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The Toyota Tundra test track at the 2022 Chicago Auto Show

2022 Toyota Tundra Proves It Goes & Tows at the Chicago Auto Show

To showcase the redesigned third-gen 2022 Tundra, Toyota set up a dedicated test course for the first time at this year's Chicago Auto Show. And while only a taste, it's enough to demonstrate the level of refinement and technology the third-gen Tundra possesses.

Chicago Auto Show 2022 Toyota Tundra test course article highlights:

  • Toyota just launched the third-gen Tundra, and it brought a dedicated test course for the truck to the Chicago Auto Show for the first time
  • The ‘Tundra Territory’ course aims to demonstrate the redesigned pickup’s ride quality, hill-climbing, and towing capabilities
  • Even on this short test track, the 2022 Tundra shows its improved refinement, powertrain, and technology well

After over a decade, the second-gen Toyota Tundra is finally making way for the next-gen version in 2022. Overhauled from grille to toe link, the third-gen truck brings some significant changes to the nameplate. But while the 2022 Toyota Tundra improves on the 2021 model in several ways, pickup buyers will undoubtedly want firsthand assurances of its continued capability. And I climbed into one at this year’s Chicago Auto Show to do just that.

Toyota laid out a full test track for the 2022 Tundra at the Chicago Auto Show

While in-car experiences are nothing new for the Chicago Auto Show, the 2022 event brings something new for Toyota. It’s the first time the automaker has set up a test loop expressly for the Tundra. As it’s indoors, the track isn’t long, but it concentrates several key testing criteria in its compact space.

‘Tundra Terittory,’ as it’s called, starts off with some mild bends that lead to a short stretch of bumpy track. The Toyota rep driving the 2022 Tundra quipped that it was a simulation of the average street in Chicago. After that, the track curved around a water feature to a wooden ramp with built-in rollers designed to show off the Tundra’s traction and climbing abilities.

The other half of Toyota’s Chicago Auto Show Tundra test track demonstrates the truck’s towing capability. It’s a short, narrow straight blocked off at one end with a Tundra hooked up to a boat trailer at the other.

Over simulated potholes and off-road grades, the 2022 Toyota Tundra feels impressively smooth and refined

2022 Toyota Tundra
Engines3.5-liter ‘i-Force’ twin-turbocharged V6
3.5-liter ‘i-Force Max’ twin-turbocharged hybrid V6
HorsepowerSR: 348 hp
All other non-hybrid trims: 389 hp
Hybrid: 437 hp
TorqueSR: 405 lb-ft
All other non-hybrid trims: 479 lb-ft
Hybrid: 583 lb-ft
Transmission10-speed automatic
Curb weight5095-6185 lbs
0-60 mph timeRoughly 6.0 seconds (MotorTrend)

Arguably the biggest news for the 2022 Tundra is its new powertrain options. Not only did the truck ditch its V8, but it’s now available as a hybrid. And if you get the TRD Pro or range-topping Capstone versions, it’s the standard engine. Also, not only is the base SR’s V6 more powerful than the old V8, but its transmission has four more speeds.

In addition, the 2022 Toyota Tundra has a brand-new, stiffer chassis shared with the new Lexus LX, aka the 300-Series Land Cruiser. Plus, the truck chucked its rear leaf springs for coils. And besides the other suspension revisions, the 2022 Tundra now offers optional adaptive height and air suspensions. Also, it has a new interior with more standard tech and safety features.

The 2022 Tundra I rode in was a mid-range Limited model with a few TRD goodies, rather than a 1794 Edition or Capstone. But the overall interior upgrades didn’t leave me wanting. Everything felt solid and appropriately sized, and the 14” center touchscreen was clear and responsive. And with how cold Chicago winters get, I was grateful for the heated seats.

Besides the other revisions, Toyota also gave the third-gen Tundra a new electric-assist steering system. Since I wasn’t behind the wheel, I can’t tell you what it feels like. However, I can tell you that the new chassis and suspension work great.

The 2022 Tundra is still a body-on-frame truck, but you can barely tell going over the simulated potholes. Sure, the cabin moves a bit, but the impact noises and judders that often plague body-on-frame vehicles are virtually gone. Also, city drivers will appreciate how quiet the interior is; you can barely hear the engine running. In short, this is a comfortable, refined pickup.

The truck’s towing tech might be even better, though

While the 2022 Toyota Tundra has gained no small measure of refinement—and fuel efficiency—it’s still work-capable. It can tow up to 12,000 pounds in 2WD SR5 form and carry up to 1940 pounds of payload. Both figures handily beat the 2021 Tundra’s numbers, though other full-size pickups can still tow and carry more, MT notes.

Nevertheless, the 2022 Tundra is more than up to the task of towing a small fishing boat. But as the Chicago Auto Show test track demonstrates, it doesn’t just make pulling the trailer easy. It also makes pushing it easy, too.

All 2022 Tundras come standard with Trailer Sway Control, while the SR5 and above get Trailer Brake Control and a Tow/Haul Mode, too. And while it’s optional on lower trims, the Limited gets Toyota’s Trailer Backup Guide with Straight Path Assist. That, along with the Limited’s standard panoramic-view camera setup, makes reversing a trailer a cinch.

It’s so easy, you barely need to touch the wheel. No, scratch that, you don’t need to touch the wheel at all. Once you program your trailer’s weight, length, and braking system details into the 2022 Toyota Tundra, the truck can steer itself and the trailer backward into a spot. All you do is operate the accelerator and brake pedals and watch for obstacles.

Even if you accidentally bump the steering wheel, the Tundra automatically course-corrects. It also automatically brakes before the trailer starts to jackknife and if it detects any obstacles or pedestrians. And the Toyota rep assured me that the 2022 Tundra’s rear cross-traffic alert still detects pedestrians even when towing a trailer.

Will the test track sway truck shoppers into considering the 2022 Toyota Tundra?

Admittedly, this test track is designed to show the 2022 Toyota Tundra in as favorable a light as possible. It’s just like the Ford Bronco ‘off-road’ course at last year’s Chicago Auto Show in that regard. And these courses aren’t perfect real-world simulacrums.

Still, the ‘Tundra Territory’ loop reveals more than the average test drive. And it likely will spur potential buyers’ attention to the redesigned truck, which is the goal. But from a brief passenger ride, it’s clear that the third-gen Tundra should be on full-size pickup shoppers’ lists.

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