Lost In Translation: The 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
It has to be frustrating for Toyota. Nearly 60 years of success in the United States, all predicated on giving Americans what they want---but better. Things they didn't know that they could have, like ergonomics in cockpit layout, better fuel economy and epic reliability.
And my God, it worked. Time after time after time. Corona. Corolla. Celica. Supra. Tacoma. 4Runner. Camry. To say nothing of Lexus.
The one place it has never worked for Toyota is full-size trucks. For 22 years Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra (essentially the same truck) and RAM 1500 have sold not just more but exponentially more units than Toyota's big truck. After eight years of the third-generation Tundra, a truck that seemed to check all the boxes of what a big 'Murrican pickup truck was supposed to be, Texas imagery and all, Toyota still wound up being fourth in a five-truck race (fifth in a six-truck race if you count the Chevy and GMC separately)---beating only the Nissan Titan---the all-new fourth-generation Tundra is here for 2022.
Styling is subjective. My take is that Toyota picked the wrong American truck to emulate. The new Tundra suffers from all the excesses of the current Chevy Silverado, the third-best selling truck---behind the F-150 and the RAM 1500, both of which have managed to maintain a bit of classic, clean elegance (especially the RAM) to go with their macho snarls. In general, I think the whole "my truck wants to eat your house" thing has gone too far. The Tundra appears to have bought all the way in, as though that was the key to sales, which the F-150 and RAM prove isn't true.
The venerable Toyota 5.7-liter V8 is gone---replaced by two V6s. Both are 3.4-liter twin-turbos. One is a hybrid. The non-hybrid is called the i-FORCE and the hybrid (available only on Limited, Platinum, 1794 Edition and Capstone models) is called the i-FORCE MAX. Both pack plenty of power---the "base" engine making 389 horsepower and 479 pounds per foot of torque, which is eight horsepower and 78 pounds per foot more than the old 5.7-liter V8. That's impressive. The i-FORCE MAX hybrid, though, is a huge leap above that. 437 horsepower. 583 pounds per foot of torque. That beats the Ford F-150 Hybrid I reviewed in October by 7 horsepower and 13 pounds per foot. And---fun fact---the gonzo RAM 1500 TRX only beats the hybrid Tundra's torque rating by 67 pounds per foot. Our tester, a top-of-the-line Capstone, had the i-FORCE MAX, and it's seriously quick---zero to sixty in less than six seconds. The news is less good when it comes to the EPA fuel economy estimate---19 city/22 highway. Not bad, until you remember that the F-150 Hybrid is rated 24/24. That's a chunk to give up for 7 horsepower and 13 pounds per foot of torque.
The new Tundra is a tall beast, especially riding on 22-inch wheels like our tester, so the handy step that pops out from under the bumper when the tailgate is lowered is a nice touch.
And that brings us to the interior. Clever storage places abound, someone has finally figured out the correct placement for a wireless phone charger (upright)---and, umm....
Well, look. This is the Capstone. This is their luxury truck. Someone this week suggested it's a Lexus truck with Toyota badges on it, and maybe that's the way to look at it. Even in the world of luxury trucks, though, I think the black-and-cream color scheme is going to be a collector's item in a few years, because I really have no idea who's going to buy one with it. The two colors most likely to show dirt---together at last---in a truck. And it's the only interior color scheme available in a Capstone, no matter which exterior color you choose. I need to spend some time in lower trim versions of the Tundra to know for sure, but even if we strip away all the stuff that feels like a Copenhagen Imports store mated with a Tesla (that center screen is a lot bigger in person than it looks in that picture), the shapes and surfaces don't resemble what American pickup truck drivers are used to. It's as though the exterior team was told to copy every trend in U.S. pickups and the interior team...wasn't. $73,530 is the starting price for the 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone, and there are very few ways to spend extra money.
The Wind Chill Pearl paint was $425, and there's one other color, Supersonic Red, that costs the same. The other four colors (Magnetic Gray Metallic, Celestial Silver Metallic, Midnight Black Metallic and Blueprint) are no extra cost. A Panoramic View Monitor combined with heated power tow mirrors with blind spot monitors adds $290, the Advanced Package with load-leveling rear height control air suspension and adaptive variable suspension is $1,045----and apart from dealer-installed accessories, that's all you can load onto a Tundra Capstone. So with $1,695 delivery processing and handling fee, the as-tested price of the 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone is $76,695.
As always with Toyota, that's an impressive amount of content and staying under $80K for a fully loaded truck these days is not as easy as it sounds. It's an open question as to whether American truck buyers, who are largely traditionalists, would abandon Ford, GM and RAM even if Toyota had come up with a truck was was clearly superior to theirs in every single aspect. We'll have to wait and see if the new Tundra carves out a bigger chunk of the marketplace than the last generation.