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Toyota Tundra / Honda Odyssey


By Kelly Foss, MyCarData.com


Starting Price: $25,920

Toyota recently introduced the significantly revised 2014 Tundra pickup truck. This is the first real change to the Tundra since the current design was introduced in 2007. All Tundras are manufactured at Toyota’s massive plant just south of San Antonio.

Toyota has been trying to horn in on the established full size pickup truck turf of the Big3 for some time. Toyota has chosen to focus on half-ton or light duty trucks, leaving the heavy duty/super duty variants to the “Big Three” (Ford, Chevy and Dodge). Where Toyota has made its mark and distinguished itself in the truck market is by applying Toyota’s expertise in vehicle reliability to pickup trucks. Not only can Tundras do “real” truck work, but they are also very reliable.

The new 2014 Tundra stands pat on the basic structural and mechanical components of the vehicle. Very little has changed in that regard. The big changes are in styling, interior and options — the human interfaces.

According to Mike Sweers, the Tundra Chief Engineer and a part-time hay farmer, “Our goal was to make a truck that is more traditional, more chiseled and emphasizes the outstanding power and performance of the truck… It is a very polarizing design, and one that I would want!”

The Tundra is offered in five trim levels: the base SR work truck; the volume-leading SR5; the well-appointed Limited; and two premium grades —“Platinum” and the all-new “1794 Edition.” The 1794 is a tribute to the ranch, founded in 1794, on which the Tundra plant is located in San Antonio. Tundra is offered in three cab styles: two-door Regular Cab, four-door Double Cab and four-door CrewMax, all available in 4×2 and 4×4.

My test truck was a well-optioned red 4×4 CrewMax Limited priced at $44,195. That seems like a lot of money for a pickup, but many top-end trucks frequently break the $50,000 price barrier.

It had a full suite of options including the large 5.7 V8, navigation, leather seating, 4 wheel drive, aluminum wheels, etc., yet there are still two Tundra models more luxurious than this one. With the Tundra, you get a commanding view of the road, lots of room, loads of power, a 10,400-pound towing capacity and unavoidably, the typical big truck pain-at-the-pump fuel economy.

The cab on the CrewMax was beautiful, well-appointed and huge! The rear seating area was voluminous. With the rear seats folded up out of the way, the interior cargo area is enormous.

Buyers will also appreciate features like the huge rear power window that rolls all the way down and the rail system in the cargo bed that lets you secure loads of any shape. The tailgate is now sprung so that it doesn’t just flop open. There is a rear cross traffic alert system which really helps back out of a parking spot safely and the rear backup camera is now included on all models.

The Tundra is a fine pickup with many loyal customers. The new 2014 model is even better.



Starting Price: $28,825

As much as some of the younger generation vows that they will NEVER own a minivan when they’re older, time passes, reality sets in and the inevitable occurs. Honda being the clever car builder that it is has anticipated the feelings of angst that can occur within new devotees and has made the current Odyssey the un-minivan-looking minivan.

I have a friend who responded predictably. He didn’t think he wanted yet knew he needed a minivan, and bought an Odyssey based on the styling. Over time as logic and reason have gradually overcome illogical emotion, he’s come to love the vehicle and no longer cares who sees him driving it.

People buy minivans because they fit a particular need much more efficiently than any other vehicle available. For most families, there will someday be a need for a minivan. Honda knows that and doesn’t even bother running minivan ads on TV…it just waits. The company’s confidence is well placed as the Odyssey routinely wins minivan comparison tests and customer preference awards.

Notwithstanding the stylish exterior of the Odyssey, the utility of the vehicle is safely ensconced inside those svelte body panels. From the outside the vehicle looks uncannily stylish and unorthodox, but once inside occupants enjoy the quintessential minivan experience.

The minivan people at Honda are very skilled at knowing what the public wants and then providing it to them. The Odyssey covers the bases by offering five trim levels ranging from the base LX to the primo Touring Elite. The LX is well equipped and delivers the necessities of family transportation in a comfortable and efficient manner. The Touring Elite adds luxuries like a DVD Ultrawide rear entertainment system with HDMI and a hi-res screen that can play two different shows at once including a gaming system. The 650-watt premium audio system with surround sound theater mode mesmerizes the kids as they watch their movies while wearing their wireless headphones. This car can even receive text messages and read them to you as you drive. There’s a cool box that keeps six cans or four bottles of beverages chilled, and the Honda Vac system, which is an internal vacuum cleaner with a hose, can suck up the crushed cereal in the carpet.

On the safety side, the car has a multi- angle backup camera plus a blind spot system where the car’s sensors will warn you when another vehicle is driving in your blind spot. The Odyssey is a very enjoyable car to drive. It has a smooth ride, very good control and handling, brisk acceleration and good fuel economy thanks in part to its variable cylinder management technology.

As expected, the major demographic group for minivans is young families with children. Somewhat surprisingly, the second-largest group of buyers is the 50-plus empty nester who wants comfort, great visibility, good fuel economy and room to carry stuff/people. The Odyssey caters to both groups and delivers as promised.

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