It’s been so long since we’ve seen a truly new Toyota Tundra that successive generations of the domestic-brand Detroit pickups have come and gone. But a new Tundra is here, and unlike previous versions where we always had to talk about the Tundra with caveats like, “Yes, it’s big, but it can’t tow as much,” or, “Yes, it has powerful engines, but not much powertrain innovation,” from what we’ve seen so far, we can now talk about the new Tundra as an equal among competitors. Toyota has gone through the Tundra quite thoroughly, creating a new pickup aimed squarely at the most lucrative part of the truck market: personal-use buyers.
Nobody will accuse Toyota designers of playing it safe with the new Tundra, and that’s a good thing — they needed to be bold with their truck, and they were. There are a couple of questionable elements (that jutting chin bumper, for one), but the look overall is contemporary, modern, muscular, and still harkens back to previous Toyota trucks and the rest of the current showroom. It was designed by Toyota’s styling studios in California and Michigan, so it’s designed in America specifically for American truck tastes — big, oversized features and a grille that goes on for days. It’s attractive overall and features novel design elements, such as the sheet-molded compound (i.e., “plastic”) bed with an aluminum understructure that allows you to forgo a bedliner. That’s a neat touch and might just save you a few hundred bucks, too.
A Fully Modern Interior
I couldn’t spend too much time inside the 2022 Tundra at the Motor Bella auto show in suburban Detroit, where the truck made its first public debut this week, but the few brief minutes I did spend in a nicely equipped Limited trim were impressive. Materials quality, even on this pre-production example, was very high, with attractive brightwork, comfortable seats and a new horizontal-design theme to the whole thing that is becoming the de rigeur aesthetic for big trucks these days (see also: the new ‘22 Chevrolet Silverado for another example). The new button layout is also excellent, with high-mounted controls for just about everything, making operation a lot easier. I’d put the overall quality on par with the latest Chevy and Ford offerings, but I have to say that Ram still has the top spot locked up for interior “wow” factor. But no longer is the Tundra the embarrassment of the class — it’s become a viable competitor and alternative.
The new multimedia system was not active in the truck I sat in, but I’ve had lots of exposure to the Lexus-branded version of this system from the introduction of the new 2022 Lexus NX crossover. The 14.5-inch screen dominates the dash, but again, it’s mounted up high and easily in the driver’s line of sight, so it’s not much of a distraction. The rest of the interior builds upon the strengths of the previous Tundra: big, comfortable, spacious and featuring the segment’s only fully retractable, roll-down back window. That alone makes the Tundra a unique offering to the point that I really wonder why other automakers still insist on sticking with a tiny, sliding back window instead of the fully lowerable version Toyota does. When all the windows are open, the foy from the free-flowing wind is undeniable.
Competition, Coming Soon
We can’t yet comment on how the new Tundra drives as we’ve only been able to sit in one, not pilot one. That will be coming in the next few weeks, however, shortly before the new 2022 Tundra goes on sale later in the fall. Pricing has not yet been announced, either, but that will also be coming shortly. We’re eagerly awaiting a drive of this new Tundra; it finally seems like Toyota has found the magic formula for a successful, no-compromises, full-size pickup aimed to appeal to American buyers. It will take a spin behind the wheel, however, to truly declare it a fully successful redo.
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