These are the 9 best and worst Toyota Tundra years to explore every biome on earth with!

These are the 9 best and worst Toyota Tundra years to explore every biome on earth with!

While it’s not a truck that you’d typically associate Captain America (or America in general) with, a good old Toyota Tundra would make even an Avenger’s level threat no more than a small mound in a New York suburban backyard.

Some of its years, on the other hand, are just about as cold, barren, and uncomfortable as its geographical namesake since you’ll have nothing but problems on board hindering it from being a true cult classic.

With that said, if you want nothing less than absolute cinema out of this Toyota pickup that has enough towing power to pull a space shuttle, take a gander at these model years we picked out!

What are the best and worst Toyota Tundra model years?

The best Toyota Tundra years to buy are 2005, 2009, 2015, and 2021, while the worst are 2000, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2022.

The best and worst Toyota Tundra years are based on their consumer and expert ratings, reliability reviews, notable features, and complaints received.

In the full-size truck segment lies the Toyota Tundra, a well-known nameplate in the Western world of workhorses that often shares the top ten list with greats like the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado.

But while it doesn’t always share the limelight with rivals up on the podium, the relatively long years that the Tundra has been around suggests that the market for it is still alive and kicking.

Now we ask the same base question for every vehicle we cover: which are the good years that have your best interests at heart, and which are the bad ones that are just pure letdowns from the start?

Since we’re talking about the Toyota Tundra, there are plenty of well-mannered years worth buying, such as the 2005, 2009, 2015, and 2021 models.

On the flip side, you’d best be cautious of Tundras from 2000, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2022 if you’re aiming to get the most reliable truck for your budget.

With the basics out of the way, let’s now get into all the tidbits on why these years are the best and worst for any self-respecting truck buyer!

What are the best Toyota Tundra model years?

The best Toyota Tundra model years include 2005, 2009, 2015, and 2021. Such years received fewer reliability complaints, possess good consumer/expert ratings, and offer great value for money in their numerous features.

2021 Toyota Tundra

2021 Toyota Tundra

With how long the 2nd-gen Tundra ran for, it’s no surprise that there will be a couple of “best” model years in this generation to look into. One such model year is the 2021 model.

The 2021 model gained consistently high consumer ratings of 4.4/5 on KBB, 4.5/5 on Edmunds, and 81/100 on J.D. Power. 

Car and Driver, however, gave it a measly 4.5/10, though this reflects more on how it stands against the competition in terms of ride comfort and fuel economy, both of which are not its specialty.

If you can spare a little extra for a newer model, then the 2021 Toyota Tundra would be the best pick due to the numerous updates stacked on top of an already-proven platform since the mid-2000s.

Being the last model year of the 2nd generation, it also benefits from having one of the fewest reported complaints for the Tundra, making reliability well in the owner’s favor in the long run.

A powerful and tow-ready 381-hp V8 livens up the pickup truck on and off the road. Also exclusively offered for this model year are a Nightshade package, a Trail edition trim, and several new paint jobs to choose from.

2015 Toyota Tundra

The 2015 Toyota Tundra is another good pick if you’re in search of a nice and reliable 2nd-gen model that isn’t too terribly “outdated”.

This is another model year that barely has any complaints stacked against it. In fact, CarComplaints even gives the 2015 model a “Seal of Awesome” for how virtually non-existent the problems are.

Consistency is also a big thing for this year, and by that, we mean that it received excellent consumer ratings across the board from KBB (4.4/5), Edmunds (4.6/5), and J.D. Power (80/100).

While you’re marveling over its reliability and dependability, it’s also worth mentioning that the 2015 model also debuted the offroad-focused TRD Pro trim, which comes with unique off-road tires, Bilstein shocks, a special front skidplate, and TRD 2-inch springs.

If off-pavement driving isn’t your main concern, then the base model already has respectable standard features like a 6.1-inch Entune touchscreen, a rear backup camera, BlueTooth connectivity, antilock brakes (ABS), and 4-way adjustable seats.

Even with the V6 being dropped for 2015, you still have 2 powerful V8 engines to play with assuming you don’t mind their subpar mpg ratings.

2009 Toyota Tundra

2009 Toyota Tundra

Opting for a 2009 Toyota Tundra gives you another 2nd-gen model that may not be the cream of the crop in features, yet still returns solid reliability and sports a V8 that means business for a fraction of the cost.

For how old the model is at this point, the 2009 Tundra has garnered not as many angry owners complaining of any reliability concerns, making this one of the safest years to buy if you prefer your truck on the road longer than it is inside a garage.

Further elevating its trustworthiness are good consumer ratings of 4.6/5 on KBB and 4.6/5 on Edmunds. Despite not being the best choice for the tech-savvy, owners still give good feedback about its comfortable interior cabin.

