2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone and TRD Pro Review Update

Christian Wardlaw, Independent Expert | Feb 01, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Toyota deals!

Toyota dominates truck sales…in the midsize segment. According to a company spokesperson with whom I spoke, the Tacoma pickup accounts for 40 percent of all midsize trucks bought by Americans. This makes sense. Going back to the 1960s and the first small, imported trucks to arrive in the United States, Toyota has delivered quality, dependability, and reliability, or QDR in the automaker’s parlance.

In the large light-duty pickup segment, the story is different. Toyota tentatively tested the waters with the original T100 model and then improved on that recipe with the bigger (but still a little small) first-generation Tundra. In 2007, the company went on the offensive, creating a huge, powerful light-duty truck made in a new factory in San Antonio, Texas. That Tundra exemplified QDR but could not match ChevyFordGMC, and Ram for variety and custom configurability.

The all-new third-generation 2022 Toyota Tundra doesn’t, either. But the new 2022 Tundra makes enormous gains in style, technology, and capability over the previous model. And with the old 5.7-liter V8 engine’s departure from underneath the hood, fuel economy improves, a step toward resolving the single most common complaint owners had with the second-generation Tundra.

Toyota launched the new Tundra at the end of 2021. Offering a choice between Double Cab (extended cab) and CrewMax (crew cab) styles, three composite cargo bed lengths, and a twin-turbocharged V6 or a hybrid version of that engine, the 2022 Tundra covers the primary configurations that light-duty pickup buyers seek.

Furthermore, initial production of the Tundra came in SR, SR5, Limited, Platinum, and 1794 trim levels. Toyota also announced that a Tundra TRD Pro model would re-join the lineup in the spring of 2022. And recently, Toyota introduced the new Tundra Capstone, a luxury grade of the pickup priced well north of $70,000.

When Toyota introduced the 2022 Tundra, we reviewed the Limited trim level. This follow-up review focuses on the Tundra Capstone and TRD Pro models and how they potentially impact the truck’s overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Toyota Tundra - Find the best Toyota deals!

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone White Front Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

The Toyota Tundra competes in the Large Light Duty Pickup market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 89 percent of previous-generation Toyota Tundra buyers are male (vs. 90 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new Tundra buyer is 54 years (vs. 56).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the previous-generation Tundra in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you’ll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Powertrain
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Setting up and starting
  • Driving comfort
  • Getting in and out
  • Interior
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy (by a significant margin)

To understand how dissatisfied previous-generation Tundra buyers are with fuel economy, consider this: The spread on a 1,000-point scale between exterior styling and the infotainment system is 85 points. Fuel economy comes in 252 points below the infotainment system. That’s huge.

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the Tundra ranks sixth out of six Large Light Duty Pickup models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Toyota Tundra - Find the best Toyota deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes two different examples of the Tundra.

The first is the new Tundra Capstone equipped with the Advanced package. This option adds a load-leveling height-control rear air suspension and an adaptive variable suspension. The tested 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone price came to $76,270, including the $1,695 destination charge.

The second is the Tundra TRD Pro, painted in exclusive Solar Octane paint. This test truck came only with standard equipment, so the 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro price tallied up to $68,500, including destination.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone Specs

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone Interior Dashboard

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Capping the 2022 Toyota Tundra lineup, the luxurious new Tundra Capstone takes the truck to the next level. It includes Toyota’s new i-Force Max hybrid powertrain as standard equipment, paired with 4-wheel drive (4WD) and a set of chrome 22-inch aluminum wheels. Plenty of shiny chrome exterior trim identifies the Capstone as the luxury trim.

Climb into the cab with the help of the power-deploying running boards and the Capstone’s interior is plush, with heated and ventilated front seats wrapped in the same grade of premium semi-aniline leather that Lexus uses in its LS flagship sedan. The Capstone comes exclusively in white over black, presenting a sharp two-tone appearance.

Additionally, the new Toyota Tundra Capstone interior features genuine open-pore American Walnut wood trim, natural light filtering in through the panoramic glass sunroof, and soothing blue ambient lighting after dark. Acoustic front door window glass helps to quiet the interior on the highway.

Nearly everything is standard on the 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone, including the Towing Technology package. That means the truck has Trailer Back Guidance and Straight Path Assistance technologies that help a driver reverse a trailer.

A surround-view camera is also standard. When a trailer is connected to the Capstone’s integrated brake controller, the blind-spot warning system automatically takes the trailer into account when issuing alerts.

There is an option for the Tundra Capstone. It’s the Advanced package, and it equips the truck with a load-leveling height-control rear air suspension and an adaptive variable suspension. You’ll want the former for towing; you’ll prefer the latter to help combat the effect of the 22-inch wheels on the ride quality.

Driving the 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone

Toyota invited me to the Carmel Valley area of California to drive the new Tundra Capstone. Time behind the wheel was brief yet long enough to get an idea of power, fuel economy, and the ride and handling.

As you might guess, the interior is truly a cut above what you’ll find in other Tundras. However, the white leather on the upper portions of the seats casts significant reflection onto the truck’s 14-inch touchscreen infotainment display. This is especially true when the sun angle is low, such as in the winter, during which I drove the Capstone.

Power from the i-Force Max hybrid drivetrain is instantaneous, and the truck is quick. It makes a generous 437 horsepower, but the real treat is the 583 pound-feet of torque. We drove the Capstone in its Normal driving mode and it averaged 17.6 mpg.

