2022 Toyota Tundra: Third generation pickup trucks
Aimed at hard-core pickup users and engineered largely by Americans, the Toyota Tundra was created to compete with big American rigs by towing over 10,000 pounds with an American-made V8 engine and heavy duty six-speed automatic transmission. That was the 2007 Tundra, at least; and it remained, mainly unchanged, until 2021. Then, the 2022 Tundra was finally revealed, using rather different strategies even if the massive, oversized snout was a continuation of the ’07 idea.
The Tundra is made in the same San Antonio (Texas) factory as Tacoma pickups. For 2022, Toyota expanded the range with a hybrid powertrain option and a third wheelbase choice. There are two cabs, the compact DoubleCab and the larger CrewMax, each available with a choice of boxes. The DoubleCab can be coupled with 6.5 foot or eight-foot beds; the CrewMax can only have 5.5 or 6.5 foot beds.
Powertrains are fully modern now, with the obsolete and never quite world-class V8 dropped. The Toyota 3.4 liter (3445 cc) “i-Force” V6 beats the Ford 2.7 turbo and Ram 3.6 mild-hybrid, with 348 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque; it’s only available on the base Tundra SR. The higher trim levels include the 389 horsepower, 479 pound-foot V6, which is equivalent to Ram’s Hemi V8 and Ford’s 3.5 turbo V6.
Toyota’s top option is the V8-beating 437 horsepower/583 pound-foot hybrid V6, which uses a 48 horsepower electric motor that generates a whopping 184 pound-feet of torque atop the V6’s output. This is the iForce Max setup, and it promises a good deal more responsiveness than a gasoline engine with the same power ratings, since the electric motor’s peak torque comes at idle speed (it also helps with the stop/start system). This option includes a 400 watt, 110V outlet in the bed. Those who opt for the premium audio, supplied by JBL, will get faux V8 sound in the cab.
The old six-speed is gone now, replaced by a ten-speed automatic—the same number of gears used by GM and Ford (two more than Ram’s sturdy eight-speed). The top tow rating is 12,000 pounds, achieved by the rear wheel drive, short box DoubleCab SR5 without a hybrid engine. Towing is enhanced by two digital modes optimizing for loads over 5,000 pounds and adjusting the throttle and shift schedule, possibly as well as the turbocharger. A digitally enhanced backup system requires programming in the trailer characteristics, but then steering-while-reversing and anti-sway assistance can be very effective.
Like the Ram 1500, the Toyota Tundra has eschewed rear leaf springs, now using a four-link rear suspension with a Panhard rod; buyers can choose between coil springs and air springs. The air spring options let people lower the rear of the pickup by 1.2 inches for cargo or to raise it by 1.6 inches for offroad clearance. The TRD Pro, which is meant for offroad use, uses the mechanical springs.
Aside from the base model, the various Tundras have economy, normal, and sport drive modes; the AVS has Comfort, Sport Plus, and custom choices well. The four wheel drive system is an old fashioned part-time setup that causes scrubbing when used on dry pavement, also greatly increasing the turning radius. Offroading is enhanced by several cameras, including front cameras to provide visibility up front–very handy when climbing to the crest of a hill—and views of what is coming under the front tires, generated by the computer.
Inside, the Tundra 1794 is the top of the line, including real walnut veneers. Motor Trend based the interiors of the various grades as all being substantially lower than Ram 1500’s interiors; they also found the ride to be inferior to the Ram 1500 pickups. They did note both USB-A and USB-C ports in the console, but also noted a mechanical shift linkage that interferes with the cargo bin; and a charging mat that doesn't have a rubber floor to hold phones in place. There is, to be fair, a 14-inch center screen on the higher-end Tundras, much larger than Ram’s top screen, but relatively little information available from the display except in navigation mode and off-road camera mode. The 14-inch screen certainly dominates the space, sticking up past the rest of the dashboard.
The price of the Tundra is quite high compared with entry level American pickups, but the engine options are quite attractive, and the feature lists have some quite unique points; reliability may also be higher than the American options. 0-60 times with all three engines are around 6 seconds, which is quite impressive. Fuel economy has yet to be released by the EPA.