Truck Review: The 2022 Toyota Tundra
The Toyota Tundra is popular for a reason: its reliability. But the simple, old-fashioned components that offered cheap long-term operating costs have also led the truck to fall, in recent years, well below the competition on everything from performance to off-road capability, through the available technological features. This all-new 2022 model aims to correct that, with completely modern new powertrains, sophisticated interiors and rear suspension designed to improve handling. Can it still serve as a workhorse for budget hunters and anglers? I tested the Tundra 2022 to find out.
What’s new on the tundra?
The new Tundra is based on a new modular frame design that also underpins the new Toyota Land Cruiser, and will also provide a platform for next year’s Lexus LX600 and the next generation Toyota Sequoia. Mentioning the Land Cruiser name may make it sound like this approach is designed to increase off-road capability, but platform sharing like this is more about cutting costs than increasing performance.
Compared to the Land Cruiser, the new Tundra’s frame is not only longer (the truck is now available with a full four-door cabin and 6.5-foot bed), but it also mounts its rear shocks to the outside of the frame side members. The 300 Series Cruiser keeps its shocks inside the frame for better articulation.
This shock arrangement is somewhat surprising and is a testament to the role the tundra is meant to play. Where the previous generation Tundra (released in 2007) relied on traditional leaf springs – a simple, sturdy design that’s good for the weight, but bad for the joint – this all-new Tundra switches to coil springs, which are capable of providing a smoother ride, better grip and, on paper at least, better articulation. But rather than taking advantage of this theoretical advantage of wheel racing over extreme obstacles, Toyota engineers instead focused on using these coils to provide a smooth ride and maximize stability when the truck is loaded or loaded. towing a heavy trailer.
With less wheel articulation than the previous model, this new Tundra aims to improve performance, comfort and utility on the road. And man, his performance on the pavement is impressive.
This improvement begins with the new powertrains. There are two versions: a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that generates 389 horsepower and 479 pounds of torque. As a base engine, it’s impressive for two reasons. Not only does it deliver five more horsepower and 78 pound-feet of torque than the older 5.7-liter V8, it also boosts combined fuel mileage from 14 to 19 mpg. There is also a gasoline-electric hybrid version, which bolts an electric motor to the rear of this V-6, in order to add power and torque, for a total of 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet. Toyota has yet to release fuel economy figures for the hybrid, but says they will be even better than 19 MPG.
Both versions of this engine are mated to a new 10-speed automatic transmission. This is remarkable not only because these additional four gears multiply torque better and provide a much more responsive ride, but also because this arrangement allows the Tundra Hybrid (they call it “iForce Max”) to drive in a completely conventional manner. . Torque moves through the gears, regardless of which engine or engine combination is active at the time, into a two-speed transfer case and through the drive shafts to the front and rear axles. This means you switch between two-wheel drive, four high and four low, as usual.
It’s inside that owners of the older Tundra will find the most change. Where the interior of the old model seemed decidedly late, the all-new truck is dominated by a 14-inch touchscreen. And where previous Toyotas struggled with infotainment systems plagued by a low-res display and old software, this Tundra’s system looks and feels as crisp as an iPad. This centerpiece is then complemented by a larger interior in all dimensions, and now filled with soft-touch materials. At more sophisticated trim levels, the new Tundra is indistinguishable from the interior of a luxury car.
In addition to the different trim levels, which range from the SR work truck to the consumer grade SR5 and then to the Limited, Platinum and 1794 lux trims, you have the choice between two off-road packages: TRD Offroad and TRD Pro.
TRD Offroad adds, for the first time on a Tundra, a locking rear differential. That’s good, because the decrease in articulation means the new truck lifts a rear wheel very easily over rough terrain. By locking the gears of both wheels together on that rear axle, this feature allows you to keep moving, even with one wheel in the air. TRD Offroad also brings updated electronic traction, which Toyota calls Multi Terrain Select and Crawl Control. MTS uses the ABS system to electronically adapt the speed of the off-road wheels. Crawl Control works like cruise control at very low speeds, over difficult obstacles, taking control of the throttle and brakes so the driver is free to focus only on steering. Earlier versions of these systems were prone to swerving, cracking, and generally annoying to use, even though they were effective. For this new Tundra, Toyota has made massive improvements; MTS and Crawl are now completely smooth and unobtrusive. You will want to use these buttons now. TRD Offroad also includes a set of Bilsten shocks.
