Home » The 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Hybrid Is A Beast At Towing Trailers And Emptying Your Wallet

The 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro Hybrid Is A Beast At Towing Trailers And Emptying Your Wallet

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Every year, countless Americans hit the road with a travel trailer hitched up to the backs of their crossovers, trucks, and SUVs. Depending on your tow vehicle, this can either be really fun or stressful. A tow vehicle that works too hard to haul your trailer will make towing a more fatiguing job than it has to be. An undersized tow vehicle may sway in crosswinds or sag to the ground, even with a weight-distribution hitch trying its hardest to level things out. The Toyota Tundra takes a lot of the workload out of towing. I got to test the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro i-FORCE Max during the summer and was impressed with its ability to haul. At the same time, I lost my breath that at 7.2 mpg while towing, Toyota’s advanced hybrid drank more fuel than a V8-powered non-hybrid pickup.

During July, I spent a week at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. I still have stories I have to write from the fly-in extravaganza and don’t worry, I’ll get to them in time! For now, I want to talk about how I got to and from the event. At first, I was supposed to hitch my family’s 2007 Thor Adirondack 31BH to a 2010 Chevrolet Suburban 1500. At the 11th hour, that SUV presented a rather serious engine concern. Things were looking pretty bleak and I was beginning to consider putting my fragile Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI on the task. Then, a lightbulb illuminated. This was a perfect opportunity to test how a hybrid pickup truck tows a trailer.

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(Full Disclosure: Toyota loaned me a 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro i-FORCE Max to use for my trip out to Oshkosh. I paid for my fuel and returned the truck in the same condition as it was delivered to me.)

What Is The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro?

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This pickup is part of the latest generation of Toyota Tundra. Production of these trucks began in late 2021 with reviews flooding the web in 2022. What makes the new Tundra different is the fact that Toyota craned the old reliable V8 out of the engine bay and replaced it with your choice of twin-turbo V6 or twin-turbo V6 hybrid. Americans are so used to pairing a travel trailer with a large truck with chunky diesel, gas V8 power, or boosted sixes such as the F-150 Ecoboost. So, you’re probably wondering as much as I was how Toyota’s hybrid wizardry stacks up.

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The third-generation Tundra brings Toyota’s large pickup into the modern era. Toyota says the latest Tundra’s new and updated features include a high-strength steel ladder frame with boxed construction, aluminum-reinforced composite bed, and a 5-link rear suspension with either coils or air springs. The suspension alone is a huge departure from the leaf-spring suspensions found under Toyota trucks since practically the dawn of time.

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The development of the third-generation Tundra was led by Chief Engineer Mike Sweers. The truck rides on the TNGA-F platform, which means it shares its bones with the J300 Land Cruiser, the Toyota Sequoia, the new Tacoma, the Lexus LX, the new Lexus GX, and the J250 Land Cruiser Prado. So, the Tundra keeps some good company. According to Sweers in an interview with SAE International, previous generations had a frame with open C-sections. With the new Tundra, its frame starts as a sheet of steel, from SAE International:

The Tundra’s new frame differs from most boxed truck frames in using laser-tailored steel blanks, Sweers explained, for strength with optimum mass efficiency. The frame build starts with steel sheet, followed by blanking out areas that are later filled in – via a wire-fed laser welding process – with the appropriate types and gauges of steel. These “tailored” blanks are formed into Cs, then two Cs are MIG welded together to form the full box.

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Sweers admits that going with a fully boxed frame makes the truck stiffer than before. In the interview, Sweers notes that when he drove down I-94 in Michigan, the trucks of competitors “kicked out” while on the highway, a result of a stiff frame and harsh leaf packs. The coil springs combat this.

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At the same time, Toyota sought to keep things simple. According to its research, pickup buyers were using their trucks to load ATVs, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Toyota decided that the Tundra didn’t need any tricks like Dutch doors, the tailgate and bed just needed to be strong so you could ride an ATV into it.

