Taking on the Big Three
The three kings of American pickup trucks continue to be the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, and Dodge Ram 1500. But those with a rebellious streak have another full-size, half-ton truck that’s worth considering. We’re talking about the new Toyota Tundra.
It 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. It was Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year in 2000. Over 40 trim levels were added along the way including the TRD Rock Warrior package and a Platinum package in 2010.
While the truck has been refreshed over its long run, this 2023 model is a total redesign. The TRD Pro Hybrid version includes lifted off-road suspension and exclusive dampers, an electronically locking differential, skid plates, and bad to the bone 18-inch wheels on all-terrain tires.
Under the Hood
The Tundra does not come with a V8 like those popular trucks mentioned earlier but is available with a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 and 10-speed transmission. In base trim, it puts out 348-horsepower, but there’s also a 389-horse variant and this hybrid version which produces 437-horsepower with 583 pound-feet of torque. Its electric motor allows all-electric driving at low speeds, and it can take you from zero to 60 in just 5.7 seconds.
According to the EPA, the TRD Pro Hybrid comes in at 20 mpg city and 24 mpg highway making it the most fuel-efficient package - offering more power and performance at the same mileage rating as the base SR model. Available in rear- or four-wheel drive, all versions of the Tundra come in crew-cab or extended cab and bed sizes run the gamut from five and a half to eight-foot beds.
The Price of Fame
There are seven trim levels to answer your needs for a basic work truck, a business wagon, an off-road warrior, or a refined and elegant city slicker. Prices run from the baseline at $37,845 MSRP all the way up to over 77 grand for the ultimate expression of Tundraness in the Capstone Hybrid. While the base model Toyota costs more than the base Ford, Chevy, or Ram, it comes with a lot of standard features that are missing from its competitors. Plus, the hybrid battery warranty is good for 10 years or 150,000 miles.
When it comes to towing capacity, the often-compared Nissan Titan can pull up to 9,323 pounds while the Tundra can tow 12,000 pounds. As for payload capacity, the Titan maxes out at 1,697 pounds while the Tundra has a maximum capacity of 1,940 pounds.
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. There’s even walnut wood trim and real leather in the upper trim levels. Higher trim levels also include a 14-inch infotainment touchscreen for wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as the latest infotainment and driver assist features.
Toyota’s Safety Sense 2.5 Suite of sophisticated driver assist features include 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.
What’s It Like to Drive?
The new Tundra is based on Toyota’s Land Cruiser platform for a better overall ride. The coil springs are a big help in that regard. The TRD Pro Off-Road package is our Tundra of choice as it adds excellent Bilstein shocks. It’s a much more stable truck than the Tundras of yesteryear and really grips the road in tight corners. The steering is much improved. Cornering is predictable and well-balanced for everyday driving. We didn’t get to put the TRD Pro Hybrid to the test off-road, but on the highway, the big truck with the twin-turbo V6 and electric motor lived up to its zero to 60 time and handled a quarter mile in about 15 seconds. Not too shabby for a 5,820-pound behemoth.
Wrap It Up!
We think the new Tundra is a big improvement in every way possible and feels ready to take on the three kings of pickups on American roads. This new Tundra is two inches taller, 4.7-inches longer, and a bit wider than the old Tundra. With its double wishbone front suspension and multi-link with coil springs at the back, this is a smoother and more capable full-size truck.
It's not the cheapest truck, but the Tundra TRD Pro Hybrid offers incredible extras including the Toyota Care no cost maintenance plan and roadside assistance as part of the package. We think this Tundra Hybrid does everything well and is ready to run with the big dogs.