NEWS

Off-Roading in the 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro

toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-10-exterior-front-angle 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Toyota brought an all-new Tundra full-size pickup truck to American roads for the 2022 model year, with a new chassis, new sheet metal, and packed with a fancy new hybrid powertrain. We’ve had some good seat time in the new Tundra, driving it through urban and suburban environments and seeing how it does on highways and byways — but we hadn’t had any time in Toyota’s ultimate off-road trim, the Tundra TRD Pro. The trim level is packed with special four-wheel-drive technology and suspension bits, unique styling and all manner of electronic aids meant to help the Tundra roll over obstacles great and small with ease.

Recently, Toyota held an event to help introduce the TRD Pro to the media at an off-road park just north of Detroit, where I was able to put the big, bad off-roader through its proper paces and see what the automaker has improved for its new monster truck.

Related: 2022 Toyota Tundra Review: Better Where It Counts

toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-05-exterior-offroad-rear-angle 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Going Pro

So what exactly does the TRD Pro trim bring to the Tundra’s off-road party? Well, it’s one of the Tundra’s seven trim levels, slotting in just below the range-topping ultra-luxe Capstone. It only comes in one body style: CrewMax (full four-door) with the shorter 5.5-foot bed and standard four-wheel drive. There is also only one powertrain available: the hybrid 3.5-liter twin-turbo i-Force Max V-6, pumping out 437 horsepower and 583 pounds-feet of torque, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It runs the power through a standard part-time 4WD system featuring an electronically controlled transfer case, an automatic limited-slip differential and a low-range electronic locker for the rear.

Unique to the TRD Pro, the suspension system features Fox 2.5-inch internal-bypass shocks (with remote reservoirs for the rears), a TRD front stabilizer bar and a 1.1-inch front lift. This is an upgrade from the Bilstein off-road shock absorber setup you’d get if you specced the TRD Off-Road option on lower-trim Tundras. The black 18-inch BBS wheels are shod in Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires for a bit of visual flair. Out on the trails, the delicate underneath bits are protected by an aluminum skid plate up front and special Xply Armor high-strength fiber-reinforced resin plates protecting the engine, fuel tank and transfer case.

toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-15-exterior-undercarriage 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

There are also some special electronic systems to run all these off-road goodies. It starts with the Multi-Terrain Select system that offers multiple settings for tailoring the off-road systems, traction control, throttle response, shift points and more. Downhill Assist Control is an electronic hill descent function that automatically keeps the truck rolling downhill at a set speed, and the Crawl Control function works like an off-road, low-speed cruise control. In addition, the Multi-Terrain Monitor system ties in a bunch of cameras set around and under the truck to detect what kind of terrain you’re rolling over and help you see over blind hills when you’re climbing, or down drop-offs when you approach a cliff.

All of this equipment looks great on paper, but if it’s not easy to use and doesn’t do what it advertises, it’s pretty much just dress-up material for guys looking to drive show-off brodozers. Thankfully, Toyota knows off-road trucks and knows that people use them for their intended purposes, so rest assured: If it says TRD Pro on the side, it’s going to be exceptional in the dirt.

toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-16-interior-drive-mode 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Getting Dirty

The weather was perfect at Holly Oaks Off-Road Vehicle Park just north of Detroit, and a long line of 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro trucks was sitting in the dusty parking lot just waiting to be sent out into the wilds of the local environment. My chosen steed was resplendent in bright Solar Octane orange, a color reminiscent of a hunter’s safety vest — I’d feel totally at ease taking one of these into the deep forests, as it feels like you could see this truck from space. It’s practically anti-camouflage. Not a hint of Mossy Oak in sight.

