Our motors editor Bryon Dorr got behind the wheel of the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra i-Force Max hybrid recently at the media drive event in California. He drove the new truck on- and off-road, and was overall very impressed. Here’s the full rundown.
I was lucky enough to recently spend time behind the wheel of a few of the 2022 Tundra trucks with the new i-Force Max hybrid powertrain. The top luxury spec Capstone and off-road-oriented TRD Pro are both only available with the hybrid powertrain, part-time 4×4, and as a CrewMax short bed (5.5 feet).
All i-Force Max hybrid Tundras will have CrewMax cabs, but there is also a longer 6.5-foot bed option and 4×2 models available.
The Capstone model sets a new bar for luxury and bling on a factory-outfitted Toyota truck. Think 22-inch chrome wheels, power-retractable running boards, interior accent lights, heads-up display, and acoustic glass as standard equipment.
However, the Tundra model you’ll want for real adventures on and off-road, though, is the TRD Pro. You get a small lift, Fox shocks, skid plate, selectable rear locker, integrated light bar, all kinds of cool sporty looks inside and out, and more.
Let’s dive into what this new hybrid powertrain and Tundra TRD Pro is all about, both on paper and from the driver’s seat.
2022 Tundra TRD Pro Review
i-Force Max Hybrid Specs
The all-new hybrid system on the 2022 Tundra features a 3.5L twin-turbo V6 engine, derived from the Lexus LS sedan, and an electric motor/generator located between the engine and the 10-speed automatic transmission.
This is a parallel hybrid system, or one-motor hybrid system, specifically chosen to optimize low-end and continuous torque. The idea was to create the torquey feel of a diesel truck in a much more environmentally friendly way.
Overall, this powertrain gets you 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, which is a lot for a half-ton full-size pickup. The electric motor kicks in 48 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque.
The hybrid system has a bit more lag off the start than I’d expect, but you can feel the torque roll in nearly instantly. And the throttle response feels very crisp, especially in Sport and Sport+ driving modes.
The lag comes from the gas engine waking up, as from a standstill it will automatically shut down to conserve fuel. The start/stop system on the new Tundra is impressively smooth and nearly unnoticeable. No more vehicle shuddering when the engine turns on and off.
I was very impressed with how the hybrid system fills in the holes in the gas motor’s powerband, creating a very linear power curve. The Tundra hybrid gathers speed very quickly for a full-size pickup.
While official EPA numbers aren’t out just yet for the i-Force Max hybrid, Toyota estimates the Tundra TRD Pro hybrid to come in at 19 mpg city and 21 highway. While not awful for a full-size truck, those aren’t impressive fuel economy numbers. The truck drinks regular 87 octane fuel, so you won’t have to pay a premium for diesel or premium unleaded at the pump.
One thing to note is the Tundra hybrid does not use a lithium battery pack. Instead, it works off a nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) battery pack. This style pack has less energy density and more weight than lithium, but is less expensive and offers a tried-and-true system that Toyota has used for decades in hybrids like the Prius.
A few engineers at the event explained to me that the focus of this hybrid system wasn’t to provide any EV-only range. And they weren’t worried about weight, so this older, reliable, cost-effective battery tech proved a perfect match for this application. The Tundra i-Force Max specifically has a 288V, 1.87 kWh, Ni-MH battery pack that can handle up to 650 volts.
The twin-turbo V6 hybrid powertrain has a truly impressive exhaust note, both inside and outside the truck. Inside, you also get a pretty consistent turbo noise when under throttle, which can be fun but also annoying.
That interior exhaust note under heavy throttle pipes in through the speakers, but it is done so seamlessly. I also like how, off acceleration, the truck still rolls smoothly and maintains speed, instead of slowing quickly due to wind or drivetrain drag.
2022 Tundra Suspension
While the new Tundra offers plenty of power, it also offers plenty of stopping power. The brakes are firm and linear, which inspires confidence off-road, towing, or having fun on some twisty tarmac.