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The headlining change, I think, is what’s under the hood. For years, Tundras had reliable V8 power. These engines were thirsty but could propel the truck for over a million miles without much protest. The Tundra has ditched the V8 and now the best engine is a twin-turbo hybrid. Now, you’d think that Toyota did this just for fuel economy, but Toyota’s press releases suggest it’s to show that a hybrid truck can deliver both power and fuel economy. From Toyota:

For years, hybrid vehicles were primarily confined to small-car segments. The common thinking was that hybrids were an easy way to help save money on gas and reduce your carbon footprint – they were not known to be able to match the power and speed of a full combustion engine. So, as a collective understanding that carbon emission impacts climate change, the decision by Toyota to electrify its vehicle fleet became less of an “if” and more of a “when.” That left individuals, families and businesses that rely on full-size vehicles, like minivans and pickup trucks, wondering if electrification would catch up to their mobility needs. Toyota, always innovating to meet customer needs, saw this as an opportunity. The company now offers an electrified option in every category (sedan, minivan, SUV and truck).

When the Toyota Motor North America Research & Development team began to design the 2022 Tundra i-FORCE MAX, they knew exactly the challenge they were taking on: In the eyes of America’s drivers, fuel economy and great performance are not always synonymous. But, in the case of the Tundra i-FORCE MAX, it was a necessity that they are.

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Back to that SAE International interview, Sweers contradicts this somewhat by saying the goal with the Tundra was torque, not fuel efficiency. Apparently, the development team considered a diesel engine but swayed away from it after hearing concerns from a rancher who didn’t like working with diesel in cold weather.

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Anyway, to achieve this goal of a truck with naturally-aspirated power and hybrid fuel economy, Toyota’s engineers put the truck’s electric motor and twin-turbo 3.4-liter V6 engine in tandem, with the electric motor breaking up the space between the engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. The two forms of propulsion complement each other. The electric motor helps you launch and get up to speed. In low-speed scenarios, such as parking lots and traffic, the hybrid system can even move the truck without the engine running. Toyota is using a 288-volt parallel hybrid system here and you get an air-cooled Nickel-Metal Hydride pack.

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Combine it all and you get 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Toyota says Tundra with the i-FORCE Max hybrid system has a payload of up to 1,665 pounds and an 11,450-pound tow rating. The automaker’s engineers describe that towing as “confident and natural.” You bet I tested that. According to the EPA, the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro i-FORCE Max hybrid should score 18 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway, and 19 mpg combined.

To put that into perspective, let’s compare a 2023 Ford F-150 with a 3.5-liter PowerBoost hybrid V6 engine. That truck delivers roughly similar horsepower and torque numbers but has a better 12,700-pound tow rating, a better 2,120-pound payload, and better EPA fuel economy of 23 mpg city and 23 mpg highway. The numbers on paper don’t tell the whole story, so let’s get the Tundra out on the road to see for ourselves.

A Rockstar

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The first thing I noticed about the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro was how much attention it was getting. Opting for the TRD Pro flavor nets you 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels wrapped in all-terrain tires. Keeping the truck off of the ground is a set of 2.5-inch diameter FOX internal bypass shocks. These shocks, both front and rear, feature piggyback reservoirs, and the front shocks help the truck gain a 1.1-inch lift. Toyota notes that TRD Pro models also get a TRD Pro front stabilizer bar, TRD aluminum front skid plate, extra underbody protection, plus unique 32-inch Falken Wildpeak A/T3W tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels. Toyota also notes that the suspension bits get a little extra visual spice with red paint.

Additional TRD Pro goodies include a trail camera with multiple views, mudguards, a leather shift knob, an electronic locking rear differential, off-road driving modes, and crawl control. Sadly, I never got to try out the truck’s off-road capabilities, but the Tundra still turned out to be a rockstar.

