2022 Toyota Tundra Powers Back in a Big Way
A slick powertrain, upgraded cabin, and standard active safety features make Toyota’s full-sized pickup competitive again
The 2022 Tundra marks the first thorough redesign of Toyota’s full-sized pickup in 15 years. During that time, the Tundra fell markedly behind the sales-leading domestic truck brands in terms of capability, technology, and innovations, as the “Big 3” (Ford, General Motors, and Ram) made ongoing improvements with several redesigns. Through it all, the Tundra’s chief competitive advantage was its outstanding Toyota-grade reliability.
After renting a pre-production 2022 Tundra from Toyota, we think the all-new truck has catapulted the Texas-built Tundra back into the full-sized arena with bravado. The new truck has bold styling, big power (with even more to come from a hybrid powertrain set for spring 2022), a large towing capacity, a contemporary multimedia system, and a rich roster of active safety and driver assistance features. But the best news of all: It’s a fantastic truck to drive, with a wonderfully smooth powertrain and a compliant ride.
We rented a 1794 Edition 4WD CrewMax (Toyota’s term for a four-door crew cab) with a 5.5-foot bed from Toyota for this First Drive evaluation.
The 2022 Tundra is the first application of Toyota’s all-new infotainment system. The touch screen comes in standard 8-inch and available 14-inch displays. The top-shelf 1794 Edition trim we rented had the latter, and we found that the giant screen made for large, simple-to-decipher text (almost comically large, in fact), and we appreciated the easy-to-use menu bar on the left side of the display. We like that Toyota didn’t go overboard with newfangled tech, though. There are still large knobs, and plenty of physical buttons and toggle switches; sit in the truck for about 30 seconds and you’ll have just about everything figured out. We also like that the Tundra comes standard with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Toyota did a fantastic job with the Tundra’s all-new powertrain, which pairs a 389-horsepower, 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with a 10-speed automatic transmission. That’s a few more horsepower and significantly more torque than the Tundra’s outgoing V8. It’s a winning combination, thanks to the engine’s rich power delivery that’s available in any gear and at any engine rpm. Plus, the transmission produces nearly imperceptible upshifts that are smoother than in many luxury cars. There’s tons of low-end torque (479 lb.-ft., to be exact), and we love that you can hear the turbochargers whooshing and whistling as they go about their business. Toyota did nice work tuning the engine and exhaust sound; they stay in the background during regular, easy-going driving, but put your right foot into the gas pedal and the engine wakes up with a burly growl that we rather enjoyed.
We appreciate that Toyota is giving Tundra buyers a traditional gear selector with an intuitive PRND layout, including the ability to manually shift the transmission by moving the lever to the left on the center console. This makes it simple to downshift to a lower gear whenever you’d like, for instance to use engine-braking to help slow the Tundra on a long downhill.
The Tundra isn’t available with a selectable full-time 4WD system. This means that in slippery conditions, such as snow, the driver will need to make sure they have shifted the Tundra into 4WD themselves, rather than just leaving it in full-time/auto 4WD, which conveniently shifts the truck automatically back and forth between rear-wheel drive and 4WD as road conditions and traction allow.