Last October, Toyota gave us our first chance to drive the all-new redesigned 2022 Tundra full-size pickup in Texas, which you can read all about in our First Spin report. Since then, Toyota has announced a new top-of-the-line Capstone trim level and filled in few more details about the new Tundra lineup that were left blank last fall. Now, we’ve had the opportunity to spend some time behind the wheel of the new Tundra Capstone and better experience the new i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain.
Toyota was already offering the new Tundra in two luxury grades: Platinum and 1794 Edition. The main difference between the two is that the Platinum imparts an “urban” luxury ambiance, while the 1794 Edition is influenced more by Western imagery (1794 is a reference to the founding year of a cattle ranch in Texas, which is now the location of Toyota’s truck-manufacturing plant). The 1794 also boasts American Walnut wood interior trim and is priced $700 higher than an equivalent Platinum.
Still, with decked-out lux-trim pickups continuing to lure shoppers from traditional luxury vehicles (and continuing to command jaw-dropping prices), Toyota decided there was more room to take the Tundra even further upscale. Toyota says that the Capstone is the “exclusive” Tundra. It’s available in just one configuration—a 4×4 CrewMax crew cab with the 5.5-foot bed and i-FORCE MAX gas/electric hybrid powertrain—and it’s positioned well above the Platinum and the 1794. The Capstone prices from $73,530, which is an eye-opening $9440 jump up from a 1794 Edition in the same configuration. (The destination charge adds $1695 to any Tundra model.)
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So, what do you get for all that extra scratch? The Capstone receives a handful of items as standard equipment that are optional on the 1794 Edition, including power running boards, a power bed step, and a 10-inch color head-up display. Items unique to the Capstone include semi-aniline leather seats in an exclusive black-and-white color scheme, dark-finished American Walnut wood interior trim, a body-color grille bezel, specific chrome grille insert, body-color wheel-arch moldings, acoustic laminated side-window glass, Capstone-branded floor mats, and lighted “Capstone” lettering that’s set into the wood trim on the passenger’s side of the dash. Furthermore, Capstone is the only Tundra to ride on 22-inch wheels (they’re alloys with a dark-chrome finish). Strangely, two items that are standard on the 1794 Edition are not included: heated and ventilated rear seats and a rearview mirror with digital display.
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Digging through material provided by Toyota and information we found on the Tundra configurator at toyota.com, we determined that the 1794 Edition’s optional Advanced Package adds the power running boards, the power bed step, and the head-up display for $2995. It also adds the adaptive suspension and rear air suspension, which together are an extra $1045 option on Capstone. So, it’s fair to say the running boards, bed step, and head-up display comes out to $1950 worth of added equipment. That leaves the other Capstone additions running something like $7490, which strikes us as pricey.
One Toyota representative we spoke with compared the Capstone to the GMC Sierra Denali. That rival truck is $63,290 to start with the optional 6.2-liter V8, and when optioned up with the Denali Reserve Package and body-color wheel arch moldings, its bottom line swells to $70,295. So even at this level, the Tundra Capstone’s $73,530 base price raises an eyebrow.
We spent about 45 minutes behind the wheel of a prototype Capstone on roads around Carmel, California, at Toyota’s press-preview event. Our test truck stickered for $76,270 with the $1045 Advanced Package and destination, and it was finished in Wind Chill Pearl, a bright and cool white color. Though the exterior changes are subtle, we think the Capstone’s body-color grille surround and wheel-arch trim really help impart a classy vibe. The complexly detailed 22-inch wheels add to the premium appearance as well.
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Toyota says the Capstone’s leather upholstery is the same grade that is used in the Lexus LS luxury sedan, but under casual inspection we noticed no dramatic difference between the Capstone’s leather and the lesser-grade hides in the 1794 Edition. The Capstone interior is very well finished and attractive—the open-pore American Walnut wood trim is beautiful—but we wouldn’t say it’s the equal of top-line Ram 1500 cabins. Appearance is subjective, but the Capstone’s interior falls on the understated side of luxury and doesn’t quite match Ram’s best efforts—particularly when it comes to those small details that add visual delight. Toyota reps told us that the interior wasn’t quite production ready on the prototype Capstone we drove, but everything felt sturdy and the assembly quality appeared to be top notch.
The Capstone’s interior is as comfortable as any other Tundra, and the control layout is essentially identical. There’s ample passenger room all around, and headroom is generous even under the standard power sunroof’s housing. We also noted that i-FORCE MAX Tundras lose the storage bins that are under the rear seat in non-hybrid Tundras—that space is used to house the hybrid system’s battery pack.
This drive opportunity also reinforced two of our observations from our first 2022 Tundra test drives. One—the oddly shaped storage cubby in the forward portion of Tundra’s console is seemingly unremarkable at first, but it proves very clever in practice. The best part is the forward-slanted wall that’s outfitted with a wireless charging pad. This surface appears to be run-of-the-mill black plastic, but it did an excellent job of holding our iPhone SE in place and maintaining its position for proper charging. It also keeps the phone out the way and relatively safe, yet leaves it easily accessible. Details matter, and here they are very well done.
