The 2022 Toyota Tundra Might Be a Hybrid But It Ain’t No Prius

Toyota has been all over the hybrid game for two decades. The Toyota Prius is the definitive hybrid car that culturally started the shift in mixing electric and gas power for cars and trucks. Now that the 2022 Toyota Tundra is coming equipped with a hybrid powertrain begging the question, “Is the Tundra going to be a hybrid like the Prius?” Although these two hybrids are from the same company, they couldn’t be more different. 

2022 Toyota Tundra descending a muddy hill showing it may be a hybrid but that don't make it anything like the Toyota Prius
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Toyota

What’s new for the 2022 Toyota Tundra? 

Aside from every other part of it, the 2022 Toyota Tundra is getting a much-needed upgrade in the powertrain department. The 5.7-liter V8 powered the Tundra and Sequoia for the better part of 20 years. After all that time unchanged, Toyota graciously decided to finally give Toyota fans a new powerplant. 

The 2022 Toyota Tundra has an impressive hybrid, twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V6 making 437 hp and 583 pound-feet of torque. 

What makes the Tundra’s hybrid different from the Toyota Prius’ hybrid?

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The folks at The Drive spoke with Craig Herring, Toyota’s senior engineering manager overseeing powertrain development, about the differences between the Prius or any other Toyota hybrid, for that matter. 

One of the first major differences between the Toyota Tundra engine and the Prius or, say, the Toyota Sienna Hybrid, is in the Sienna and Prius, Toyota uses a dual-motor-generator setup. In contrast, the Tundra hybrid has a single unit. However, The Drive points out that this difference isn’t as simple as subtracting a motor. This hybrid system delivers power to the Tundra in a completely different way. 

“In the two-motor system, you have the first motor-generator, and that is taking power from the engine and converting it to the battery, making electrical power off of the engine. Then the second motor generator is behind the planetary gearset, and it’s connected directly to the wheels,” Herring explained.

“So it’s saying, ok, take all the power from that motor generator that’s pulling power off the battery and putting it to the wheels. There is a planetary gear set between those two motors so that it allows some path of torque from the engine through, but it’s not the main path—the main path is electrical.”

The Tundra’s hybrid system was made for performance, not fuel economy 

Publicity photo of a silver Toyota pickup truck
This 2022 Toyota Tundra SR starts at $35,950 | Toyota

The system that Herring is describing is meant to be as efficient with power and fuel as possible. This is the most common use of hybrid powertrains. However, the 2022 Toyota Tundra is a different beast. The Tundra hybrid is unique because its main power path is mechanical.

“In This system, we just have a single motor that’s behind the engine, but there’s a clutch between them. So if that clutch is open, the engine can turn off, and the electric motor then makes the torque that goes through a typical transmission with a torque converter, all the way to the wheels.”

The Drive mentions that the Tundra can run using only electric power, but the driver cannot choose when this happens. The Tundra’s computer has this power and will kick on the V6 when it senses the need. 

Unlike many other hybrids, the Tundra could still operate even if the battery wasn’t functioning. The twin-turbo V6 makes 386 hp on its own. Again, unlike so many other hybrids like the Toyota Prius, the Tundra uses the advantages of the hybrid system to increase performance and ability, not just to save a buck on fuel.

The new Tundra might be a game-changer

The Tundra has long been a cornerstone in the pickup truck market. It has won every award possible. Given the new tech and unique design, we might be ushering in the next era of Tundra greatness.

RELATED: When Did the First Toyota Tundra Come Out?