Our Toyota Journey took the next step on a cold, snowy February day. I received a call from Bill Stahelin, the General Manager of Larry H. Miller Toyota Scion of Colorado Springs. The long wait for our 2015 CrewMax Tundra was finally over, the transport truck had just dropped her off at the dealership.
Ready for a surprise? This was the first Toyota vehicle we bought from a Toyota dealership, and the first brand-new Toyota our family has ever purchased. The truck had less than 50 miles on the clock when we signed that day, brand new in every way. The team at LHM took great care of our entire family, and we were in & out of the dealership in record time (less than 2 hours).
Our goal from the beginning was to spend some quality time in the Radiant Red beauty in stock form, so I could get a feel for how a fresh off the lot Tundra performed prior to starting any modifications. Of course I couldn’t NOT do anything to her, so the first mod was a new startup screen for the Entune entertainment system.
We started small in terms of spending time in the truck: A quick trip to the cabin in the mountains (about two hours each way), lumber hauling, and general around-town duties. I did take her up into the woods after some snow to test the traction control and ABS functionality. Everything performed flawlessly and it’s easy to see how many people would choose to keep their rig stock.
Less than two weeks after bringing the Tundra home, we got a little antsy for a road trip. Two quick phone calls later and plans were place to visit friends and family in New Mexico for a long weekend. We loaded up a few bags & the kids in the Tundra and headed south.
The trip to Clovis Friday, then to Carlsbad on Saturday went completely without incident. The Tundra feels at home on the interstate as well as two lane highways. The CrewMax spaciousness combined with the limited trim makes for very comfortable travel, it’s almost like rolling down the highway in your living room. Other than the overabundance of chrome on the truck, there was nothing about this part of the trip that wasn’t perfect.
We spent Saturday afternoon and evening watching the grandkids play and catching up with my family. Sunday morning was more of the same, Brenden & Alana had so much fun playing on the farm. Finally though, it was time to pack up and head north. The seven hour drive from Carlsbad to Colorado Springs is not difficult, but can be a bit boring. So we planned to stop & spend a little time at a few places along the way.
There’s a neat state park outside Roswell, NM with a cool playground so we made our way out there for a pitstop before heading north. Spending this time meant we’d hit the Colorado border after dark, but we didn’t expect any issues. A little after dinner time, we arrived in Las Vegas NM for a quick bite before getting the kids ready to pass out in the truck. Angie checked Facebook real quick and learned the news: It was snowing at home in Colorado Springs and the out-of-nowhere storm was headed south.
Our sense of urgency to get home safely quickly escalated, and we got loaded up and hit the highway. Weather and road condition checks now became a minute-by-minute affair, and we pushed the speed limit in an attempt to make it to Colorado before it got…bad.
As we made our way up Raton Pass, the snow started coming down in heaps, with wind blowing massive snow into the truck. Visibility dropped to less than 50ft in the span of a few hundred yards, and I remarked that I would turn around if I could find a safe place to do so. We were on the road with about 15 other vehicles, all now crawling up the pass at less than 30mph.
I can honestly say this is the most dangerous driving I’ve done on an interstate. In the dark, in a new truck, whiteout conditions, and still driving up a pass. Of course I switched to 4WD, but the Tundra still had stock wheels & tires, and I wasn’t sure how she would handle climbing in these conditions.
Luckily the pure whiteout only lasted a few miles, and once we reached the top of Raton Pass visibility was back up to about ¼ mile. We continued following taillights and taking our time, no need to hurry and be unsafe at this point. On the down side of Raton Pass toward Trinidad, I-25 becomes fairly curvy and while it’s not steep, in a snowstorm extreme caution has to be taken. I downshifted the Tundra using manual mode and was able to keep 100% control of the truck all the way down.
We took the first exit, found the first hotel we could, and got checked in. The only photo I was able to snap during this ordeal was after everyone was unloaded and she was parked, snug in the snow after a job well done.
To recap our first 2,000 miles in the Tundra:
- Mountain trip
- Kid hauling
- Lumber duty
- Trailer towing to the Yotas on the Beach event
- Road Trip to NM
- Dangerous mountain pass in a snowstorm
Needless to say, we’re sold on the CrewMax. In completely stock form, she performed perfectly and quite surprisingly in some very dangerous conditions. This truck has more features, comfort, power, and utility than any of our previous Toyota trucks. While she will never handle difficult trails like the FJC, and may not fit on some of our favorite exploration spots in Colorado, as an all-around multi-purpose vehicle, I don’t see how it can get any better.
At this point you may be wondering what’s next for the Tundra? Well, at just over 2,000 miles on the odometer, the modifications have begun. We’re working with the following vendors to create a one-of-a-kind Tundra, and you’ll see plenty more of her in future issues and at events around the country.
2015 CrewMax Tundra Supporting Vendors:
- Toyota Racing Development / TRD
- Toytec Lifts
- Larry H. Miller Dealerships
- Discount Tire Direct
- Ken’s Colors of Colorado Springs
- Rock Slide Engineering
- Bully Dog
- Icon Vehicle Dynamics
- Demello Off Road
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