Toyota has some big news in the making. Big, as in a replacement for its biggest model. Big, as in a bigger version of the current Toyota Tundra.
The Toyota Tacoma has long been the dominant player in the midsize truck segment. But the Japanese automaker remains a minor player in the full-size pickup segment. Now, it’s getting ready to give things another try — and for good reason, considering just how big demand for large trucks has grown the last few years.
The current Tundra has finally reached the end of its lifecycle. And, with an all-new version due to debut shortly after Labor Day, Toyota has begun rolling out a series of teasers hyping the upcoming news. This latest one offers a look at some of the 2022 truck’s interior features — and, in the process, appears to show off what will become a serious, off-road-focused Tundra TRD Pro model.
Getting serious changes now
Toyota has been struggling to be taken seriously in the big pickup market for nearly three decades, introducing the not-quite-full-size T100 back in 1992. The Tundra followed seven years later, and has gone through a series of iterations since then.
But demand has been marginal, reaching a U.S. peak of 196,555 in 2007, tumbling to just 82,908 four years later. It then bounced back — barely, demand hitting 109,203 in 2020. By comparison, Ford sold 787,422 of its F-Series pickups last year, cementing its position as the country’s best-selling truck for the 44th consecutive year.
There are a number of reasons why Toyota has had a tough time breaking through. For one thing, truck buyers are a particularly loyal bunch, and that’s most true in the full-size segment where Nissan had similarly little success making much headway with its latest-generation Titan truck. The irony, is that this works in Toyota’s favor in the midsize market where the Tacoma is the one to beat.
It hasn’t helped the largest Japanese automaker has never really come up with the broad assortment of body styles, powertrains and features that full-size buyers crave. In reality, Ford’s F-Series is an assortment of big, bigger and biggest pickups, with an astonishing array of trim levels and a mix of naturally aspirated, turbocharged and hybrid options available.
For now, Toyota isn’t saying much about what it has in store for what is believed to be a complete, ground-up makeover of the Tundra for 2022, though “well-placed” sources have broadly hinted that there will be more variations available this time around.
Getting a look at what’s coming
The latest teaser confirms that, at least to some degree.
Take a close look at these new interior images and you’ll find, among other things, red perforated leather upholstery. And there, in the backrests, you’ll spot “TRD Pro” stitched in. Originally used for its racing division, the TRD badge has earned serious credibility in recent years, even as it expands beyond the Tacoma to a range of other models. One can guess with the 2022 Tundra, it will identify a version of the truck aimed at taking on the likes Ford F-150 Tremor and the Ram 1500 TRX.
Other details revealed in this latest teaser include a rotary dial featuring buttons for Multi-Terrain Select, Downhill Assist Control, Crawl and Tow/Haul modes. Oh, and we see that new features include a wireless charging pad.
One of the big questions centers on what Toyota will put under the more imposing hood of the 2022 Tundra. It’s widely expected to get a new iForce Max engine, a twin-turbo V-6 aimed at going head-to-head with Ford’s now-familiar EcoBoost package. Borrowed from the Land Cruiser, it displaces 3.5 liters and is expected to make at least 409 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.
It remains to be seen how many other powertrain options will be available, but it’s widely assumed Toyota will acknowledge market realities and offer various choices, much like segment leaders Ford, Chevrolet and Ram have done.
And that brings up the question of a hybrid. Ford has scored big with the gas-electric F-150 PowerBoost. Coming up with a direct competitor would not only seem possible for Toyota but a virtual necessity. The automaker was the first to launch a hybrid, the Japanese version of the Prius. And CEO Akio Toyoda has laid out a mandate to offer an electrified version of essentially all Toyota products by mid-decade So, there’s good reason to believe that a conventional or even a plug-in version might just be in the works.
Whether a hybrid will be spotlighted at the September reveal of the 2022 Toyota Tundra is far from certain. But its appearance, at some point during the new model’s lifecycle, seems a virtual certainty.