By on October 12, 2021

In the beginning, someone created the buggy. Now the buggy was primitive and lacked more than a couple of horsepower, and darkness was over the surface of the automotive world because this buggy had leaf springs.

And some engineer said, “Let there be a functional suspension,” and there was a coil spring – and, if you liked Mopars, maybe a torsion bar. And this engineer called the coil spring good and the leaf spring crap. And so, there was day and night, buggy suspensions and a reasonable ride, and the engineer created cars in his own image, and old trucks were the serpent.

And so, trucks from time immemorial have been infested by poor-riding leaf springs because they could handle great loads. But these trucks, they did handle like the Leviathan, so some have moved to the proper coil spring, good and true, to hold up their cargo. The 2022 Toyota Tundra has been so blessed with coil springs, among many other improvements. But is it good?

While generalizing a particular audience is folly, by and large the readership of The Truth About Cars – the Best and the Brightest — is known for frugality. While new cars are always important, many a TTAC writer (including yours truly) made their bones here by showing their appreciation for cars of an older time, or for the entry-level trims rather than the high-zoot cars that need more and more ink on the Monroney to describe each extra-cost option. So I’ve decided to focus my first drive of the 2022 Toyota Tundra on what I’m calling B&B Spec – the near-entry level SR5 trim.

(Full Disclosure: Toyota flew journalists to San Antonio, Texas – housing and feeding us for two days. They did offer (and I accepted – I’m weak when it comes to good meat) a few tins of local BBQ rubs. I did not, however, make a gleeful Instagram story doing an unboxing of the goodie bag – unlike some others.)

In other words, I’m doing a drive that straddles Monsieur Guy’s Ace of Base and The Right Spec series. Because I’m all about value. For me, the sweet spot is the SR5 4×4 Crew Max 5.5-foot bed with the TRD Off-Road package.

Of course, we don’t know pricing yet – Toyota tells us that pricing is coming “soon,” as well as EPA mileage figures for the hybrid engine.

Hybrid, you ask? Yes, indeed – Toyota has brought us a Prius that can tow. Every new Tundra will be powered by an all-new 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 driving through a similarly-new 10-speed automatic. The non-hybrid (known as the i-Force in Toyota-speak) produces (in most trims – the super-base SR model produces less) 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid puts an electric motor/generator between the engine and transmission – this package (called iForce Max) brings 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.

In my limited time with the two trucks, I feel the non-hybrid twin-turbo is plenty strong for all but the most demanding of users. Indeed, max towing ratings appear not to be affected by the more powerful engine and are actually likely reduced a bit as the hybrid adds around 300 pounds to the weight of the truck. I’m sure fuel economy will make a difference, but since Toyota isn’t pulling a Ford and adding a useful generator to their hybrid truck (there is a 400 Watt 120-volt outlet in the bed in most trims) I’d forego the hybrid myself.

Toyota’s offering a pair of four-door cabs, as well as a trio of bed sizes. The smaller of the two cabs, the Double Cab, is a bit short for my tastes – I absolutely cannot sit in the rear seat behind any driver with legs. It’s fine if all of the second-row passengers you’ll be hauling frequently are pretty short – mine, however, are not. The Crew Max cab actually has MORE legroom in the rear (41.6 inches versus 41.2) than in the front.

The smaller Double Cab offers a pair of bed sizes – 6.5 feet, or 8.1 feet. The longer Crew Max, in prior generations, was only available with the short 5.5-foot bed, but now a 6.5-foot bed is optional. All of the beds are now manufactured from rust-proof composite materials, just like the midsize Tacoma.

Toyota has done wonders with their touchscreen multimedia system – admittedly, any improvement was welcome. What we see on the new Tundra was first shown on the new Lexus NX recently – a genuinely intuitive, fast-operating interface with natural-language voice prompts that will control the system with a “Hey Toyota” or “OK Toyota” or other options. Two screens are available – the base SR and the SR5 have an 8-inch screen, while upmarket trims get a 14-inch screen. SR5 makes the big screen optional – I’d have to look at the numbers to see if it’s worthwhile, but I’d likely be perfectly happy with the smaller screen.

I don’t love, however, that there is no simple “home” screen option where I can see both navigation and audio info. Perhaps future updates will make this possible – Toyota is excited about the eventual upgradability of these systems. Underneath the new Tundra lies an all-new, fully-boxed ladder frame that is said to be more rigid. The power steering is now electrically boosted. The big feature – to which I alluded with some bastardized scripture – that excites me is the arrival of coil springs for the rear suspension. Yes, I know – RAM got there first – but the old leaf spring needs to be relegated to heavy-duty trucks, not those so commonly used for commuting. The control of the live rear axle afforded by the modern coil spring is an order of magnitude better.