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My tester was painted in a fiery orange-red color. No matter where I took the truck, guys snapped their necks to get a look. The comments came in hot and heavy – it was as if I were driving the latest hypercar. Everyone wanted to take a peek, snap a picture, or gaze at the interior. All of those same people were also shocked to hear this was a hybrid.

I think Toyota knocked it out of the park with the exterior’s design. The truck is almost cartoonishly muscular, with bulging parts here and there, the deck of an aircraft carrier serving as a hood, and a grille large enough to make a mid-2000s rap artist blush. The truck just looks like it starts its day with a shot of testosterone before it attempts to bench press a Peterbilt.

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This truck also seemingly had the effect of making me seem more attractive. Some of the guys who loved the truck asked me out to lunch or asked me if I was single. That’s the kind of stuff I get when I roll into town on my chunky Triumph Rocket III, not a burly pickup truck.

Even the people of the Experimental Aircraft Association couldn’t stop talking about the Tundra TRD Pro. When I stopped by the media office, the Tundra drew one of EAA’s media people outside. Stuff like this continued through the week, and it made me laugh to think I was at an air show, yet people couldn’t stop talking about the orange truck with the mustache of Hulk Hogan. So, good job, Toyota! You took my heart and so many others with the design.

Comfortable

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Of course, the most important part about a truck like this is the drive. Looking at it is cool, but people drive these trucks hundreds of thousands of miles, so the interior and the drive have to be right.

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The best way to describe this interior is how David described it in 2021. It’s seriously chunky. Everything, from the automatic shift knob to the dials, seems like it was taken through Photoshop and oversized by about 25 percent before being put into the truck. There’s camo on the seats, a sporty steering wheel, and the knobs try to mimic some sort of industrial instrument with fake screws and ridges.

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This feels like the interior of the truck Halo‘s Master Chief would drive. Just replace the big Toyota badge on the passenger side with “UNSC” and it’ll work so well.

Now, to be clear, I’m not complaining. It’s all a bit silly and I’m a silly person, so I’m here for it.

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Inside, there’s a large 14-inch infotainment system. If you’ve driven a modern Toyota you will be familiar with this screen. It’s a new generation of infotainment system featuring wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and you’ll find it in other Toyota models as well. I found it to be smooth, responsive, and crisp. It was nice having a giant display with directions as I towed my trailer behind. A 12-speaker, 1,200 watt JBL stereo handles music. To my ears, the system is light on bass and heavy on treble. The rear speakers also seem a little quieter than the front ones. On some tracks, the speakers sort of sounded muffled. If you just like playing music, I think you’ll like it. If you’re the kind of person who knows what bitrates are, you’ll probably think it’s not that great.

I just ask a single question. Can I have a jam session at volumes way too loud and still hear my tunes? If yes, I’m happy. The Tundra’s JBL system is Mercedes Jam Session Approved.

Anyway, another 12.3-inch screen handles instrumentation and it was clear and easy to read. It also offered minimal customization in the form of side panes to scroll through. For example, in the image below, I was messing around with my trailer settings.

On my way to the Adirondack, I was immediately surprised by how quiet the truck was. Until about 70 mph, the vast majority of what you hear is faint tire noise and the engine noise that’s being pumped in through the speakers. That interior is also a lovely place to be. Above my head was an expansive glass roof and those neat camo seats had ample ventilation, perfect for a Wisconsin summer where temps were right next to 100 degrees.

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Throw all of that tech and tunes into the cab and I felt that not only could I have driven this thing across the country, but I could take a comfortable sleep in there as well. Toyota’s suspension helped a little bit. The TRD Pro package does stiffen things up, so don’t expect the ride of a luxury car. But it won’t break your back, either. Go ahead, hit those railroad tracks, drop a tire into a pothole, and hit that expansion joint. You’ll feel the hits, but you don’t feel like you’re strapped into a wooden rollercoaster.

My only complaint about the interior is that the driver seat can be adjusted pretty far up, but the steering wheel does not go as far up to match. If you’re short and like a high seat, you may find the steering wheel stuck at a level that’s too low for you. There’s no way to fix it, either.

