By Frank S. Washington
SAN ANTONIO, TX — We came here to evaluate the 2022 Toyota Tundra. This full-size pickup truck was one of the few products the automaker has introduced in this market that just didn’t measure up. But we really can’t say that anymore.
With any pickup, its worth can be measured by what is under tight hood. And the 2022 Toyota Tundra’s new powertrain is the ante that may make truck buyers look at it seriously. The basic engine is a twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that made 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It was mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
True truck buyers are obsessed with horsepower and torque. And the new Tundra’s 479 pound-feet of oomph put to the pavement kicks in at 2,400 RPM.
Before we go any further, we need to say that the Tundra is all new. During a deep dive at the company’s Plan, TX, headquarters we were told that every part, big and small, had been changed on the 2022 version of the Tundra
They’ve branded this engine i-Force. However, there is a second engine. The i-Force MAX, which has a hybrid component, makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. It too was mated a 10-speed automatic.
We climbed into a 2022 Toyota Tundra SR5 TRD Sport. It was powered by the smaller V6 that made 389 horsepower. The interior was dominated by a 14.3-inch infotainment screen.
The Tundra is a big pickup trunk. And with any truck, you’ve got to pay attention, it is not a sedan and it’s not a crossover. It must be driven. There were a few times when it seemed to float out of the lane. But that happened when we took our eyes off the road.
Power was impressive and we had the smaller of the two engines. The 2022 Tundra was quiet, it rode smooth, and it had that body on frame ride. In other words, when we slowed and went over sizable bumps, we could feel that on frame construction.
Still, this trim line had an air suspension. Radar cruise control, automatic hi-beams, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure alert were among the safety features.
By the time we got to The Preserve at Canyon Lake, the first vehicle we tried was on a short but moderate off-road course. The Tundra managed it without much difficulty.
We checked out the reverse steering course. It was a short course but what it did was backup with a trailer, although this one was a small airstream trailer. Still, it was automatic and took the guess work out of which way to turn the wheel to keep the trailer straight.
We tried towing a 25-foot Airstream trailer and were surprised and pleased with the ease which 2022 Tundra pulled it. There was some porpoising but beyond that there was little to indicate that we were towing anything that heavy.
Pickup trucks are known and loved for their combinations. The Tundra will be offered with three different beds: 5ft. 5 inches, 6ft.5 inches and 8ft.1inch. There are two four-door options: double cab and crew cab.
They ditched the leaf spring rear suspension and went with a multi-link set up. The reason was simple: it provides a better ride, better straight-line stability, and better handling. The new rear suspension also improves towing. This Tundra can tow up to 12,000 lbs. and it can tote 2,000 lbs.
They shifted to a fully boxed frame which improved rigidity. The rear frame member was widened to improve stability and towing capability. Toyota also said the fully boxed frame improved the new Tundra’s ride and handling.
Tundra used high strength steel to help with rigidity and aluminum to reduce weight. There is a tailgate release on the key FOB that is standard across all trim lines.
A lot of adjustments were made to the front suspension that improved cornering; roll steer was reduced by 25 percent. And body roll was reduced.
Pricing had not been released at the time of road test but subsequently Toyota said the sticker would start at $39,950. It goes on sale this December. The more powerful hybrid will go on sale next spring.