I towed a pair of trailers with the new Tundra. As I and many others have said on these pages and beyond, no manufacturer will put their vehicles in a situation on one of these product launch events where the vehicle will look bad, so take this all with a grain of salt – but even when not fitted with a weight-distributing hitch, these coil-sprung Tundras drove both fully laden and with just me equally beautifully. It’s on par with the RAM 1500, certainly. A load-leveling air suspension is available as well if you need even more control and height adjustability.

Many new trucks offer a trailer steering control that uses a knob to steer while reversing with a trailer. While these are nice, I’ve found that it can still be very difficult to maintain a straight line to back into a tight parking spot. I’d imagine a boat launch could be tough, though I don’t boat so I can’t say for certain. Toyota, instead, offers a Straight Path Assist feature that, once you’ve selected the path to reverse, will work the steering wheel hands-off to maintain that straight trailer. It’s a great feature that comes in quite handy for those of us who don’t tow on a daily basis.

All new Tundras come with the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 suite of active safety features –pre-collision warning and pedestrian detection, emergency steering, dynamic radar cruise, lane-keeping assist, and automatic braking are but a few of the safety baubles fitted to the Tundra.

Why I’m adding the TRD Off-Road package? Well, first – it looks cool. Why buy a new vehicle that looks bland? But really, the TRD packages generally make Toyota trucks look good while adding useful features for whatever type of driving you might do. The TRD Off-Road package for the SR5 adds slick 18-inch alloy wheels, a new grille, a lifted suspension with Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and an electronic rear differential lock. A locker is a must for heading off the beaten path, I’m afraid.

So that’s my preferred Tundra. No, I don’t need a full-sized truck, though I’ll admit I’ve spent too much time thinking about one of these – blame awful traffic in Texas for giving me sedentary time behind the wheel. Toyota has been building the previous generation Tundra for 15 years, while other marques have begat a number of new generations over that time. While others might be the Goliath default full-sized truck, finally the 2022 Toyota Tundra is a worthy David to consider.

[Images: © 2021 Chris Tonn and courtesy Toyota]

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43 Comments on “2022 Toyota Tundra SR5 First Drive: Best & Brightest Spec...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Aside from ugliness and the giant center screen, it’s fine. However, I don’t anticipate this winning over many new people from Ram, Ford, and Chevy.

    I’m obviously a major outlier but I’m personally not really into half-tons. If I had light duty needs I’d get a Santa Cruz and if I had bigger towing/hauling needs then I’d get an HD truck.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      “…Chevrolet Silverado1500 Hybrid is the only hybrid in the full-size truck segment. Compared with comparable, non-hybrid models, it delivers 33-percent greater city fuel economy and a 23.5-percent improvement in overall fuel economy, all with the capability customers want in full-size truck – including a 6,100-pound (2,767 kg) trailering capacity.

      Estimated fuel economy for both 2WD and 4WD models is 20 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway….” GM Media with a larger 300-volt battery and 6.0l V8 circa 2012!

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      “If I had light duty needs I’d get a Santa Cruz and if I had bigger towing/hauling needs then I’d get an HD truck.”

      I agree.

      HD trucks really have very few compromises anymore vs traditional V8 powered/leaf sprung half tons. All the same equipment is available, they aren’t that much more expensive (diesel aside), and they are obviously much more capable.

      I expect that’s why we see such an emphasis on ride quality and fuel economy in the newest half tons, because those are the two spots it’s still possible to get some differentiation.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Yeah, I don’t get that at all. If you need a tow truck then buy one but the HDs are awful at everything else.

        Another 20″ to not fit in parking spaces, another 2,000 pounds to rut your lawn in the summer and remain in motion on ice in the winter, 12 mpg, what’s not to like?

