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Story by Kelly Nomura
Photos by Derrick Oursler and Toyota

All-New 2022 Toyota Tundra Proves Its A Worthy Contender

With the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra hitting dealerships in December 2022, we are all wondering if the Twin Turbo V6 is enough power to replace the V8. Soon, consumers will get the opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience for themselves the power, comfort, and capability of this full-size truck to decide for themselves. Those looking to test drive the i-Force Max V6 Twin Turbo Hybrid will have to wait until spring. Tread got the opportunity to get behind the wheel and drive in various conditions. Here are our first impressions.

Photo: Derrick Oursler

Initial Thoughts

We were excited and curious to get behind the wheel. It’s one thing to see the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra in person, but a whole other experience to drive it and get a true feeling of how it responds. Plus, we couldn’t wait to put our foot on the pedal and see what the truck was made of. Will the absence of a V8 make that much of a difference? Will the new I-Force Max impress or depress? After a two week wait, we were invited back to Texas in early October, this time to San Antonio, home of the Tundra manufacturing plant, for the Toyota National Press First Drive event.

Toyota Tundra Goals

The big day of driving started out with a presentation where we were reminded of the why the all-new 2020 Toyota Tundra truck is truly special. With two drivetrain options, the V6 Twin Turbo I-Force and V6 Twin Turbo I-Force Max Hybrid, we were in for a treat to compare this new offering to Tundras of the past and its current competitors.

Photo: Derrick Oursler

Photo: Derrick Oursler

The all-new 2020 Toyota Tundra took a long and deliberate road to creation. Developed and built in the USA, it is a truck built by truck owners for truck owners. And it looks and feels that way. Executive Chief Engineer Mike Sweers has a fleet of trucks at home that he and his family drive around his farm. And we were most excited to learn that he is also an off-road enthusiast who has competed in off-road races, such as the Baja 1000. Now that is someone we want designing our next truck. The goal was simple: Create the truck of your dreams that you’d be proud to drive. The Tundra team took on the mentality of “Be the customer” and “What do I want on my truck?”  to develop a product that provided those solutions.

Photo: Derrick Oursler

Tundra Offerings

2022 Toyota Tundra Trim Levels:

  • SR
  • SR5
  • Limited
  • Platinum
  • 1794 Edition
  • TRD Pro

The 2022 Toyota Tundra comes in two cab options, the Double Cab and Crewmax. The Double Cab is a bit smaller in back, available on SR, SR5 and Limited models, with bed length options of 6.5 ft. and 8.1 ft. The Crewmax cab is available on SR, SR5, and Limited, but comes standard on Platinum, 1794 Edition, and TRD Pro models. It is available in a 5.5-ft. or 6.5-ft. bed length. Notable is the power vertical rear window on the Crewmax cab, something customers really wanted to remain from previous models designs.

The all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra comes with two powertrain options. The first is a 3.5L V6 Twin Turbo that outputs 389 hp @ 5,200 RPM and 479 lb.-ft. @ 2,400 RPM, called i-Force V6T. The second, and of most interest to us, is the 3.5L V6 Twin Turbo Hybrid that outputs 437 hp @ 5,200 RPM and 583 lb.-ft. @ 2,400 RPM, called the i-Force Max. Both engines are more powerful than its predecessor 5.7L V8, which outputs 381 hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque, and give better fuel economy with expectations of 20 mpg overall.

Driving Impressions Of 2022 Toyota Tundra

Plenty of time was spent behind the wheel of the 2022 Toyota Tundra over the 8 hours of the event. We got the opportunity to drive vehicles with both powertrains on road, off road, and towing. Both the i-Force V6T and i-Force Max give the low end torque truck drivers are seeking. Not to mention, the notes of the turbocharger was sweet music to our ears. Passing with acceleration was effortless thanks to the 10-speed transmission. The fully boxed steel frame and new multi-link rear suspension provided a smooth ride both on highway and over rougher terrain.

Photo: Derrick Oursler

It was easy to forget we were in a full-size truck with how effortless the Tundra moved. Increased rigidity provided enhanced ride comfort. The steering was extremely responsive thanks to the new safety features. Rounding corners on the off-road course was easy and the steering radius seemed generous. The double wishbone front suspension paired with the new multi-link rear suspension mated to the 33 inch tires (TRD Pro) moved the Tundra over rocky terrain with ease.

Photo: courtesy of Toyota

Off-road Driving Made Easy

On the off-road course, we got to try the Multi-Terrain Select controls and CRAWL Control, now standard on the TRD Off Road and TRD Pro packages. We approached a rocky incline and put the Tundra in 4Lo and turned on CRAWL Control to have the truck ease up the hill with no problems without even touching the gas pedal. The 360 camera views allow the driver to see obstacles ahead and tire placement, an added bonus.Similarly, on a spot with rutted out holes, we again used CRAWL Control and steered through with ease. The most noticeable change was how quiet the CRAWL Control was, in comparison to previous models. For declines, the Downhill Assist Control is there to help maintain a slower speed as you drive down. All in all, the tools are provided to make off-road driving much easier for everyone.

Photo: Derrick Oursler

Photo: Derrick Oursler

Towing Is A Breeze With 2022 Toyota Tundra

Having never towed anything before, we took Toyota up on their offer to vertically test three setups. With a 12,000 lb. towing capacity, we knew we’d feel a difference, but didn’t realize just how much it would actually be. The first was a 2021 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition towing an Airstream trailer. It was on leaf springs and didn’t have the added technology of the 2022 Tundra, specifically for towing. Immediately the push of the trailer is felt and you knew it was behind you the entire drive.

The second setup was a 2022 Tundra SR5 Double Cab with the standard steel-spring rear suspension with the optional tow mirrors towing a 16-ft. Airstream Bambi trailer. With the new rear suspension, stiffer boxed steel frame, and two tow mode options, there was a noticeable difference in ride quality and throttle responsiveness.

Third setup was the 2022 Tundra Platinum with the new load-leveling air springs hauling a 28-foot Airstream Land Yacht. This one proved a world of difference from the first truck we drove. The Tow/Haul mode gave better throttle response and transmission shifts. It was hard to steer this trailer wrong with the features on the 2022 Tundra Platinum.

Photo courtesy of Toyota

We also got to test the Trailer Backup Guide. The Straight Path Assist function, when set, allows the driver to back up a trailer without even having hands on the wheel. As long as the trailer is straight the truck will do the rest of the work. Boating wives rejoice, they now can back the truck and trailer at the boat launch with ease and no embarrassment.

Photo courtesy of Toyota

Overall Impression

Weary of electric trucks and unimpressed with previous hybrid models we’ve owned or driven, we were a bit concerned with the i-Force Max Hybrid offering. However, once behind the wheel, we quickly changed our tune. Thankful to see Toyota take a step forward in their hybrid offerings, we are curious to see how the market receives a hybrid truck. We are confident that most everyone will be thankful for the multimedia update. Gone are the thoughts about Toyota’s outdated technology, as drivers will now experience a thoughtful step into connectivity, easy-to-use touchscreen, and an available 14-inch screen.

Pros

  • I-Force Max Hybrid provides substantial low end torque
  • Updated multimedia system brings Toyota Tundra owners into current times with Apple Carplay/Android Auto
  • Advanced towing features

Cons

  • Hood design is distracting with a strong contour line angling towards center. I-Force Max badging making it even more prominent
  • Toggle switches for temperature controls were harder to read
  • Random USB outlet near climate controls seemed out of place

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