2023 Toyota Tundra

The three kings of American pickup trucks continue to be the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram 1500. But for those with a rebellious streak and who are not brand loyal to the big three, there is another full-size, half-ton truck that's worth considering. We're talking about the new Toyota Tundra.

Looking Back

The Tundra first appeared in 1999 and was the second full-size pickup truck by Toyota, following the T100. However, the Tundra was the first Japanese truck to be built in the United States, in San Antonio, Texas of all places. It was Motor Trend's Truck of the Year in 2000. The grill was updated in 2003 along with a step side bed. The automaker also added a double cab variant that year. A larger version of the Tundra appeared in 2008 that offered Vehicle Stability Control, traction control, and anti-lock brakes.
Over 40 trim levels were added over the years including the TRD Rock Warrior package in 2009 and a Platinum package in 2010. While the truck has been refreshed over its long run, notably in 2013, the 2022 model was the first major total redesign of the faithful hauler.

Looking Ahead

After fourteen years of basically selling the same truck to the American public, Toyota completely redesigned the Tundra for 2022. Unlike the F-150, Silverado, and Ram, the Tundra is not available with a V8 engine. Instead, the Tundra comes with a twin-turbocharged V6, good news for these days of high gas prices. In base trim, it puts out 348-horsepower, but there's also a 379-horse variant and even a hybrid version that produces 437-hp with 583 pound-feet of torque.
Available in rear- or four-wheel drive, all versions of the Tundra come with a smooth 10-speed automatic transmission. You can order yours in a crew-cab or extended cab and bed sizes run the gamut of 5.5-, 6.5-, or a big 8.1-foot bed. There are a whopping seven trim levels, from modest to fully packed, to answer your needs for a basic work truck, a business wagon, an off-road warrior, or a refined and elegant city slicker.
It sports a 12,000-pound towing capacity and new improved ride thanks to its coil-spring rear suspension. Exciting additions to the 2023 line-up include an SX appearance package for the SR5 trim that sports sinister black and dark gray design inside and out highlighted by black 18-inch wheels, black body trim, door handles, rear bumper section and more. The SX package can be had for vehicles that are painted white, gray, silver, or black.
Prices for the Tundra run from the base line at $37,845 all the way up to over 76 grand for the ultimate expression of Tundraness. While the base range big Toyota truck costs more than the base Ford, Chevy, or Ram, it comes with a lot of standard features that are missing from its competitors. We like the TRD variant with its full off-road package including bad ass wheels, skid plates, an upgraded suspension package, and electronically locked rear differential.

Under the Hood

No matter which version of the Tundra you choose, you'll get a 3.4-liter V6 engine married to an excellent 10-speed transmission, but the motor comes in three variations. In the base SR trim, the standard Tundra gives you 348-horses and 405 pound-feet of torque. In Limited trim, you'll bump up to 389 hp and 479 pound-feet of torque that will carry you from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. Interestingly, the Hybrid version with its electric motor and gasoline-powered engine combo adds more fuel economy and more horses, coming in at 437 hp and 583 pound-feet of torque for a zero to 60 time of 5.7 seconds.
According to the EPA, fuel economy in the rear-wheel drive version of the Tundra will get you 20 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway. The four-wheel drive truck drops those numbers by one mile per gallon. Oddly, the Hybrid also comes in at 20 mpg city and 24 mph highway but it the most fuel-efficient package since it give your more power and performance at the same mileage rating as the base SR.
When it comes to towing capacity, the Ford F-150 will pull 14,000 pounds while the Tundra can tow 12,000. As for payload capacity, the F-150 maxes out at 3,250 pounds while the Tundra has a maximum capacity of 1,940 pounds. Less, apparently, isn't always more.

Inside the Cabin

The newly redesigned Tundra has a much nicer interior cabin than in years past. The materials are improved as is the overall look and feel. As with all Toyota vehicles, the quality inside increases with the trim levels. For instance, the top tier 1794 Edition includes very nice real wood accents and upgraded upholstery throughout. Even the rear seats are comfortable. There's plenty of storage space in the center console and higher trim variants include a 12.3-inch digital display as well as a larger 14-inch infotainment touchscreen. The base model gets an 8-inch screen.

The touchscreen features a large volume control knob for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the latest infotainment and driver assist features, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. The automaker offers the complete Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 Suite of sophisticated features including forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control all as standard. Optional features include blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The Tundra is available in CrewMax and Double Cab body styles. Basic CrewMax can be had with a 5.5- or 6.5-foot bed, while the extended Double Cab is available with a larger 6.1- or big 8.1-foot bed.

Behind the Wheel

The new Tundra is based on Toyota's TNGA GA-F platform that it uses for its Land Cruiser and that means a better overall ride than you'll get with a lot of other pickup trucks. The coil springs in the back are a big help in that regard. The famous TRD Off-Road package is our Tundra of choice as it adds excellent Bilstein shocks. It is a much more stable truck than the older Tundras of yesteryear. It feels like it is positively gripping the road in tight corners. If you choose the TRD version, expect to feel a bit of bounce from the Bilsteins, but other than that, it gives you a very stable ride.

We thought the steering was much improved as well. Cornering is predictable and is well-balanced for everyday driving. We had limited time in the Tundra, so we didn't get to put the TRD to the test off-road through twisty rocky canyons or to traverse any streams. But on the highway, the big truck with the twin-turbo V6 lived up to its six second zero to 60 time and handled a quarter mile in 14.7 seconds. Not too shabby for a 5,820-pound behemoth. A similarly equipped F-150 is both lighter and faster. With a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, the Ford whittles the zero to 60 mph down to 5.3 seconds and weighs in at 5,345 pounds.
The Tundra's silky smooth ten-speed automatic transmission is a joy on the road. The exhaust makes just the right throaty burble, and you can even break loose the rear wheels when you punch it… and you don't have to try very hard. We think the new Tundra is a big improvement on the older version in every way possible. Even the middle range Limited version feels ready to take on the three kings on American roads.
The Bottom Line
Which brings us to the wrap up on this terrific new Tundra. It is not the cheapest truck, nor the fastest, and others have more towing capacity, but the accommodations both up front and in the rear are spacious and comfortable. Even rear passengers get two USB ports and separate air vents for the AC. It's also hard to pass up all the standard safety features.
This new Tundra is two inches taller, 4.7-inches longer, and a bit wider than the old Tundra. Upscale interiors include walnut trim and leather seats. With its double wishbone front suspension and multi-link with coil springs at the back, this is a smoother and more sedate full-size truck with a pleasing and capable ride both on and off the road. The 2023 Toyota Tundra MSRP starts at $37,845.