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      Seems like you have not driven half ton and 3/4 ton trucks back to back. When I was looking for a tow vehicle for my 28 foot Airstream, I did. First off, for those who tow travel trailers, the relevant spec is not towing capacity; it’s payload. The typical 25-30 foot Airstream puts about a ton of weight on the hitch, when fully loaded. The typical payload for a half ton crew cab when I was shopping was 1400-1500 lbs. So, you can see after you hitch up the trailer, you don’t have a lot of capacity left for people, dogs and “stuff” in the bed. So, I ended up test driving a lot of 3/4 tons and half tons. First off, even with a gasoline engine, a 3/4 ton weighs about 1000 lbs. more, empty, than your typical half ton. It’s longer and higher, and it has a noticeably larger turning radius. And it’s unladen ride is noticeably worse. In short, a half ton makes an acceptable daily driver; a 3/4 ton does not. If you shop really hard, you can find a half ton with nearly a ton of payload (which is what I did). But I doubt anyone would find a 3/4 ton acceptable for use other than as a heavy hauler or a tow vehicle. You may be correct that for most people with suburban hauling needs or a need to tow a 20-something foot boat on a trailer, something like a Ridgeline or a Santa Cruz will do fine and will be more pleasant than a half ton. But unless you need to haul more than a ton, or tow more than 10,000 lbs (which by the way, requires a CDL in most states), a half ton is a far more versatile vehicle than a 3/4 ton.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        I’ve driven plenty of both. I stand by what I said, a leaf sprung truck is going to ride poorly, whether it is a 1/2 ton or a 3/4. I felt more difference between a coil sprung Ram 2500 and an F250 than between an F250 and an F150.

        I’m also not convinced a crew cab 6.5 foot bed half ton is very much easier to use in town than a crew cab 6.5 foot bed HD. The wheelbase is like 3 inches different. The HD is taller, but no wider and barely longer.

        • 0 avatar
          IH_Fever

          Depends on the truck and the specs. My leaf spring tundra rides many times better than my coil spring ram 2500 ever did. Doesn’t matter the style, higher payload = stiffer springs = harsher ride.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The biggest “ride quality” difference is tire plys and PSI, 1/2 ton to 3/4. Both need to have lots of weight on them for “acceptable” ride comfort.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Did you use the same tires on both? In my experience, 10plys on half tons, degrade their ride A LOT. Yet are, at least to worrywarts like me, virtually “necessary” for heavyish towing. Comparing a half ton with supple CUV tires, to a 3/4 on 10 plys, is not really like for like.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “But I doubt anyone would find a 3/4 ton acceptable for use other than as a heavy hauler or a tow vehicle.”

        Which is basically what I said. If I’m buying a truck for towing and hauling then I’m getting an HD and if I wanted a “daily driver” to haul mulch or tow an occasional row boat then I’d get a compact or mid-size. There’s a very narrow use case where I’d end up with a half-ton.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @DC Bruce – people tend to make the mistake you describe. Payload is a huge factor. My F150 can tow 10,800 but I’d need an empty pickup with one passenger to tow it. In BC any trailer over 10,400 requires a commercial driver’s license or an endorsement to one’s normal license.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          Here’s the list in the US in relation to RVs. Most states don’t require a CDL for them although if you’re towing a big boat or a racecar hauler then there’s different considerations.

          rvmiles.com/rv-drivers-license-requirements/

    • 0 avatar

      I think this is the multiple car thing we touched on earlier. I would prefer a 3/4 or 1 ton to tow and a car or midsize pickup as a daily driver. But lot’s of people like one that does it all sort of well. That’s the half ton. It’s not my thing I really prefer HD trucks and would even daily drive one if my commute wasn’t quite so far but I don’t move anything big enough currently to justify the added cost and fuel. Which leads me to often look at halftons, which get about the same mileage as my Chrysler 300 but would still tow all my current toys and haul way more then I can currently.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      One night sleeping curled up in a ball in the bed of a Santa Cruz, would change your mind….. Ditto carrying a medium to large motorbike back there…

      I have a 3/4 ton diesel, but to be honest only because it was the only thing larger than a Tacoma which could be had with a manual… I did tow a big, heavy travel trailer once (all the way to Alaska, but still only once…). But aside from that, it’s UHaul trailers only. If Ford started offering the 2.7 with a manual, I’d trade in a heartbeat (perhaps other halftons as well, but I do need to be able to fit a bed crane to lift outboards, bikes, snowblowers and other stuff into the bed, and the F150 is supported by everyone.)

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I need to drive one of these coil-spring trucks. The last Ram 1500 I drove was from before the switch to coils and I’m curious how much difference they make in day-to-day use. They do seem to cost some payload compared to their leaf-spring competition.

    With this truck, I’d pick the hybrid for livability reasons alone, before performance even comes into the equation. It’s really useful to be able to idle with climate control and without your engine running most of the time.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      Yes, if you get the chance, try one of these recent Ram 1500s. I had a 2019 as a rental. The handling is far better than you would expect for a truck. I thought it drove like a sedan, only much, much taller. It was kind of spooky, but fun.