TRD Pro adds a bunch of flash, with camouflage-print body coverings and seats, a bright red interior, a small light bar in the grille, huge badges, forged BBS wheels mounted with 33-inch tires, a TRD brand skid plate, and a much more prominent front stabilizer bar. Describing this stabilizer bar is perhaps the best way to communicate what this new TRD Pro is all about. Rather than having a disconnect feature, which would add some of that lost articulation back, the stabilizer bar is more of a much more robust element than the one present on the original vehicle. This will allow it to better counter the roll induced by the fitting of large tires. A three-inch lift kit will be available from dealerships, allowing owners to fit 35-inch tires. In TRD Pro form, with that stronger stabilizer bar, the new Tundra will deliver a much more road-friendly ride. TRD Pro also includes some very basic Fox shocks, which provide an extra inch of ride height compared to other versions of the Tundra.
What’s good about the new tundra?
- A suite of electronic driver aids makes towing with, or even reversing a trailer so simple, even inexperienced operators will be able to lower a boat up a ramp and into the water, with minimal stress.
- The maximum payload was increased from 1,600 to 1,940 pounds.
- Locking rear differential available for the first time on a Tundra.
- All-terrain electronic aids are now fluid, efficient and easy to use.
- The 14-inch touchscreen is both beautiful and useful.
- The new interiors are bigger and so nice, you’ll feel like you’re driving a Lexus.
- The ride quality is smooth, handling is responsive.
- Stable and easy to drive, even when pulling a heavy trailer.
- Huge gains in terms of fuel economy and performance.
- The hybrid system demands nothing from the driver and is undetectable in any way except the extra performance.
What’s wrong with the new tundra?
- Hybrid versions can’t compete with the Ford F-150’s Pro Power Onboard system, which provides enough electricity to power a construction site, hunt camp, or run your entire home in an emergency.
- Less articulation than the outgoing model limits off-road capabilities.
- TRD Pro’s value proposition is questionable.
- No option to lock the front differential.
The tundra targets the middle ground
Toyota cannot claim the sales volume of its domestic competitors and therefore cannot withstand the extreme levels of differentiation available in its full-size truck product lines. Where trucks like the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram and Chevy Silverado are able to target niche users with specific versions and options suited to extreme off-road driving or super heavy towing, the Tundra rather, targets the happy medium. It is a truck designed to meet the general needs of normal pickup truck buyers.
And that is very well justified in this role. It can’t tow, haul, or outdo the competition, but it can perform in all of these tasks and everyday driving, with a level of ease and skill most drivers will find reassuring.
If you’re looking for a truck to meet all of your vehicle’s needs, and those needs don’t involve tackling the Rubicon Trail or towing a 747, then the Tundra will be the right fit for you.
How to set up a tundra
Toyota has yet to release pricing for the new Tundra, but I can still draw some conclusions from the comparative merits of the different versions.
If I was looking to use a Tundra offroad with some consistency, I would definitely check the box for the TRD Offroad. It’s available on any trim level, starting at SR5, and will absolutely justify what’s likely to be a small premium thanks to the addition of that rear locker and off-road electronics.
Off-road enthusiasts looking to maximize the Tundra’s capabilities are better off starting with TRD Offroad and then looking to the aftermarket for their suspension. Not only is the maximum payload of the TRD Pro capped at 1,600 pounds, but it offers too little extra capacity for what is likely to be a hefty premium.
If you plan on carrying a lot of weight in the bed on a regular basis, adding the optional air springs to the rear axle will be a great idea. They offer an adjustable ride height with a button on the dashboard, allowing you to compensate for a heavy load or lower the bed for easier loading.