However, “comfortable” can still be rather subjective since older models like the 2009 Tundra do ride a bit on the bouncier side on rougher roads because of how the suspension is set up.

Nevertheless, it’s a safe truck to be when looking at its good IIHS crash ratings thanks to standard driver assist features like ABS, traction control, stability control, and an interior surrounded by front and side curtain airbags.

2005 Toyota Tundra

2005 Toyota Tundra

A 1st-gen Toyota Tundra may yield a smooth and quiet ride for cheap as long as you go for a 2005 model, which has the least problems reported for the generation.

For this one, you’ll need to be more careful in shopping for a 2005 model (or any 1st-gen model at all) since they tend to get more complaints compared to their 2nd-gen counterparts, especially when it comes to the airbags and suspension.

Rust is also a considerably common issue for the truck’s frame, so a thorough inspection underneath is recommended when looking at any particular model from the first Tundra generation.

Otherwise, it offers a very quiet driving experience thanks to the good timing belt design for the 4.7-liter 2UZ-FE V8 option as opposed to the later 2nd-gen models that have chain-driven engines that make more noise.

This kind of experience also extends to the ride quality itself, which can be comparable to driving a smaller passenger car due to its softer suspension and more nimble steering response.

What are the worst Toyota Tundra model years?

The worst Toyota Tundra model years are 2000, 2007, 2008, 2012, and 2022 due to a high number of reported reliability issues, some of which are severe and expensive to fix. 

Toyota Tundra years like the 2012 and 2022 models are also the worst due to their lower ratings on sites like Edmunds.

2022 Toyota Tundra

2022 Toyota Tundra

The 2022 Toyota Tundra of the 3rd generation would have been a potentially great year to recommend for its array of new features, but it lacks reliability even in the short term to be a stable candidate.

Consumer ratings for the 2022 model, such as 3.5/5 on KBB, 3.4/5 on Edmunds, and 78/100 on J.D. Power, are quite average compared to earlier model years. 

Moreover, getting 171 complaints on CarProblemZoo for a two-year-old model doesn’t do it any favors either.

For something this new, it also falls short of being a truly polished product due to many owners complaining of different issues that detract from a comfortable riding experience.

Such issues can include glitches in the infotainment system and other electronics, some trim pieces getting misaligned, rainwater leaking into the cabin, and various body panel problems.

Aside from these signs of poor build quality, the 2022 Tundra is pretty bouncy and unpleasant when going through even the slightest of bumps on the road even by truck standards.

Fuel economy, while slightly better than earlier models, also isn’t up to par, with many owners achieving a few points lower than the advertised ratings (18 city/23 highway mpg).

2012 Toyota Tundra

2012 Toyota Tundra

The 2nd-gen Toyota Tundra easily makes up more than half of all model years of the truck, so there will inevitably be a couple of bad apples thrown into the mix, such as the 2012 model.

2012 wasn’t a good point in time for the Tundra amid hundreds of reports concerning its reliability and plenty of negative reviews for what was supposed to be the second to the last model year before the 3rd-gen model came around.

Apart from getting the lowest consumer rating on Edmunds (3.8/5) for any 2nd-gen model, the 2012 Toyota Tundra also gathered 205 complaints on CarProblemZoo, most of which relate to its engine and cooling system.

Some of the most common engine issues reported for this model year include engine knocking, reduced engine performance, numerous oil leaks, and the check engine light (CEL) turning on.

Another known issue with the 2012 Tundra’s engine is its air control valve malfunctioning, which can trigger diagnostic codes such as P2240, P2440, and P2442 as well as put the vehicle into limp mode.

2007/2008 Toyota Tundra

20072008 Toyota Tundra

The list of Toyota Tundra years to avoid wouldn’t be complete without talking about the 2007 and 2008 models, the worst that you can get for the 2nd generation of the full-size truck.

According to stats by CarProblemZoo, these two years amassed the most complaints for their respective generation, with the 2007 model receiving 505 complaints while the latter 2008 model received 431 complaints.

These model years are well known for their toxic blend of powertrain issues, body problems, and vehicle speed control (VSC) malfunctions.

There have been instances wherein the truck can accelerate on its own without stepping on the pedal, while others also noticed that the VSC light, check engine light, and 4LO (4-wheel-drive) light were all flashing.

Excessive frame rust is also a big concern for the 2007 to 2008 Tundra, especially since it also affects other suspension, steering, and even fuel system components underneath.

2000 Toyota Tundra

2000 Toyota Tundra

If there was ever only one Toyota Tundra model year you should avoid like the plague, just simply remember the first year the truck debuted, 2000.

With over a thousand complaints logged on CarProblemZoo, it’s a no-brainer to skip this model year if reliability, as well as safety, are your two top priorities in shopping for a used truck.

