Over the years, Toyota has cultivated a devoted fan base for its trucks, a base that tends to value the ruggedness and reliability of the Japanese automaker’s products over the showy one-upmanship that traditionally defines domestic platforms. Their numbers may be relatively small, but enough of these loyalists have voted with their wallets over the past 14 years to keep the outgoing Tundra relevant between long-awaited revamps. For this group, the arrival of the new 2022 Tundra, with its 437-hp hybrid powertrain, rear air springs and massive touchscreen, is cause for celebration. Many of them probably won’t mind that it’s just catching up with Toyota with the rest of the full-size truck segment.
Despite its progress, the new Tundra is a harder sell as you move down its model line. Our mid-level Limited test truck—four-wheel-drive, crew cab, 5.5-foot box—weighed 251 pounds less than the top-of-the-line TRD Pro hybrid we previously tested. But at 5,856 pounds, it’s still several hundred pounds heavier than similarly equipped rivals from Ford, General Motors and Ram. Powered by a standard 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 good for 389 horsepower, our test truck hit 60 mph in a modest 6.1 seconds, putting it 0.4 seconds behind the TRD Pro. Although the Limited does make up the quarter mile, posting the same 14.5-second time, that pace puts the Tundra toward the back of the current full-size pack. We clocked a V-8-powered Ram 1500 Crew Cab at 6.0 seconds at 60 mph, while faster variants from Ford and GM can hit the lower five-second range.
While not the fastest, this Tundra volume model feels pretty snappy, producing a pleasingly throaty grunt – if synthesized – while riding a wave of 479 lb-ft of torque that peaks at just 2400 rpm. A redline at 5,900 rpm indicates Toyota’s boosted V6 isn’t designed for high revs, but that’s thanks to the standard 10-speed automatic transmission, which shifts down its gears with impressive smoothness. Unfortunately, we only averaged 14 mpg in our test, and the unimpressive 19 mpg on our highway at 75 mph is 3 mpg below its EPA rating. We also recorded a relatively loud 76 decibels inside the cabin at full throttle, but at least the Limited’s 66 decibels at 70 mph makes it about as quiet cruising as its peers.
In terms of handling, our test truck’s 0.73g of grip and stopping 185 feet from 70 mph are adequate but barely noticeable efforts. Its brake pedal is firm and progressive, and its steering has a precise and well-calibrated action. The standard coil-over suspension—load-leveling rear air springs are a $650 option—provides a decent ride if heavy over rough pavement when rolling on 20-inch Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires. This rubber is part of the $3085 TRD Off-Road package, which also brings upgraded suspension with Bilstein shocks and several other extras, including an electronic-locking rear differential. Drivers who want an automatic way to handle slippery conditions are out of luck, however, as the Tundra’s part-time four-wheel-drive transfer case lacks the full-time all-wheel-drive setting that some others have. brands offer. As equipped, our truck was designed to tow up to 11,120 pounds and haul up to 1,740 pounds in its aluminum-reinforced composite bed. Again, solid numbers but no class.
Unlike the Ram 1500, which boasts an almost automotive level of refinement, the Tundra never lets you forget it’s a pickup. Committed truckers probably won’t mind how big its controls are, the slight wobble the solid rear axle sometimes sends through the frame, or the way its body can wallow in corners, feeling slightly under-damped. . But Toyota pulled off the trick of making the Tundra look smaller than it is, despite having similar proportions to other half-ton trucks. Your five-foot-11 author could reach the sides of the cargo box without straining, and the cabin’s 23.9-inch standover height made it easy to slide behind the wheel, no climbing required. The view out front is suitably scenic without dominating the surrounding traffic. Maybe we just spent too much time in our big, long-term Ram 1500 TRX, but this Toyota feels pretty nimble for something 233.6 inches long.
However, its reduced interior dimensions, especially at the rear, are by no means illusory. Compared to national offerings, the Toyota Crew Cab’s rear seat space is a few inches narrower and its 41.6 inches of rear legroom is up to several inches shorter – that’s is also about an inch shorter than in the previous generation comp. Overall, the Tundra’s cabin is highlighted by excellent ergonomics and simple design, including our truck’s simple analog gauges flanking an intuitive 4.2-inch display; a dynamic 12.3-inch digital cluster is standard on higher trims. It’s all very sensible and quite appealing. The easy-to-use 14.0-inch infotainment touchscreen is a welcome upgrade over the standard 8.0-inch unit, though the screen icons and fonts look comically large, and the annoying lack of a dedicated tuning knob is a pitfall that Toyota designers failed to avoid.
At $60,188, the tested price of our everyday Tundra still leaves plenty of available equipment on the table. Still, it’s a huge improvement over its predecessor. While it’s easy to accuse the new Tundra of failing to raise the bar in this fiercely competitive segment, Toyota truck enthusiasts should find the competent evolution they’ve been waiting for.
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