To say that the previous generation Toyota Tundra pickup was a relic from a bygone time was no understatement. With styling that dated all the way back to 2006 (when this author was in high school) and a one-size fits all V8 engine, the Tundra was an old-school model that was rapidly losing ground to many full-size rivals. That included the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150, and the Ram 1500, which all have received multiple updates and smaller engines to appeal to a more fuel-conscious consumer base. The 2022 Tundra finally pushes the Tundra into the modern age, but is it enough to finally make the truck a true threat to the segment benchmarks?
Tundra Styling Pushes Truck Into The Future
To find out, we spent some time with the Tundra Platinum model. Our example is the third most luxurious trim in the Tundra family, with only the cowboy-focused 1792 Edition and the range-topping Capstone model all being more luxurious than it. That said, the Platinum is still a very good viewing glass into all the changes that the truck received in its all-out refresh. The old dated styling that used to define it has been pitched, and in its place is an all-new front end that boasts a massive front grille, headlights, and a new lower bumper that’s all designed to project a butchy yet sporty motif.
The aforementioned grille is also available in several different styles, but that largely depends on the trim level that customers choose. TRD Pro models, for example, have integrated marker lights and large TOYOTA script lettering in the center, while Platinum models, like our example, splash chrome accents into the meshwork. The large imposing hood further enhances the truck’s newfound size, but the real highlight here is the jagged curved angles as well as the sporty angles that define some parts of the truck. That’s especially true at the rear of the truck, where observers will find sporty taillights as well as an integrated spoiler in the tailgate.
When viewed among some of its peers, the Tundra does a much better job standing out in the crowd. While the Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500 still have a leg over the truck in terms of pure aesthetics, the Tundra does manage to outshine the Chevrolet Silverado. That model recently received a refresh to address some of the complaints that dogged its last major redesign. While the bulk of that effort helped clean up some aspects of its image, it’s no secret that the Chevy lacks some of the Toyota’s bold character, especially when the two are placed side by side.
Ultra Modern Tundra Interior Shines In Providing Usable Luxury and Technology
Slip inside the 2022 Toyota Tundra, and it becomes apparent that Toyota designers were allowed to spare no expense in making the cabin into a creation aimed at segment benchmarks. The uninspired cheap plastics and dated technology are gone. In their place is a clean, fresh look with more soft-touch materials and technology that finally allows the truck to be on par with the segment’s best.
Speaking of technology, the infotainment system has finally received the love and attention it so desperately needed, with 2022 models featuring a massive 14-inch touchscreen infotainment system. That’s bigger than the 12 and 13.4-inch systems fielded by Ram, Ford, and Chevrolet, and it is a massive improvement over the outgoing system. It now comes with built-in Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support and can even work with Amazon’s Alexa service. The screen isn’t too big, and the graphics are first-rate. That said, we did notice times where the software would have an occasional glitch, and we even had one instance where the screen went completely black (which vanished like a ghost in the night after a restart and never reoccured for the rest of the truck’s visit.)
A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is also on board, but while it can be easy to be distracted by the sheer amount of gadgets on hand, we encourage folks to look around at the rest of the interior because they will like what they see. A floor-mounted shifter is still present, but the dinky setup has been replaced with an all-new design that boasts a thicker piece and revised operation. The steering wheel is slightly smaller, but the flat-bottomed design gives it a sporty look, and it also does a better job of fitting the sporty theme that Toyota is attempting to project with the truck.
Storage in the Tundra remains a potent selling point, with the large center armrest hiding a massive storage bin that can hold all kinds of items. Our Crew Max model gives rear passengers plenty of room to stretch out, and it also plays a hand in hauling cargo too. That included an entire bicycle that we picked up in rural Metro Detroit that we managed to fit in there without taking it apart. This spacious amount of storage works well with the 6,5 ft bed and makes the Tundra an excellent work site companion. Sadly, the bed itself does not quite measure up to its rivals when it comes to some of the details. For example, the Tundra has fewer bed-mounted plugs to use than the F-150, and the bed length is outclassed by bigger entries in the full-size segment. The rear-mounted bed step is a much-appreciated aide, and it helps make loading cargo much easier too.
V8 Burble Replaced With Turbocharged Boost
Look under the hood, and you’ll see the other big change for 2022, the addition of an all-new twin-turbocharged V6 that replaces the outgoing V8 engine. While we’ll miss the distinct burble that only a V8 can produce, the V6 is eager to please, especially when it comes to performance. The base setup makes 389 hp, but our tester arrived with the i-Force Max version of the 3.4 liter, which adds in hybrid technology and produces a beefier 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.
That’s a sizable bump over the 381 hp created by the old 5.7 liter V8, and the engine rewards owners with enhanced lower-end torque and better acceleration manners on the freeway. While it’s far from a sports car, our tester managed to make the sprint to 60 mph in under 6 seconds. That’s quicker than both the 5.7 liter and 5.3 liter V8s Chevy and Ram use and is even a hair quicker than the Ford F-150 Powerboost. The Tundra also gained an all-new 10-speed automatic that is supposed to help improve fuel economy slightly, but we only managed an average of 14 mpg, thanks in part to spirited use of the throttle. The 10-speed delivers crisp shifts, and it also gains an all-new drive mode selector that allows the Tundra to fill a wide range of roles, that includes a sleeper of a sport truck when the knob is turned to Sport+ mode.
But when you’re not being star-struck by the engine and transmission, the platform and the suspension also do their part to make this Tundra a star. Toyota built the new truck on the TNGA-F platform, and while it’s still a body-on-frame platform, it has a good set of genes with the underpinnings also being shared with the international market Toyota Land Cruiser, Lexus LX600, as well as the recently launched Toyota Sequoia. This state-of-the-art foundation allowed our tester to have a more composed handling demeanor, largely due to the old leaf-spring setup being canned for an all-new fully independent coil suspension with luxury models like our Platnium tester adding in self-leveling rear air suspension with adaptive dampers. Toyota claims that they made that particular addition to help lower the truck to make loading bulkier cargo easier. In some situations, we can see the air suspension eliminating some of the hassle involved in loading those items. The steering does a good job communicating with the driver on what’s going on, and the truck goes where it’s pointed with little fanfare. Braking is also smooth, but there were times when we wished there was less nose dive.
Pricing for the 2022 Toyota Tundra is tailor-made to suit a wide range of consumer tastes, with a base SR model starting at $35,950. This pricing ladder follows the same steps that we have seen in a few of the Tundra’s rivals with Platinum models, like our example, starting at $58,020. Adding the hybrid engine and four-wheel drive pushes the figure to $64,420, with options pushing our final total to just over $65,000. That puts the Platnium in an interesting spot price-wise, with the Tundra undercutting similar versions of the Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500.
This results in the Platnium being a potent value play for luxury truck buyers. This trim delivers the goods on technology and luxury but without the sky-high price tags that have become common in the luxury truck market. In addition, the Platinum also serves as a good introductory model for the rest of the luxury models, with customers using it as a stepping point into either the 1792 Edition or the Capstone when it comes time for them to buy another truck.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.