Toyota is never in a hurry. At least it seems that way owing to the pace of its introductions and the changes it makes to its vehicles. The new Toyota Tundra is an excellent example of that trait. Looking at the new 2022 Toyota Tundra it’s easy to see its predecessors lying just below the creases in the sheet metal. And while the big news this time around is the new V6 twin-turbo engine; it took Toyota 14 years to get here. Toyota, as we know, can be very innovative – but in the case of its pickup trucks slow and steady has seemed to be the preferred method. In fact, as I looked back over my notes from the original 2006 intro and then the subsequent 2014 update, I found an engineering consistency that is probably the basis for the brand loyalty that this truck enjoys today.
Back in 2006 Toyota made a big change by stretching the Tundra to North American proportions. It created an all-new chassis platform, a significantly longer wheelbase, with an overall length 254 mm (10 inches) longer than its predecessor and increased height and width which placed the Toyota Tundra into the full-size truck segment. They settled on a towing capacity of 4,500 kg (10,000 lb) and introduced the 5.7L i-Force V8 engine and an all-new six-speed automatic transmission. This powertrain combination has only now been dropped. And, judging from the reactions on our “first look” video much to the regret of many.
In 2014 Tundra had an update, meaning the key elements of the truck remained the same. Looking at it at the Chicago Auto Show that year I could see Toyota’s intention – assimilate into the North American truck world. These were my impressions then.
“The Tundra that pulled out onto the Chicago stage was a blunt-nosed beast with a bulging hood. A bulldog’s face,” I thought. An appearance amplified by its lower air dam curled up to its bumper like the jutting chin of boxer. It’s a tough look; one that I expect is going to appeal to truck guys.
From the hood the windshield sweeps up with a radius to the roof of the pod-like cabin; a distinctly Toyota look. Inside though, it appears to me, they took a page directly out of the “how to build trucks for cowboys” handbook. A squared up, utility-driven dash is split by separate seats, a hefty center armrest and a dagger shift lever. Materials are nice but the overall feel is of serious, masculine, utility. Well, I’ve seen very much the same features in the Ford, Chevy and Ram trucks, so perhaps Toyota is paying the current big players a complement through imitation; which is the most sincere form of flattery.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra is designed by the Calty Design Research centres in Newport Beach, CA and Ann Arbor, MI; and (as we know) is built in San Antonio, Texas. So, yes, they have pushed the whole “we are an American truck” about as far as they are able. But frankly being a Toyota, I think, is not what’s holding them up – its lack of build choices. Toyota simply does not have the variety of models, trims and options that its competitors do.
However, this time around they have made a new effort towards the luxury end of the market. Called the “1794” edition, it’s named for the year in which the Texas ranch, where the plant now stands, was established. This new edition now joins the Limited and Platinum trim levels with new Texas-sized luxury. These trucks ride on 20-inch alloy wheels and add lots of chrome to outer mirrors, door handles and deck rail systems. Inside the 1794 sports leather eight-way power seats, (heated and cooled) power moonroof, parking sonar and JBL audio. The leather is embossed, the instrument panel is new, soft-touch materials are used as accents and front and rear door trim is all new. The look is mature, cultured and simply put – sharp.
The second thing they are doing right is adopting the new SAE Towing Standard (J-2807) to vet their trucks tested towing capacities. This Society of Automotive Engineers testing model was first presented to all the truck builders two years ago.” And today, 10 years later, Toyota has the distinction of being the first to embrace it.
So, we have had the same (mostly) Tundra for the past 14 years. For 2022 though we can call this new truck a generational change, rather than an update. As you look over the bullet points, you’ll see that the 2022 Toyota Tundra is now as up-to-date as any of its competition – and in a few areas perhaps even a bit ahead.
- New 3.5 L V6 twin-turbo engine makes 389hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.
- i-Force MAX powertrain option punches that up to 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.
- Max tow rating is increased to 12,000 lb.
- Available 14-inch touchscreen highlights the new Audio Multimedia system.
- 12.3-inch instrument panel display is available.
- Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 active safety is standard on all trim levels.
- Interiors are completely updated with new materials and designs.
Both engine options are based on the same 3.5 L V6. There is a twin-turbo version (both engines use the new 10-speed automatic transmission). The i-Force Max adds an electrical component. An electric motor generator is located between the engine and transmission to provide additional power. The system employs a 288 V sealed Nickel-metal Hydride battery under the rear seats. Fuel economy numbers are not yet available – but it follows that they will be impressive, particularly in contrast to outgoing 5.7 L V8 which was known for being thirsty.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra has also focused on being a very good towing machine. To that end several new technologies have been added.
- Tow/Haul mode now had two settings to respond to lighter or heavier trailers.
- New cameras on Tundra display multiple exterior angles including PVM (Panoramic View Monitor) a top-down view of the truck displayed on the 14-inch monitor.
- New power extending and folding tow mirrors.
- Blind Sport Monitor that includes the length of the trailer.
- Rearward facing LED lights (on the mirrors) that illuminate the trailer (using an inside button).
- New rear air suspension available to auto-level any load.
- A new Trailer Back Guidance system will back up a trailer (hands free) in a straight line.
- A new fully boxed, splayed frame is designed to better handle payload and towing.
The new Toyota Tundra is being built now and will become available at the start of the new year. There is more information to come; but in the meantime, please view our first look walk-around of the 2022 Toyota Tundra on the Truck King YouTube Channel.