First Drive: Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Hybrid

2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

by Michael Satterfield - 07/27/2022

The Toyota Tundra was the first full-size truck from a Japanese automaker to make inroads into the American market, disrupting the Big Three's sales by over 100,000 units in recent years. It may also be the last Japanese full-size truck with recent speculation that Nissan will be ending the production of the Titan in the next few years. Even with its success Tundra sales still lag far behind the big three with Ford, GM, and RAM all selling hundreds of thousands more. 

To combat Detroit, Toyota unveiled an all-new Tundra in 2022 and they made some bold choices, the new Tundra is the only full-size truck that doesn't offer a V8, instead, they opted for a twin-turbo V6 and a hybrid version, they also decided to focus more on comfort over utility. With a maximum towing capacity of 12,000 lbs, it has more than enough for your average consumer, but the rating lags behind all of its Big Three rivals.

It just so happened that this week I needed a truck to tow home one of my odd-ball projects, a 1962 Cushman Truckster, the mini mail carrier that had been languishing for years in San Antonio, about a 3-hour drive from my home in Bryan. So it was the perfect opportunity to really test out the TRD Pro as a truck. 

2023 TRD Pro Interior

First impressions of the new Tundra, like all trucks these days, it is very large, it feels more like driving the ranch's 2004 F350 4X4 than a half-ton. Inside is what you would expect from a modern Toyota, great fit and finish, intuitive technology, and the obligatory massive touch screen infotainment. It of course has Apple Carplay and Android Auto, wireless charging, and a premium sound system. Everything you would expect in a truck that is just a hair under $70,000.  

Outside the TRD Pro basically puts the aftermarket truck accessory market out of business, it has all the stuff you used to bolt on included. Cargo rail system, BBS off-road Wheels, integrated LED light bar, dual exhaust tips, and a very cool pattern etched into the fender flares and other accents. Outside of lifting the truck, it has pretty much all the cool stuff you could ever want. If you like attention be sure to order in this blazing orange color Solar Octane, it attracts guys in Dickies shorts and DC shoes like a moth to the flame. If you prefer to just drive your truck without embracing Bro-Nation, I would go with Lunar Rock, Midnight Black Metallic, or the creatively named color... White. 

First Drive: Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Hybrid

I did enjoy that the Solar Octane matched the safety orange of my renal Uhaul trailer, but after picking up the trailer it was time to head to San Antonio. I had been averaging around 19 mpg but with even the small trailer I could see that average dropping as I made my way down the highway. After loading up the Cushman, and grabbing some lunch with a friend, I started my 3-hour drive back to Bryan. Being a V6 Hybrid, I didn't think that towing just over 1,200 lbs with the trailer and Truckster would have a major effect on the fuel mileage, especially since it was all highway driving. 

As the miles rolled on the average fuel economy kept dropping down until I pulled up to the house and I was at an average of just 15.4 mpg. Disappointing for a V6-Hybrid towing around 10% of its total limit. When we drove the F150 PowerBoost Hybrid we saw an average of 24 mpg, so the 19 mpg average was pretty disappointing, especially since the Tundra is rated as 20 city/24 highway. 

Overall, the Tundra is a very capable, comfortable, technology-ladened truck that does offer a lot of equipment for the price point. Since Ford and Ram have both come out with the Raptor and TRX super trucks, I think the best comparison for the TRD Pro is the Ram Rebel and the GMC Sierra AT4 packages both of which come in at about $3,000 less than the Tundra with similar equipment (note: the AT4 equipped with the I6-Diesel). The Tundra does come with Toyota's legendary reliability and low history of recalls.

While I can't fault the Tundra for anything, I don't think I would personally buy one for my full-size truck. The styling and interior seem geared more for a younger demographic like the Ram Rebel, the Sierra AT4 is more my style, but like any vehicle purchase it really comes down to personal preference. Please keep in mind this is coming from a guy who just bought a tiny three-wheeled truck with no doors. 

Oh and don't worry the Cushman made it home just fine and will be making an appearance later on the site.

Cushman Truckster