First Impression: 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone

Gone are the days when pickup buyers want something affordable and basic. If anything, automakers are finding they can’t roll out upscale trim packages fast enough.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone side by ocean
Toyota’s new Tundra Capstone model gives it a new top-line model to compete with other high-priced trucks in the segment.

Toyota was a little slow to catch up with this trend, but it’s looking to score with an all-new version of its full-size truck, the 2022 Tundra Capstone. Dropping in on top of the current, top-line truck, the 1794 edition, Capstone is loaded up with just about everything Toyota has to offer for the newly redesigned pickup — starting with the new i-Force Max powertrain.

(That 437 horsepower hybrid will also be offered as an option on the rest of the Tundra line-up.)

Set to roll into showrooms this coming spring at a starting price of $73,530, TheDetroitBureau.com jumped at the chance to take the 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone out for a run along California’s scenic Big Sur coast and here’s our first impression.

Styling

The big Tundra got a ground-up makeover for 2022, and the basics of the Capstone fall in line with the rest of the line-up. The overall look is meant to be more “menacing,” according to U.S. design chief Kevin Hunter, with the front end both wider and taller.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone rear by ocean
The big Tundra got a ground-up makeover, and the basics of the Capstone fall in line with the rest of the line-up — but more “menacing.”

All versions now get LED head and taillights, as well as a multifunction tailgate. The cargo bed is an aluminum-reinforced composite but a bedliner upgrade is available. There are distinct differences between grades, especially when it comes to bumpers, grilles and fascia. The TRD Pro sits taller, for example, and boasts a skid plate that flows into the grille.

Capstone is available exclusively with the CrewMax body and a 5.5-foot bed. It’s the first — and only — Tundra to ride on 22-inch wheels and tires. Several unique colors are added to the Tundra palette, with Capstone adding a distinctive chrome mesh grille, with additional chrome and color-keyed exterior accents on the mirrors, tailgate and other exterior trim pieces.

Capstone’s cabin reflects its position as a luxury vehicle that just happens to have a cargo bed. Its leather-trimmed seats are complemented by a leather-wrapped steering wheel and dark American Walnut veneer on the center console and passenger-side dash. Capstone features a standard panoramic moonroof, as well as adjustable interior mood lighting. It’s also the only Tundra model to feature an acoustic noise-damping windshield and front row side windows.

As with other high-end versions of the pickup, the Capstone plants a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster in front of the driver, with an additional 14-inch screen operating the all-new infotainment system.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone front in shade
Tundra’s “base” i-Force engine, a twin-turbo V-6 displacing 3.5 liters, makes some strong numbers at 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque.

Toyota did miss a couple of useful options, though. While there are plenty of storage nooks in the new cabin, it could use the foldaway shifter found on the new Ford F-150 that creates a large, flat workspace.

Performance

Tundra’s “base” i-Force engine, a twin-turbo V-6 displacing 3.5 liters, makes some strong numbers at 389 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. But for those who want maximum muscle, the option of choice is the i-Force Max, rated at 437 hp and 483 lb-ft of torque. Depending on the model you choose, it’s got plenty of pulling power. In the Capstone, that means a payload of up to 1,485 pounds and a trailer weighing in at up to 10,340 pounds.

The i-Force Max starts out with the base twin-turbo V-6 but adds a 48-horsepower electric motor placed between the engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. One surprise was the decision to stick with the familiar nickel-metal hydride battery found on such Toyota hybrids as the Prius. It’s a time-tested technology, but it’s larger than more state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries. And so, tucked under the rear seat it takes away the storage space found on non-hybrid versions of the Tundra.

For those who want the hybrid but don’t to spring for a Capstone, the i-Force Max is available in several other trims, starting with the $52,300 Tundra Limited.

The Tundra comes in multiple trim levels, including the rough-and-ready TRD Pro.

In two-wheel-drive versions, the hybrid delivers 20 mpg in the EPA’s city cycle, 24 highway and 22 combined.

Technology

As you’d expect of the flagship trim, the Tundra Capstone is loaded with high-tech features. The infotainment system, for one thing, gets a Toyota version of the new multimedia system first debuting on the 2022 Lexus NX. Developed in-house, it’s a far more intuitive design than the outgoing infotainment package. It features a voice control system capable of recognizing common speech. You activate it much as you do other voice assistants, here saying, “Hey, Toyota.”

Capstone comes standard with wireless versions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Toyota Connected Services system. Along with the twin videoscreens, buyers can opt for a 10-inch head-up display system.

Again, Toyota focused on ways to use technology to enhance the truck’s ride, handling and work capabilities. There are a variety of cameras that can provide a birds-eye view, and help you keep an eye on what you’re towing. Indeed, Capstone adds the Tundra Towing Technology Package as standard equipment.

2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro rock crawl
The TRD Pro can also be upgraded to be powered by the the i-Force Max, rated at 437 hp and 483 lb-ft of torque.

As for safety, the new truck also adds the latest version of the Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 technology, including active cruise, lane departure assist, forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, road sign recognition and more.

Initial impression

Heading along the Pacific Coast Highway we couldn’t help but notice the added power offered by the new I-Force Max. The engine responded to even modest movements of the right foot, and let out a rumbling roar when pressed to the floorboards.

That said, the added steps Toyota has taken, like the use of acoustic glass, also pay off. When cruising at a steady speed, the big truck proved to be surprisingly quiet. The 10-speed transmission, meanwhile, was so smooth you might even miss when it shifts.  

Our initial drive was a bit too short to provide a full review of the new Toyota Tundra Capstone, but the initial impression is that it’s what the automaker needed to keep up with what its Detroit competitors are doing. If anything, we expect Toyota to eventually push even more upmarket, perhaps by making standard the handful of options still available on the Capstone checklist.

Both the i-Force Max option and the new 2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone will be available this coming spring.

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