautiful welds everywhere. The rubber wiper on the rear doors work no matter which door you open first. Aluminum door cam rods with bracket spacer keeps the latches quiet and free.

Thanks to Transwest Truck Trailer RV ( for the Cimarron 2h horse trailer and Titan Trailers ( for the SUV dump trailer.


Kent Sundling (alias “Mr. Truck”) spent 20 years wearing out pickup trucks as only a farmer could. With over 1 million miles pulling trailers, Mr. Truck has a unique collection of truck and farm stories that will educate and entertain. Mr.Truck gave up his bib overalls and John Deeres in his quest to save the farm and moved to the big city to sell trucks. After selling trucks for 10 years, this farmer now writes for eight magazines and owns over two dozen Web sites, helping folks find the “Right Truck.” If you have a question for Mr. Truck, you may contact him at his Web site,

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