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2022 Toyota Tundra is fully designed

There’s an excellent album from the Black Crowes called Shake Your Moneymaker. Sure this album is more than 30 years old, but it’s timely to this week’s tester as Toyota, the largest automaker in the world, is shaking its moneymaker this year as the Tundra gets a complete redesign.

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Indeed the Tundra is a cash cow for Toyota and having a viable full-size pickup truck is all too important for the Japanese automaker. This week I got behind the wheel of the 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Limited CrewMax.

Keeping up with the competition (segment leader Ford F-150 and highly competitive offerings from Ram and GM) means the Tundra’s success is incredibly important and a redesign was much needed. Previous model years, although steady and consistent, felt long in the tooth. Fast forward to the 2022 model year when Toyota revealed the new-look Tundra and as expected, it was met with mixed thoughts.

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People hate change, so the new grille and new styling of the Tundra had some people up in arms while others felt it added distinction. I’m on the fence when it comes to the design. I see how the bold new look certainly showcases modern distinction, but I also think the overall styling will be a love/hate situation for many consumers.

Different trims of the Tundra get different looks, as is the case for many big trucks these days. The dominating honeycomb-like grille is flanked by accent trim that some say resembles a Fu Manchu mustache. The LED headlights are a clear improvement (stylistically) from the previous generation. With the TRD package, the Tundra gets 20-inch alloy wheels, TRD-specific grille stylings and TRD decals. I have always preferred the TRD styling for every iteration of the Toyota vehicles and that holds true here for the Tundra.

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You can’t mention the changes to the 2022 Tundra without mentioning the new hybrid engine. Hybridized power plants are taking over all segments, including the big-revenue pickup truck segment. So Toyota got in on that action too. My tester however was the optional 3.5-liter iForce engine with a twin-turbo V6 engine. For those unsure or unwilling to get a hybrid, this a strong, capable option. Turbocharged V6 engines are successful and pervasive still in this segment and this offering from Toyota in the Tundra can hold its own against the competition.

As such, this engine makes 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, aided by a 10-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is one of the best improvements on the Tundra over the last several years. My tester was capable of towing more than 11,000 pounds with a payload of nearly 1,800 pounds.

With the TRD Off-Road package, the Tundra gets a lift (literally) with extra ground clearance and TRD-specific Bilstein shocks. The $3,085 TRD package turns the Tundra from strong, capable on-the-road pickup to rugged and ready off-road beast. Will it compete with the F-150 Raptor or Ram TRX? No, it lacks the performance, but it can hold its own in various road conditions and terrains.

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The biggest improvement in the pickup truck segment through the years is in the quality of the interior. The Tundra has always been steady and consistent in the quality of its cabin and in the comfort involved. But for 2022, the interior takes an even bigger step forward. Softer touch points feel luxurious and are noticeably better than the previous generation.

A panoramic moonroof helps add ambience. And the best, marked improvement is in the infotainment system. A 14-inch touchscreen integrates smoothly with smart phones and includes wireless device charging and additional USB ports. That large screen is another trend in the pickup truck segment.

These screens seem to dominate the center stack but when designed well can be both driver-focused and aesthetically pleasing. And Toyota accomplishes both with this screen and the system is simple and intuitive.

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With gas prices being what they are, naturally truck buyers are concerned with fuel economy. That’s why Toyota introduced the hybrid. The EPA rating for the hybrid Tundra is 20 mpg/city and 24 mpg/highway. My tester has an EPA rating of 17 mpg/city and 22 mpg/highway, which is an improvement over the previous generation (13/17). So even without the hybrid power plant, the new Tundra gets improved fuel economy even with four-wheel drive.

Prices vary wildly based upon trim and build. My tester (before the TRD package) had an MSRP of $51,900. With the TRD package along with several features including the advanced JBL sound system, the Limited Package and heated leather steering wheel, my tester’s final price was $60,188.

The Tundra is a commodity for Toyota and while it may not be a segment leader, with a new hybrid power plant and a completely new look, it could tough competition and will surely continue to be a big money maker.