Toyota brought an all-new full-size Tundra pickup to American roads for the 2022 model year, with a new chassis, new sheetmetal, and packed with a fancy new hybrid engine. We’ve had a good amount of seat time in the new Tundra, driving it around urban and suburban environments and seeing how it performs on highways and back roads – but we haven’t had time in Toyota’s ultimate off-road model, the Tundra. TRD Pro. The trim level is packed with special four-wheel drive and suspension technology, unique styling and all kinds of electronic aids designed to help the Tundra navigate obstacles large and small with ease.
Toyota recently held an event to help introduce the TRD Pro to the media at an off-road park north of Detroit, where I was able to put the big, bad SUV through its paces and see what the manufacturer has improved of vehicles. for his new monster truck.
Connected: 2022 Toyota Tundra Review: Better where it counts
So what exactly does the TRD Pro trim bring to the Tundra’s off-road party? Well, it’s one of the Tundra’s seven trim levels, sitting just below the ultra-luxurious upscale Capstone. It comes in just one body style: CrewMax (full four-door) with the shortest 5.5-foot bed and standard four-wheel drive. There’s also just one engine available: the 3.5-liter twin-turbo hybrid i-Force Max V-6 with 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It routes power through a standard part-time 4WD system featuring an electronically controlled transfer case, an automatic limited-slip differential and an electronic low-range rear locker.
Unique to the TRD Pro, the suspension system features 2.5-inch Fox internal shocks (with remote reservoirs for the rear), a TRD front stabilizer bar, and a 1.1-inch front lift. That’s an upgrade from the Bilstein off-road shock setup you’d get if you specified the TRD Off-Road option on lower-trim Tundras. Black 18-inch BBS wheels are shod with Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires for some visual flair. Off-trail, the delicate parts underneath are protected by an aluminum front skid plate and special high-strength Xply Armor fiber-reinforced resin plates that protect the engine, fuel tank and transfer case.
There are also some special electronic systems to drive all this goodies off-road. It starts with the Multi-Terrain Select system that offers multiple settings for adapting off-road systems, traction control, throttle response, shift points and more. Downhill Assist Control is an electronic hill descent function that automatically keeps the truck rolling downhill at a set speed, and the Crawl Control function functions as a low-speed off-road cruise control. In addition, the Multi-Terrain Monitor system connects to a set of cameras located around and under the truck to detect what kind of terrain you’re rolling and helps you see over blind hills when you’re climbing, or down when approaching a the rock
All this gear looks great on paper, but if it’s not easy to use and doesn’t do what it advertises, it’s pretty much just clothing material for guys looking to drive exposed cruisers. Thankfully, Toyota knows off-road trucks and knows people use them for their intended purposes, so rest assured: if it says TRD Pro on the side, it’s going to be awesome in the dirt.
The weather was perfect at Holly Oaks Off Road in north Detroit, and a long line of 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro trucks sat in the dusty parking lot, just waiting to be sent out into the wild. My horse of choice was resplendent in the bright orange of Solar Octane, a color reminiscent of a hunter’s safety vest – I’d feel completely at ease taking one of these into the deep woods, as it looks like you can see this truck from space. It’s practically anti-camouflage. Not a hint of Mossy Oak in sight.
Climb into the driver’s seat and you’ll encounter the Tundra’s latest interior, much better than previous versions, with better materials, a more logical layout, larger buttons and a large new touchscreen that showcases Toyota’s latest and greatest efforts in a competitive multimedia system. The TRD Pro brings some more quirky design choices, such as the large “Toyota” lettering on the dash, some interesting patterns for the seats and trim, and limited interior color choices. But it’s comfortable, roomy and, while not easy to see thanks to the Tundra’s windshield, an unusual improvement over the outgoing model.
Hitting the dirt reveals what the TRD Pro was born to do: rough-and-tumble. The varied terrain available to us showed that the combination of Wildpeak all-terrain tires and five-link coil-over rear suspension provided a comfortable and well-damped ride over rough dirt terrain. This isn’t a competitor to the Ford F-150 Raptor or the Ram 1500 TRX, however, as both of these off-road trucks are Baja-style racers meant to speed over the desert clearing. The TRD Pro is more akin to a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 or Ford F-150 Tremor. The Tundra TRD Pro’s mission is more low-speed versatility—it’ll handle rock crawling, rock scaling, or sand dune running with equal ability, but it’s not meant for cross-foot-to-floor blasts.
There’s never a lack of power or torque from the hybridized V-6, though there’s an unusual piped-in soundtrack of what’s clearly a V-8 engine from another vehicle entirely (no V-8 is offered in the Tundra anymore). . The smooth 10-speed automatic always seems to be in the right gear, no matter the terrain, and the TRD Pro simply cruises over dirt or steadily climbs slippery two-track with absolute ease. The Multi-Terrain Select system adjustment helps refine the truck’s responses depending on the application, but so does simply leaving the truck in 4-High (no all-wheel drive-style full-time 4×4 is available on the TRD Pro) is more than enough to overcome most obstacles. Switch to 4-Low, though, and you’ll have access to the electronic locking rear differential, useful for free-surface inclines where constant torque is more important than speed.
Low-speed traction control is also available in low ranges, but apart from briefly turning it on to see how it works, I can’t say I’m much of a fan of any off-road traction control – not this or that Ford is proud of him. I’m hard pressed to find an application where this is a better idea than just driving the truck itself, as throttle application is generally best applied directly, not automatically, when the terrain tends to change constantly. I’m not sure I’ve yet found a situation where low-speed off-road cruise control is an actual benefit, but it’s there if you want it as long as you’re already in low range.
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There are two aspects of the TRD Pro that I don’t understand. First, it kept falling off the road. You might think that the parking and proximity sensors might be disabled when you put the truck in a low-range off-road mode, but no, they’re still chirping and beeping and going. Even pressing the mute button on the steering wheel calms them down temporarily. You don’t have such problems in an off-road Ford, that’s for sure.
The other confusing aspect of the TRD Pro is the front end design. The aluminum front skid plate is actually above and behind the front bumper, meaning that any obstacle you encounter that is likely to impact the skid plate will already hit that bumper and crack it. And let’s hope you don’t get stuck in that snag, as there are no front recovery points (towing hooks) on the TRD Pro. If you get into a sticky situation that’s too deep for you to extricate yourself, your only option is to try to recover the vehicle via the trailer hitch—an odd omission for a high-end off-road truck.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is priced competitively against off-road versions of competing pickup trucks. There are almost no options for the TRD Pro trim, with you specifying only the color and whether or not you want to retract the mirrors, and the price comes in at less than $70,000 (including destination). By contrast, a Ford F-150 Tremor can be had for much less at around $56,000, but it doesn’t feature much of the standard equipment that the TRD Pro does; tick all the option boxes and you’ll match that $70,000 number. The Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 features many of the suspension goodies found in a TRD Pro, but it also starts at the $70,000 level and goes up from there.
Toyota has protected the TRD Pro’s reputation with this new model, enhancing its capabilities with new electronic systems and including some trick features. But the competitors in this category are formidable and will require constant improvements to stay current in the field.