Two—we’re still not crazy about the markings for the physical HVAC controls. The controls themselves are easy-to-use “flipper” switches that are mounted in a horizontal row below the touchscreen. The issue is that the lettering and symbols indicating the switch’s functions are printed on a curved surface above the controls, and these markings are very difficult to decipher at a glance.
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So, how is the Capstone out on the road? Like other Tundras with the optional rear air suspension, the Capstone rides comfortably—happily, we noticed no obvious penalty in ride quality from the 22-inch wheels and the lower-profile 50-series tires. The cabin remains serene at highway speeds as well.
The Tundra’s i-FORCE MAX powertrain is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 mated to a new “one-motor” gas/electric hybrid system, and the combination is good for an impressive 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque. The sole transmission is a very slick 10-speed automatic that provides essentially unnoticeable gear changes. There’s plenty of power available, and everything feels very smooth and refined. At a highway pace, the engine will loaf along in near silence, but more throttle awakens the V6 immediately and the added muscle is accompanied with a muted growl that we found enjoyable.
During the press event, we also got some seat time behind the wheel of an i-FORCE MAX-powered 1794 Edition 4×4 in the same configuration the Capstone, with a CrewMax cab and the shorter 5.5-foot bed. This truck had a base price of $64,420 and was equipped with the optional TRD Off-Road Package ($2140), but did not have the optional rear air suspension.
The TRD Off-Road Package swaps out the 1794’s flashy chrome grille insert for a bolder black TRD-branded piece. Other visual changes include black-finished 20-inch wheels, restrained TRD graphics on the bedsides, and a few well-chosen pieces of red TRD interior trim. To our eyes, the smattering of TRD additions look great while adding a vaguely sporty vibe to the 1794’s attractive but relatively sedate trim. The “Smoked Mesquite” paint on our test truck—a rich metallic brown hue—was dazzling as well.
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The 1794’s interior is very nicely finished. Again, we think the highlight is the open-pore American Walnut wood trim, and here the passenger side of the dash includes an eye-catching 1794 logo that’s been etched into the wood’s surface. It’s a bit surprising given the substantial price difference, but there’s no feeling you’re settling for less when you climb into the 1794 Edition after spending time in the Capstone’s cabin.
On the Falken-brand all-terrain tires that are included in the TRD Off-Road Package, this 1794 rode a bit softer than the Capstone, but the body control wasn’t quite as buttoned down. Overall though, the 1794 also proved to be a very comfortable and refined highway cruiser. This was particularly true when the drive-mode selector was in the Normal or ECO modes. Putting the truck in Sport mode makes the transmission hold a lower gear, which results in the V6 feeling a bit peppier. The tradeoff is a bit more engine noise, even during a steady highway cruise.
When you first hear that Toyota has given the Tundra a hybrid powertrain, you might think the company has come up with a Prius-style fuel sipper, but that’s not exactly what’s going on here. Tellingly, there are no hybrid badges on the truck, and there isn’t an EV-mode indicator light in the instrument cluster that announces when the truck is moving solely under battery power—the twin-turbo V6 will shut down with a very light right foot at low speeds, but its slumber is only indicated by silence and the tachometer dropping to zero.
Toyota says that a large group of Tundra owners tow regularly, and that most of those owners are lifestyle buyers who use their truck to pull things like campers and horse trailers. The hybrid powertrain’s i-FORCE MAX branding is likely aimed at conveying the idea that it’s a more powerful premium engine aimed at those buyers, and not necessarily a 100-percent eco-focused option. Toyota engineers say the goal of the hybrid system was to provide a diesel-like power curve without the considerable expense of a diesel engine, or the complexity of getting one certified for sale in the United States.
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It took a while, but Toyota has released its fuel-economy estimates for the i-FORCE MAX powertrain (these numbers aren’t yet certified by the EPA, but we don’t expect any significant changes). With rear-wheel drive, the figures are 20 mpg city/24 mpg highway/22 mpg combined. With four-wheel drive, the Limited, Platinum, 1794, and Capstone models are rated at 19/22/21; the macho off-road-ready TRD Pro model comes in at 19/21/20.
So, how do these numbers stack up with the competition? The Tundra hybrid’s closest competitor is the Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid. In rear-drive form, the Ford is rated at 25 mpg in city, highway, and combined driving, while the four-wheel-drive model comes in at 23 mpg across the board. So, on paper the Ford handily beats Toyota’s estimates in all categories. However, in Consumer Guide testing last winter, we saw a disappointing 18.9 mpg in a 2021 4×4 XLT model in frigid weather… and we’ve seen numerous other reports, from a variety of sources, of F-150 Powerboost trucks returning real-world fuel economy well below the EPA-estimate numbers. We look forward to checking the Toyota’s real-world mileage when we get a chance to test one in our suburban Chicago home-base environs.
