Breaking news: Trucks are a big business. More than two million Americans drove home with a full-sized pickup in 2020 alone. The Toyota Tundra hasn't historically been the most popular option compared to its domestic rivals, but even as one of the lower-rung trucks in the class (at least, in terms of sales), the company still believes that there’s a strong business case for the Tundra in the US.
So for 2022, Toyota took the Tundra back to the theoretical drawing board and came up with something that’s much different and much, much improved. Under the hood sits two brand-new turbocharged engines, inside is a totally revamped cabin, and while the new truck’s styling might not be the most beautiful we've ever seen, the 2022 Tundra should have no trouble drawing eyes. The Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 have a genuine fight on their hands.
|Quick Specs||2022 Toyota Tundra Limited TRD Off-Road|
|Engine||Twin-Turbo 3.5L Hybrid V6|
|Output||437 HP / 583 LB-FT|
|Towing (Max)||12,000 Pounds|
|Payload (Max)||1,940 Pounds|
Beyond Bold Styling
This truck is a whole lot of face, with the massive grille taking up a ton of real estate on the front end. Toyota touts seven different grille options for 2022, each one with its own distinctive cues – but none of them are all that beautiful. The TRD Pro model keeps its iconic “TOYOTA” wordmark within a black honeycomb pattern, while the range-topping Platinum and 1794 models opt for more chrome. The base SR and SR5 models sport a simpler black mesh finish.
The TRD Pro model has the best-looking grille – which is being generous – with heavy black accents, an embedded light bar, and way less chrome. Even still, it overwhelms the front fascia with a huge black hole that immediately draws attention, making it easy to overlook the otherwise rugged cues of this neat-looking truck.
The headlights descend in a unique flowing pattern that trickles partway down the front bumper, and the Tundra's side profile is sharp too, with nearly invisible B-pillars on each side that create a Storm Trooper-like effect when paired with the Super White paint (exclusive to the TRD Pro). And the back end is tough, with a stamped “TUNDRA” wordmark on the tailgate plus vertical LED taillights that create a “C” shape surrounding black accents.
The TRD Pro model, yet again, looks the best of the bunch with all of the truck’s styling elements and angles are considered. The design employs a new “techno camo” finish on the front and rear bumpers that incorporates a unique polygonal pattern. The same 18-inch BBS wheels from last year's model carry over unchanged – they still look as good as ever – as do some of the tougher features up front.
The “techno camo” theme carries over to the cabin of the TRD Pro, positioned atop SofTex faux leather. The base SR and SR5 models offer base cloth, while leather comes standard on the Platinum and 1794 models. We parked our butts in all three during our test, and as expected, the leather on the Platinum and 1794 models felt the plushest of the bunch. The cowhide is high-quality, comfortable, and on the Platinum and 1794 models, comes with 10-way power adjustability and four-way power lumbar support, so we had no trouble finding a perfect seating position.
Bigger And Better Tech
While the 2022 Tundra's design definitely has people talking, it's the technology inside that deserves just as much chatter. The standard infotainment screen is 8.0 inches in the base SR and mid-range SR5 models. But opting for Limited and above adds a gorgeous new 14.0-inch touchscreen that immediately stands out as our favorite setup among all full-size trucks. Yes, The Tundra's tech is even better than the Ram 1500's massive display.
The layout is genuinely reminiscent of a smartphone or tablet – it doesn’t feel like a manufacturer trying to play catchup with the latest tech. The clean design arranges each on-screen option within a vertical bar on the left-hand portion of the screen. From there you can quickly access navigation, music, settings, and more, with one touch. The response times are instant and the graphics are gorgeous, with large text displays and clean boxes that keep everything organized.
Yes, The Tundra's tech is even better than the Ram 1500's massive display.
Wireless Apple CarPlay does come standard, but Toyota's baked-in UI is so good that we never longed for it. The navigation was especially attractive and easy to use, with an interface that offered seamless turn-by-turn directions. And as with some luxury vehicles we've tested recently (read: BMW and Mercedes-Benz), Toyota has introduced a “Hey, Toyota” voice control system in the Tundra for the first time.
The “Hey, Toyota” voice function allowed us to control things like audio and navigation without having to press a single button. We'd say, “Hey, Toyota, play some Jimmy Buffett,” and the system immediately booted up Apple or Amazon Music – Spotify currently isn’t available – to play our favorite Margaritaville hit, assuming you have a subscription to either service. Or you can purchase through Toyota for a fee of about $8 per month.