Step up into the driver’s seat and you’re met with the latest Tundra’s interior, a far cry better than previous versions, with better materials, more logical layouts, larger buttons and an enormous new touchscreen displaying Toyota’s latest and best effort at a competitive multimedia system. The TRD Pro brings some more outlandish design choices, such as the big blocky “Toyota” lettering on the dash, some interesting patterns to the seats and trim, and the limited choices of interior colors. But it’s comfortable, spacious and, while not exactly easy to see out of thanks to the Tundra’s unusually squat windshield, an improvement over the old model.

toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-09-exterior-offroad-rear-angle 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Heading out into the dirt reveals what the TRD Pro was born to do: romp in the rough. The varied terrain available to us showed that the combination of Wildpeak all-terrain tires and coil-spring, five-link rear suspension provided for a comfortable, well-damped ride over rough dirt terrain. This is not a competitor to the Ford F-150 Raptor or Ram 1500 TRX, however, as both of those off-road trucks are Baja-style racers meant for going quickly over desert scrub. The TRD Pro is more akin to a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 or Ford F-150 Tremor. The Tundra TRD Pro’s mission is more low-speed variability — it’ll handle rock crawling, cliff scaling, or sand dune running with equal ability, but it’s not meant for foot-to-the-floor cross-country blasts.

There’s never a shortage of power or torque from the hybridized V-6 engine, although there is the unusual piped-in soundtrack of what is unmistakably a V-8 engine from some other vehicle entirely (no V-8 is offered in the Tundra anymore). The smooth 10-speed automatic always seems to be in the right gear regardless of terrain, and the TRD Pro just sails over the dirt or climbs steadily up slippery two-tracks with absolute ease. Adjusting the Multi-Terrain Select system helps refine the truck’s responses depending on the application, but even just leaving the truck in 4-High (no all-wheel-drive-style full-time 4×4 is available in the TRD Pro) is more than enough to surmount most obstacles. Shift into 4-Low, however, and you gain access to the electronic locking rear differential, useful for loose surface inclines where constant torque is more important than speed.

toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-23-interior-center-stack-display 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

The low-speed crawl control is also available in low range, but aside from activating it briefly just to see it work, I can’t say I’m much of a fan of any off-road cruise control — not this one or the one Ford is proud of. I have a hard time finding an application where this is a better idea than simply driving the truck myself since throttle application is generally best applied directly, not automatically, when the terrain tends to be changing constantly. I’m not sure I’ve yet found a situation where off-road, low-speed cruise control is an actual benefit, but it’s here if you want it as long as you’re already in low range.

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toyota-tundra-trd-pro-2023-04-exterior-offroad-front-angle 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

A Few Quirks

There are two aspects of the TRD Pro that I do not understand. First, it was constantly beeping at me off-road. You’d think that parking and proximity sensors might be deactivated when you’ve put the truck into an off-road mode in low-range, but nope, they’re still yelling and beeping and carrying on. Even pushing the mute button on the steering wheel only temporarily quiets them. You don’t get issues like this in an off-road Ford, that’s for sure.

The other confusing aspect to the TRD Pro is the design of the front end. The front aluminum skid plate is actually above and behind the front bumper, meaning any obstacle you encounter that’s likely to impact the plate is already going to hit that bumper and crack it. And let’s hope that you don’t get stuck on that obstacle, as there are no front recovery points (tow hooks) on the TRD Pro, either. If you get into a sticky situation that’s too deep for you to get out of yourself, your only option is to try and recover the vehicle via its trailer hitch — a strange omission for a top off-road truck trim.

The 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro is competitively priced versus the off-road versions of competitor pickups. There are almost no options for the TRD Pro trim, with you only specifying color and whether you want tow mirrors or not, and the price comes in at a tick less than $70,000 (including destination). By contrast, a Ford F-150 Tremor can be had for considerably less at around $56,000, but it doesn’t feature a lot of the standard equipment that the TRD Pro does; tick all of the options boxes and you’ll match that $70,000 number. The Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 features a lot of the trick suspension goodies found on a TRD Pro, but it also starts at the $70,000 level and goes up from there.

Toyota has defended the TRD Pro reputation with this new model, enhancing its abilities with new electronic systems and including some trick features, as well. But competitors in this category are formidable, and it will require constant upgrades to keep current with the field.

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