The suspension is the same you’ll find under the new Land Cruiser (which we won’t get here in North America) as well as the 2023 Sequoia, as they all are based on the same boxed steel frame. On offer is independent double-wishbone front suspension and a multi-link rear suspension with outboard mounted coil springs.
The 2022 Tundra TRD Pro gets a 1.1-inch front lift with 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass coil-overs with remote reservoirs and a TRD Pro front stabilizer bar. Out back, it sports Fox 2.5-inch remote-reservoir shocks and dual-rate coil springs. I found the TRD Pro’s Fox shocks to actually offer a smoother ride on-road than the adaptive dampers on offer in the Capstone.
Safety, Storage, and Towing
Rear airbags with active dampers are available on the 2022 Tundra hybrid, but not on the TRD Pro. While rear airbags are nice for towing, the TRD Pro without them actually claims the largest towing capacity, at 11,175 pounds.
While I didn’t have the opportunity to tow with the TRD Pro, I did tow a 4,500-pound Airstream with the Tundra Capstone Hybrid. Given the similar powertrain and layout, this should give solid insight into the TRD Pro’s towing. I found the truck provided smooth, consistent power, great sway control, and all the electronic towing assist features that you could ask for.
Even power-towing mirrors that extend and retract are now available on the Tundra. Overall, I’m impressed with the 2022 Tundra hybrid as a tow vehicle for small and medium-sized loads.
The rear seats of the new Tundra offer a ton of legroom for passengers but aren’t great for gear hauling. There is no storage under them because the battery pack is located there. They also don’t fold flat, but they do fold up against the rear of the cab.
One of the most fun, and useful, features was the tailgate release bump switch located in the driver’s side taillight. Just press or bump the button in the middle of the light with a knee, foot, or elbow, and the tailgate drops.
Tundra TRD Pro Off-Road Capability
Of course, the 2022 Tundra TRD Pro is well-equipped and ready to tackle off-road terrain. I was able to drive it through an off-road course at the Land Rover Experience center at The Quail, home to the eponymous car event during Monterey Car Week.
While the course showed just how little articulation this truck has, it also showed how capable the truck is and how well it responds to driver inputs. For instance, it impressively responds well to left foot braking, although the traction control is so smooth you really don’t need to use the technique.
You’ll have off-road driving aids like Multi-Terrain Select, Crawl Control, and Downhill Assist Control in the TRD Pro. And Toyota refined all of these systems. While I’m not much of a user of Crawl Control — basically, off-road cruise control — the system now feels smooth and lacks the drama the old version suffered.
Plus, the Downhill Assist Control performed smoothly, even on extremely steep and muddy grades.
The Tundra TRD Pro runs on 18×8 black forged-aluminum BBS wheels with 33-inch (P285/65R18) Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires. The tires are specially made for Toyota, so don’t expect the tread depth you’d see on the Wildpeaks you can buy at your local tire shop.
These special tires are used for fuel efficiency and on-road noise mitigation. You’ll probably want to upgrade them at some point if you plan to actually use the truck off-road.
By the Numbers
Luckily, the factory build gets you an automatic limited-slip rear and a selectable rear-locker. Finding traction will not prove a problem for this truck.
I’m not impressed with the new Tundra’s turning radius, especially off-road. The Tundra TRD Pro offers a 24.9-foot turning radius, in 3.2 turns lock-to-lock. That’s a bit wider than other comparable half-ton American trucks.
Ground clearance on the 2022 Tundra TRD Pro stands at 9 inches. Overall, that’s competitive against other half-ton American pickups (note that a Subaru Outback Wilderness has 9.5 inches of ground clearance).
The truck also offers a 26.2-degree approach angle and 24.2 departure angle. Pretty good, but the long wheelbase, 145.7 inches, makes for a pretty rough break-over angle for serious off-roading.