On The Road

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Anyway, the drive to the camper was about an hour and maybe about 50 miles. During the trek, the Tundra claimed to return 16 mpg. This was a bit disappointing. I wasn’t driving very fast or hard. My part of Northern Illinois has some mild hills, speed limits around 50 mph, and generally decent cruising conditions. The Tundra struggled to meet EPA numbers without a trailer!

This would set the tone for the rest of the trip. When I drove slow enough without air-conditioning on, I was able to score 23 mpg. But if I drove the truck how any normal person would, fuel economy dipped into the mid to high teens and stayed there. Mind you, that was unloaded. Speaking of unloaded, the truck weighs 6,131 pounds. Despite that, it takes about 5.9 seconds to hit 60 mph. It’s not super fast, but still pretty fun.

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Hitching the trailer up to the Tundra wasn’t anything special. Toyota offers some digital assistance to help you hitch up and back a trailer. One of those assists is one of the cameras to help you line up your hitch’s ball with the trailer’s tongue. There’s also a backup assist program that shows you which way to turn your steering wheel. Finally, there’s one last assist where the truck can drive itself in reverse, keeping the trailer pointed in its original direction for you. These programs aren’t as foolproof or as comprehensive as the competition, but I think they can help those not as experienced in towing.

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As someone who is experienced with towing, I didn’t find myself needing these assists. However, I did use the trailer ball camera, which made hitching up the trailer by myself go a lot faster than it usually does. Usually, I’m working without a camera of any kind and just use the centerline of the rear window or tailgate to estimate where my hitch is. I’m still pretty quick at hitching trailers, but it’s hard to beat the ease of a camera.

Now, you may note that the Tundra is sagging a little with the Adirondack hitched up. The 35-foot trailer has a dry hitch weight of 736 pounds and an unloaded weight of 6,292 pounds. Loaded up, you’re looking at 7,600 pounds. When I hitched it up, the trailer was largely empty, save for some propane tanks. The Tundra did fine. Unfortunately, the weight distribution hitch provided to me by my father was old, a little tired, and set for a completely different tow vehicle.

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Despite this, the Tundra handled the weight like a champ. The truck had a relatively soft ride while empty and loading it didn’t kill the ride quality.

I wasted no time in testing out Toyota’s claims that towing with the Tundra hybrid would be “confident and natural.” Setting out from the camper’s storage area, I punched the throttle. To my surprise, the Tundra hauled that camper with gusto, yanking that plywood box hard enough to toss some things around in the interior. I won’t say it’s fast, but the Tundra pulls a 6,300-pound trailer fast enough that you could effortlessly keep up with traffic.

Have you ever been in the right lane of an interstate and seen a camper coming down the on-ramp? A lot of the time, you’re going to change lanes because that camper is going to be entering the highway doing maybe 60 mph when everyone else is doing 80 mph. The Tundra’s i-FORCE Max hybrid punches out so much power and so much torque that even if the on-ramp is uphill, you can be doing or exceeding the speed limit before you reach the end of the ramp.

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Then, when you’re on the highway, the hybrid system and twin-turbo V6 have plenty of power in reserve. If, for whatever reason, you need to pass something, just punch the throttle and slip right by your obstacle. I won’t say you don’t feel the weight. Even when I drove Ford’s meaty new Super Duty you felt the weight back there. However, the engine of this Toyota pulled hard enough that it seemed not very stressed out by the load. That must be the confidence Toyota is talking about.

Towing with the Tundra wasn’t fatiguing, either. The I-94 corridor that runs between Chicago and Milwaukee often has strong crosswinds. If you’re towing a brick through the wind, like a travel trailer, you will feel it. Indeed, I felt the Adirondack tugging on the hitch in crosswinds. But the Tundra did not relent. It held straight and true without requiring me to saw at the wheel. Drivers going through this corridor will often see semis and campers alike struggling to stay within the lines. I didn’t have any of those problems. The Tundra and the camper cut through safely and without having to slow down to a crawl.

