Since the introduction of the Ford F-150 Raptor in 2010, the off-road world has been different; the paradigm of what the OEMs could produce for the go-fast off-road market was forever bent. Since that time Ford has made a few updates and major redesigns of the truck, all of which have increased the usability of these trucks, but the impact of the Raptor on the minds of enthusiasts has been profound—it seems like every time one of the other OEMs comes out with an upgraded, off-road-packaged half-ton 4×4 truck, the first question asked is now “Is this a Raptor fighter?”
The answer has mostly been no, with a few notable exceptions. One of these was the Ram TRX which won Four Wheeler’s 2021 Pickup Truck Of The Year Competition. Another possible contender in this weight class is the rumored Chevy Silverado ZRX. Sadly, for our 2022 Pickup Truck Of The Year Competition, we had no competitors from GM or Ram on hand, which meant that Raptor-fighting duties were left solely to the 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. Is this truck from Toyota a true Raptor-fighter? Well, the short answer is no, but the Tundra TRD Pro does have quite an impressive arsenal of weapons that still make it worthy of more than just a second look (for one, the Tundra is a hybrid that both sounds great and is actually fast). Here’s our take on which of these trucks rules the roost in a few relevant categories.
The Ford F-150 Raptor’s Suspension has always been the belle of the ball, and that doesn’t change for the 2021 update with 14 inches of wheel travel up front and 15 in the rear (this is limited somewhat with the Raptors equipped with 37-inch tires). The on-point suspension starts with a frame unique to the Raptor. From there, front and rear are all new for the third generation—up front, the Raptor has all new upper and lower control arms, a new steering knuckle, improved ball joints, and new inner CV joints that allow for more angle without binding at full suspension droop; out back, the leaf springs are gone in favor of a five-link suspension with huge lower leading arms and triple-rate coils.
The TRD Pro Tundra is fitted with 2.5-inch diameter FOX internal bypass shocks on all four corners including on the new rear five-link suspension. This link suspension ditches the leaf springs present on the 2021 TRD Pro in favor of coil springs and 2.5-inch FOX shocks. The front FOX shocks provide the truck with 1.1 inches more front lift than non-TRD Pro Tundras. The aluminum-bodied front and rear shocks feature piggyback reservoirs to house additional oil for improved off-road performance in the most demanding terrain, and use a new polytetrafluoroethylene-infused (PTFE) Fox shock fluid to improve on-road comfort. This fluid includes microscopic particles infused with the oil to reduce friction. TRD Pro also gains a few additional off-road attributes, including a new TRD Pro front stabilizer bar, red painted suspension parts. In short the Tundra’s suspension makes room for towing capability and on-road ride while the Raptor’s suspension is really all about its one job, off-roading.
For us here at Four Wheeler, real off-road vehicles should have at least one true locking differential, and luckily both of these half-ton trucks come with selectable electronic rear locking differentials. The Raptor is also available with an optional Torsen limited-slip for the front differential. The Tundra has Multi-Terrain Select (MTS) and Crawl Control to help keep the vehicle headed up the trail despite any lack of traction. The Raptor has Terrain Management that features seven selectable drive modes (Slippery, Tow/Haul, Sport, Normal, Off-Road, Baja, Rock Crawl).
These drive modes adjust steering feel, transfer case behavior, stability control, throttle mapping, transmission shift points, and the new active-valved exhaust system. Trail Control returns as well, which allows drivers to set a traveling speed that the truck will maintain by managing throttle and braking. Both vehicles perform well off-road in low-traction conditions, but the Raptor is definitely tuned for better off-road performance.
The TRD Pro Tundra for 2022 has the impressive hybrid twin-turbo i-FORCE MAX powertrain. This combination makes 437 horsepower at 5,200 rpm, and an impressive 583 lb-ft of torque at only 2,400 rpm. The system relies on a well-tuned 24-valve dual overhead cam V-6 with dual chain-driven Dual VVTi systems, and a motor generator with a clutch located within the bell housing, between the engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. The electric motor generator, which is controlled by a hybrid Power Control Unit (PCU) and a 288-volt sealed Nickel-metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery that resides under the rear passenger seats, is designed to run in-line to provide additional power efficiently through the transmission at times when the twin-turbo gasoline engine is lacking. In city driving, during towing, on the highway, or while off-road, the gasoline and electric systems work in parallel to make impressive power that you can really feel while driving. The engine also sounds great.
