I’ve been reviewing a lot of pickup trucks lately, which is great because it really lets me see how different manufacturers tackle some pretty basic requirements for a vehicle that ends up possessing both a work and play identity. Pickup trucks have this dual identity more than a typical SUV or sedan, even if “real” commercial trucks are a different category of vehicle (and almost always bare-bones with barely a radio, let alone a fancy nav screen and 16-speaker custom-tuned surround sound). The big players in the truck market in the USA market are Ford and RAM, two solid brands with category-leading smaller and full size trucks. According to Car & Driver, the best-selling trucks in the US for 2021 were the Ford F-Series, the RAM truck line, and the Chevy Silverado. Perhaps surprisingly, Toyota has an entrant on that top ten list too, the uber-popular Toyota Tacoma, categorized as a mid-size truck. The Tundra is the Tacoma’s big brother, with a towing capacity that’s two tons greater, a considerably bigger engine, 5-inches wider, 12-inches longer, and almost double the curb weight.
Did I mention that my 21yo son is also obsessed with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and is planning on buying one later this summer? With that in mind, when Toyota offered to let me drive the 2022 Toyota Tundra 4×4 Limited Crewcab I naturally said “heck yeah!”. I’m really glad I did, because it’s a great truck, fully tricked out, a pleasure to drive and quite comfortable too. Here’s an exterior photo that highlights the eye-popping Supersonic Red color:
The trim packages on the Tundra are SR, SR5, then “TRD”, the acronym for Toyota Racing Division, though at this point I’m a bit skeptical that the team that works on Toyota racecars is also helping design full-size pickup trucks on the side too. Either way, this is top end Tundra configuration, the TRD Off-Road 4×4 Limited, which means just about every component is upgraded over the base SR model. As soon as you climb into the vehicle, it’s obvious that the interior benefits from Toyota’s experience with luxury vehicles too:
With the enormous 14-inch infotainment display screen, there were moments it felt more like I was in the Tesla pickup truck than in a Toyota; it’s big, and the wireless Apple CarPlay feature also utilizes the screen very well, making it a great experience. As you can see above, the maps are huge, basically like having a large iPad stuck to your dash.
Before we spend too much time inside the vehicle, however, let’s climb back out and check out some additional aspects of the exterior. Like the surprisingly short truck bed. It’s less than 6 feet long. The space, of course, is taken up by the crew cab area so that there’s more room for rear passengers in the cab, but it might nonetheless be a surprise if you were expecting a 10 foot bed:
This includes the (optional) Bed Mat. The rear gate has dampening hinges so when you unlock it from the handle or press the quasi-hidden button on the left rear light assembly, it drops slowly, rather than slamming down and bouncing. It’s a good, aesthetic upgrade that you won’t think about until you see a friend with a different truck and cringe at the drama (and danger) of their hard-dropping tailgate.
If we look more closely at the left edge, you’ll also see a little black component stuck to the rear bumper. I wasn’t sure what it was initially, but a few truck fanatic colleagues assured me that it was the Bed Step. Sure enough, push on it with your foot and it drops down, offering a handy little step to help climb into the bed:
Above you can also see the connections for towing, along with the hitch. This model included the Towing Technology Package as part of the Limited Premium Package. I wasn’t able to test out the towing experience, but the truck does include rear-facing cameras for monitoring towing, along with both of the standard tow light connectors. There’s also a nice tow camera so you can peek at your hitch and trailer to see how it’s doing on a windy road, as needed.
How about that rear leg room? Surprisingly decent, actually:
It’s comfortable for an adult (or three) in the back bench, which is a great boon if you’re heading to a work site or just have a couple of extra kids to transport to hockey or lacrosse practice. All their equipment, of course, is easily tossed into the truck bed.
