The 2022 Toyota Tundra is now hitting dealerships, several months after we got our first look at the new truck and just weeks after getting behind the wheel. Our latest brush with Tundra was an opportunity to poke around the new Capstone model and get a better feel for the optional hybrid I-Force Max powertrain on the road.
We do both of those things and much more in that beautiful video located just above these words. So give it a watch and if you like what you see, come back to the Motor1 Youtube channel for more content just like it.
A Crowning Achievement?
Our day started with some time to walk around the new Tundra Capstone, the “ultimate” version of the full-size truck. This top-spec trim is Toyota’s equivalent of the F-150 Limited, Silverado High Country, GMC Sierra Denali… you get the picture. It follows a similar playbook to those domestic heavyweights, doing its best impression of a luxury car.
Capstone dials things up a bit much with gaudy 22-inch chrome wheels, chrome door handles, and chrome trim around the windows. It’s a bold look that will be right for some customers but misses the mark for me.
The two-tone dark and light semi-aniline leather interior scheme is a bit loud and it’s the only one available for Capstone; that means a center console with white material on the armrests, not the best long-term solution for anyone who intends on using their truck, well, like a truck. Aside from the questionable material choice, there is a lot to love with big, comfy seats with heating and cooling for everyone in the house, as well as a massive panoramic sunroof.
All of this for $73,350, the biggest price tag ever put on a Tundra. Based on our time with the truck, the product just didn’t add up to the experience you get from an F-150 Limited – even with the Ford costing a few grand more. And with that thought fresh on our minds, we grabbed the keys to a Platinum model, which is exactly what we recommend you do, too.
Plentiful Power, Easy Driving
The question at hand is whether or not the I-Force Max powertrain is a worthwhile proposition. Upgrading to the Max powertrain costs $3,400 and that engine is available on the Limited trim and upward. The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 hybrid packs 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet – gains of 48 hp and 104 lb-ft respectively, over the base engine.
Toyota very clearly wants the talk around the I-Force Max to be about performance and not efficiency, and on the road, that priority comes through. The truck stays in EV mode for very small spurts of time, and when the engine fires up, there’s a surprisingly fun snarl as it builds revs.
This transition from gas to electric is notably less subtle than with the F-150’s PowerBoost – something that Toyota engineers did on purpose. Power is downright abundant and it’s easy to get the Tundra moving, either from a dead stop or passing on the highway. The 10-speed automatic works seamlessly in the background, changing gears quickly and without interrupting the flow of torque.
If performance is your highest priority in buying a full-size truck, the I-Force Max delivers on that front. For everyone else, it’s not as cut and dry. This powertrain doesn’t add any towing capability, which isn’t great for a truck that is already below its main competitors in that regard. Likewise, the fuel economy gains are good (plus two MPG combined), but not great. Although it isn’t right for every buyer, this powertrain adds some major fun points to the Tundra’s driving experience.
That Platinum Feeling
By day’s end, we reached a conclusion that didn’t seem obvious when we started: The middle tiers of the Tundra lineup are where the value is most compelling. The Platinum we drove in the video, equipped with four-wheel drive and the I-Force Max engine, starts at $63,720 or 10 grand less than the Capstone. With almost every convenience feature available and an interior free of white leather, it’s the best all-around trim to have. The Tundra is a fantastic truck, and with multiple engines and trims available now, it’s sure to capture more buyers than ever before.