The Raptor is no slouch either. The third-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine receives a compression ratio bump of half a point, bringing it up to 10.5:1, though power numbers remain the same as the previous generation Raptor at 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, and the pissed-off leaf blower exhaust note remains. Still, the Raptor was faster than the Tundra in our speed testing, hitting 60 mph in 6.38 seconds while the Tundra took 7.47 seconds. Fuel economy on our test for the Tundra was 14.36 miles per gallon. The Raptor pulled in 13.84 miles per gallon.
Both trucks have a 10-speed automatic transmission, and both trucks masterfully keep the engine in the power band when you are hard on the throttle, on-road or off. The Raptor’s 10R80 transmission has a first gear of 4.69:1 and three overdrives. The Tundra’s 10-speed transmission has a staggering first gear of 4.92:1 and three overdrives as well.
Axles and Transfercase
The 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro axles are geared with a 3.31:1 ratio. The front axle has a nine-inch ring gear with a high-pinion input, while the rear axle uses the same 10.5-inch Toyota corporate axle as the previous generation. The Raptor has a 4.10:1 axle ratio and 2.64:1 low range gearing with a Ford corporate 8.8 high-pinion front differential and a Ford Sterling 9.75-inch rear differential. Crawl ratios are 43.0:1 for the Tundra TRD Pro and 50.8:1 for the Raptor.
When it comes to comparing tires on these two trucks, it’s hard to imagine them being less similar. The 2021 Raptor is available with optional 37-inch tires, though the Raptor we tested was only outfitted with the comparatively smallish 35s (more specifically, LT315/70R17 BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires). The Ford’s tires can be mounted on one of three optional wheels, two of which can serve as regular wheels or be converted to full beadlocks. The Tundra, on the other hand, has 33-inch tires—Falken WildPeak A/T 285/65R18, to be exact—that (though they would normally be considered fairly large) seem tiny alongside the Raptor’s. The impression of size is further diminished by the tall sides of the bright orange TRD Pro.
Skidplates and Tow Points
To say we are disappointed with the lack of exposed tow points on the Toyota TRD Tundra Pro would be an understatement. This truck like any should have good solid tow points that are easy to access for the work that the truck will do. The TRD Pro Tundra does have a TRD aluminum front skid plate along with additional underbody protection, according to Toyota. The Raptor is ahead here, with lots of tow loops front and rear, and gobs of skid plates and other body-protecting bits like the heavy duty side steps that also serve as rocker protection.
Toyota Tundra TRD Pro pretty easily wins in this category of our unofficial comparison. Toyota advertises a 12,000-pound maximum towing capacity with a payload of 1,940 pounds for the TRD Pro Tundra. When properly equipped, the 2021 Ford Raptor can tow up to 8,200 pounds and has a payload capacity of 1,400 pounds. In this regard, the Tundra makes more sense for anyone who wants to use the truck more for daily driving and work-related duties; the Raptor is all about smiles-per-gallon in the dirt and dust.
We often test prototype vehicles for Four Wheeler and that can muddy the waters of such things as the official MSRP of a test vehicle. Unfortunately, that is the case for the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro. Toyota has promised to release the cost of the i-FORCE MAX powertrain in January of 2022, but for now we can make an educated guess that the truck we tested will come in at about $68,000 (but no promises on that). The 2021 Raptor 4×4 Supercrew has a base MSRP of $64,145, though the truck we tested was optioned up to a price of $76,850.
At the end of the day these two trucks are both winners, and which one you choose will depend on your priorities. After all, you’ll be making mortgage-like payments every month to own either one (Dave Ramsey, we’re sure, would not approve). The Raptor is ultimately an off-road toy, a factory-prepped prerunner with a warranty (assuming Ford won’t balk on any damage from off-road use) that you could drive to work every day if you wanted to (and could afford the fuel to get there and back). The Tundra TRD Pro has lots off-road-toy-like features of its own, but may be a more adult choice for anyone who works for a living, tows trailers occasionally and needs a more down-to-earth truck.
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