When it comes to the life of a contractor, surprises are not always a good thing. But the 2022 Toyota Tundra is a notable exception.

The all-new third-generation of this full-size pickup is filled with a number of unexpected innovations. From advanced powertrain options to a long list of cutting-edge technologies, this thoroughly remade Tundra represents a viable alternative to the half-ton pickups on offer from America’s Big Three automakers.

That outside-the-box thinking starts with a choice of twin-turbocharged V6 engines. The base iForce V6 is impressive in its own right, with an output of 389 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Those after more can opt for the hybrid powertrain, dubbed iForce Max, where the V6 gets help from a 36-kW electric motor for a total output of 437 hp and 583 lb-ft. All that translates into a maximum towing capacity of 12,000 lb. The Tundra can also haul payloads up to 1,940 lb. 

Contributing to that capability is a full-length chassis made of high-strength steel reinforced with boxed construction. Leaf-spring rear suspension has also been replaced by a new multi-link design with coil springs and outboard-mounted shocks that improves both ride quality and handling. An adaptive suspension that continuously adjusts to suit road conditions is available as an option. Another practical upgrade is a rear air suspension that can level the truck in heavy trailering and payload situations. 

Up top, the Tundra is offered in a pair of body styles, including the extended Double Cab, which features a pair of shorter rear doors and a two-person rear seat. The CrewMax crew cab features four full-size doors and a spacious 60/40-split folding back seat that can easily accommodate three good-sized adults. An under-seat bin makes a great place to stow expensive tools. While the battery pack takes up this space on hybrid models, there’s more storage behind the rear seat.

Out back, the Tundra is fitted with a lightweight dent- and rust-resistant aluminum-reinforced composite bed. Extended cab models can be had with a 6.5-ft or 8.1-ft bed, while crew cab versions are fitted with a choice of 5.5-ft and 6.5-ft cargo boxes. All offer widths of just over 48 in. between the wheel wells for hauling plywood, drywall and other materials.

While all that exterior hardware is great, what really sets this all-new Tundra apart is what’s inside. An 8-in. touchscreen is standard even on the base models, with a 14-in. central touchscreen dominating the dashboard on the Limited trim levels and above. Benefits of this big display include sharper images from the available 360° camera system and easier-to-read maps on the navigation system-equipped models.


The standard Tundra features an under-seat bin for tool and equipment storage.
Photo courtesy of Toyota

A new multimedia system developed in-house includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio and a handful of USB ports. Hybrid models include an inverter that produces 400 W of pure sine-wave alternating current suitable for topping off tablets and laptops via an in-cab outlet. A second outlet in the bed makes it possible to run power tools or charge battery packs at the jobsite. 

The new Tundra will be offered in five trim levels starting with the entry-level SR and SR5 work trucks up to the luxurious Platinum and 1794 models. The TRD Pro model is designed for off-road, boasting a locking rear differential and increased ground clearance. It also features Crawl Control, a kind of slow-motion cruise control for better navigating obstacles in rough terrain.

Every version comes standard with a long list of advanced safety features, ranging from the merely nice to have (adaptive cruise control) to the potentially life-saving (automatic emergency braking). If things do end up going south, eight airbags stand ready to respond.

All together, the 2022 Toyota Tundra has enough unexpected power and features to be a pleasant surprise for a contractor in the market for a pickup.