Much like its namesake, the Toyota Tundra has been frozen for generations. If you’re looking at it compared with other full-size trucks, that is. For 2022, Toyota has brought the Tundra out of the permafrost and redesigned it from the ground up including new V6 engines, an all-new fully boxed frame with optimised use of high-strength steel, and the debut of an all-new infotainment system for Toyota.
The frame is the core of any pickup, and Toyota has been working on this one for half a decade. The same platform that underpins the latest version of the legendary Land Cruiser, the frame is fully boxed to add significant rigidity, has small sections of high-strength steel welded in critical areas, and is a massive improvement over the old truck. The box of the 2021 Tundra bounced back and forth like a bowl of Jell-O. The new one is as stable as any other full-sizer.
Sitting on that frame is an all-new cab. There’s no repeat sheet metal this time, offering the kind of big and bold styling truck buyers love. Along with LED lights across the board and sequential turn signals on higher grades. Behind that sheet metal, the cabin is usefully larger. More headroom, more legroom, and much better switchgear placement mean a more pleasant experience, with ventilated seats offered (even in the rear) on a surprisingly wide range of trim levels. Look up and Toyota has added a huge panoramic roof on crew cab trucks.
The most prominent piece in the new cabin is the 14-inch touchscreen. The massive screen has a bonded panel to slash glare, but it’s the all-new interface you’ll notice first. A sea change compared with every other Toyota – this is truly a modern system. Cloud-based and learning, it understands natural speech, has a nav interface that is smartphone smooth, and can be updated over the air. The big screen is an option on SR5 and standard above, with an 8.0-inch version the base screen.
Truck features in the system include forward-facing cameras with wheel placement guides (for off-road). Toyota also launched a new straight trailer feature that can reverse your trailer in a straight line hands-free. All you need to do is point the trailer’s rear in the direction you want to go and activate. Even at a near jack-knife, it will maneuver the truck, so the trailer keeps moving straight back. A massive ego-saver at the campground or boat ramp.
Keeping with towing, the new Tundra has a coil-spring rear, offering adaptive dampers and even rear airbags. We were able to tow two trailers; the fixed-damper with a 6,000 lb single-axle camper and testing the airbags a dual-axle camper that topped out the tow capacity and wasn’t using weight distributing bars. Coil spring trucks have taken heat for their loaded performance in the past, but the new Tundra deserves none of it. Neither trailer porpoised, and had virtually no sway. In short, this new Tundra tows at least as well as the domestics, if not better. Airbags or not.
One engine is offered in three variants. It’s a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6, Toyota’s first turbo gas engine here. One version, SR-specific, makes 348 hp, but the rest make 389 hp and 497 lb-ft. A new iForce Max hybrid parks a 48 hp electric motor in front of the unobtrusive 10-speed auto to make 437 hp and offer 583 lb-ft from just 2,400 r.p.m.
While all are more powerful than their replacements, they should offer better fuel economy – official ratings on both are pending. The hybrid didn’t feel quicker in my drive, but did add more useful grunt from a stop, handy when loaded. Like any Toyota hybrid, it will drive at lower speeds on electric power alone. The engine sounds great, too. In the cabin, it sounds like something you’d expect in a sports car, not a truck, though the noises are at least partially added artificially. What aren’t fake are the turbocharger noises that sound like a passenger jet spooling for takeoff. Just try not to smile at the sounds all of the time.
Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 is included, with pre-collision and pedestrian detection, full-speed radar cruise, lane departure and lane tracing as well as road sign assist. Blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert (with trailer detection) is the only optional add-on, included on Limited and up.
Lower-trim trucks have a 4.2-inch digital display in the dash, but Limited and up have a 12.3-inch fully digital unit standard that on start-up, shows one of five iconic views from U.S. National Parks. Toyota wasn’t sure if Canadian trucks would get Canadian parks.
Double-cab trucks offer a 6.5 or 8.1-foot box and 2WD (SR only) and 4×4 (SR5, Limited, TRD Pro). Crewmax is 4×4 and SR5 and up only. A 5.5-foot box is standard, but a 6.5-foot unit is new. Payload varies based on cab but is between 1,575 and 1,940 lbs with most at the high end. Max towing is up to 12,000 lbs and above 11,000 for all but the 8,300 lb SR models, all but the last competitive figures.
The box is an aluminum-braced composite for durability and light weight. Toyota has added a trick tailgate release switch in the left rear taillight for full hands (the power gate has a power step, too). The bed lacks tie-downs versus other full-sizers, especially the GM twins.
On the road, it is instantly apparent this is a serious full-size competitor. The squiggly, wiggly, and busy ride of the old truck is gone, replaced by a ride that battles Ram for best in class. Stability is also significantly better as is cabin noise.
Each trim has its own grille, with 1794 (the year the ranch that is now the factory that builds the truck) Edition) the top trim once again. Wearing walnut interior accents to make sure you know it but lacking the floor mat rivets that it offered before. TRD Pro is the off-road one, getting a 1.1-inch front lift and Fox internal bypass remote reservoir shocks. A TRD Off-Road pack has off-road tuning and Bilsteins, while TRD Sport drops the truck half an inch and adds sport-tuned dampers. Adaptive suspension trucks get a Sport S+ drive mode that stiffens the shocks (with the best ride too, in our opinion) and a Comfort mode.
The 2022 Tundra is set to hit dealers in December, with the hybrid not arriving until Spring 2022. Canadian pricing will come closer to that on-sale date, as will official fuel economy numbers.
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.