      • 0 avatar
        PM300

        It is true. I never owned anything but a car until my 2019 Ram 1500. My car prior was a Chrysler 300S and the Ram (with etorque) gets essentially the same city MPG and rides better and is noticeably quieter on the highway. The biggest compromise is of course parking in the City. I have been patiently waiting for someone to do a halfway decent mid-size truck redesign.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Based on the comments I regularly see here, no B&B spec truck is this big or has this many doors.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Big and ugly, just what you’d expect from Toyota

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Good effing lord, who does the design work on these?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The styling isn’t great, but that Straight Path Assist feature sounds awesome.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I’m sorry, but inside and out, this truck makes me appreciate the styling of the GM twins. I don’t know who could possibly find this truck visually appealing other than those badge-blind buyers that won’t consider a different truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      At face value a Ford powertrain with a Ram suspension and better quality control is the no brainer class leader but, to me, they really lost the details.

      Rear floor not only isn’t flat, there’s a fixed pedestal under the seat with storage inside, or the hybrid battery and no storage either. Are they kidding? That’s your trunk. This is like leaving out the high beams.

      Formerly best in class 38 gallon tank was shrunk to 3rd in class 32, and if that’s not dumb enough the base trims – the ones people will actually tow landscaping trailers around all day with – get just 22.

      And with 10 years to copy the best of the domestics they copied Chevy’s shock value styling?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I don’t get why Toyota knee-capped the SR so badly (lower power output, lower max tow rating, smaller fuel tank). I get the idea of upselling but most private owners aren’t looking at base trims these days.

        I wonder if the payload on the SR5 and above is so lame that they needed to goose the SR somehow to get a decent payload number for the press release.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Toyota didn’t break it down by trim but did give the range of 1575 – 1820 for a 4WD short bed. Retail trims are surely on the bottom of that range but the usual Toyota option bundling of 6 trims and no meaningful options means that 1600 is, probably, 15 and change at worst. Good enough.

          They got there with sky high GVWRs, the hybrid starts over 6,000 lbs with a GVWR of 7,780.

          Like my Ford with 20 packs of flooring in the back.

    • 0 avatar
      IH_Fever

      I gotta agree. I drive a tundra but this thing is uglier than sin.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I gave up a long time ago. As long as they look good from behind, although its tough to mess that up.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Toyota designers after the current generation full-size Chevy pickup came out: Hold my beer.

    Hard to believe that went through an approval process where a bunch of people said “yep, that’s it — no more changes — this is the absolute best we can do.”

    GroupThink and an over-reliance on focus groups instead of simply having good taste at its finest.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Gas prices in Southern Ontario have roughly doubled since the summer of 2020. Might that have a negative impact on the sales of these large pick-ups and full sized CUVs/SUVs?

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      Absolutely, but specifically I think that Toyota knows that it’s core market for the Tundra is the US, not Canada (2020 sales: 109k+ for the US, 11k for Canada). Gas prices in the US have gone insane in many places since the last election, but I think in the grand scheme, we American’s know that this is a 4 year cycle. If people get fed up enough, the next person sitting in that seat will undoubtedly have an effect on gas prices, even if it’s temporary.

      People will continue to buy trucks/suv’s that are substantially larger than what they actually need so long as there’s a product that fills that desire.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    lol turbo V6 for a large truck. Just say no.

    Get the 6.2 liter lionheart GM twins with new interiors, The proven RAM HEMI V8, and best truck of all F150 with Coyote.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Maximum grill. No thank you.
    Build me a normal truck.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    -mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, index fingers touching thumbs- channeling HDC. Oh, Great Cat we need a reply from you whatever part of the world you’re in. Said it before and will say it again; Toyota doesn’t need to sell the Tundra to stay in business, just make a profit. It’s like going to buy new boots. Ford, GM, and Ram are the boot companies. Toyota is just selling the boot socks. Making darn good money selling boot socks. do they care if you buy new boot socks? No, not really.

  • avatar

    I still don’t see how this will pull many new people to Tundra. I expect a spike with current gen owners trading in for a new one that settling into a annual sales figure within 15-20% of the current one.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    This thing makes the GM trucks look pretty good. I don’t understand how something that looks this bad made it past the people who make the decision to go/no go on it. The older I get, the more I say that.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Did you actually drive this thing? How is this even considered a review? I can only imagine what RF thinks about TTAC these days.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    If I ordered one of these and it arrived with those god awful ugly oversized black wheels I would send it right back. Otherwise it looks okay and about equal to the current Silverado.

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