This is so good. And it’s just the start.
We love pickup trucks. And not for the I-got-this attitude they inspire or how great they look in Miranda Lambert’s Instagram. While we do love them for the great view of the road, towing horse trailers and boats, and letting us not just dream of farming but actually have a farm. Oh, and the space, comfort and features are just unbeatable when you need room for your crew, too.
Pickup trucks are also the underpinnings of some of our favorite SUVs. And the Toyota Tundra is no exception. It is the foundation of the Lexus LX and GX, the Toyota Sequoia, the 4Runner, and the oh-so-missed Land Cruiser.
So when Toyota introduced the newly redesigned Tundra with a seemingly unending list of great new features, I got a bit tingly. The future of Toyota SUVs is going to be good. Really, really good.
I got a chance to get a sneak peek at the new Tundra and all its goodies. This is what’s in store for buyers of the 2022 Tundra and all its offspring to follow.
See our whole tour of the 2022 Tundra here:
This World Class Multimedia System that Had Me at “Hey”
As in “Hey Toyota.” All you have to do is say “Hey Toyota” (or Hi Toyota or Hello, Toyota) and the assistant comes to life on the 14-inch center screen asking what she can do for you. Toyota calls this a “voice first” approach.
“We wanted to give customers the ability to interact with the vehicle with a voice first approach, not having to touch all the buttons,” said Chris Pedregon of Toyota. “It limits the distractions.”
The new system, Toyota Audio Multimedia System, has two microphones in the ceiling — one for the driver and one for the front seat passenger — and is the result of a team of hundreds of engineers who’ve spent the last couple of years working on it.
The system is super intuitive, designed for how we use our in-car media systems. Among the highlights are two choices of voice assistance: Voice assist and intelligent voice assist. The first is programmed into the system and can operate things like cabin temperature and radio settings; the second connects to the cloud (and yes, there’s a WiFi hot spot, too) and can tell you things like the current weather in Honolulu. It has a mapping system that downloads and stores your location and destinations, so if you lose your cell signal you’re still covered with digital maps.
These features — intelligent assist and navigation with downloadable maps — are by subscription, though owners can subscribe for short periods, such as a weekend or a vacation period. And of course, expect to get a nice trial period with purchase so you can get used to them.
And, it integrates your phone, maps and more so you can do things like set a destination, then call that destination and send your arrival time to someone else. The system will also store your profile in Apple Music and Amazon music so if *someone else* is listening to Spotify on your phone you can still access your playlists through the multimedia system (and you get to enjoy the JBL sound system).
The setup of the screen is super simple; icons on the left side give you the fundamentals; from there you can navigate to the functions you want to use including, easily, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The look, feel and function of the multimedia system is light years evolved from current Toyota systems and, with 5 USB ports, a household outlet, a bed outlet and only 1 cigarette lighter style adapter (go ahead, try to find it), the Tundra enters a whole new era of connectivity. I can’t wait for this to roll out to every Toyota model, which it no doubt will, including the brand’s SUVs.
A New Design that is All Tundra, But Elegant and Modern
Familiar yet modern: It’s the designers challenge and it is well met in the 2022 Tundra. The interior feels like a Tundra; things like air vents and the center arm rest are not overly refined or dainty. They are solid and hefty, as you would expect in a pickup truck. However, gone is the gear shift lever that protruded into the air; it’s replaced by a rectangle of leather that is a natural fit for your hand. It sits amid a command center that offers every function you need in a button; there are plenty of storage spaces and a center console that you can reach into through a retractable top, or open it for full access. It’s not huge, but it’s sizable.
The steering wheel is more refined and detailed. Gone is the beefy look and feel; the models we saw had stitched and perforated leather, a smaller center and more details on the control panels. Overall it feels like a really good steering wheel …one that could be found on any world class car or truck.
The Tundra has a panoramic sun roof and a fully retractable rear window. It’s like being in a convertible, but not as loud or windy. Big yay.