Like just about any truck you’ve driven over the past decade, the Tundra has a trailer sway mitigation program, which uses the truck’s brakes to attempt to keep you in a straight line. You also get a Tow/Haul mode, which changes throttle mapping, transmission shift points, and steering sensitivity for towing. Toyota also adds a Tow+ mode for trailers 6,000 pounds and up. These modes deliver a sharper throttle response while holding gears longer and reducing the effort to steer with a heavy load.

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This must be the natural part that Toyota is talking about. The Tundra was stable and maneuvered the trailer without drama. I also enjoyed the truck’s built-in trailer brake controller. All I had to do was add the trailer to the truck to unlock all of the aforementioned functions. Add the maneuverability, stability, power, and comfort together and you get a towing experience that leaves you just as fresh when you arrive at camp as when you left home.

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Even the power towing mirrors were great, giving me a broad and clear view of what was happening beside the trailer. Though, when the mirrors were in the retracted position they did block some of my side view.

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Check out this image above. I placed my camera at eye level. As you could see, I could not see what was coming over this bridge unless I craned my neck. A minor inconvenience, but a notable one, I think.

With all of this said, while the truck’s performance was exceptional, it wasn’t doing anything I hadn’t experienced before. A new F-150 is also confident in towing with more than enough thoroughbreds to power a heavy camper down the highway. The hybrid system did provide a wonderful assist when I wanted a punch of power right away, but it’s not the killer app of pickup trucks.

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Still, I think Toyota’s engineers succeeded in proving the viability of hybrid power in a pickup truck. It runs and rocks like a big V8, but you’re instead getting a 3.4-liter twin-turbo V6 and some hybrid bits.

She’s Thirsty

Unfortunately, I’ve found that the i-FORCE Max not only produces the power of a V8 but the fuel economy as well. Empty and on country roads, the truck returned about 16 to 18 mpg. When I kept my foot as light as a feather, I did achieve 23 mpg. So, it is possible to get and exceed official fuel economy ratings.

When MotorTrend kept off of the skinny pedal, that publication’s test Tundra drove 526 miles, averaging 23 mpg along the way. Like me, William Walker drove the truck so slowly it was like a rolling roadblock and he also allowed the truck to become a sweatbox.

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If you drive the hybrid Tundra like a normal person, fuel economy drops below official ratings and stays there. Admittedly, this is disappointing. While Toyota may have built this powertrain to prove a point, I still had some expectation that this twin-turbo V6 hybrid would be more frugal than a lumpy V8. Back when I tested the Ford F-150 FP700, that truck scored 26 mpg on the highway with ease. And that thing has a supercharged V8 churning out a tire-destroying 700 HP!

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Hitching up a trailer made things even worse. My towing test consisted of pulling that Adirondack roughly 300 miles through Illinois and Wisconsin. It’s the Midwest, so we’re talking about endless flat and boring farmland. Driving the speed limit, the Tundra TRD Pro hybrid scored just 7.2 mpg.

As it happens, my family has owned this trailer for several years and has been able to tow it with a variety of vehicles. All of those vehicles, except the Tundra, have had a V8. I’ve pulled this trailer with a 2011 Ford Expedition EL. That SUV came with a 5.4-liter Triton V8 making 310 HP and 365 lb-ft of torque. This SUV was not a fan of the Adirondack. It swayed in the wind and we often saw just 5.5 mpg while towing. That’s atrocious!

Later, my family purchased a 2010 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 to tow this trailer. It has a 5.3-liter V8 making 315 HP and 335 lb-ft of torque. This SUV wasn’t jazzed about the weight either but returned a better 7.7 mpg. The Ford was rated at 8,900 pounds for towing and the Chevy was right at 8,000 pounds.

