The highly anticipated 2022 toyota tundra is finally here. It doesn’t bring many fresh ideas to the table but instead rolls the most popular trends and features in modern pickup design and engineering into one truck.
How new is it? “Every nut and bolt is new,” chief engineer Mike Sweers said, with nothing reused from the outgoing second-generation Tundra, which traces back to 2007. Sweers couldn’t have kept old parts if he wanted to. Under Toyota’s architecture consolidation efforts, the Tundra had to move onto a new shared platform with the Land Cruiser and another forthcoming global vehicle Sweers won’t talk about. In practice, this means all three trucks use the same front and rear suspension systems and the same drivetrains, not to mention the only real difference in their ladder frames is the length.
The half-ton 2022 Tundra offers this all-new, fully boxed frame in two wheelbases. Sitting atop will be two familiar body styles: Double Cab, with the forward-swinging rear half doors, and CrewMax with four full doors. The Double Cab can be had with a 6.5- or 8.1-foot bed, and CrewMax offers a 5.5-foot short bed or the 6.5-foot bed.
Get Springy With It
The rear suspension features coil springs and a five-link suspension handling the axle. Like Ram and, more recently, Ford, Toyota has seen the benefits of dual-rate coil springs for ride comfort and handling without compromising payload and towing. What’s more, those rear coil springs can be replaced with optional load-leveling air springs for folks who tow and haul a lot.
Up front, it’s coil springs only on the updated control arm suspension. If you ask Sweers, Ram is using four-corner air suspension mostly for aerodynamics as it can lower the truck on the highway to reduce drag. Toyota met its ride comfort, handling, and off-road capability targets without air suspension and elected to forgo such a feature to keep costs and MSRP down.
The standard coil springs and optional rear air springs are just two of the five suspensions Toyota offers across the SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794, and TRD Pro trim lineup. Among them, there are also three TRD setups. The TRD Sport package adds Bilstein shocks that are tuned with the springs for street performance and handling; they also lower the truck slightly. The TRD Off-Road package uses Bilstein shocks, too, but these and the springs are set for off-road driving. It also adds skidplates and, on four-wheel-drive models, an electronically locking rear differential, Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select off-road driving modes, the company’s off-road crawl control, 18-inch forged BBS aluminum wheels, and all-terrain tires from either Falken or Michelin that have been dressed up to look tougher. Like many modern trucks, the differential locker only works when the 4WD system’s low range is engaged.
The standalone TRD Pro model swaps the Bilsteins for Fox 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks with remote reservoirs, adds a 1.1-inch lift on the front end, and swaps in a TRD anti-roll bar, a TRD-stamped aluminum front skidplate, and those same BBS wheels and Falken or Michelin all-terrain tires. It also gets the locking rear diff and all the electronic off-road driving aids.
Sweers explained the goal for the TRD Pro suspension like this: It adds high-speed off-road capability to the TRD Off-Road’s down and dirty skill set.
The TRD Pro also features an integrated off-road light bar in the grille, but it’s not the insanely blinding aftermarket type you see installed on some trucks. Activated by a button near the driver’s knee, it’s designed to throw more light out to the sides, not straight ahead. Available only when the high beams are on, it adds more coverage of the road ahead and to the side, not just more candlepower.
The TRD Pro is now based on the Limited trim level rather than the lower SR5 trim as before. The fake digital camo on the exterior trim and on the seats is unfortunately standard; anyone unimpressed with the look but impressed by the truck’s other attributes will have to live with it.
Toyota will also offer its Adaptive Variable Suspension with electronically controlled shocks on non-TRD models.
Hybrid Power to the People
Of greater interest to many off-roaders is the fact the TRD Pro model will only be offered with the new iForce Max hybrid powertrain. The reasoning is simple: It makes the most power, by a long shot.
Pairing Toyota’s new 3.4-liter twin-turbo V-6 with an electric motor scores peaks of 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque. (Toyota calls this engine a 3.5-liter, but it displaces 3,445 cc, which makes it a 3.4.) The electric motor is sandwiched between the gas engine and the transmission’s torque converter, an unusual setup. Many automakers simply replace the torque converter with the electric motor, but Toyota wanted to retain the smooth shifting and power delivery the torque converter provides. The 10-speed automatic that also appears on nonhybrid models is the only transmission.
Power for the electric motor comes from a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack mounted under the rear seats. Sweers said NiMH was chosen over lithium-ion because it’s easier and cheaper to acquire right now, it can hold enough charge in the space available, and it’s easier and cheaper to recycle. No doubt an additional reason is that Toyota is heavily invested in NiMH and only uses lithium-ion batteries in certain applications.
The most critical thing to know about this full-size truck’s hybrid powertrain is that it’s tuned for power, not fuel economy. That’s not to say it won’t get better fuel economy than a nonhybrid truck, but that wasn’t the primary goal and thus it won’t touch Ford’s F-150 PowerBoost on mpg. Sweers admitted he would’ve preferred a diesel engine, but that’s not the way the world is going now. Instead, he directed his engineers to get the same kind of peak torque and torque curve out of the hybrid powertrain.
Similarly, the iForce Max isn’t a plug-in hybrid system because the only benefit Sweers sees in a plug is extending the EV-only driving range, and that’s not something his team thinks customers care a whole lot about. Toyota won’t talk about the EV-only range, the electric motor’s output, or the battery capacity, but they’re all likely modest. The company did say the EV-only mode maxes out at 18 mph.
Good Old Gas
If you don’t get the hybrid, you’re mostly just leaving out the electric motor and battery: The transmission slides forward and bolts right up to the same 3.4-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder. Minus the electric boost, the V-6 makes 389 hp and 479 lb-ft, eight ponies and 78 lb-ft more than the previous truck’s old 5.7-liter V-8. Like the hybrid, the gas engine is tuned to produce a diesel-like torque curve. That’s good because both numbers fall just short of an F-150’s EcoBoost 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6.