Fewer Cylinders, More Power
Say goodbye to the V8 – though, you won't really miss it. The 2022 Toyota Tundra has two twin-turbocharged V6 engine options that are sublime. The first is a 3.5-liter I-Force unit that produces 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet, which is plenty to get the truck up to speed quickly, and that powertrain even returns up to 20 miles per gallon on the highway. Throttle inputs are silky smooth, and at speed, the engine is too, with little whining or wheezing at full tilt.
The second engine option, though, is the one you want if you yearn for power. The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter hybrid V6 – also known as the I-Force Max – produces an impressive 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet. That engine comes paired to a seamless 10-speed automatic transmission and your choice of rear- or all-wheel drive, with part-time four-wheel drive if you select one of the TRD packages.
Gallery: 2022 Toyota Tundra: First Drive
We won't go so far as to say the hybrid Tundra feels like a performance truck, but this pickup certainly moves with conviction. Gobs of torque are available off the line, with even smoother, quicker inputs than the non-hybrid V6. The Tundra’s hybrid engine rivals that of Ram’s 5.7-liter Hemi V8, while offering more refinement than Chevrolet’s comparable 5.3-liter V8 or Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost. And unlike the Tundra’s old-school V8, this engine is quiet. It delivers power with a modest hum and a slight burble from the exhaust tips, creating a pleasant driving experience while still able to tow up to 12,000 pounds in the right setup.
Alongside ample power, the new Tundra moves around corners quite well. The truck's independent double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension with coil springs rival the similarly set up Ram 1500 in nearly every respect. It's comfortable, capable, and exceptionally poised. There's minimal body roll and few uncouth movements, while the steering is solid with a hefty yet responsive feel. Getting the hybrid powertrain, though, does result in overly grabby brakes, due to the blending of regenerative and friction braking. But that's the only downside we noticed in the overall driving experience.
Off the pavement, the Tundra is plenty capable. Driving a truck equipped with the TRD Off-Road package adds hill-descent and trail control, which takes one push of the console-mounted button and a twist of the knob to activate. Doing so affords the Tundra cruise control for the trail, which gives it the ability to crawl up inclines and down steep slopes without the driver having to manage acceleration or braking.
The new independent suspension offered impressive flex over deep ruts, bounding over large logs and rocks with ease. The Tundra TRD Off-Road doesn’t absorb blows as well as a true off-road truck like the Ford Raptor or Ram TRX, but the TRD Pro model does a better job of keeping up with its 2.5-inch Fox shocks and 1.1-inch front lift. But we’ll have to spend more time in that truck to see how it really compares.
Safety Comes Standard
As with most Toyota models, an active safety suite is standard fare. The new Tundra offers the brand's latest Safety Sense 2.5, which includes a pre-collision warning, lane tracing, road-sign assist, a lane-departure alert system with steering assist, and automatic high-beam headlights. This is the first time any active safety equipment makes its way to the Tundra, and it all works flawlessly.
On the highway with the lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control active, the Tundra keeps its place in the center of the lane without issue. Braking and acceleration are smooth too, with the ability to navigate around tighter twists in the road without input from the driver. This isn't fully a hands-off system, but Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 maintains its status as one of the better active safety suites available on the market today.
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A Genuine Competitor
Toyota still hasn't released information like pricing and fuel economy for the larger engine – both should be available later in the month – but an affordable MSRP and decent fuel economy would make the new 2022 Tundra hard to ignore on all fronts. And the styling certainly won’t make it anonymous.
This pickup is powerful, poised, and comfortable, with a standard suite of active safety features that makes it easy to drive over long distances. But the Tundra is tough too, with the ability to take on tricky off-road trails thanks to its wide range of TRD trims and options, including the range-topping TRD Pro model, which is as good as ever for 2022.
For as maligned by critics as the Tundra has been in recent history, this new model is a huge improvement over the one it replaces; it’s a genuine contender in the toughest vehicle category in the world. While something like the Ford F-150 may offer more features and configurations, if you value a smooth powertrain, a great ride, and impressive in-cabin tech, the new Tundra is a surprisingly compelling alternative. It’s an all-around great truck and we're glad Toyota is taking a stand in this segment – finally.
2022 Toyota Tundra Limited TRD Off-Road