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Up to the Task

Sliding into the driver's seat of the new four-door CrewMax version of the 2007 Toyota Tundra was a little intimidating. After all, I was in downtown Louisville, KY, with a 9,400-lb. double-axle trailer in tow.

This test drive was part of Toyota's unveiling of its all-new Tundra half-ton pickups, designed to give journalists a hands-on driving experience. Our first assignment was to haul this load about 60 miles southeast of Louisville. We'd then take the trucks on a test drive in the country (without the trailer) and finally make our way back to Louisville.

My first test of this truck was to maneuver it onto the freeway ramp and get it up to highway speed — a daunting task with rush-hour traffic zooming by. Surely, if this truck were underpowered, I'd notice it in the first few miles.

But from the moment I stepped on the accelerator, I was quickly assured that there was plenty under the hood. Soon I was cruising right along. And while a city interstate highway isn't likely the most common tow conditions, it gave me ample opportunities to test the 5.7-liter V8 engine. It passed with flying colors.

From the moment you open the door of this new Tundra, with a large door handle that can be opened with your gloves on, you get the sense that this pickup is built for work.

All the instrumentation is clearly visible and easily readable at a glance. The control knobs may look a bit oversized, but they are clearly defined and within easy reach. They are a snap to operate, even with your work gloves still on your hands.

I was equally impressed with the Tundra's extending outside mirrors. Available with the towing package, these mirrors manually telescope outward, letting you see around a wide trailer without having to mount additional mirrors. The lower convex section of the mirror allows for peripheral views of your surroundings. No more bobbing or weaving to see behind you.

The CrewMax cab version is massive, to say the least. The rear doors open a full 80°, exposing 44.5 in. of legroom in the back. (The double-cab version offers 34.7 in. of legroom in the back.) Even more impressive is the reclining rear seats in the CrewMax. Need storage space? The seats fold down to offer an impressive amount of storage area.

After dropping off the CrewMax, we were treated to a day of driving the various Tundra models at a local farm. We drove the regular cab, double cab and CrewMax versions, putting each through their paces.

What really caught my eye was the very tight turning radius. Being on a strange farm I didn't always follow the suggested route. But a quick turnaround in the field was a breeze. The 126.8-in. wheelbase touts a 39.2-ft. turning radius.

What was a bit disappointing was the lack of a flex-fuel option. Toyota officials did say they are reviewing the possibility of offering the flex-fuel engine option (and a hybrid and diesel version as well), but not for 2007.

The new Tundra is a sound vehicle, offering a comfortable driving experience. And make no mistake — this truck is ready to work, and work hard. It's a major move forward from its predecessor in every way.

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