Rough & Tough – The New 2022 Toyota Tundra Lives Up to Its Name

By Sevan Shahijanian | September 22nd, 2021
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro in Orange Driving Through Dirt
Toyota

One for all

Trucks have morphed into an interesting segment in the automotive industry. On one hand, you have folks looking to make a rugged and masculine fashion statement. Looks are paramount in this case; and if it happens to tow a few tons, then “that’s cool.” On the other hand, you have the craftsman, the handyman, or the professional who absolutely needs a truck that can handle heavy loads and daily abuse to get work done. The qualities of reliability and utility trump all others; and if it happens to have the latest tech and creature comforts, then “that’s nice.”

With most owners sitting somewhere in the middle, they’ll be happy to hear that the new Tundra is positioned at the crossroads of the two extremes: providing both serious utility and the latest tech all wrapped in a very rugged looking beast of a truck. 

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Bye bye V8, hello turbos

V8 fanboys may whine at the loss of two cylinders, but the whining of two turbos will definitely put those concerns to rest (yes, we know turbos whistle and superchargers whine… work with us here).

Dropping the massive 5.7-liter V8 in favor of a twin-turbo 3.4-liter V6, the new Tundra has more thrust and pull than ever. The standard twin-turbo V6, dubbed i-FORCE, gains eight horsepower and 78 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing V8, for a total of 389 hp and 479 lb-ft. The optional i-FORCE MAX twin-turbo hybrid V6 slaps an electric motor between the engine and transmission’s torque converter, providing a significant boost in output to 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.

Both engine options come mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission – no manual option here. In the i-FORCE MAX, Toyota has taken a bit of a novel approach with the decision to use a torque converter rather than replace it entirely with the electric motor. The decision was made to retain the smoothness of shifting and power delivery provided by the torque converter. Not surprisingly, the upcoming TRD Pro, being the top trim, only comes with the more powerful hybrid power plant.

Towing capacity has also improved from a maximum 10,200 lb. to 12,000 lb. for the gas-only engine. The hybrid engine is a bit heavier and has a slightly lower tow rating at 11,500 lb. It’s clear that both engine configurations have been tuned for power rather than efficiency, so we’ll hold out judgement until we can get our hands on official EPA fuel economy ratings. On a side note, Toyota is calling the 3,445cc engine a 3.5-liter – to which we whip out our elementary math skills and argue that the engine must be at or above 3,450cc to be able to round up… but we digress. 

2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Front Three Quarter View
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

We heard you like grills

Toyota heard all the internet chatter complaining about large grills; so for 2022 the newly redesigned Tundra has the largest grill it’s ever had. Surely it’s functional, as turbos generate quite a bit of heat and the engine bay will require passive air cooling – all of which will be provided by the gaping hole at the front of the bumper.

Jokes aside, the design of the new Tundra looks like an absolute beast all around. Revised semi-T-shaped LED headlights decorate the top corners of the front end and sit atop additional vertical air inlets. Chiseled steel fenders in the front carry muscular body lines that guide the eyes towards the deep indent on the aluminum front and steel rear doors. Toyota says they’ve taken a much more serious approach to aerodynamics this time around – with all body lines, grooves, and aero features being tested extensively in a wind tunnel. The truck even employs a powered front-air dam and has gurney flaps and vortex generators built onto the taillights.

Toyota also opted for use of aluminum and steel throughout the Tundra – using one or the other to increase rigidity or reduce weight where possible. Curb weight figures have yet to be released, but Toyota has mentioned that weight saving measures were balanced out with newer features.

Two wheelbase options are available: Double Cab with half doors in the rear and CrewMax with full sized rear doors. Double Cab models can be attached to a 6.5- or 8.1-foot bed, while the CrewMax has an understandably shorter bed of 5.5- or 6.5-feet.

The Tundra now shares its platform with the Land Cruiser and a yet-to-be-announced third vehicle – implying they’ll all be utilizing the same suspension design and drivetrains as well. It’s all part of Toyota’s globalization strategy, a philosophy being adopted by many other car manufacturers, so we should expect congruence in design language and shared features to make it across Toyota’s lineup of similar cars and trucks.

Coil springs all around

Following Ford and Ram’s departure from leaf springs, Toyota has followed suit in the rear of the 2022 Tundra. Using standard coil springs up front and five-link suspension in the rear with optional air springs, Toyota has maintained ride comfort and maneuverability without sacrificing towing power and payload capacity.

Multiple TRD options offer different flavors of suspension tuning as well. The TRD Sport trim brings street-tuned Bilstein dampers, while the TRD Off-Road utilizes off-road tuned Bilsteins. A slew of other TRD add-ons and features also come with the TRD Off-Road; including Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select driving modes, forged 18-inch BBS wheels, a front skid plate, and electronically locking rear differential in four-wheel drive models.

The TRD Pro turns everything up a notch, sporting Fox 2.5-inch diameter internal bypass shocks – which provide 1.1-inch front lift and feature external reservoirs for housing more oil and improving off-road performance. TRD Pro models also come with a front stabilizer bar and all-terrain Falken tires, among other exclusivities like red painted suspension components.  

An interior for every trim

Toyota’s interiors have never been known for their cutting edge tech or high end materials. Earning a reputation of longevity and utility, the emphasis has traditionally been on practicality and usability over vanity. With the new 2022 Tundra, however, Toyota has its sights set on every type of truck enthusiast. Each trim level of the new Tundra, from SR and SR5 all the way up to the luxury 1794 and TRD Pro, carry their own interior design and ambience.

The SR and SR5 interior gives off a more rugged and heavy-use ready feel while the 1794 trim comes loaded with high-end materials and accents often found in luxury cars. Although the Tundra has been designed and built here in the United States, CEO Akio Toyoda’s passion for motorsports and spicing up the Toyota brand have certainly had influence here. With red leather and camoflauge patterns throughout, the TRD Pro model has an interior reminiscent of a sports car, or more appropriately, a race truck.

Regardless of trim, the interior has an abundance of storage and seating space throughout the cabin. Rear seats also fold up to provide even more space for storing gear.

A standard 8-inch or optional 14-inch infotainment touchscreen dominates the center console and surprisingly looks at home. Most large tablet-style displays we’ve seen in modern cars look out of place, but Toyota has succeeded in designing one that looks, at the very least, a bit integrated into the overall cabin design. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have become industry standards and are included in both screen options. Thankfully, not all controls are digital; as physical volume and HVAC controls are still present under the large center screen.

There’s also an optional 12.3-inch full-digital cluster, a first for the Tundra, which displays the usual vehicle metrics in high definition. The standard cluster uses analog gauges flanking a much smaller info display. 

2022 Toyota Tundra on Rocky Hill
Toyota

Pricing and availability

Equipped with the latest tech and riding on a new platform, the totally redesigned 2022 Toyota Tundra brings a solid contender to the competitive truck scene. If chip shortages allow, expect the new Tundra to drop sometime this December. Pricing hasn’t been released yet, but Toyota says it’ll be competitive against other trucks in the same segment.

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