And two changes that could make it even better.
We can't remember too many truck reveals more anticipated than the 2022 Toyota Tundra. The last all-new Tundra launched back in 2006, so to say Toyota was overdue for a redesign would have been an understatement. It took longer than expected, but based on our first impressions, the third-generation Tundra was worth the wait. This new model arrives sporting new turbocharged V6 engines (including a hybrid), more aggressive exterior styling, and a radically enhanced cabin with modern technology.
There's a lot to like about the latest Tundra, so we've compiled a list of our five favorite features based on our First Drive in Texas. We've also come up with two additions that could make the Tundra even more competitive in the highly loyal full-size truck segment.
The biggest change on this new Tundra comes under the hood where Toyota has finally retired its outdated 5.7-liter V8. In its place, there's a new 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that's loosely shared with the Lexus LS 500. That engine is paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission (also shared with Lexus) and an available hybrid system called i-Force MAX. The base V6 is stronger than most entry-level truck engines with 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, while the hybrid is even more potent with 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.
We love both available V6 engines and the transmission they are mated with. Toyota managed to carry over the smoothness from the LS 500 while delivering a throaty engine note that doesn't make you miss the old V8. Meanwhile, the 10-speed automatic is quite possibly the smoothest truck transmission we've ever tested. The Lexus influence is welcomed here.
The outgoing Tundra felt its age inside the cabin, but this new model steps it up with major design improvements. Even the lower trim levels feel high-quality, but the upper Platinum and 1794 Edition models feel like they could have a Lexus badge. Toyota has mastered making a cabin feel intuitive, so there's no learning curve when stepping into the new Tundra. Every button and control feels well-placed, and there's plenty of storage available in the center console.
We particularly liked the Limited trim, which sits in the middle of the lineup and offers strong luxury features like heated and ventilated seats. Buyers who want a more outrageous cabin can now opt for a bold red leather interior on the TRD Pro variant, and it looks wild. The previous generation Tundra already had a spacious back seat, but this new model adds heating and ventilation back there, an option only the Ram 1500 shares.
Toyota tried its best to keep the last Tundra up-to-date by adding CarPlay and Android Auto, but it felt like putting lipstick on a pig. This new model debuts Toyota's latest infotainment system with an available 14-inch touchscreen. The new screen takes Toyota from dead-last in technology to near the top. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, but the interface is so easy, we can actually envision ourselves using it over the phone mirroring. Accessing functions can be done by saying "Hey, Toyota" or by hitting a button on the steering wheel.
In addition to the large central screen, we also love the available digital instrument cluster with various drive mode themes. Finally, the Tundra comes chock full of safety technology with Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 standard on every trim. Lane Tracing Assist is among the standard features, and we found it to be one of the best we've sampled in a full-size truck.
Of all the trim levels we drove, the 1794 Edition was our favorite. The 1794 is Toyota's range-topping western-themed truck, similar to an F-150 King Ranch or Silverado High Country. Toyota's San Antonio factory is built on land formerly occupied by a ranch, which was established back in 1794, hence the name. Sitting at the top of the Tundra range, this grade includes luxuries such as power running boards, heated/ventilated front and rear seats, a panoramic roof, and more.
We preferred this grade over the similarly-priced Platinum because it includes luxurious wood trim in the cabin along with lighter leather colors like brown and tan. And unlike the Platinum, the 1794 Edition is available with the stylish TRD Off-Road Package. If you prefer a more "sporty" appearance, the black interior of the Platinum might be more your speed.
Though we didn't have any seat time in it, the TRD Pro remains the coolest looking Tundra available. Toyota differentiates the TRD Pro with a unique grille, wheel arches, wheels/tires, and more. This is the most off-road-focused variant, with a front stabilizer bar, underbody protection, all-terrain Falken tires, Multi-Terrain Monitor, Multi-Terrain Select, and a standard i-Force MAX engine. Toyota's TRD Pro models are so beloved by buyers, many dealerships can charge enormous markups on them. With this being the most updated model in the TRD Pro range, we imagine off-road-loving Toyota enthusiasts will be quick to scoop up this truck.
As of this writing, we don't have any fuel economy information for the hybrid i-Force MAX drivetrain. 24 mpg combined (set by the Ford F-150 Power Boost Hybrid) is the number to beat for Toyota, but we aren't confident the Tundra will outmatch it. During our drive, the Tundra seemed less willing to shut off its engine and coast on electric power, which should give Ford the advantage. On the plus side, Toyota's hybrid system felt smoother in operation when the gas engine kicks on.
While we are happy to see Toyota introduce a Tundra hybrid, it seems a bit late to the party. Ford beat Toyota (the world's hybrid leader) to market with the Power Boost, and will soon release the all-electric F-150 Lightning. General Motors has the GMC Hummer EV on the way, plus an electric Chevrolet Silverado. Meanwhile, the Rivian R1T will go on sale next year. It seems like Toyota could have at least done a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, making the Tundra more unique in its segment.
We are happy to see the TRD Pro make an immediate return to the Tundra lineup, but we feel there's room for a more capable model to challenge the Ford F-150 Raptor. No truck manufacturer wanted to compete with the Raptor in the past, but Ram finally took on the challenge with the incredible TRX. Based on how much dealers markup their TRD Pro inventory, Toyota customers are clearly willing to spend more, especially if it means getting additional capability. Lexus is rumored to be working on a new twin-turbo V8 engine for its upcoming F models, and such an engine sounds perfect for a performance Tundra. Throw in some tougher suspension with a cool name, and we think Toyota would have a winner.