A truck that's styled in California, engineered in Michigan and assembled in Texas sounds as North American as any pickup on the road.

A truck that’s styled in California, engineered in Michigan and assembled in Texas sounds as North American as any pickup on the road.

The fact that the 2014 Tundra wears a Toyota badge should be of little consequence in the global scheme of things. Ultimately, all that really matters is if it can competently and reliably do the job.

Although Toyota is a major player in the midsize pickup category, it has had a tougher time gaining traction in the full-size arena, where brand loyalty runs deep. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler continue to make major improvements in their respective haulers, in styling appeal, increased brute strength and lower operating costs through improved fuel economy. And don’t forget that their heavy-duty truck counterparts have no direct competition.

That level of brand intensity has pretty much relegated Toyota to the rear of the pickup pack. Still the Tundra has earned plenty of respect for its overall superior build quality and towing/hauling competency and has been staunchly supported by Toyota loyalists since its 2007 model-year launch.

Those folks in particular should find plenty to like about the 2014 Tundra’s facelift and general updating. The 22.2-inch-deep cargo bed is also new as is the lockable tailgate with integrated spoiler.

Toyota has installed a new instrument panel with easier-to-read gauges and an improved multi-information screen. The audio and ventilation work-glove-friendly control knobs are now within closer proximity to the driver’s reach.

Toyota’s designers reshaped the front and fold-up rear seats (new to four-door CrewMax versions) for greater comfort and improved ventilation. More sound-deadening materials have been added for a quieter cabin. Additionally, either bench or bucket seats can be had in both extended-cab and CrewMax models. A bench seat is standard with regular-cab Tundras.

Toyota has updated the Tundra’s suspension for a more compliant ride and also tinkered with the steering for improved straight-line stability.

Virtually unchanged for 2014 are the Tundra’s available power trains. The SR Regular and extended 4x2 Double Cab models come with a 4.0-liter V-6 that makes 270 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque. With a 16-mpg rating in the city and 20 on the highway, the V-6 is the most economical choice in the lineup.

Optional for SR 4x2 Double Cabs and standard for SR5 two- and four-wheel-drive Double Cab and CrewMax trucks is a 4.6-liter V-8 with 310 horsepower and 327 pound-feet of torque.

On all top-tier Limited, Platinum and new 1794 Edition CrewMax versions (and available in other many other Tundra varieties) is a 5.7-liter V-8 that’s rated at 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque.

A five-speed automatic transmission comes with the V-6, while a six-speed automatic comes standard on both V-8s.

Base SR regular-cab models, priced at $27,200, have air conditioning, a 6.1-inch touch-screen display with Bluetooth wireless networking and a backup camera. Adding more doors to the cab automatically gets you more, although many of those standard features can be added to regular cab models by choosing the SR5 or Limited Packages.

The Platinum includes perforated diamond-pleated leather seats (heated and cooled in front) and a 12-speaker touch-screen audio/navigation system.

The 1794 Edition — named for the Texas ranch where the Tundra plant is located, which was founded in that year — adds saddle-brown leather seats with suede inserts and more shine.

Ultimately, it won’t be an easy ride for Toyota’s full-size pickup in gaining ground on the competition. But the Tundra’s reputation for strength and bulletproof reliability should continue tempting buyers looking for something that’s literally outside the traditional box.

Base price: $27,200