This is a big deal for Toyota, both literally and figuratively.
In a literal sense, the 2022 Toyota Tundra occupy more space than any other product from the Japanese manufacturer. Make that Tundras, plural: I’m in a remote barn in southern Ontario, about 90 minutes north-east of Toronto, staring at two pre-production examples of Toyota’s third-gen full-sizer.
Then there’s the business side. Trucks dominate the sales charts in both Canada and the US. Toyota sits in fifth place in the segment right now.
Let’s start with those looks. The current Tundra dates back to Obama’s first term, and its rounded nose and slab-sided bed betray that age. The new truck is much more angular, with roughly T-shaped headlights framing an enormous grille. TRD Pro models like the eye-searing orange example seen here get a unique grille insert, including a strip of white LED lights and three amber LED along the top of the grille. These are usually reserved for vehicles over 80 inches (2,032 mm) wide, but Toyota confirmed the ’22 Tundra is just shy of that, thus making them a strictly stylistic choice. Around back, the taillights now form a slight C shape when viewed from the side. The inner lighting elements have a strong three-dimensional look. The lights frame a 50-percent lighter tailgate, which still opens traditionally. However, a hidden button on the driver-side taillight drops it too, which can save time. The full-width powered rear window continues on, as well.
My personal favorite aspect of the design? Beyond the awesome orange paint, it’d have to be the complex wheel arch contouring. The negative space carved out above the arches themselves accentuates the forms, giving the Tundra so much more presence from any angle. The camouflage-like texture on all the black body parts is a cool touch, too.
Overall, it’s a very busy shape, but the styling makes the Tundra feel like a more manageable size than the other full-size trucks out there. We’ll have to see if that impression translates to the driving experience, too.
In a move that should surprise nobody, Toyota has sent the old V8 engine out to pasture. In its place sits a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, producing a healthy 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. that’s 8 hp and 78 lb-ft more than the eight-pot managed, and the new engine has more gears to handle the extra oomph. A 10-speed automatic nearly doubles the cog count, which should be a boon for fuel economy.
The top engine option should help there, too. Toyota calls it i-Force Max, but you’ll know it as the hybrid version of the above engine. Horsepower jumps to 437 ponies, while torque is a massive 583 lb-ft; the most in any production Toyota. This new hybrid system also incorporates a motor generator in the bell housing between the engine and transmission, improving the power delivery. The turbo-six may stay off at low speeds, but from 18 mph (29 km/h) and above, it’s always on. There’s a drawback to the battery assist though: the nickel-metal hydride battery pack eats into the rear under-seat storage.
Don’t worry, torque fans: the new Tundra’s added twist allows it to haul up to 12,000 lb (5,443 kg), up from the 10,200 lb (4,626 kg) of the current truck.
A welcome tech upgrade
Popping the door open and climbing up into the cabin, it’s impossible to miss the enormous 14-inch screen sitting atop the dashboard. It runs a whole new version of Toyota’s infotainment system—hallelujah—with quicker reaction times to boot. It allows for multiple user profiles, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported.
Higher trims and all i-Force Max models also swap out the analog dials for a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel.
A switch to electronic power steering has made Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5 suite of driver aids possible on the Tundra, and it’s standard on every single trim. You’ll find automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning (with steering assist), adaptive cruise control, auto high beams, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and road sign assist. Try finding all that on the competition’s base models.
Focused model lineup
At launch, the 2022 Tundra will be available in six trims: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794, and TRD Pro. The latter is only available with the hybrid powertrain; it’s optional on the Limited through 1794 trims. The TRD Pro will be the choice for off-road enthusiasts, with 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks at all four corners, lifting the Tundra by a little over an inch. You’ll find underbody skid plates, 33-inch all-terrain tires, an electronic rear differential lock, and very cool BBS forged off-road wheels on the Pro as well. The Pro also benefits from Multi-Terrain Select, include a Crawl mode, and multiple exterior cameras to spot potential obstacles.
Those wanting a milder TRD approach can opt for the Off-Road Package, available on SR5, Limited, and 1794 models. It includes 18- or 20-inch wheels, a TRD grille, skid plates, MTS, a rear diff lock, and more. We lost count of the TRD badges after 16.
Tundra is only the beginning
Toyota is understandably proud of this ground-up platform; it’s the first new Tundra in 15 years, after all. While the spokespeople on site wouldn’t dare confirm future products, they did tell us that it would be “very surprising” if other vehicles didn’t show up on this platform. Figure on that being the next-gen Sequoia, especially with the Land Cruiser disappearing from these shores this generation—not to mention the addition of competitors like the Jeep Wagoneer.
We’ll know more about the 2022 Toyota Tundra over the coming weeks, including what it’s like to drive. As for the finer details, like pricing, packaging, and fuel economy, expect it before the truck arrives in dealers later this autumn.
Discuss this story at our Toyota Tundra Forum.
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