Having been completely redesigned last year, the 2023 Toyota Tundra carries over unchanged, save for some exterior colour availability.
It comes only in cab-and-a-half and crew cab configurations, with no regular cab offering. Both configurations offer two bed lengths, and while some cab-and-a-half trims are rear-wheel drive, all crew cab models are four-wheel drive.
It’s also available as a hybrid, but I drove the gas-only crew cab. It starts at $55,720, including a non-negotiable delivery fee of $1,930, but I had the top-level Platinum with standard bed starting at $76,745. Mine further had a so-called 1794 appearance package for $1,200, bringing it to $79,875 before taxes.
Pickup trucks have become needlessly oversized, and when news of a new Tundra first emerged, I hoped Toyota might be the one to start bringing them back to reality. That didn’t happen; not only is the Tundra big, but its over-the-top front end further reinforces that, and the 1794 appearance package makes sure you really get the point with its massive chrome grille. It’s a bit better at the back, especially with the handsome three-bar vertical taillights.
The interior styling is chunky but attractive, with stitched leather and metal accents in my tester. The 1794 package further adds real walnut trim as well as a logo that commemorates the founding year of the Texas ranch where the factory that builds the Tundra is now located.
All Tundra trims come standard with driver-assist technologies including adaptive cruise control, emergency front braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, lane tracing assist, and the back-up camera that’s mandatory on all new vehicles. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic and parking assist with braking are optional on lower trims, and standard on the Limited and Platinum. The Tundra earns the highest Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
It hasn’t yet been rated in crash tests by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which lowers the score here slightly, but a larger issue is seeing what’s nearby. The tall hood reduces visibility, while the Limited and Platinum trims come standard with power-extendable towing mirrors with housings that are simply too big. While it’s important to have large mirrors so you can see what’s happening behind your rig, you also need to know what’s around you, and these massive ones easily obscure pedestrians and even other vehicles at intersections.
The Tundra isn’t inexpensive, and the features list reflects that. My tester included such items as a 14-inch centre touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a digital rearview mirror, heated power-adjustable steering wheel, head-up display, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, rain-sensing wipers, and auto-levelling LED headlights. Even with the truck’s 2022 makeover, all trims still retain the Tundra’s long-standing signature rear window, which doesn’t have a side-sliding section as with most pickups, but instead completely goes up and down like the door windows do.
Putting aside the hood and mirror visibility issues, and how far you have to climb up into it, the Tundra has intuitive controls, with a number of functions still handled by hard buttons and dials instead of stashed into the centre screen. These include a large and conventional gear selector instead of an electronic one that you push forward for reverse; a volume dial; toggles for cabin temperature and fan speed; and wonderfully simple controls on the steering wheel, including cruise control buttons with a slight curve to better cradle your thumb.
One complaint is that the 14-inch horizontal screen, standard in the Limited and Platinum where it replaces the eight-inch screen in lower trims, is proof that less could really be more. It’s so wide that when you glance over, it’s hard to quickly take in all the information on it, and so you spend time sweeping your eyes across it – when they should be doing that toward the road.
My tester’s standard bed is 5-foot-5; long-bed crew cabs stretch that to 6-foot-5, which add $360 to the price. The bed is made of moulded composite, which resists dings and won’t rust. Upper trims also include a bed-mounted 12-volt outlet, and rails with adjustable tie-down cleats. All have a power-release on the tailgate that you can open with the key fob, while the Limited and Platinum further add a very handy button on the driver’s side taillight housing, so you can pop it open from there.
The crew cab Tundra has a maximum towing capacity of 11,122 lb (5,045 kg), which is on the Limited; my heavier Platinum could pull up to 11,045 lb (5,010 lb), and had a payload of 755 kg (1,664 lb). It almost feels like you can put as much into the cabin as you can into the bed, thanks to large bins under the rear seats, large door pockets, and a massive centre console with dual-height bins and a sliding tray.
The Platinum includes perforated leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and dual-zone climate control. The front seats are 10-way adjustable for the driver and eight-way for the passenger, and they’re very supportive. As does the Ram 1500, the Tundra swaps the traditional rear leaf springs for coil springs, which gives it a comfortable ride, and the cabin is quiet.
The Tundra uses a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 that makes 389 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, and comes mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. That’s for all trims except the base SR, where it makes 348 hp and 405 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid uses the same engine, but its electric-motor boost sends the output to 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque.
That 389-hp V6 is smooth and strong, and there’s always plenty on tap under your right foot when you need extra power for hills or passing. It’s also easy to modulate the throttle in city driving, with linear acceleration that never feels like it’s too much on the muscle.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
The Tundra is one of the better-handling trucks among its full-size rivals. The steering is smooth and responsive, and the turning circle is surprisingly tight for the truck’s size. That rear coil-sprung suspension does a good job of keeping the back end well-planted and soaking up bumps, and only the nastier of washboard roads will make it skitter a bit. The brakes do a good job of stopping this heavy truck efficiently.
The four-wheel drive system is part-time, and includes two-wheel drive, as well as high- and low-range gearing, accessed by a convenient switch on the console. Some rivals offer automatic settings – handy for wet roads or if there are alternating patches of dry asphalt and snow – but the Tundra’s four-wheel settings are meant only for soft surfaces or deep snow, as the system can bind and suffer damage if it’s used on pavement.
Fuel Economy: 8/10
The Tundra is officially rated by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) at 13.6 L/100 km in the city, 10.4 on the highway, and 12.2 in the city. In my week with it, which didn’t include towing, I came in higher at 15.9 L/100 km. It takes regular 87-octane gasoline.
That rated 12.2 L/100 km combined is in line with the segment, where the Chevrolet Silverado rates at 12.2 and 13.5 with its turbocharged four-cylinder and smaller V8, respectively; the Ford F-150 at 11.5 for its 2.7L turbo V6; and the Ram 1500 at 11.0 with its V6 engine, which includes a mild hybrid system. The Tundra hybrid undercuts its gas-only sibling but not by a lot, at 11.7 L/100 km. The hybrid is really more about its electric motor providing more horsepower and torque than a huge bump in fuel economy, however.
Value is relative at this top-of-the-line trim, but at $79,875 the Tundra Platinum 1794 comes in favourably against its luxury-equipped rivals. All including delivery fees, the Chevrolet Silverado High Country is $84,098, while its mechanical-twin GMC Sierra Denali is $87,398, and the Denali Ultimate tops $102,000.
The Ram 1500 Limited starts at $86,340, while the Ford F-150 Platinum begins at $94,810. The Tundra hybrid in Platinum 1794 trim is $83,220, adding $3,345 above my tester. The hybrid also exclusively comes in an even-higher Capstone trim at $89,835.
The Tundra has seldom seriously threatened the Detroit truck makers in sales numbers, but this long-overdue makeover, along with its price and fuel economy, could get more people looking its way. It performs well and it’s ridiculously comfortable. But as much as I liked my 2023 Toyota Tundra Platinum’s features, those hazardously-oversized mirrors and the constant concern over what might be behind them would be enough to send me to a lesser trim that didn’t have them. If you’re looking at the two highest trims, test-drive them thoroughly to be sure they’re for you.
|Peak Horsepower||389 hp @ 5,200 rpm|
|Peak Torque||479 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||13.6 / 10.4 / 12.2 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||5-foot-5 bed|
|Model Tested||2023 Toyota Tundra CrewMax Platinum 1794|
|Price as Tested||$79,975|
$1,200 – 1794 package (20-inch wheels, chrome grille and accents, wood trim), $1,200