The top three problem categories for this model year are body/structure problems, brake problems, and suspension problems, quite a sinister combo for any particular vehicle, let alone a truck.

Once again, the 2000 model suffered from severe frame rust enough to break off multiple suspension and steering components, thus compromising the truck’s overall handling and safety.

Anything from ball joints, shock absorbers, and control arms can rust together with the frame, though there is no recall to address these specific parts. 

With that said, a recall (09V444000) has been issued to remedy the excessive corrosion of the rear cross member, which covers 2000 to 2003 models.

Many brake components were also believed to be defective because of how quickly they wore out or failed. It can involve the brake rotors, brake pads, and calipers, all of which are important for the truck’s stopping power.

Toyota Tundra Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (XK30/XK40) (2000 to 2006)

2nd Generation (XK50) (2007 to 2021)
2007 2008 2012
3rd Generation (XK70) (2022 to 2024/Present)


Consumer/Expert Ratings for All Toyota Tundra Years

Toyota Tundra  Model YearKBB Consumer Rating Edmunds Consumer Rating Car and Driver RatingJ.D. Power Consumer Rating

What are the common problems of a Toyota Tundra?

What are the common problems of a Toyota Tundra

Common Toyota Tundra problems are faulty air injection valves, sudden accelerations, exhaust manifold failure, premature brake wear, excessive frame rust, lower ball joint failure, and bouncy ride quality.

Engine Problems

Several years of the Toyota Tundra pickup truck exhibited different kinds of engine problems that can trigger the check engine light and leave you with reduced power and even damaged engine components.

One of the most commonly known engine problems on the Tundra involves its secondary air injection pumps and valves, which are known to corrode and become faulty, resulting in the truck being put into “limp mode”.

Other model years like the 2007 Tundra also ran into VSC (vehicle speed control) issues, causing a sudden unintended acceleration even with your foot off the throttle pedal.

Knocking or ticking noises from exhaust manifold failure were sometimes reported to occur in early 2nd-gen models. Furthermore, oil is known to leak onto the manifold due to bad camshaft tower seals.

Brake System Problems

Brake-related issues are mostly known to affect the 1st generation of the Tundra, with multiple components either wearing out too quickly or failing prematurely.

The 2000 Toyota Tundra received the most complaints regarding the brakes, which can involve the brake rotors warping, the brake pads prematurely wearing, and the calipers corroding.

Such defective brake components can show symptoms such as increased vibrations when braking, excessive noise, pulsating brakes, and, of course, reduced braking performance.

Rust Problems

Rust is one of the top reported issues with the Toyota Tundra that may not be as obvious unless you take a look underneath the truck.

1st-generation models, especially the problematic 2000 model year, have been plagued with rust and corrosion in their rear cross members so badly that the manufacturer had to issue a recall to mitigate the problem.

In comparison, early 2nd-gen models like the 2007 to 2008 Tundra had developed pretty bad rusting in their frames and frame rails, which also took a toll on several suspension and steering components.

Suspension Problems

Suspension problems reported for the Toyota Tundra are centered around its infamous lower ball joints, yet another defective component on the vehicle.

As with the many parts that can rust under the truck, the front lower ball joints are also a common failure point due to a manufacturing error wherein their surfaces might have been scratched, as stated in their recall.

Aside from faulty suspension components, the Toyota Tundra is just inherently a bouncy truck to ride in because of how its suspension is tuned, and this also remains true even for the newer 3rd-gen trucks when compared to its rivals.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which year is the Toyota Tundra most reliable?

Each Toyota Tundra generation has its own “most reliable” year worth checking out, such as the 2005 1st-gen model, and the 2009, 2015, and 2021 2nd-gen models.

Such models possess high consumer ratings as well as very few reported issues for their respective generations, making reliability and dependability their strong suits.  

What is the biggest problem with a Toyota Tundra?

One of the biggest Toyota Tundra problems in terms of the number of complaints is excessive rusting of various parts under the truck, such as the frame and the rear cross member, which are very common in older 1st and 2nd-gen models.

Other common problems include exhaust manifold failure, faulty air injection valves, lower ball joint failure, and brake system issues.

What year did the Toyota Tundra have frame issues?

Excessive frame rust issues mostly affected early 1st-gen models from 2000 to 2003 and 2nd-gen models from 2007 to 2008. However, only 1st-gen Tundras from the aforementioned years received a recall specifically for their rear cross members.

Is 2012 a good year for the Toyota Tundra?

2012 was a bad year for the Toyota Tundra since it received one of the highest numbers of complaints for any 2nd-gen model.

Some issues with the 2012 model include a faulty air control valve/pump, reduced engine power (limp mode), an illuminated check engine light, engine knock noises, and oil leaks from bad camshaft tower seals.