Video: Does The 2021 Toyota Tundra NEED A Transmission Cooler? We Find Out On The Ike Gauntlet!

Here's how the truck fared on the World's Toughest Towing Test

2021 toyota tundra transmission cooler ike gauntlet towing review

We went up the Ike Gauntlet to see if a Toyota Tundra needs a transmission cooler.

This is an Ike Gauntlet test pitting the 5.3-liter Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss, which has a transmission cooler, against the 5.7-liter Toyota Tundra that has no transmission cooler.

The Tundra has a 381 horsepower 5.7-liter V8 and 401 lb-ft of torque. As the older powertrain here, it comes connected to a six-speed automatic transmission. The Toyota has no transmission gauge, but it does have an overheating warning system. Toyota continues to use the 4.30 rear end in the Tundra. Being that there is no way of knowing how hot the Tundra’s transmission is getting, we used a Scan Gage 2 to keep an eye on the temperature. It plugs into the truck’s OBD-II port and provides engine information – including transmission temperature.

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss has a 355 hp. 5.3-liter V8 that makes 383 lb-ft of torque. It also has a 10-speed automatic transmission with a 3.23 rear end.

The trailer we’re using is a Logan Coach from Trans West RV. It is loaded with water totes bringing its curb weight up to a total of 8,000 lbs. Once again, we made sure the trailer was connected to an adjustable Gen-Y hitch with weight-distributing bars.

We contacted Mike Swears, Toyota’s chief truck engineer for more clarity on the Tundra transmission cooler issue. He says, “the Tundra’s transmission has been engineered to perform under heavy tow loads and in adverse conditions. Increased coolant temperatures are normal when towing under steep grades and under load. The testing temperatures demonstrated under 250 degrees F are within specifications for both the transmission and the coolant.”

Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Ike Gauntlet results:

  • Seven brake applications
  • The run took 8:13
  • 246-degrees transmission coolant temperature at the end of the run
  • 3.4-miles per gallon at the end of the Gauntlet

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss Ike Gauntlet results:

  • Seven brake applications
  • The run took 7:48
  • 214-degrees transmission coolant temperature at the end of the run
  • 3.7-miles per gallon at the end of the Gauntlet

Both trucks performed well. In some ways, their performance numbers were remarkably close, but the Chevy still gets higher marks based on the numbers. After pushing both trucks, we could see a definite difference between the two in terms of cooling numbers too. With that being said, it is interesting to see how there different truck-makes deal with heat.

Easily amused by anything with four wheels, Nathan Adlen reviews vehicles from the cheapest to the most prestigious. Wrecking yards, dealer lots, garages, racetracks, professional automotive testing and automotive journalism - Nathan has experienced a wide range of the automotive spectrum. Brought up in the California car culture and educated in theater, childhood education, film, journalism and history, Nathan now lives with his family in Denver, CO. His words, good humor and video are enjoyed worldwide.