For vehicles that started out as humble workhorses, fullsize pickup trucks have come a long way.
Sure, the segment still offers base utilitarian models, which are right at home at construction sites. But many of today’s pickups are luxury vehicles, such as the upmarket Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country, Ford F-150 King Ranch edition and the Ram 1500 Limited.
Add a new member to that classy club: the 2022 Toyota Tundra’s upcoming and upscale Capstone trim line.
Toyota bills it as “the new halo grade” that is “loaded with luxury.” It arrives at dealerships this spring.
Upmarket features include:
- Chrome throughout, including the outer frame, inner mesh pattern, mirror caps and tailgate inserts.
- 22-in. chrome wheels, the largest wheels ever offered on Tundra.
- Automatic running boards designed to welcome owners into what the automaker calls “the premium cabin experience” that includes luxury-grade seating.
The center console and passenger-side dash are accented with authentic Dark American Walnut with an open-pore finish that highlights the wood grain.
Toyota makes some noise about how quiet the Capstone interior is. It’s the only Tundra to feature acoustic glass on the front doors for more exterior sound deadening.
A 14-in. (36-cm) multimedia touchscreen display controls the all-new Toyota Audio Multimedia system that offers new sight, touch and voice activation.
Complementing the Tundra’s new multilink rear suspension system, Capstone offers available Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and load-leveling rear height control air suspension.
The 2022 Capstone grade will be offered in one body configuration: CrewMax with a 5.5-ft. (1.67-m) bed.
Capstone is powered by a new i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain that produces 437 hp and 583 lb.-ft. (790 Nm) of torque.
The twin-turbo V-6 features a unique motor generator within the bell housing between the engine and 10-speed automatic transmission.
Capstone has a maximum towing capacity of 10,340 lbs. (4,690 kg).
During towing, the hybrid system provides additional power and torque, while during city driving it focuses on a quiet ride with improved efficiency. For highway driving, responsive linear power delivery is the goal.
Drive Mode Select offers the driver the ability to select a driving mode depending upon preference, and standard features include settings for Eco, Normal and Sport.
Optional Load-Leveling Rear Height Control Air Suspension and Adaptive Variable Suspension settings expand to include Comfort, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom.
For example, using the Sport or Sport+ settings, the i-FORCE MAX powertrain leverages the electric motor’s instantaneous responsiveness.
While the electric motor does the bulk of the work at lower speeds, once above 18 mph (29 km/h) the gasoline engine takes over in the mid- and high-speed range.
When in Tow/Haul mode, the i-FORCE MAX system is constantly in tandem operation to provide acceleration and torque for towing needs.
The number of cameras in a modern luxury vehicle rival the number of TVs in a sports bar, and the Capstone is no exception (interior pictured above, below).
A plethora of cameras display multiple exterior angles that are viewable from the infotainment screen or the digital-display rearview mirror.
A Panoramic View Monitor displays a top-down view of the truck. Views include the rear truck bed to check on cargo and a rear split view to show what’s nearby on each side.
Trailer Back Guidance aids in overall maneuvering of trailers. Straight Path Assist is designed to ensure truck and trailer will back up in a straight line. Available 360-degree cameras assist with tough-to-see areas around the truck and trailer.
When connected with Toyota’s integrated trailer brake controller, the Blind Spot Monitor can recognize blindspots for not just the truck but the trailer as well.
For the auto industry, the pickup truck segment has become one of the most profitable – and the most competitive. It is a segment that remains dominated by the Detroit Three.
Built in San Antonio, TX, the Tundra debuted in 1999. Its sales were unremarkable last year: 81,959 units.
That compares with 768,698 for General Motors (combined Silverado and GMC Sierra), 726,084 for the F-150 and 569,388 for the Ram.
During the last big recession of more than a decade ago, one auto analyst predicted the upmarket fullsize pickup segment would all but go away.
In fact, it’s done the opposite.
The introduction of the Tundra Capstone edition is evidence of how vibrant that market is today.
Steve Finlay is a retired WardsAuto senior editor. He can be reached at [email protected].