On the outside, the Tundra, again, is all Tundra: Large and masterful. The new grille is larger and more distinct, flanked by slim new headlights. The “A” pillars are blacked out so the roof stands out and framing the windows with more prominence. Overall, the effect is modern and evolved, yet still Tundra.
V6 Twin Turbo For the Win… and for the Towing Capacity… MPG and Drive Modes
Another huge advancement is the new engine in the Toyota Tundra. Which is most meaningful if you like to save money on gas and if you like to tow big things. Gone is the gas-happy V8 engine (for now… though in the trend of super trucks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it revived). It’s been replaced with a V6 twin turbo with 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft torque. And, for the even less gas-happy truck driver, there’s a hybrid option with 437 HP and 583 lb-ft torque.
The added power and torque, plus a few other details like more high strength steel, have increased Tundra’s tow capacity of up to 12,000 lbs, an 1,800 lb increase over the prior generation. Total tow capacity is reduced slightly in the hybrid and models with options that increase the overall weight, but still, the 2022 Tundra offers a big increase in capacity. In other good towing news (and as expected), these systems are plug and go; no extra tow packages are necessary.
Another great addition are drive modes. Sport mode in a pickup? Well, yes, that’s a thing these days and now the Tundra has it. Plus, Sport+ was an option in the platinum hybrid I spent time with, as well as comfort and eco mode. You can pick your drive experience now in the Toyota Tundra.
Toyota hasn’t released EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers yet but they indicated that those who are gas-pump fatigued will feel a little relief.
A Bit More About Towing. And the TSS 2.5 System That Makes It Easier
Toyota has found that while yes, its pickup truck drivers use these vehicles for daily drives, routines, and work, the real goal is to get out and find adventure. So, towing is really, really important. If you’ve tried to buy or rent an RV lately, you know. So to enhance the tow capacity, Toyota has added a suite of tow options centrally placed just below the 14” multimedia screen so they are easy to reach, and easy to use in conjunction with the rear view camera that is designed to help you better connect your trailer with your hitch.
Add to that an enhanced Toyota TSS 2.5 driver assist and safety system that adds road sign reader and steering assist. It’s that last detail that makes the entire combination so exciting: when you’re towing a 12,000 lb. trailer you get a bit of help from the steering assist function (active when cruise control is active) to help keep the truck in its lane without so much muscle from you. Arrive with nerves not frayed? So much easier to enjoy the lake!
An Iconic Heritage Look for TRD Pro
Remember the Toyotas of yore, the ones with the brand name spelled out clearly on the front grille, the ones we saw clearly breaking through the wall of sand in the desert or giving chase to a herd of giraffes? Well, the legacy is back in the TRD Pro version of the Tundra.
TRD (which stands for Toyota Racing Development and represents the brand’s off-road lineup) adds even more adventure to the Tundra experience, starting with the Toyota name spelled out on the front grille and the front dashboard. From there, there are things like a light bar and fog lights on the front grille, standard skid plates, a bit higher ground clearance and an extra special red interior option. Toyota is offering a full catalog of goodies for those who want to add more to their Tundra —TRD Pro or any other trim. Automatic running boards or bed boxes, anyone?
5 Other Tundras to Choose From
If the TRD Pro and it’s top of the line price tag isn’t in right for you, the other models include the SR base model, SR5, Limited, 1794, Platinum or TRD Pro. There two cab options, all with 4 doors: the Double Cab or CrewMax, and depending on the model, options for the bed size include 5.5’, 6.5’ or 8.1’ bed lengths.
Toyota will announce pricing and fuel economy soon, and we’ll get a run behind the wheel soon, too, and we can’t wait. Because with what we’ve seen so car we can’t wait for these details to migrate to Toyota’s entire lineup – especially its SUVs.
Disclosure: I was Toyota’s guest to see the 2022 Tundra. Travel and accommodations were provided but all opinions are my own.