2022 Toyota Tundra Review: A Good Reason To Pass up the Big Three

Americans buy more full-size pickup trucks per year than any other vehicle style. The market is dominated by Ford, Chevrolet, GMC and Ram with the Toyota Tundra reliably trailing the pack for more than 20 years.

For 2022, Toyota brought a third generation to the market as its most advanced ever, from powertrain to technology.

Toyota calls the 2022 Tundra's new exterior design "technical muscle", and it was created at the company's design studio in California taking some of the popular blocky design cues from the 4Runner and Rav4 SUVs. Everything is more angular than before including the new head and taillights. The grille takes a new shape and the fenders are more sharply flared, landing closer to its current lineup of SUVs.

Advancing the powertrain story meant ditching the thirsty V8 engine option and offering two twin-turbo V6s in its place - one hybrid, one not. The 2021 Tundra's V8 made 381 horsepower (hp) and 401 pound-feet (lb-ft) of torque. The 2022 Toyota Tundra beats that handedly, with both powertrains.

The Tundra hybrid features an electric motor and battery. Both 2022s have an automatic transmission, though the new truck gets 10 speeds versus the old truck's six.

As tested with the new gasoline-powered i-Force twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 is loud on startup, sounding more like a V8 than your typical V6. It accelerates like a V8 too with 389 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.

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The i-Force Max hybrid is more powerful, delivering 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque and max towing is rated at 12,000 pounds.

The new transmission is the star here, outperforming the old six-speed handily. The shifts come often but are mostly smooth and unobtrusive. Like most of these multispeed units, it can jump down several gears at once, for instance when going up a hill or pulling a heavy load.

The suspension is new too, with the Tundra now sporting a multilink rear setup with coil springs, as opposed to leaf springs in the older model. That setup is better for towing and lateral rigidity, but mostly it makes unloaded driving much more manageable. The previous generation was bouncy on the expressway; here it is much smoother in everyday driving.

TRD off-road models get an even more robust suspension along with a 1.1-inch lift. And for the first time the Tundra is available with an adaptive suspension that adjusts depending on the road and the drive mode selected.

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Optional power running boards will help get passengers into the cabin of the 2022 Toyota Tundra, which is huge in the Platinum Crewmax trim that was tested. And those running boards won't pinch anyone's feet, even if they're still under the car when the boards retract.

The seats are wide and comfortable, with plenty of spaces to rest an arm. In addition to the door handle and center armrest, there's also a wide shelf at the window, which is also comfortable. The space between the center armrests also works well as storage.

Big rubber knobs are used for the volume and drive mode controls, but most of the controls are accessed through the touchscreen. Climate and vehicle controls are below, with useful toggles for individual temperature control.

The few physical controls are chunkier than usual in this truck, meant to be used with gloved hands. The gear selector big and feels robust when shifting, and the tactile clicks on the dials and other buttons are also satisfying. The Tundra TRD Pro gets a bright red interior, but the rest of the line gets browns, blacks and grays.

2022 Toyota Tundra
The 2022 Toyota Tundra offers a new color called Lunar Rock. Toyota Motor North America

The Tundra is the first to get the company's new multimedia system, starting with an 8-inch touchscreen, but a new 14-inch screen is optional with pinch and zoom functions using fingertips. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, wireless charging is optional.

Like many new vehicles, the Tundra's multimedia system has a personal assistant that can search for directions, find points of interest, adjust audio controls and more. The optional navigation system works offline, caching data when nearing an area with low connectivity.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is available while a 4.1-inch screen with analog gauges is standard. The bigger screen, standard with the more powerful i-Force Max powertrain and on Platinum, 1794 and TRD Pro grades, has five rotating animations on startup with desert scenes and other off-road images.

Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 is standard on the Tundra with forward collision warning, radar cruise control, lane tracing, which keeps the car in the center of the lane, automatic high beams and a rear seat reminder. Blind spot indicators and rear cross-traffic alert are also standard but not part of TSS 2.5.

The 2022 Toyota Tundra ($35,950) is being outsold almost 3-to-1 by both Ford and Chevy, even though it has more power and starts cheaper than anything but the bare bones Ford F-150 XL and Chevy Silverado LTD Work Truck. Toyota's least expensive full-size pickup also comes better-equipped than the comparable models.

However, the Ford F-150 is a best-seller for a reason. Several engine sizes open the vehicle up to more buyers and the number of option combinations is truly staggering. The Ram 1500 is probably the most comfortable of the four in both suspension and interior amenities. And the Chevy Silverado has some neat tricks like the Multi-Flex Tailgate that can be a seat, a step, a table, or a workbench.

It's a smart time for Toyota to strike with a new full-size pickup, as 78 percent of truck buyers say they are open to a different brand when buying the next one, according to a CarGurus survey. Those buyers would be doing themselves a disservice by not checking in at the Toyota dealership, they might be surprised.