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2022 Toyota Tundra Limited: How Well Does It Tow?

toyota-tundra-2022-01-exterior-towing-profile 2022 Toyota Tundra | Cars.com photo by Matt Barnes

The completely redesigned 2022 Toyota Tundra is more modern, powerful and efficient than ever before. Along with those additions, Toyota upped the towing capacity to a maximum of 12,000 pounds, so with this new rating, it was clear a towing test was in order.

Related: 2022 Toyota Tundra Review: Better Where It Counts

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Truck and Trailer Setup

For this test, I drove a Tundra Limited trim crew cab with the gas-engined 389-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6, four-wheel drive and a 5.5-foot bed. The Limited trim is well equipped and retains an excellent towing capacity of 11,120 pounds; the maximum towing capacity of 12,000 pounds is only available in the SR5 trim with extended cab (which Toyota calls DoubleCab) and rear-wheel drive. Having these higher ratings adds peace of mind for the driver, especially when towing well below the maximum rating.

The big downside to many modern half-ton trucks is payload capacity, and that was in full effect with our specific Tundra in this test that had a few additional features lowering the total payload capacity to 1,220 pounds. With a recommended 10% tongue weight, towing the maximum trailer weight means a 1,112-pound tongue weight would only leave 108 pounds for the driver and gear to go inside the truck. (To put this in perspective, Toyota’s RAV4 Hybrid XSE has a payload capacity of 1,230 pounds, though a towing capacity of only 2,500 pounds.)

toyota-tundra-2022-03-exterior-towing-profile 2022 Toyota Tundra | Cars.com photo by Matt Barnes

The trailer used in this test weighed about 4,700 pounds and had a tongue weight of just under 600 pounds. It’s a travel trailer with a high center of gravity and gobs of wind resistance. Despite being fairly lightweight, this trailer typically returns the worst fuel mileage of any trailer I’ve tested due to its poor aerodynamics.

I opted to not use weight distribution (as the weight distribution hitch available to me was an Equal-i-zer hitch that has excellent sway control) in order to get a feel for how stable the truck was by itself. For my day job, I am a product engineer for Progress Mfg. Inc. in Utah, makers of the Equal-i-zer hitch and Fastway Flash ball mounts; however, we recommend following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

toyota-tundra-2022-05-exterior-towing-hitch 2022 Toyota Tundra | Cars.com photo by Matt Barnes

New for the 2022 Tundra is a second Tow/Haul mode called Tow Plus. When first setting up the trailer in the Trailer Garage, accessed via the display in the instrument cluster, the Tundra asks if you want to use Tow/Haul or Tow Plus. Toyota recommends using Tow Plus for any trailer over 5,000 pounds, but I opted to use Tow Plus because of how much wind resistance the trailer has. One note is that the trailer brakes would not activate until I assigned a trailer in the Trailer Garage. Toyota said the brakes should work as soon as the seven-pin plug is connected, so I tried adjusting the gain and manually activating the trailer brakes after connecting the trailer, but neither method worked until a trailer was selected in the Trailer Garage.

Towing Route

Starting at 4,550 feet and peaking at 5,450 feet, this 63.6-mile route includes a mix of 7%-8% grades, city streets, highways and freeways. It starts in the bottom of a valley with nine miles of freeway driving before switching to five miles of city driving. The remaining 18 miles of the first half are mostly divided highway going up a canyon with 7%-8% grades. The second half returns over the same route except for a side road taken on the way up. This side road is very curvy, with 10% grades and a 25 mph speed limit.

The test was performed in the middle of the day with temperatures approaching 70 degrees and a west wind that varied from light to medium along the route. Due to the layout of the route, this wind would mostly be a tailwind when ascending the canyon and a head wind returning to the valley, with just a few sections of a crosswind at freeway speeds.

How Well Does the Tundra Tow?

