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Traversing the Canadian Tundra in a 2022 Toyota Tundra: An Atypical Review, Part 1

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2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro
Photo: Toyota
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

Auto123 drove to Canada's far north in a 2022 Toyota Tundra. Today, the first part of our unique test drive.

See also: Traversing the Canadian Tundra in a 2022 Toyota Tundra: An Atypical Review, Part 2

See also: 2022 Toyota Tundra Review: Rebirth

There's no better way to appraise a brand-new vehicle than to kick the tires. No we’re kidding, it’s actually to drive it over a long distance. A good old road trip. And that's just what we did recently, driving a 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup as part of a two-truck “convoy”. The goal, to test the newly redesigned model.

In fact, this ten-day trek was offered to us by Toyota Canada itself. Inspired by a previous experience we had with the 2014 generation of the Tundra in Labrador, the big brains at Toyota Canada HQ, led by its vice-president Stephen Beatty, contacted us to do a sequel, but on the other end of the country.

Eight years ago, we had an old version of the Tundra to compare with the incoming version, but this time, Toyota provided us with two "prototype" units of the 2022 Tundra.

Thanks to the experience of the Truck King group, which I collaborate with and which planned out this trip, it was decided, this time, to attack the west coast of the country in a journey that would take us from Vancouver to... Tuktoyaktuk. The most northernmost village in Canada is in the Northwest Territories, a considerable distance away. As in, more than 3,760 km away!

For this purpose, Toyota had provided us with a four-door Tundra SR5 and a four-door Tundra TRD Pro, both pickup trucks with on-command four-wheel drive.

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The two prototype Tundras near Whistler, BC
The two prototype Tundras near Whistler, BC

The SR5 is powered by the new twin-turbocharged 3.4L V6 (note that this is not the same V6 as the Tacoma) that delivers 389 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. The TRD Pro, a more specialized off-road truck, has the same V6, but this time mated to a 48-hp electric motor, giving it a combined output of 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque. The battery pack needed to run it consisted of nickel metal units.

You'll likely have gathered that there is no longer a gas-guzzling V8 in the Tundra's lineup, a fact that prove to be a big plus for us on our trip.

Another big change for 2022 is that all Tundras are equipped with a 10-speed automatic transmission, while the four-wheel-drive versions (only the base SR version is available with rear-wheel drive in Canada) use a two-speed electronic transfer case (but unfortunately without the automatic four-wheel-drive mode found in the competition).

The new 2022 version of the Tundra is based on an all-new boxed chassis that allows for a more flexible and stable coil-spring rear suspension on rough roads despite the still-rigid axle. The only final drive ratio available on the Tundra is 3.31:1.

While the Tundra TRD Pro kept its original Falken Wildpeak tires for the trip, the SR5's factory Michelin LTX tires were replaced by Bridgestone Blizzak pickup tires, since we were heading to snowy regions with icy roads.

En route
En route

From the outside, you'll recognize the new Tundra by its completely redesigned lines with more pronounced accents including a rather massive grille. Note that the traditional two hooks under the front bumper are missing, a "mistake" that I've been told will eventually be corrected.

Once again, the cab is available as a Double Cab or Crew Max with four doors, while the 6.5-foot bed (an eight-foot bed is available with the base SR) is now made of reinforced plastic over an aluminum frame. Technically, our two Tundras had a load capacity of 1820 lb and a towing capacity of 11,180 pounds (load and towing capacities of 1940 and 12,000 lb are achieved with the base RWD SR only). The small trailer we took turns pulling weighed less than 2000 lb with its load.

It’s a bit difficult for me to criticize the interior of our two vehicles since they were prototypes and the finish was not final. Sure enough, we could notice some differences in the materials of some sections of the same truck.

The layout of the instruments on the dashboard (the design is rather tortured) was very similar in the two trucks, although the SR5 had a simpler arrangement with a smaller 8-inch navigation screen. The TRD Pro, meanwhile, had the large 14-inch screen with multiple touch functions (not all of which were functional or accurate on this prototype version).

The famous Dempster Highway
The famous Dempster Highway

My biggest challenge was dealing with fuel consumption calculation controls based on various mileage data that I couldn't easily reach at the bottom of the dashboard, to the left of the steering column.

Otherwise, the on-screen controls are easy to use, while voice commands starting with "Hey Toyota" can make life easier for drivers and passengers.

As for the front seats, they were very comfortable, but it was a little less so in the back where only two people can sit. There is some space in the middle of the back seat, but it's much less comfortable with plenty of legroom but very limited headroom, especially if the vehicle is equipped with a glass sunroof. What's more, the middle seatbelt could not be buckled because it was too short.

Directions!
Directions!

A quick word about visibility here: we found that rear passengers have to lower their heads to allow the driver to see well from the front because the inclination of the window cuts off part of the view.  It is also possible to get a rear window that can be lowered electrically for more ventilation (although the manufacturer does not recommend driving with the window wide open since the vortex that forms in the bed could throw waste into the cabin).

To access the rear cargo area, Toyota designers did not include step ladders in the opening panel to climb up. I was told that there would be an optional accessory for this when the model launches. The tie-down hooks aren't very elaborate either, but our TRD Pro tester had a 110-volt outlet.  

Next week, we'll have the second part of our long-distance test of the 2022 Toyota Tundra for you, as head north and approach our final destination: Tuktoyaktuk!

The Tundra TRD Pro in action!
The Tundra TRD Pro in action!