Consumers looking to Toyota for a pickup truck aren’t really cross-shopping against other brands. They’re minds are made up. They’ve decided to buy a truck with reliability, longevity, and features over capability, because not everyone needs a truck that can tow a trailer with 1500 horses. Toyota has known this for decades, which is why it let trucks like the Tundra and Tacoma skate by without any major changes for so long. Focusing on these things can only get you so far and Toyota finally introduced a new Tundra for 2022. Unlike Ford, Ram, Chevrolet, and GMC, Toyota’s not interested in keeping up with the truck towing wars. Instead, it’s focusing on things that make it great and starting to finally catch up to others in other areas where it was weak. The result is a darn fine pickup that’s actually competitive.
Who Needs A V8?
The largest change with the Tundra is the disappearance of the V8 engine. In fact, the Tundra is the only truck that’s not available with a V8 engine in the large segment. Big news for the Tundra is that it’s available with a hybrid powertrain. We didn’t get to test that model, but we got the 1794 Edition, which comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 engine. The V6 cranks out 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, which are improvements over the outgoing V8.
Despite not coming with a V8 engine, the Tundra feels plenty muscular. It scoots the large truck down the road at a decent pace, emits a V8-like noise (at least in the cabin), and offers a decent towing capacity of up to 12,000 pounds. That’s nowhere near as good as the Ford F-150 that can tow 14,000 pounds, but again, that’s plenty for most interested Tundra buyers. The figure that may actually push people away from the Tundra is its relatively low payload capacity of 1,940 pounds – the F-150 is rated at 3,250 pounds.
I’m a huge fan of the Tundra’s new V6. I also love how it’s standard. Ford makes you jump through hurdles and configure a pricey truck before you can get the punchy V6 in the F-150. A standard turbo-V6 engine is a great way for Toyota to stand out in the crowd, but the finesse of the engine and 10-speed automatic transmission are what seal the deal.
A Major Interior Glow Up
If it weren’t for the Tundra’s interior, Toyota may have been able to keep the last-gen truck going for a few more years. Interior design and tech have changed drastically over the past 14 years – heck even the past five years. Against other trucks, the Tundra’s outdated cabin is what really made it a tough sell.
Jump into a Tundra, especially one of the brand’s pricey trims and you’ll be shocked at just how nice it looks and feels. The 1794 Edition isn’t the nicest Tundra available, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around why anyone would need something nicer. The enormous touchscreen, rich colors, upscale trim pieces, and expansive seats make the Tundra a truck that’s unrecognizable compared to the last-gen model. It feels really nice on the inside, like really nice for a price that’s also nice.
The 14-inch touchscreen in the Tundra 1794 Edition not only looks good, but is also user-friendly. We did get an error message saying that we had to sign in for Toyota Connected Services or something every minute, literally every minute, but that’s the only complaint we had with the tech. The vertical wireless charging pad underneath the center console is incredibly useful, the camera angle that shows you what’s in the bed while you’re driving is beyond cool, and the Toyota voice recognition system works well enough.
Worth Being Cross-Shopped
Most people looking for a large pickup truck would’ve been quick to write off the old Tundra. Toyota left it out in the sun a little too long, resulting in a shriveled-up truck that was uncompetitive. The fully redesigned Tundra is more than a competitive truck, as its tech features, high-end cabin, and refined powertrain help it feel like a genuinely good choice. Where it really falls behind is towing and payload capacities, but these aren’t new things for Tundra owners and they don’t stop the truck from being more well-rounded than before.