Regardless of powertrain, the Tundra has drive modes for the first time ever, including Sport and Sport+, pure EV (on the hybrid), two different tow modes, and more. There is, however, no automatic four-wheel-drive mode. Toyota elected not to add it based on weak customer demand.
Prepared to Pull
The two tow/haul settings are emblematic of Toyota’s desire to improve the Tundra’s overall towing experience. Basic Tow/Haul is for lighter trailers, and Tow/Haul+ is for larger, heavier loads and for steep hills. Every truck above the base SR trim level will get a standard towing package.
With the new suspension, Toyota claims a maximum tow rating of 12,000 pounds for the gas engine and 11,500 pounds for the heavier hybrid. Similarly, the maximum payload rating has swelled to 1,940 pounds. All good numbers but not class-leading.
Other towing aids include an optional 360-degree camera system, optional power-extending tow mirrors, and Trailer Back Guidance, which can be activated in reverse to assist with trailer maneuvering and offers a Straight Path Assist feature that takes over the steering to keep things moving in a straight line. Making that possible is a switch to electric power steering.
Using the bed instead will also be a new experience. Toyota has employed the next generation of its sheet-molded compound composite bed pioneered on the Tacoma, giving all Tundras an aluminum-reinforced composite box. In the bed are the usual single tie-downs in each corner and an optional rail-based sliding tie-down system.
Toyota has also added a 120-volt outlet in the bed, but specifically decided against a truck-based generator like Ford’s Pro Power Onboard. Engineers figured people wouldn’t get much use out of it, and portable generators are less expensive and easier to move.
Accessing the bed has been made easier by the clever placement of a single button. In addition to the usual tailgate handle and a button on the key fob, Toyota has also placed a button on the driver’s side taillight you can bump with your elbow to drop the gate when your hands are full. The taillights, along with the headlights, are lit by LEDs as standard.
The outer bed panels are also mixed materials. The tailgate is steel, while the sides are aluminum. Moving forward, the cab is steel, the rear doors are steel, the front doors are aluminum, the front fenders are steel, and the hood is aluminum. Toyota wouldn’t give us a curb weight but said pretty much any weight savings gained through the engineering process and material selection were offset by all the new features added.
There was a much greater focus on aerodynamics, as well. Every line on the truck was shaped in the wind tunnel, according to Sweers. Little tricks like a Gurney flap on the top of the tailgate and vortex generators on the taillights all play a role, as does a power-extended front air dam that automatically resets itself if you hit something with it, causing it to deflect backward. Up front, the massive grille is entirely open to ensure there’s more than enough cool air for the powertrain. The inlets under the headlights are functional, feeding cold oxygen to engine intakes in the tops of the fenders. The hood vents are fake.
Time to Head Indoors
The cab’s interior is like nothing you’ve ever seen on a Tundra. Like Ram, Toyota changes the interior color scheme and some of the trim pieces depending on which model you buy. The massive center console features tons of space to store things, and there’s an upright wireless phone charger and five USB ports (three USB-A and two USB-C). You get a 120-volt outlet in the rear seating area, too.
The centerpiece, though, is the entirely new infotainment system. An 8.0-inch screen is standard and offers all the same functions as the massive, optional 14.0-inch display. A complete rethink of how Toyota does screens and infotainment, the new system is a million times more intuitive and functional than anything Toyota’s done previously. It comes standard with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and can be updated over the air.
Pay a bit more, and the system can also act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices as well as stream Apple Music and Amazon Music. When it’s streaming, it pulls data through the truck rather than your phone, so you get better reception and so it doesn’t drain your data plan. A separate option package adds a digital personal assistant for voice commands and a navigation system with Google Maps points of interest embedded. It can also cache map and streaming data so you don’t lose anything when you drive through an area with bad service. If you’re listening to terrestrial radio, the system will automatically jump between terrestrial service and internet radio if the station offers both so you don’t lose the signal.
There are plenty of other gizmos on board, as well. A panoramic sunroof is optional, as is a camera-fed rearview mirror. Heated and cooled seats can be had front and rear, and the power roll-down rear window returns with new aerodynamics to keep stuff from blowing in from the bed—that’s solely on the CrewMax, though, as there’s not enough room to package everything and retain rear-seat space in the Double Cab.
Roll-down rear window or not, engineers have added a bit of storage space and some bag hooks behind the rear seat backs. Under the rear seat bottoms, you’ll find new storage bins (as long as you don’t get the hybrid, which keeps its battery there) that can comfortably store three long guns on your next hunting trip. Engineers, unfortunately, couldn’t get rid of the hump in the rear floor as they needed somewhere to run the high-voltage cables for the hybrid system; Toyota has an arcane internal policy that says they must be run inside the cab.
Upper trim levels levitate the cab on hydraulic mounts instead of rubber for even more isolation, but regardless, Toyota engineers claim they’ve beaten every competitor in ride comfort and handling.
Knowing how much folks love modding their pickups, Toyota has at least 51 dealer-installed accessories planned for the Tundra right out of the gate. Chief among them will be a 3.0-inch suspension lift, TRD cast aluminum running boards, and swing-out in-bed cargo boxes.
When and How Much?
The 2022 Tundra will go on sale sometime in December. Pricing won’t be announced until we approach that time, but Toyota execs said it will be competitive, so have a look at what Ram, GM, and Ford are charging. Similarly, Toyota isn’t talking fuel economy until later, but we do know it’ll be better than the old Tundra’s if not class-leading.
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