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Driven: 2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition is cowboy up

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For 2014 the Toyota Tundra was given an extensive visual redesign inside and out. Gone is the conservative Pilsbury Doughboy look and in a more muscular style with sharper edges and more defined muscle.

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The grill is bold and tall with the popular fist in the wind silhouette which is all the rage today in truck design. LED driving lamps add a little flash while acres of chrome brighten the front clip. There are now much more muscular fender flares front and rear with squared off edges that really make them pop.

The cowboy western themed 1794 Edition which we test here gets prominent badges on the front fenders and a new touch for 2014, the Tundra name is now stamped into the rear tail gate. That tail gate has a soft open mechanism to keep it from slamming down and the trailer electrical connector has been moved up into the bumper to prevent damage from terrain.

The Tundra is still however only available with a 5.5′ bed when you get the CrewMax cab, while other brands offer up to 6.5′ bed when you get the largest cabs. This is a bit of a let down in a truck costing nearly $50,000 to have such a small box.

The 1794 Edition is really all about the interior. It comes in a rich black and tan color combination with vivid wood-grain trims. Lining the edges is a good dose of chrome, silver and brushed aluminum. While it sounds loud, it isn’t over the top.

In fact, its right up to the edge of good taste, and combined with top notch build quality throughout, this cabin is a pretty swank place to be. A leather and wood trimmed steering wheel has full controls for audio and instrument display functions

Being a top level top grade, the 1794 comes standard with 12 way power driver seat and 6 way power passenger seat both with lumbar support. The seats are stamped with the 1794 logo and trimmed with both perforated and smooth leathers as well as suede.

The cab has a good deal of storage including the large console bin that can swallow up a laptop and files. There are three cup holders in that center console, and two in each of the four doors door. For ventilation on the go, the rear of the cab gets a vertically actuated power roll-down rear window as standard equipment on the 1794 trim grade.

From the driver’s seat you will enjoy that the new center stack is back in the center where it should be. 2013 and older models had it located further to the right where it was near impossible to reach. The top of the line JBL touch screen audio system has Toyota’s Entune suite of applications and services as well as navigation. The sound quality seemed a little on the flat side for a top end stereo system however.

Rear passengers will enjoy one of the larges cabs in the business with way generous leg room. The rear seats have a 60/40 split fold. For 2014 the bottoms now fold upward allowing for more vertical space and a lower lift in height than previous models.

The 2014 Tundra carried over its mechanical and chassis specification from the 2013 model year despite a complete redesign of all visual elements. Thus the Tundra is available with three engines including a 4.0 liter V6 and a 4.6 liter V8. The range topping 1794 however comes standard with the largest available 5.7 liter i-Force V8 with 381 horsepower and 401 lb-ft of torque.

The power goes to the ground through a six-speed automatic transmission with tow-haul mode and an on-demand four-wheel drive system with dash mounted control knob. The engine belts out a nice deep growl yet remains refined under hard acceleration, a joy to flog.

The 2014 Tundra is rated by the EPA at 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway and 15 mpg combined. As stated before we achieved an 14 mpg average in our time with the Tundra.

Suspension also largely carried over from 2013 models, but a number of running refinements were made to the shock valving and steering to reduce ride harshness on and off-road. Handling is solid and refined on the highway.

On windy roads the chassis showed a good set of traits for flat cornering and lack of rear axle skate. The steering was a little lighter than I would have liked though in its power steering effort. The highway ride was fine and smooth, but it was time to let the Tundra loose on the rough gritty back-roads to see if it can take the abuse of the path less traveled and still walk the talk when its shoes get dirty.

On washboard roads the truck rode stiff but didn’t exhibit the rattle and shake through the steering and suspension some vehicles do. The cab is well isolated from the vibrations and interior trims stay buttoned down well.

Through washes and flying over deep ruts, the Tundra impressed with its solid feel and toughness. At moderate speeds the stability control did a good job keeping the tail tucked in on the looser surfaces too.

Overall we came away impressed with the 2014 Toyota Tundra as we have been with past versions. The new styling is backed up by one of the more refined chassis and power-trains in the truck business despite it being carried over from the previous generation.

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