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Finally, my parents bought the right equipment for the job and now own a 2016 Ford F-350 SRW. This truck has a 6.2-liter Boss V8 making 385 HP and 405 lb-ft of torque. It does not pull the trailer as fast as the Tundra, but it’s barely getting a workout while pulling the load. The F-350 is rated to haul a 12,500-pound bumper tow trailer, so more weight than the Tundra, but nothing out of this world. Replicating the same conditions, the F-350 will get about 8.5 mpg with the Adirondack on the back, sometimes a couple of points higher.

These comparisons aren’t perfect. The F-350 is a 1-ton truck and all of those SUVs are over a decade old and arguably undersized for the job. The F-350, with its leaf spring suspension, also rides like you’ve accidentally landed into a UFC match. Still, the fact that the more technologically advanced hybrid does worse than stone axe V8s is hard to ignore. I don’t think it’s a dealbreaker, just don’t go into it thinking you’ll spend less at the pump.

Saved My Bacon

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Even though the truck drank fuel as if it were a fighter jet on full afterburner, I can forgive it because the truck saved us a lot of pain on this camping trip. As I wrote during the summer, the camper’s battery died early on. Admittedly, that’s my mistake for trusting that my parents maintained the camper’s battery. But once the mistake was made, I had to live with it.

My campsite at Oshkosh was less than ideal. On my left was a pair of guys sleeping in one of those hybrid hard wall and canvas tent trailers. On my right was a couple sleeping in a tent. While I could have run my generator, I’m not a monster. I decided to run it only during peak hours of the day when temps flirted with 100 degrees. As soon as the sun hit the horizon, the generator turned off. That meant relying a lot on that roached battery.

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When the battery failed, which was often, I used the Tundra as a makeshift generator. The great thing about that hybrid system is the fact that the truck will sit there for a very long time without running the engine. When the truck runs low on juice, it fires up the engine, which has a seriously quiet idle. It idles quieter than many luxury cars and cars with itty-bitty engines. Unless you’re next to the exhaust pipe, you really won’t hear it.

Sadly, Toyota doesn’t sell the Tundra hybrid with an onboard generator like Ford does with its F-150 hybrid. That means I couldn’t hook the truck up to the trailer’s power cord, which would have been game-changing. Instead, I had to hook the trailer’s 7-pin connector to the truck, which at the very least gave us 12V power. That was more than enough for some decent camping. We didn’t have an air-conditioner, but at least we had electric fans, lights, a refrigerator, a shower, and a toilet. Toyota, if you’re reading this, add some sort of generator function to this truck!

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It was using the Tundra as a generator when I noticed something I hadn’t before. On the outside, the Tundra hybrid sounds a little bit like a pissed-off Hoover. Close the door, and it sounds like a V8. Wait a second, I sense some shenanigans! This system is called Engine Sound Enhancement and Toyota uses it on some models equipped with a high-end audio option. It pumps in a deeper and sportier exhaust note originating from the vehicle’s intake. So it’s not fake but enhanced. I think Toyota may have overdone it with the Tundra because there’s a startling difference between what you hear outside and what you hear inside. Maybe it’s just my ears. I’d love to see an option to voluntarily turn it off.

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Verdict

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I received the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro with a single goal in mind. I just had to get my camper to and from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The truck did that and more without a single problem. I enjoyed my time with the TRD Pro, keeping cool with its ventilated seats and monitoring my load with its many cameras. I’m so used to doing things the old way, no cameras, no assists, and a drivetrain that gets a workout. This truck was a breath of fresh air. When Toyota says these trucks make towing confident and natural, it’s not lying.

Really, what this truck does best is show that pairing a hybrid system to a boosted six makes for V8 levels of power. Toyota more than succeeded in its mission of proving that hybrid power is for more than just the Prius. The Tundra TRD Pro is so good at towing it’s as if the trailer is much smaller than it is. You can keep up with traffic, pass nearly anything in your way, and emerge triumphant out of crosswinds. And you can do it all without waking your neighbors in the morning.

