2023 Toyota Tundra Hybrid – Best of Most Worlds


Toyota Tundra’s existence is more important than ever. After the departure of the Nissan Titan from the Canadian market, the Tundra is the only non-American half-ton pickup truck available. Despite having a Toyota badge, the Tundra is just as American as the other entries, since all Tundras have been built in the USA exclusively for the North American audience. To be able to compete with the domestic half-tons, Toyota decided to refresh the Tundra last year and they have been adding several different trims for different lifestyles.

This week, we have the off-road-oriented TRD Pro edition, which only comes with the Limited trim. In fact, it is the only trim that offers the best off-road features and Toyota’s famous Hybrid drivetrain together. From the outside, it is very hard to find that the truck has a Hybrid engine, but there are lots of visual changes with the TRD Pro trim. The front fascia looks different mainly due to the more aggressive-looking front grille, and extra off-road friendly features like the TRD Pro lights located right in the middle.

Regardless of the trim you choose, you still get the traditional Toyota design language in the front. A big grille, sharp angles, rugged looks, and a boxy profile. The front end is quite monochromatic, there aren’t any chrome or other colours available with the TRD Pro trim. There are lots of bold and muscular lines that give the truck an aggressive look from the front end. All lighting is LED, and Toyota did a great job integrating front radar into the grille.

The side profile and rear design are where you will find more traditional truck design elements. Our tester is the CrewMax version, which offers a lot of space for the rear seat occupants. The side profile also features a bold character with sharp lines and thin fender flares to underline the muscular character of the vehicle. The TRD Pro version sets itself apart from the other versions with extra features like higher ground clearance, and 18″ black TRD Pro rims. Unlike the front fascia, the rear end has more old-school looks, blacked-out exhaust tips located on the left, and a huge TRD Pro badge in the trunk.

If I had to use one word to describe the Tundra’s interior, that word would be “purpose-built”. There are no gimmicks here. The interior design is undoubtedly Toyota, and the dashboard is designed to be both functional and visually appealing. The most eye-catching feature is the massive 14-inch touchscreen display which dominates the whole dashboard. The touchscreen display comes with the latest Toyota infotainment system, and smartphone integration is standard.

I think the most appealing feature is the physical knobs and buttons for controlling the most essential features like the climate control and volume knob. In addition to the infotainment screen, the Tundra comes with a fully digital gauge cluster that can be customized the way the driver wants. More importantly, it offers a wide range of information including towing features. Unlike some entries where they move everything to the digital screen, the Tundra’s interior offers a nice balance of physical controls and digital features throughout the dashboard.

Overall, the interior looks pretty monochromatic like the exterior. There are no chrome pieces, and there isn’t excessive use of glossy black plastic trims. The only colour you would find is the red accents that come standard with TRD Pro, which you can find in the steering wheel, shifter column, and start-stop button. The fit and finish is nice, but the interior feels a little bit less special than some other entries in this segment, but it’s acceptable considering this is an off-road-oriented version focusing on different areas. The Tundra’s interior feels much more rugged and utilitarian including the center armrest, where you would find a bunch of different-sized cubbies and storage compartments instead of one giant storage space.

The updated Tundra’s front seats are quite comfortable for all body types, including large adults like me. At 6’1″, I had zero issues with the legroom and headroom. The seats are firmly padded which feels similar to the GMC Sierra we reviewed earlier this year. The Tundra comes with a memory seat function for the driver, but it is missing 4-way lumbar support. Even though technically the TRD Pro is not a luxury trim, heated and ventilated seats come standard for the driver and front seat passenger. The only problem would be getting in and out especially for shorter adults, as TRD Pro trim does not come with running boards for more ground clearance.

With the CrewMax version, the rear seats are usable even if you are a large adult. There are some creature comforts such as USB ports as well as a 400w power outlet. However, you will find less flexibility and storage space in the rear seat area, mainly due to Tundra Hybrid’s Ni-MH battery being located under the rear seats and there is no way to put your small items like most other entries, which also means the bottom cushions are well padded and more comfortable for longer trips.

The trunk does not have fancy features like other entries, what you see is what you get here. There is no bed step, so climbing is slightly harder even for taller adults due to the overall height of the vehicle. There are three different cargo-bed lengths, but CrewMax cab only comes with either a 5.5 or 6.5-foot bed. Regardless of your choice, it is wide enough to accommodate standard 4×8 sheets, making life easier to place bigger items.

