2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone i-FORCE MAX – Review by David Colman +VIDEO
Capstone is your new ticket to regal renown
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
When is a truck not a truck? When it’s Toyota’s 2022 Tundra Capstone. This is an amazing vehicle. It looks like a truck from the outside, albeit a real fancy one with subtle body contours and a stunning “Wind Chill Pearl” paint job. But once the power retractable running boards lift you into the cabin, any work truck scenario evaporates. Toyota designers have managed to transform your preconceived notion of a pickup interior into a Lexus reverie.
In fact, so plush is the interior of the Tundra model-range topping Capstone that you will forget all about the payload and towing capacity of this behemoth. The Barcalounger-sized all leather seats are exquisitely finished in white with black trim. Both front and rear seats feature heating and ventilation. The front row settees offer 10-way power adjustments plus 4-way lumbar support. Perforated leather is lavished on the steering wheel rim and shift knob. Soft-touch surfaces grace the instrument panel, center console and door panels. The instrument panel consists of a 12.3-inch digital screen with selectable gauge displays featuring fuel economy, driver assistance's, and trip information.
Given how high you sit in the Capstone's flying bridge, frontal vision is impeded. The elongated and bulbous hood makes you feel like you're floating in mid-air. With the exception of big rigs, you look down on most everything else on the road. In fact, we noticed precious few other vehicles (Jeep Gladiator, Cadillac Escalade) that could match the exalted cruising height of this Tundra. If you harbor a secret desire to lord it over lesser traffic, you’ll enjoy how the Tundra Capstone caps them all.
Despite the lavish Lexus contours and treatments, there’s a whole lot of real truck hunkered down beneath the fancy façade. The business end here starts with a new V6 engine dubbed i-FORCE MAX which displaces 3.5 liters and utilizes twin turbos and water intercooling to generate 437hp and 583lb.-ft. of torque. This output is augmented by a hybrid package utilizing a 48hp electric motor charging a 288 Volt nickel metal hydride sealed battery to provide instant torque - even before the twin turbos spool up. The hybrid drive line connects to all four wheels through a 2-speed (low/high) transfer case and a 10-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission. The gearbox provides Tow/Haul mode, uphill/downhill shift logic and sequential shift mode via steering wheel paddles. Maximum towing capacity is 10,340 pounds.
In spite of its airy cabin height, ride quality of the new Tundra is far from ethereal. The Capstone rides on 22-inch dark chrome alloy rims fitted with 265/50R22 Bridgestone Dueler RT radials. Thanks in part to the low sidewall height of these Bridgestone tires, the new Tundra rides like a bucking bronco over even the slightest pavement imperfections. The fact that Toyota now uses a multi-link rear/coil-spring rear suspension for the Tundra in place of the former leaf spring set-up has not quelled the pitching and bucking. Although you can choose from 6 different ride settings (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+, Custom), none of them come close to matching the magic carpet pillow promise of the interior design. In fact, with its jacked cabin and mini sidewall tires, the Tundra Capstone projects a Low Rider look. To that end, you can even order yours with an optional ($1,045) air suspension system that controls load-leveling rear height and provides adaptable variable suspension as well. If this were my truck, I would dump the 50 series tires in favor of something with a taller aspect ratio.
Of course, if this were my truck, I would never think of taking it off road, or using it in any way that would diminish the compelling beauty of its interior, or denting the manicured contours of its exterior. We did, however, load its 5.5’ bed with a couple of cords of scrap almond wood for a trip to the dump. We made a clean escape before the concours police could identify us. Pure and simple, this is a show truck, great to be seen driving, but challenging to park in the city. You will never be tagged for making an illegal U-Turn, because the Capstone takes up so much road to reverse direction, you’ll never attempt one in the first place. Although agility is not the strong point here, dramatic rite of passage most certainly is. If you want to be seen as a ruler of the roads, the Capstone is your new ticket to regal renown.
2022 TOYOTA TUNDRA CAPSTONE i-FORCE MAX
ENGINE: 3.5 Liter V6 twin-turbocharged, H2O intercooled, 24-valve, DOHC, plus electric motor and NiMH 288 Volt battery
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 19MPG City/22MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $74,575
HYPES: Beautifully Crafted
GRIPES: Too Nice to Trash
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10