2023 Toyota Tundra Limited 4X4

Everything loyal Toyota buyers
are looking for in a big pickup

By Jim Prueter

(September 17, 2023) For some 20-years, Toyota has been building its full-size pickup truck the Tundra, competition against the Big-3, Ford, Chevrolet and Ram and its no secret it has struggled to steal sales from those domestic half-ton rivals. And while the Big-3 has a solid grasp when it comes to sales, the Tundra marches to the beat of a different drummer.

Last year the 2022 Tundra received its first thorough and much needed redesign of the full-sized pickup in 15-years going largely unchanged since its debut in 2007. Although it received a refreshing for the 2014 model year it did little to boost sales during which time the Big-3 continued updating their full-sized trucks.

To begin, the new Texas-built Tundra is bigger and bolder looking in seemingly every way beginning by trying to out-grille the competition with its chrome accented maw covering almost the entire front end of the vehicle.

Behind that grille and under the hood there's no V8 engine offering like in domestic brands. Rather the Tundra is powered by an all-new standard 3.5-liter twin-turbo 389-horsepower V6 and 479 lb-ft of torque with a max tow rating of 12,000-pounds. By comparison, the Ford F-150 can pull up to 14,000 pounds and haul a maximum payload capacity of 3,250 pounds while Tundra has a maximum load capacity of 1940 pounds.

There's also a hybrid upgrade called i-FORCE MAX that adds a 36-kW electric motor between that and the 10-speed automatic transmission upping horsepower to 437 and 583 lb-ft of torque.

For 2023 Tundra is available in 4-door Double Cab and CrewMax, both handle five people with ease; the CrewMax adding an additional 8.3-inches of legroom to the rear seat space. There's  three- composite aluminum reinforced bed lengths available:  5½-foot short bed, 6½-foot standard bed, and a full eight-footer, but only for the Double Cab. The tailgate is 20% lighter than before, and power release is standard.

Toyota’s 4WDemand part-time system comes with an electronically controlled 2-speed transfer case and automatic limited slip rear. Similar to the Ram, the Tundra’s rear suspension moves to a new multi-link coil spring design. While up front is a new double-wishbone setup; TRD PRO models get an inch of lift with upgraded Fox shocks.  TRDs also get an off-road specific low-speed CRAWL control feature that functions as a cruise control in that it maintains a set speed to control wheel spin and all that's required of the driver is to steer the truck.

Inside the new Tundra there's a huge improvement to the cabin with a much-needed dashboard redo along with the infotainment and tech equipment. Gone is the mini-central touchscreen in favor of an 8-inch panel. Top tier Tundras like the Platinum trim gets the 14-inch landscape display running infotainment platform Toyota shares with Lexus. Gauges are fully digital and there's even a head-up display. All trim levels come with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Sirius XM and a much needed and improved voice command system. We found it worked nearly without a flaw.

Behind the wheel and on the road, you're well aware you're driving a big truck. The driving position is high, side windows massive, and with seemingly an unlimited number of seat and power tilt-trim steering wheel on our Limited trim tester, we can imagine drivers of all sizes will find an excellent driving position. However, Tundra still doesn't offer adjustable pedals which could be a deal breaker for those with shorter heights.

On the road, Toyota's suspension improvements delivers the Tundra an impressively comfortable and pleasant ride. No more bouncing, jostle and rough rides we found in the old truck. The cabin too, was reasonably quiet with a smooth and settled ride. Cornering and handling was impressive with confident road manners throughout our travels during our week of testing.

A continuing carryover disappointment from the outgoing Tundra to the new is its disappointing gas mileage. With a combined 19 city-highway mpg rating the best we could manage during our testing on a mixture of highway and urban driving just over 14 mpg. Going in I would have thought the new V6 would be more frugal than the outgoing V8 but we managed 19 combined mpg in the 2021 Tundra we tested.

Overall, the Toyota Tundra has long ago proved its worth and value in the full-sized pickup class driven particularly by those loyal to the Toyota brand along with its superior reliability and resale value. Further, it's easy to be impressed by just how much overall improvement Toyota made with the new Tundra. It really holds up with a refined drive, a roomier and more capable cabin with modern design, upgraded materials and significantly improved technology that closely matches what you would get with the Big 3 competitors.

But we can't help noticing that while its an excellent new Tundra it doesn't break any new ground. Competitors have all introduced numerous "Wow" factors with their trucks like Ford's onboard generator options that can power an entire house with the F-150 should the home suffer a power outage. Chevy has the Super Cruise, and all have innovative tailgates, unique trailer hitching and towing intelligence. And while Tundra gets its first hybrid, the competitors have introduced fully electric powered  full-sized pickups like the Ford Lightning, Chevy's Silverado EV RST, and Ram's fully electric Ram 1500 REV.

For now, Toyota seems content with its thoroughly revitalized, bold styled, modern Tundra. For the legions of loyal Toyota Tundra fans that might be enough.

Vital Stats

2023 Toyota Tundra Limited 4X4 CREWMAX

Base  Price: $53,615
Price as Tested: $61,403
Engine-Transmission: iFORCE twin-turbo 389-hp, 3.5-L V6
paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission
EPA Rated Fuel Economy: 17/22/19-mpg - City/Highway/Combined

Seating: 5

Where Built: San Antonio, Texas

Crash Test Safety Ratings: The 2023 Toyota Tundra has not been crash rated by either the government or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or overall vehicle score, frontal crash, side crash or rollover risk.

Competes With:
Chevrolet Silverado
Ford F-150
GMC Sierra
Ram 1500

Bold new styling
Refined ride and handling
User-friendly infotainment system

Breaks no new ground
Missing a "Wow" factor
Lower-than-average payload and towing ratings