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Auto review: Tougher Tundra has bolder look, better ride

Barry Spyker, Tribune News Service on

Published in Automotive News

There's a new, tougher full-size pickup in town. It's built in San Antonio, Texas, and it's gunning for the class-leading American trucks. It's name is Toyota Tundra.

The third-generation TRD Off Road Tundra is armed with more power and an available hybrid, better road skills and smarter technology inside and off-road.

No one is saying the 2022 Tundra will catch the big fellas anytime soon: American makers Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 still have it beat when it comes to towing and payload capacities, and brand loyalty is strong, too. But the new Tundra is more competitive in many ways, and it will continue to attract Toyota loyalists.

This is a long-overdue redesign from the Japanese carmaker — the first in 15 years — and it introduces a new twin-turbo V-6 engine that can be linked with a hybrid setup. It has a more comfortable and composed ride than last year and a more refined interior, too.

It's two inches taller this year, 4.7 inches longer, and has three bed options and two-four-door cabs. And talk about variety: It's available in more than 10 trim levels, including seven grilles and eight wheel designs.

Each Tundra has a broad and deep grille, flanked by narrow LED headlights that wrap around in front of its bulky fenders. A raised hood is nicely sculpted and adds to its muscular look.

 

But under the hood is where the big story is. Toyota dropped the 5.7-liter V-8 in favor of a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 (it's now the only full-size pickup without a V-8 option). But the V-6 outperforms the old V-8: It gets 389 horsepower and a strong 479 pound-feet of torque, compared to the previous 381 hp and 401 pound-feet, and it pulls to 60 mph in around 6 seconds.

Want more power? If it's paired with a hybrid system, the powertrain puts out 437 hp and a crazy 583 pound-feet of torque. The electric motor contributes 48 horses, while the battery pack is tucked away neatly under the rear seat.

Both versions are mated to a smooth 10-speed automatic transmission, a first for Tundra. It shifts smoothly on the way up, but is sometimes slow-to-the-draw in the downshifts.

On the open road, Tundra's ride is quiet and comfortable. Steering is responsive and handling is confident around town, with light body lean on corners. Road bumps and dips are pleasantly handled by the Bilstein monotone dampers, part of a new TRD Off Road package.

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