Review 2010 Toyota Tundra 4×4 : Or how to drive down a snowy road sideways in a full-sized pick-up

What makes the 2010 Toyota Tundra 4X4 such a worthy pick-up in its class is that it is exceptionally easy to forget the trucks 5,400 pounds of metal, plastic, and glass.

Plus, the Tundra's interesting design mixture of a muscular and brawny body with sexy and feminine curves makes it unique in a world of manly big-rig styled competitors.

However, I was quickly reminded of the pick-up's true weight as the Tundra was sliding down the snow-covered and icy road (sideways) toward either a small forest of strangely pointy trees, or the much bigger and heavier yellow road grader.

As is always the case with these sort of disasters…at the time it all seemed like a such good idea.

Of course (at the time) I wasn't sweating so much as to completely fog-up the inside of the Tundra's windows.

But let's start at the beginning.

It was a glorious sunny Sunday morning and the Colorado Rockies were covered in a fine powder of freshly fallen snow. I decided to take the Tundra and my family up to the historic gold mining town of Gold Hill for a quaint brunch at the town's tiny general store.

To really test the Tundra's off road prowess, I thought it might be a good idea to take the scenic route up Lick Skillet Road to Gold Hill, which quite possibly, might be the steepest maintained dirt road in all of Colorado.

Imagine driving up the side of the Eiffel Tower (in the snow and ice) and you'll start to get the idea of what I had mistakenly decided was a good test of the Tundra's TRD Off-road package, 4X4 drive train, and the new 4.6 iFORCE V8 engine with 276-horsepower, and 313 pounds-feet of torque.  

To be honest it was all going exceptionally well and completely without drama (the Tundra easily clawed its way up the snowy road like a mountain line) until about halfway up Lick Skillet Road.

That's when I rounded a corner and almost careened straight into the giant yellow road grader. He was coming down the road (plowing the snow) and I was heading up. There was of course no room to pass, and as he was much much bigger in a I'll crush you like a bug sort of way, I pulled to the side of the road and straight into a small ditch.

The road grader passed, the Tundra's 18 inch 275/65 wheels and tires dug in, and in about 1.5 seconds I was sideways, sliding toward the back end of the road grader like a 4-year-old on the neighbors Slip and Slide.

It really doesn't take much to fog up the big and airy cabin windows of the Tundra. All of you need is 5,400 pounds of pick-up, a 15 percent grade, and an ice covered dirt road, and of course strangely pointy trees all along the road to get the job done quickly.

Somehow (and I really can't tell you how as I was  busy trying not to incur the wrath of my wife or the Toyota fleet manager) I managed get the Tundra pointing down the hill and back on the road in what most people would consider the standard way to drive down a road.

The Tundra has an exceptionally roomy cabin and comes with a full array of safety equipment including driver and passenger knee airbags. This was of course of great comfort to me as now the Tundras ABS was chirping like a crazed parakeet on vocal steroids.

I quickly realized that this was one of those good news/bads news moments.

The good news was that the Tundra's heated front seats were doing a terrific job of keeping my butt warm and of course that the ABS brakes enabled me to steer the pick-up.

The bad news was that my wife was looking decidedly frightened as I was completely unable to stop or even slow down the Tundra's forward progress. Normally this might not be such a problem but you'll recall that I was speeding down the hill toward a very large and very slow moving yellow road grader.

In desperation I looked for a hill decent button on the Tundra's massive dashboard. The Tundra has lots of huge buttons and knobs that are easy to operate with gloves, but no hill decent help to be found.

As the runaway Tundra was speeding toward the yellow immovable object I thought of all of the off-road goodies that could help me like the fuel tank skid plating or the automatic limited slip. All this stuff was great taking on the gnarly back-roads of Colorado, but useless in my current predicament. The only ray of hope came from the Tundra's roll-sensing curtain airbags. And that was a mixed blessing at best.

"So what would it be better to hit," I thought to myself as the $43,405.00 Tundra sped down the hill: the strangely pointy trees or the yellow earth grader?

"Ah ha," I almost screamed out-loud as I remembered the pick-up's manual sequential shifting.

I threw the somewhat cheesy plastic shift lever into manual mode and downshifted into first gear, or my version of manual hill decent mode.

Manual hill decent mode doesn't work well in situations like this. Instead of slowing down, the Tundra gained momentum as the tires locked up, and we slid like a goat on ice.

I quickly jumped back on the chirping brakes…now only about 20 feet behind the lumbering road grader.

By this point the inside of the car was almost completely steamed up from my flop sweat. Luckily the Tundra comes with automatic duel zone climate control.

I turned my side to a frigid 65 degrees and the air-conditioning did the rest to clear up the foggy windshield.

This of course just gave me a bird's eye view of the looming disaster. What to do when you can't go above, under, around and certainly not through the looming construction machinery?

And that's when I saw my salvation. It wasn't a run-away truck ramp, but the next best thing…a driveway.

Best of all…a driveway going up the side of the hill.

I didn't need the Tundra's front and rear sonar sensors to tell me that I was with in inches of slamming into the back-end of the road grader. It didn't matter because with one quick left turn I was heading up the driveway, and within a few feet the ABS easily stopped the Tundra now that gravity was on my side.

"Well that was fun!" my 12-year-old son said in a let's do it again sort of way.

My wife just wanted to go home.

I wasn't about to argue. The road grader had turned a picturesque snowy road into a slick ice skating rink, and I had about as much off-road fun as I could handle for one day.

With the road grader safely on the main paved road I easily drove the relatively flat beginning part of Lick Skillet Road back to the main highway and home.

Once on the highway I turned the rotary dial and slipped the Tundra back into two wheel drive mode, and the pick-up 5,400 pounds of weight disappeared like a bad memory on paved highway.

The rest of my week with the Tundra was as uneventful as you'd expect from a Toyota. It wasn't until I checked my average city mileage (13.4 mpg) that I was once again reminded that there is a price to pay for ago anywhere, full-sized, tall, well-built, solid, and extremely capable pick-up. 

2010 Toyota Tundra 4X4 Crewmax 4.6 V8 LTD

Price as Tested: $43,405.00

Engine, Transmission:  4.6 iFORCE V8  DOHC 32V engine  with 6-speed automatic transmission/sequential Shift

Horsepower: 276

Towing Capacity: 8100 Pounds

G-Tac as tested Data at 5420 feet above sea level

1/4 Mile: 17.12 second at 86 mph

0-60 mph: 9.15 sec

60-0 stopping: 137 feet

Max Acceleration: .59 g's

EPA Fuel Economy Estimates

City: 14 mpg

Highway: 19 mpg

Combined: 16.0 mpg

As tested: 13.9 mpg

CO2 per year: 15,651 lbs

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Roman Roman Mica is a columnist, journalist, and author, who spent his early
years driving fast on the German autobahn. When he's not reviewing cars
for the active set, you can find him training for triathlons and
writing about endurance sports for,