The third-generation Toyota Tundra presents a new opportunity for the Japanese industrial colossus to gain ground from American manufacturers in the lucrative full-size pickup truck segment, which has so far proved impenetrable to foreign-sourced brands. they have tried their luck on it.
Toyota entrusts this ambitious mission to a completely new truck designed in the United States, with the tastes and needs of North America in mind, which is built on a completely new architecture, jointly designed over two years by American and Japanese teams, which also supports to the new Land Cruiser, which for the first time in decades will not be exported to the United States.
I moved to the city of San Antonio, in Texas, the birthplace of the Toyota Tundra, to see if in the case of the Toyota Tundra 2022 The adage that says “the third time will be the charm” will be fulfilled.
On the street
The first time I saw it in person, for a few hours isolated inside a studio last September, the Toyota Tundra 2022 impressed me with its enormity and its beautiful forms whose design language, described by the manufacturer as ‘technical muscle’, breaks unequivocally with the timid lines of its predecessor. But now that I could see it interacting with other vehicles on the streets of San Antonio and the highways of South Texas, where 80% of the vehicles are large pickups, I could see that the majesty of the new Tundra remains intact in real settings. . That in a market where the saying ‘bigger is better’ is almost a dogma of faith, it is important to the success of an ambitious pickup like Tundra.
In the driver’s seat
Sitting behind the wheel of the Toyota Tundra, the first thing that struck me was the simplicity of the layout of its controls. Perhaps with the sole intention of being different, Toyota avoided the temptation to create a huge central area on the dashboard and controls and instead inserted a 14-inch screen to interact with the new multimedia audio system. On its inner edge Toyota placed a strip of climate control system LEDs and under it a series of toggle switches for temperature, usage modes, fan speed and area timing that were somewhat difficult to read and operate. Under the billets, there is a line of buttons for other functions of the climate system such as regulators for the temperature of the seats, air recirculation, air conditioning, among others.
Already part of the central console on its upper edge there are more billets for the hazard lights, much easier to operate because the icons that describe their functions are more legible. These are used to control the cameras, towing assistance, hazard lights, and air suspension leveling. The simplicity of the design makes for a less intimidating overall experience.
Also less intimidating than what we typically get in a mega pickup is the very handling of the 2022 Tundra, which offers surprisingly agile handling for a vehicle of its size. The new Tundra has more than adequate power in both powertrain versions, and with the option of being able to choose between several drive modes that offer a real difference, especially in Sport mode, which ‘tightens’ the response of the steering. and it rushes the transmission response, and naturally it was my favorite choice for driving on the drab Texas roads and highways.
Part of that ease of handling is naturally due to the new multi-link rear suspension with coil springs, but other less obvious elements also conspire such as a communicative steering, comfortable seats in which it was easy for me to get the most comfortable and convenient position. and again the visual simplicity of the areas of interaction with the vehicle.
At this point it is important to briefly highlight the new Toyota Audio Multimedia system that we described in detail previously, but with which I was able to interact at my ease for the first time. The system makes the driving experience much easier by leaving the bulk of the interaction to voice commands that can be as conversational as the driver wants, and to which the system responds quickly and clearly. By simply setting the language in Spanish, the system acts in the same assertive way as in English, but even when configured in English, the system responds to some commands in Spanish, which it learns in its central cloud-based artificial intelligence system. which I could experience first hand. This system will be incorporated into Toyota models worldwide as new models are introduced, so it will be very interesting to try it again in a couple of years to see how much you have learned.
Both the i-FORCE 3.5-liter biturbo V6 engine, with 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, and the i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain composed of the same engine combined with an electric motor-generator that creates additional power Transferring through the transmission and capable of creating a combined 437 horsepower and a staggering 583 lb-ft of torque, they perform exceptionally well but feature entirely different personalities.
While i-FORCE always felt completely adequate in all circumstances, trucks equipped with the i-FORCE MAX with its full torque available at just 2,400 revolutions, communicated urgency and the ability to always be able to do more than what was required. was asking. Both engines benefit from the discreet and assertive demeanor of the 10-speed automatic transmission.
Toyota estimates the fuel consumption of i-FORCE-equipped 4 × 2 Tundra at 18 miles per gallon on the street, 23 on highway, and 20 combined, and at 17/22/19 for 4 × 4 trucks, while estimates for Tundra with i-FORCE MAX have not yet been released.
I was able to test a Toyota Tundra 2022 SR5 with the package TRD Off-Road in a wide variety of off-road situations including steep climbs where it was necessary to use the slip control system to remove pedal negotiation from the equation.
For those who do not know it yet, the skid control or crawl control is a kind of off-road cruise control at low speed that brakes and accelerates based on the information acquired by sensors, which allows the driver to concentrate on using the steering wheel without worry about what to do with your feet. We also descended steep descents with the descent control system that does the same function as crawl control but downhill. In typical off-road situations such as loose stones, crossing bodies of water, uneven terrain, the 2022 Tundra always managed to eliminate uncertainty and nervousness.
With unbeatable looks, smart power, off-road mastery, and a spacious, practical cabin, the new Toyota Tundra looks ready to take on the best of its competitors in a way that none of its predecessors ever could. This does not mean that pickup buyers in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, the three countries where the new Tundra will be distributed, will migrate from their Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram pickups at a glance, unthinkable from the fiercely loyal public. pickup truck buyer. But it does mean that those who do so probably won’t regret it, and that is precisely how you gain space in markets as little given to change as that of large pickup trucks.
Toyota shows confidence in the new Tundra by moving the production line for the Tacoma pickup and Sequoia SUV out of its massive San Antonio industrial complex, exclusively dedicated to building the 2022 Tundra.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra will hit the brand’s dealerships later this year, and its prices will be announced near the start of sales.