Really, this is a major problem with all modern pickups, as they optimize for cabin space and on-road comfort, not off-road obstacle clearance. Fortunately, the TRD Pro has plenty of skid plates to protect the undercarriage from obstacles.
I loved the electric parking brake — not something you’ll usually hear me say — as it engages and disengages smoothly and efficiently. This is great, as the vehicle doesn’t roll forward or back when you’re stopping in more challenging off-road scenarios.
The 2022 Tundra TRD Pro has a GVWR of 7,615 pounds. That translates to 1,600 pounds of payload, including people and fuel. That’s a solid number for a half-ton pickup and offers plenty of capacity for things like a pop-top truck camper.
Tundra TRD Pro Package
Besides all those off-road goodies, you also get some other unique parts on the TRD Pro version of the new Tundra.
The front end features a black “TOYOTA” grille with an integrated LED light bar (note, the high beams must be on in order to turn on the lightbar). You also get TRD Pro hood badges and “TRD Pro” stamped into the tailgate.
And you’ll find more TRD Pro logos on the black tips of the stainless steel cat-back dual exhaust system. The black fender flares have a unique “technical camouflage” grained texture/pattern while the front coilovers and stabilizer bar are painted red.
Inside you get “TRD Pro” logos on the steering wheel, drive selector, front seat, and even the start/stop button. You also get a big “TOYOTA” logo across the passenger side dashboard. Bright contrast stitching, a snow camo-like pattern in the seat inserts, and red ambient lighting round out the interior TRD Pro package.
Solar Octane, the TRD-only color, is quite an eye-catcher and goes well with an all-black interior and bright-contrast stitching. While a Midnight Black Metallic Tundra TRD Pro is a bit more stealthy, you can option it with a lot of bright red accents in the cabin. Also on offer for the TRD Pro are Lunar Rock and Super White.
From the Driver’s Seat
Inside, the 2022 Tundra provides a nice place to sit. All passengers receive plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room. The seats feel firm but comfortable, and offer a fair bit of adjustability and good lumbar support.
Seat bolstering is good for a big American truck, even if it was only securing my skinny frame when bouncing around off-road and pushing through the corners on a canyon drive. Touchpoints are made of quality materials that feel good and look durable.
One gripe is the driver’s gauge cluster. This looked a bit too busy for my taste. I appreciate all the info it provides, but I couldn’t find a way to clean it up for a less busy and distracting option.
Tech, Creature Comforts
A massive 14-inch touchscreen dominates the center of the dashboard and provides the focal point of the interior. The screen is bright and easy to read, even with polarized sunglasses. And it offers pretty quick reaction times and an intuitive layout.
It also controls the very impressive JBL audio system. If you like your bass, this is one of the best systems I’ve heard from the factory.
You do get hard buttons for things like the climate controls, but sadly the buttons are hard to read unless in direct sunlight. This is because the graphics are dimly backlit and on a shiny surface.
Below the climate controls is a vertical wireless phone charging pad that securely holds a variety of phone sizes.
I loved the sliding center console access tray, which makes it easy to access the USB outlets inside the console without opening all the way and having a hinged door in your way.
There are also 110V outlets on the back of the center console and in the truck bed. And the new Tundra offers loads of cupholders and tiny storage cubbies.
As with most Tundras, there is a power sliding rear window. This is a great feature for a wide range of applications, and not offered by the competitors.
Buying a Tundra Hybrid
While it’s far from perfect, it’s hard not to like all of the new Tundra hybrid offerings. I think the best value, especially for those that like to get off the beaten path, is the TRD Pro model.
The 2022 Tundra TRD Pro truck I tested off-road had an MSRP of $66,805, which is the starting price for the TRD Pro. There are very few options to be had on the TRD Pro and Capstone models, as they come with so much as standard.
The top-of-the-line 2022 Tundra Capstone starts at $73,530. But, you can get into a hybrid 2022 Tundra for as little as $52,300, with a Limited 4X2.
For all things Toyota Tundra, check out Toyota.com/Tundra.