That result is a long way from Toyota’s estimate of 21 mpg. However, the route was a rural two-lane highway with many curves and without much traffic, so I frequently stepped on and off the accelerator pedal. I have no doubt most drivers will experience better average fuel economy than I did.

More problematic are the Capstone’s 22-inch wheels. They’re not forged aluminum, so they’re heavy. And they wear 265/50 tires, so the sidewalls are not terribly thick. Despite the Capstone’s adaptive variable suspension, the ride quality on Carmel Valley Road southeast of Carmel Valley proper was, to put it mildly, busy. There is a Comfort mode, but it introduces too much float in the ride without helping much to attenuate impact harshness.

Later, while towing an Airstream travel trailer weighing an estimated 5,700 pounds and driving on better-maintained roads near Carmel-by-the-Sea, the Capstone delivered the smooth, unfettered ride I expected. Toyota says the Capstone can haul 1,485 lbs. of payload and tow up to 10,340 lbs. of trailer. Needless to say, the truck had no trouble managing the modestly sized travel trailer on the flat roads in the region, returning 13.3 mpg during the short trip.

I also sampled the Capstone’s standard Towing Technology package. The technology is easy to set up but perhaps not quite as sophisticated as Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist. Still, once you’ve got the trailer aimed in the direction you want it to go, the semi-autonomous Straight Path Assistance definitely makes your life easier.

2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Specs

2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Solar Orange Rear Quarter View

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Like the Tundra Capstone, the Tundra TRD Pro includes the i-Force Max hybrid powertrain and 4WD as standard equipment. Naturally, given the truck’s mission to deliver maximum off-road performance, the TRD Pro is outfitted with the necessary hardware to tackle challenging terrain.

The highlights include a TRD off-road suspension with a 1.1-inch lift in front, 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass front coilover and rear remote reservoir shock absorbers, an exclusive front stabilizer bar, and 18-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in 285/65 all-terrain tires.

Toyota equips the TRD Pro with the company’s full arsenal of off-roading technologies. They include Multi-Terrain Select traction modes, Crawl Control off-road low-speed cruise control, and Downhill Assist Control. The TRD Pro also boasts a dramatically improved angle of approach and 9 inches of ground clearance, and Toyota says the TRD Pro can carry 1,600 lbs. of payload and tow up to 11,175 lbs. of trailer.

Styling details also help to set the TRD Pro apart. It has an exclusive grille equipped with an LED light bar and orange marker lights, a TRD aluminum front skid plate, Xply Armor underbody covers to protect the mechanical parts, and standard mudguards.

Inside, reddish-orange accents and stitching dress up the interior. The simulated leather (SofTex) has a subtle camouflage pattern to match the exterior overfender trim, and metal pedal covers add an appropriate performance-tuned look. The TRD steering wheel even has a centering line to help orient the driver when running hard across the Baja peninsula.

Driving the 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

For this review, I sampled the TRD Pro twice. I spent a week with the truck in Southern California when the region experienced epic rainstorms, and I drove the TRD Pro on an off-roading course in the Carmel Valley area.

Between the TRD Pro and the Capstone, the off-roader is my favorite to drive. It has the same i-Force Max hybrid drivetrain that produces immensely satisfying acceleration accompanied by an addictive engine and exhaust note. But it also has a much better ride quality than the Capstone.

Engineered to cover unpaved ground at speed and equipped with forged aluminum wheels with thick all-terrain tires, it’s not surprising that the TRD Pro offers a magic carpet ride on just about any surface. There is a penalty in terms of tire whir at speed, but I’d still take the TRD Pro over the Capstone for a trip of any length.

It is harder to get into and out of, though.

During the week-long driving experience, the TRD Pro effortlessly battled driving rain, flooded roads, and muddy trails. On the off-road course, we sampled all the technology, including the various camera views that can help you to thread the Tundra between trees, around rocks, and over blind hill crests. It had no trouble tackling hills, plowing through mud, or otherwise navigating the deer-filled woods.

Driven on my usual evaluation loop in California’s Ventura County area, the Tundra TRD Pro averaged 17.8 mpg. Toyota’s fuel-economy estimate for this version of its new truck is 20 mpg in combined driving. In my defense, the i-Force Max drivetrain’s torque and engine note are difficult to resist.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Toyota deals!

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone White with Trailer

Photo: Christian Wardlaw

Based on J.D. Power data, owners of the previous-generation Tundra really liked their trucks with a single, significant exception: the real-world fuel economy.

While my experiences driving 2022 Tundra models with the new i-Force Max powertrain suggest that it may struggle to match Toyota’s fuel-economy estimates, Tundra loyalists will likely find any Tundra equipped with the hybrid drivetrain to be substantially more efficient.

As for the rest of the driving experience, I’d say Toyota has some work to do on the Tundra Capstone’s ride quality. To be fair to Toyota, my seat time in the Capstone was short, and the route was about as smooth as a typical winter-ravaged Michigan road. However, recent experience driving a Ram 1500 Limited all over the Los Angeles region tells me it remains the ride quality standard in the luxury-trimmed, large light-duty pickup segment.

The Tundra TRD Pro is another thing entirely. It almost glides down SoCal freeways and relentlessly pummels bumps, cracks, and holes into submission. Between the two versions of the new Tundra, it’s my favorite.

Plus, you get a workout when climbing into and out of it.

Christian Wardlaw is a veteran digital automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience in test-driving vehicles. In addition to JDPower.com, his work has appeared in numerous new- and used-car buying guides, newspapers, and automotive industry trade journals.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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