Official EPA-certified numbers have now been released for the standard i-FORCE V6, and they hold true to Toyota’s previously announced manufacturer estimates. In base rear-drive SR models, the figures are 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway/ 20 mpg combined. Other rear-drive models come in at 18/23/20. With four-wheel drive, SR and SR5 models are rated at 17/23/19 (Limited, Platinum and 1794 Edition models take a one-mpg hit in highway driving—they’re rated at 22 mpg highway). The bottom line is that the hybrid system helps city and combined mileage while adding 48 horsepower and 104 lb-ft of torque, but offers no apparent fuel-economy benefit on the highway compared to the base engine.
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The Tundra’s base i-FORCE engine is good for 348 horsepower in the cheapest SR models, and 389 hp in all the other trims where it is offered. Either way, the twin-turbo V6 is quite a bit more powerful than the entry-level engines that Chevy, Ford, and Ram offer in their pickups. As such, we think the Toyota twin-turbo V6’s fuel economy numbers are better compared against the step-up engines of its main rivals: Chevy’s 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 with 8-speed automatic (16/21/18), Ford’s 400-horsepower 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 (18/24/20) and 5.0-liter V8 (16/22/19; 17/24/20 with stop/start), and Ram’s 395-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 in standard (15/22/17) and eTorque mild-hybrid (18/23/20) forms. All the numbers shown here are for rear-drive trucks, and the new Tundra’s estimates are near the top of its competitive class. (And don’t forget the 2021 Tundra’s 5.7-liter V-8 made a bit less power while delivering dismal EPA estimates of 13/17/14 in four-wheel-drive models.)
Toyota has finally released full-line Tundra pricing well, so we can get a better sense of how the Tundra stacks up from a value standpoint. A rear-drive SR Double Cab starts at $35,950 with the 6.5-foot bed, and upgrading to an SR CrewMax crew cab with the 5.5-foot bed raises the starting point to an even $38,000. By comparison, 2022 Chevy Silverado LTD prices start at $37,390 for a rear-drive Double Cab in WT trim with the 5.3-liter V8. The rear-drive Ford F-150 XL Super Cab with the 5.0-liter V-8 starts at $36,070. To get the F-150’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, you have to move up to the XLT, and then a rear-drive Super Cab is going to set you back at least $42,135. At Ram, a rear-drive Tradesman Quad Cab with the 5.7-liter Hemi prices from $37,495. Like Toyota, Chevy and Ford charge $1695 for destination, while Ram asks $1795. So, it appears Toyota has very aggressively priced the entry-level Tundra.
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The Limited is expected to be the most popular Tundra trim level, and it has base prices ranging from $46,850 to $55,630. For a Tundra Limited CrewMax 4×4 with the 5.5-foot bed and the standard engine, you’re looking at a starting tab of $51,900. A Silverado LTD RST Crew Cab 4×4 starts at $49,600, a Ford F-150 Lariat SuperCrew 4×4 EcoBoost at $52,425, and a Ram Laramie Crew Cab 4×4 with the 5.7-liter V8 prices from $54,045. Equipment levels are going to vary, but Tundra pricing should be competitive in this tough bunch.
Getting up towards the top of the line, let’s look at the 1794 Edition CrewMax 4×4 with the 6.5-foot bed and the i-FORCE MAX powertrain—its base price is $64,420. A Silverado LTD Crew Cab 4×4 in High Country trim with the 6.2-liter V-8 prices from $60,895, while a Ford F-150 Platinum SuperCrew 4×4 PowerBoost hybrid will ring you up for at least $66,115. And to get into a Ram 1500 Limited Crew Cab 4×4 you’re looking at a minimum of $64,495. So again, Toyota is in the thick of it. The off-road-performance TRD Pro model is only offered as a 4×4 CrewMax with the 5.5-foot bed and hybrid power. It starts at $66,805.
Toyota should have 2022 Tundras with the base powertrain at dealers now. The i-FORCE MAX hybrids are slated to hit showrooms this spring, with Capstone scheduled to follow by summer. The redesigned Tundra is much improved over the aged model it replaces—it offers a higher level of ride quality and all-around refinement, along with powerful turbocharged engines and up-to-date connectivity and infotainment systems. The new Tundra finds itself in a brutally competitive class full of excellent entries, but we think Toyota has delivered a truck that’s competitive, and one that should attract new customers in a segment where brand loyalty is strong. Our biggest question relates to the new Capstone. We wonder if it’s unique enough even among Tundras, and in particular we aren’t sure what to make of the model’s ultra-premium pricing. It’s very nice, but luxury-seeking Tundra buyers will find a lot to like—along with much better value—in the tempting 1794 Edition.
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2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone Gallery
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Toyota Tundra Capstone
Toyota Tundra Capstone