Toyota is proud of the makeover of its full-sized truck—and should be. This Japanese automaker with its American headquarters in Plano, Texas is building the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra at its assembly plant in San Antonio, TX, and has remade the pickup for an American market that has a vociferous appetite for full-size trucks. This segment of the market is so competitive and the Tundra “redo” is so significant that Toyota invited a large cadre of the automotive press to a “deep dive” first to learn more from its designers, engineers, marketers and other truck experts before the recently-held drive program and tour of its factory in San Antonio.
The Tundra gets two new powertrains and a load of new tech. Toyota
The third-generation pickup has been redesigned from the ground up in Toyota’s California design studio, in Michigan’s engineering and technical facility and at the company’s Arizona proving grounds. “We took a fresh, transformational approach to our truck development and had to rethink many things we’d previously done,” said Mike Sweers, Senior Vice President, Product Development Office, and F1 Platform Chief Engineer. “Not only did we improve the performance and enhance the capability of this new Tundra, at the same time, we were certain to retain the strong quality, durability and reliability for which Toyota trucks are known.”
The new truck comes in 2WD and 4WD variants: in both 4-door Double cab and Crewmax body styles; and with the option of 5.5-foot , 6.5-foot or 8.1-foot bed lengths. Six grade levels include SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 and TRD Pro. It has an updated fully-boxed steel-ladder frame, an aluminum composite bed and a new multilink suspension with rear coil springs. Towing capacity has been bumped to 12,000 pounds, with a max payload of 1,940 lbs. Pricing starts at under $38,000.
The remake brings a blend of more muscular, rugged and sleek-lined styling on the exterior with a cabin that has been crafted with a “Technical Muscle” motif: A horizontal design theme integrates the instrument panel and center stack. Trims materials and appointments vary depending on grade however all are more premium. An available 14-inch touchscreen highlights the all-new Audio Multimedia system that comes with many updates and a cloud-based navigation system. Among the new is WiFi Connect offers 4G connectivity for up to 10 devices. A 12.3-inch gauge cluster display is available. Also updated is Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 that is standard on all trims; it now includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection in low light. Among other safety features are automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and automatic high beams with new blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert and more optional safety features.
The truck’s interior is now more upscale and modern than before. Toyota
The new Tundra comes with a choice of two twin-turbo V-6 engines; the base engine delivers more power (389) and torque (479) than the previous-generation’s 5.7-liter V-8. Optional is an i-Force Max- twin-turbo V-6 (437 hp./583 lb.-ft. of torque), set up with a motor generator between the engine and the transmission to boost power, as well as parallel hybrid components that provide start-up, EV motoring, electric assist and energy regeneration. Both engines are shifted through a 10-speed automatic. Estimated EPA fuel economy for the 3.5-liter, V-6 non-hybrid is 18/23/20 (2WD) and 17/22/19 (4WD) city/highway/combined; hybrid numbers have not been announced.
I drove the old model from San Antonio to the Hill Country, where I jumped aboard the new Tundra models on a collection of on-and -off-road loops to illuminate the upgrades and to illustrate the 2022 truck’s upgraded towing and 4WD prowess. There is a long list of big differences, however. Of note are the truck’s ergonomics (improved seat track, seatbelt adjustability and visibility), more power on tap with both powertrains, ride comfort and cabin quietness, and a higher level of technology, safety, towing capability and off-road competence, while the new chassis and suspension improve ride comfort.
An off-road course allowed us to try out the TRD Pro package that has been fitted with new 2.5-inch diameter FOX internal bypass shocks that add stalwart toughness for harsh terrain and bring a 1.1-inch front lift. Also new are a TRD Pro front stabilizer bar, red painted suspension parts, a TRD aluminum front skid plate and additional underbody protection, plus unique all-terrain Falken tires.
Large displays and bold interior colors are available. Toyota
Tundra’s new air suspension system, available on some grades, cushions the ride and features automatic and manual leveling functions, with High, Low and Normal heights. The High setting aids with slow-speed off-road driving under 18 mph and optimizes damping to help with roll rigidity. Low height brings an ease for loading and unloading, and returns to Normal height once the truck exceeds speeds of 8 mph. The pickup’s Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system also adjusts the damping force based for different road conditions, such as large potholes, bumps, and small rocks.
The new Tundra also benefits from a number of tow/haul upgrades, such as the new heated extending and folding trailer tow mirrors with integrated blind spot monitor and LED trailering lights that aid in night-time and low-visibility backup, a collection of cameras, and the Trailer Back Guidance system with Straight Path Assist. All features take some of the “white-knuckle” stress out of towing. I pulled trailers of different weights and lengths and appreciated the increased throttle response with the standard Tow/Haul mode to accommodate light to moderate towing needs, such as small box trailers, utility trailers or small boats; the throttle response is more aggressive for towing larger trailers like RVs, larger box trailers or larger boats. New cameras project multiple exterior angles (front, rear and side as well as a top-down view with the Panoramic View Monitor) be viewed from the 14-inch touchscreen or an optional rearview mirror camera accessory. Views also include the rear truck bed to check on cargo, and a rear split-view to check on the sides and hitch.
Some trims get air suspension with adjustable ride heights. Toyota
Impressive are the two different tow/haul modes (regular tow haul and tow haul +) that change parameters when towing less 5,000 or more than 5,000 pounds; electronics will help regulate the transmission from shifting frequently and searching for the right gear.
The RD Pro versions will be available only with the hybrid powertrain that is an option on Limited, Platinum and 1794 trims.
The TRD Off-Road Package is available on SR5, Limited and 1794 trims; the package adds TRD wheels (18-inch on SR5 and 20-inch on Limited, 1974), TRD grille, TRD off-road suspension, skid plates, mud guards and TRD leather shift knob.
TRD Off-Road Package models with 4WD will get an electronic rear differential lock, Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control.
The TRD Sport Package is available on 4X2 or 4X4 SR5 models in both the Crewmax and Double Cab, adding 20-inch TRD wheels, TRD grille, TRD lowered sport suspension and a TRD leather shift knob.