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    Trucks that Resemble Daddy and Son

    autoSeptember means it’s time for San Francisco’s Folsom Street Fair, which is the world’s largest leather event. One lifestyle we see there is the dom/sub relationship, which can be expressed in daddy/son terms. Two Toyota trucks I’ve recently reviewed brought that dynamic to mind.

    The two sizes of these trucks lend themselves to different roles. If the full-sized Tundra is the daddy, then the compact Tacoma would be the son. Note that “compact” is in the eye of the beholder, as our $42K Tacoma Double Cab Limited measured 212.3 inches in length, which makes it as long as a Ford Crown Victoria.

    The tested $48K Tundra CrewMax Platinum poses no such questions, as it stretches to nearly 229 inches in length, and the Tundra’s 79.7-inch width gives it a five-inch wider berth than the Tacoma.

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    The Tundra’s extra five inches across seem doubly present in city driving, and guiding the Tundra through San Francisco’s narrow neighborhood streets gives you new respect for the contractors who drive trucks like this every day—in fact, one construction worker stepped out from a nearby job to help me extract the tested Tundra from invasive Priuses that had boxed it in. The Tundra’s Platinum package includes parking sensors, and they helped, but the extra guidance was appreciated as well.

    The Tacoma’s slimmer girth was more manageable around town, and it still had plenty of presence. Other drivers seemed less inclined to jump their turns at intersections when I nosed the Tacoma up to a stop.

    In driving, the Tundra exudes a feeling of calmness and strength, which again points to a more fatherly role. The tested Platinum’s 381-horsepower, 5.7-liter V8 engine was smooth and powerful, and the Tundra’s near-three-ton curb weight made it feel planted.

    The Tacoma again stretches the definition of “compact” with its 4,500-pound weight, and its 3.5-liter V6 pumps out 278 ample horses, although overall performance didn’t quite match the exterior’s sporty looks. If the Tacoma were a son, it would likely have a fashionable wardrobe and a slightly underutilized gym membership.

    The daddy/son thought first came to mind when I toured the Texas plant where both the Tacoma and Tundra are produced. I can’t help but ascribe a masculine vibe to automotive assembly plants—the noise, the giant robot arms and the Erector-set-like rigs really get the juices flowing.

    At one point, the golf cart in which we were touring stopped next to the gym, where linebacker-like guys were cranking out pull-ups and squats. They were the guys who do the plant’s heaviest lifting, and the air was thick with testosterone. Meanwhile to our left were half-finished Tundras and Tacomas heading into another round of assembly, and the image of dom/sub clicked: strong guys building strong trucks, with each in its own role.

    Enjoy the Folsom Street Fair this year if you go. That’s another place where we feel testosterone in the air, and the fair mixes it with playfulness.

    Philip Ruth is a Castro-based automotive photojournalist and consultant at Check out his automotive staging service at