The cargo area also offers integrated tie-down points, a bed-rail system and LED cargo lighting. The only missed opportunity for a hybrid work truck is the onboard generator. The plug can output a maximum of 400w, which is sufficient for most battery-operated equipment, but it might also be a deal breaker for contractors that do not want to carry a portable generator with them. Toyota should have offered it at least as an optional feature.

The new Tundra ditched the old naturally aspirated V8 engine. There is only a twin-turbocharged 3.4L V6 engine available with the new generation. However, you can choose gas-only or like our tester, you can opt for the Hybrid drivetrain for extra torque, more horsepower, and relatively better fuel efficiency. The TRD Pro trim only comes with the Hybrid drivetrain, also called i-FORCE MAX, pumping out approximately 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are matched with 10-speed automatic transmission, which is made by Aisin.

Although the Tundra isn’t the first hybrid truck available, Toyota is the first brand that comes to mind when it comes to hybrid engines. The Tundra’s hybrid drivetrain isn’t just focusing on fuel economy, but it also offers better towing and driveability because it offers its peak torque as low as 2400 rpm. The electric motor is integrated into the transmission, allowing pure electric driving at lower speeds. The motor can put out approximately 48 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque itself.

As expected, it comes with a four-wheel-drive system and a 2-speed transfer case. However, the TRD Pro trim takes it to the next level if you want maximum off-road capability. It comes with all-terrain tires, a locking rear differential, TRD Pro front stabilizer bar, TRD Pro off-road suspension with 1.1-inch front lift with Fox shocks, Downhill Assist Control, Multi-terrain Select, Crawl Control, TRD Skid plate and other visual changes giving the Tundra sportier and rugged look.

The second biggest update is the new frame design, along with the new coil-spring multilink rear suspension, which is a huge improvement compared to the previous generation Tundra. Toyota is known to be very conservative when it comes to changing a platform, so this is a big shift for the brand. The ride quality is much better than the previous generation with no compromises of payload or towing. The Tundra can tow up to 12,000 lbs with the right trim, but the TRD Pro trim can tow up to 11,175 lbs.

The TRD Pro suspension is quite capable on a beaten path and bigger bumps, but I found the tuning on the firmer side, especially on pavement. All-terrain tires are slightly louder than traditional all-season tires. For the TRD Pro audience, driving refinement is not a priority, but if you are looking for maximum comfort and less noise, vibration and harshness levels, there are different luxury-oriented trims available.

If I have to nitpick, the only part that I would change is the factory all-terrain tires. Although they offer decent grip on a dry surface, the 18″ Falken Wildpeak AT3W tires are the weakest link when you take it off-road. The tread depth is weak, it does not offer enough traction in deep snow, and does not give you confidence in any kind of surface. I wish Toyota offered 35″ or 37″ tires as an option for the maximum off-roading capability and it would have made the Tundra TRD Pro much more serious off-roader.

Thankfully, there are several different driving modes, so you can choose the ideal mode for optimal traction, and you can always switch to low gear mode and enable the locking rear differential if you are in trouble. In typical Toyota fashion, you cannot enable the locking rear differential when you are in two-wheel-drive or 4-wheel drive mode. You have to be in 4-low gear mode to activate it.

After selling the same basic model for well over a decade, the updated Tundra is a huge step forward in every imaginable way. With its $86,000 price tag, it is far from being a basic work truck, but it also doesn’t follow the traditional half-ton pickup truck blueprint. At the end of the day, the new Tundra doesn’t stand out in just one particular area, instead, it is a purpose-built truck that stands out as a whole package, offering a great balance of decent towing capacity, reliability, off-road capability and fuel efficiency.

EngineTwin-turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 + AC motor
Transmission & Drivetrain10-speed automatic & 4-wheel-drive
Max power (combined)437 hp @ 5200 rpm
Max torque (combined)583 lb-ft @ 2400 rpm
0-100 km/h5.9 sec
Curb Weight6107 lbs – 2770 kg
Fuel Economy (as tested)19 MPG – 12.5L / 100 km
Price (as tested)$86,123 CAD
Website: www.toyota.ca

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