After fueling up, the first step on this route is to enter the freeway. The on-ramp is uphill and fairly short, but enters onto an exit lane nearly a mile long. This allows slower vehicles to get up to speed before needing to merge. The Tundra didn’t need the extra run-up distance and had no problem reaching freeway speed while still on the on-ramp. In fact, the truck never exceeded 3,500 rpm before reaching freeway speeds.

The freeway initially heads west in this section, which means there was a tailwind, but the last couple of miles is in a southern direction. On this portion, I could feel the crosswind pushing the trailer and truck just a little bit side to side. Showing its lower payload rating, the soft suspension was certainly noticed. However, the Tundra had no problem maintaining stability. If I were driving long sections with this kind of gusty crosswind and a high-profile trailer, I would certainly want to use a weight-distribution hitch with sway control. (That goes for any half-ton truck though, not just the Tundra.) Exiting the freeway on a downhill off-ramp was another simple feat for the Tundra. The brakes were strong and easily stopped the trailer (with trailer brakes engaged) from 70 mph.

A short city section with plenty of traffic lights followed the freeway section. Again, the Tundra had no problem accelerating or stopping while in city traffic. Tracking was great, with the trailer closely following the movements of the truck.

After the city section came the highway segment and grades peaking at 8%. Just like everywhere else, this was a simple task for the Tundra: The 10-speed automatic downshifted smoothly, quickly and seemed to be in the right gear all the time. The truck wasn’t hunting for gears and never felt strained. One big downside, though, was the lack of a transmission temperature gauge. This Tundra had the analog gauge cluster, which I prefer, but was lacking some of the information that can be had on the digital setup.

toyota-tundra-2022-02-exterior-towing-front-angle 2022 Toyota Tundra | Cars.com photo by Matt Barnes

As expected, the short side road with 10% grades was not a problem. At a trailer weight of only 4,700 pounds, the Tundra had no problem pulling the trailer up this steep section at slow speeds. The return portion of the loop was also uneventful. Because of the headwind when descending, there was little to no need for engine braking. Again, the stability of the setup was great.

Upon returning to the start point and fueling up, I found that the truck had burned 6.82 gallons of gas. The trip computer read a distance traveled of 63.6 miles and 9.7 mpg, which was close to the calculated number of 9.33 mpg, resulting in only a 4% difference between the two. That’s right in the range of other gas-powered half-ton trucks I’ve tested over this same route with this trailer.

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Trailer Backup Assist

For 2022, Toyota introduced its trailer backup assist system. This feature backs the trailer straight from whatever position it was in when the system was engaged. It will help with backing in a straight line, or if the trailer is lined up where it needs to be but the truck is at an angle, the system will steer the truck to keep the trailer lined up.

toyota-tundra-2022-06-interior-center-stack-display 2022 Toyota Tundra | Cars.com photo by Matt Barnes

The system worked OK. To start, the rear camera is off-center. I thought manufacturers were beyond this, but because the camera is pointing at an angle across the hitch, it makes connecting the trailer a pain. During the trailer backup assist setup, it asks if the green line is at the center of the trailer. If the truck and trailer are straight, the offset camera makes it look like the trailer is on an angle. This caused me to do the calibration twice just to make sure.

When using the system to back long distances in a straight line, the truck did pretty well. However, it stayed roughly within two lane widths instead of one and kind of went from one side to the other.

toyota-tundra-2022-07-interior-center-stack-display 2022 Toyota Tundra | Cars.com photo by Matt Barnes

I had slightly better results when aligning the trailer in the direction I wanted it to go while the truck was at a different angle. The system responds immediately and keeps the trailer going close to the same direction it was in, but not quite perfectly. Personally, it’s better for the driver to manage these tasks.

Final Thoughts

Overall, towing with the 2022 Tundra is a breeze. The truck handles the task without much stress, and the powertrain is tuned well for towing. Toyota’s trailer backup assist is like most driver assist features, meaning they work OK but not perfectly. In this case, it might help drivers who are new to towing. However, it’s always best to develop the necessary skills before letting a finicky computer take over.

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