Swinging back into the driver’s seat, one thing that’s really fun – and just a bit trippy – about the 2022 Toyota Tundra 4×4 Limited is the synthesized exterior video image when you’re parking or otherwise moving very slowly. Since the truck is so wide, it became a bit of a video game, a challenge to perfectly align the truck between the lines:
Considering how poorly people park, any tool that helps a big vehicle be properly aligned and lined up is a definite boon. It was also a lifesaver when parking adjacent to other cars that might have been a bit out of their spot’s center point too. Adjacent vehicles end up looking quite distorted, but it’s 100x better than just guessing and hoping you know the exact dimensions of your truck. Indeed, at some moments it looked like the image that a drone flying 20 feet above the vehicle would display, which makes me wonder how long it will be until we do have just that, as portrayed in Blade Runner 2049. What a great vehicle security system! But I digress…
Back to the steering wheel button and control layout. Very typical Toyota:
Audio is split across both sides of the steering wheel, interestingly, with volume on the left side and mode/track controls on the right. It might seem confusing, but in practice, it was quite logical, as is the cruise control on the upper right and the main gauge display controls on the upper left. Much of this duplicates functionality elsewhere on the dashboard or within the infotainment control system and I am certainly glad to get some of these critical driving controls onto the steering wheel rather than an overloaded control stem.
The main gauge display is simple and effective, with tachometer and temperature on the lower left, oil level on the top left, battery power level on the top right, and speed and gas level on the lower right. The central display screen is pretty tiny compared to many other modern dash designs, but it’s entirely functional because of all these other displays. Generally, you don’t need a tachometer on a vehicle that has an automatic – a 10-speed automatical transmission with sequential shift – but when you’re towing, it’s smart to keep an eye on whether your engine’s working too hard with the tach and temperature gauges.
And then there’s the gas mileage. You can see that I was seeing about 15.5mpg on my drive, about 75% highway, 25% city. The EPA estimates for this vehicle are 17/22 with an average of 19mpg, but as is too often the case, the EPA estimates are a bit optimistic. At $5.00+/gallon, that 3.5mpg difference can be significant for a drive of any significant duration. Is this uninspiring fuel efficiency? Definitely. But it’s also a full-size truck with a 10,000 pound towing capacity and the ability to carry five adults and another ton or two of cargo in the truck bed, so unlike a little sedan with poor mileage, at least the Tundra has a rational explanation. It’s also powered by a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine, so there’s a decent amount of power available as needed.
The actual drive experience was very good, from getting up to speed while entering the highway to cruising along at 70mph to navigating windy paths through a busy parking lot. It’s big, no way around that, but between the power and the comforts of the Limited interior, it’s a very nice ride and enough to get you where you’re going safely and efficiently. And lest we forget the 4×4 and off-road capabilities, there are a number of related controls on the center console:
You can see the 2H, 4H, 4L slide control, along with the MTS, DAC/Crawl, Tow/Haul and Drive Mode control knob. Look at the top of this image too, however, because a lot of the main controls on the Tundra dash are these NASA-style up/down toggles. With this lowest row, they work great because you can see the labels, but if you go back to the dashboard photo earlier in the article, you’ll see that there are also two more rows of controls much higher up the dash. Which is a problem because you can’t easily see the labels for these controls, particularly if you glance over while you’re driving. Yes, they’re climate control so they’re not critical to the function of the vehicle, but still, it seemed like a bit of a design mistake from Toyota in terms of overall vehicle usability.
That was one of the very few complaints I had about this cherry of a truck. Here’s the rear exterior:
While the gas mileage made me long for a hybrid or even an EV truck, the options in the full-size category are still rather limited, so it might be a few more years until those are truly viable, but to imagine a truck like this that gets 40mpg or is a full EV with a 300-mile range is pretty sweet, no question.
Until then, the 2022 Toyota Tundra 4×4 Limited Crewmax 5.5 is a solid option and a viable contender when compared to the Ford, Chevy, and RAM offerings. It’s not the Tacoma, as my son observed, but it’s still a very nice truck with everything you’d want, from a comfortable interior ready to carry four of your friends to a truck bed with plenty of space for skis, bikes, or even work supplies. This is definitely one to add to your test drive list if you’re in the market for this size pickup truck.
2022 Toyota Tundra 4×4 Limited Crewcab with Supersonic Red exterior and Black interior. Powered by an i-Force 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine with 10-speed automatic. BASE PRICE: $57,500. Optional upgrades: JBL Premium Audio, Limited Premium Package, Limited Power Package, TRD Off-Road Package, Special Color, Rock Rails, Floor Liners, Wheel Locks, and more. AS DRIVEN: $60,273.00.
Disclosure: Toyota loaned me the Tundra for a week in return for this writeup. Thanks, Toyota. #letsgoplaces