The Toyota Tundra debuted in its third generation this year as among the most varied available pickup trucks but with a diminishing legacy.
The Japanese manufacturer assembles the truck in San Antonio, Texas, a hub for ranchers and RVers and their utilitarian vehicles. Despite the substantial niche market, the Tundra is struggling. Nearly 197,000 sold in 2007, the full-size truck’s best year. Just under 82,000 were purchased in 2021.
Serious competition from an omnipresent truck foursome remains, and Toyota’s smaller, thriving pickup, the Tacoma, has thwarted the big truck’s sales.
The Ford F-Series, Ram, Chevrolet Silverado and GMC are perennially among the country’s top-selling vehicles. The half-ton Toyota Tacoma had sales of more than 252,000 in 2021, about a 10 percent increase from the previous year.
The best-bet approach taken by Toyota is to offer as many Tundra variants as possible and hope for the best as the country’s fifth-best-selling truck.
For 2022 that includes two powertrains: a 3.4-liter, twin-turbocharged V6, which generates as much as 389 horsepower; and a hybrid with an electric motor and 437 horsepower. Both powertrains have 10-speed automatic transmissions and a fully-boxed frame and rear coil or air spring suspensions. Gas mileage averages are 18 miles per gallon in city driving and 23 mph on the highway.
Maximum towing capacity and payload have been respectively increased to 12,000 and 1,940 pounds. The limits will get most tasks done, but the Tundra’s top foes have higher tallies.
The new Toyota Tundra is available in two cab styles, both offering four front-hinged doors: Double Cab (SR, SR5, and Limited only) with either a 6.5 or 8 feet (2.0 or 2.4 m) pickup box, and CrewMax (all trims) with either a 5.5 or 6.5 feet (1.7 or 2.0 m). A TRD Off-Road Package can be added onto all Tundra trims except SR, Platinum, TRD Pro, and Capstone.
Trims levels further diversity. They include: SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition, TRD Pro and new Capstone trim. A four-wheel-drive system is also standard on TRD Pro and Capstone trims.
New also for 2022, a lighter aluminum-reinforced sheet molded bed has replaced the former steel bed. It’s more resistant to scratching and denting and is rust-free. It’s also unpainted, has a dark charcoal appearance and offers a UV-resistant coating.
Considering its overall specifications, the Tundra is swift, with the four-wheel-drive options advancing from zero to 60 miles per hour in a nifty 6.6 seconds. In several freeway scenarios, the Tundra’s power prevailed in lane-passing and freeway entrances without any potential problems developing.
The new Tundra is additionally nimble, with light and accurate steering. As a full-size truck, such personality traits are welcomed, particularly with the powerhouse Toyota used as a daily driver. Its benefits as an off-roader and work truck are impressive, but good luck on narrow city streets or while attempting to locate suitable parking while shopping. Parking in the far reaches of lots is the best approach for sufficient room. It’s also the least convenient, albeit walking has its fitness benefits.
Considering its size and place of origin, big as a theme is carried throughout the Tundra. The 14.0-inch navigation screen makes its directional tasks, sound system and other technology a lot easier to navigate. The centerpiece console compartment is huge as are other storage areas. The side pillars also fit the bigger-is-better motif. They strengthen the truck, but also provide sizable blind spots.
As largely its first new model in 14 years, the new Tundra is vastly improved, but not perfect. Toyota recently issued a recall for about 46,000 units of its large workhorse because of the potential of loose rear axle nuts. It’s not an issue a buyer should face with a new vehicle, including an underdog pickup truck with a price tag of slightly more than $56,000.
James Raia, a syndicated columnist in Sacramento, California, publishes a free weekly automotive podcast and electronic newsletter. Sign-ups are available on his website, www.theweeklydriver.com. He can be reached via email: email@example.com.