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The 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro has a starting price of $68,520. Getting it as a 2024 will run you $72,130 before options. If you just need something to tow, I’d get a cheaper trim of the Tundra, a used truck, or perhaps a different truck.

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The Tundra TRD Pro is for the person who loves Toyota and wants it all, from off-road capability to effortless highway performance and a punch of towing power. I’d be willing to bet some of these new Tundras will hit a million miles just like those V8s do. Just, know that by going hybrid, you won’t be saving money at the pump. If you do get one of these, get it in the orange-red color, you’ll be the rockstar of your town.

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Ben
Ben
3 months ago

Given the unloaded MPG of 16 in normal use, the 7.2 number isn’t that shocking. My rule of thumb is you lose 50% the second you hook up a travel trailer. Starting from an MPG of 16 is a bit shocking for a modern truck though. It sounds like you’ll get disappointing mileage unless you’re really careful to stay out of boost.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
3 months ago

Maybe it’s because I’m 47, but $72k+ seems like 3 vehicles. It seems more cost effective to have a Daily and a Tow vehicle than that Tundra with that horrible MPG. Premium fuel too b/c of turbos right? I could care less about a tough look, huge glass roof and a rockin’ sound system. Maybe I’m just more comfortable with myself then most people? I see huge trucks all around Maine every day. I don’t get it. I also don’t have a vehicle payment.

John from Ohio
John from Ohio
3 months ago
Reply to  MikeInTheWoods

Yeah, I would really like to know what the recommended fuel type is for these as well. One assumes a turbo needs premium but I think a lot of them are fine on regular now.

PlugInPA
PlugInPA
3 months ago

I wonder if this engine could provide good fuel economy in something that wasn’t trying to be a street-legal monster truck. Why does it need all-terrain tires? That’s got to be good for a few MPG.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago

“A lot of the time, you’re going to change lanes because that camper is going to be entering the highway doing maybe 60 mph when everyone else is doing 80 mph”

So what’s the posted speed limit while pulling trailer where you are? Throughout California its 55 mph.

JShaawbaru
JShaawbaru
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Most other states don’t have different speed limits for non-commercial towing. I believe that applies to the states mentioned here, so likely it’s 60-75 depending on the highway.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  JShaawbaru

That is not so. EVERY state has a different, lower speed limit for towing whether its commercial or not. Most are 55-65mph. Other rules apply as well such as in California towing is not only limited to 55 mph but to the right lane as well:

“What’s The Speed Limit When Towing A Trailer?

In general, the speed limit when towing a trailer is about 10 miles per hour less than the regular posted speed limit.

This usually translates to about a 55 mph max towing speed limit on highways in most States.

Just like driving any other vehicle, each road is going to have a posted speed limit, which you should always follow.

But what about highways where the speed limit could be as high as 70 or even 80 mph in some States?

It’s not wise to tow a trailer at such high speeds. Doing so can increase trailer sway, which can put you, others, and your towed property at risk of a collision.

There are specific requirements that each State has in place, so you’ll need to be aware of them when towing in your home State as well as across State lines. We’ll jump into each State’s towing speed limits next.

Before we do, it’s important to understand that there are specific designations for towing speed limits, and those can vary from travel trailers, cargo trailers, and RVs, so pay attention to which rules apply to you.

https://towstats.com/trailer-towing-speed-limits-by-state/

Last edited 3 months ago by Cheap Bastard
Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

This site is very outdated. Illinois changed the law more than a decade ago to allow trucks and trailers to drive the same 70mph speed limit as cars. Iowa does not have a separate speed limit when towing, and has raised its limits to 70mph or as posted.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
3 months ago
Reply to  Dumb Shadetree

Yep, looks like you are correct. I found a more current reference that supports your claim:

https://rvnerds.com/resources/speed-limits-and-towing/

Mind you even this is based on the MIT state speed law list which I have found to have errors of its own.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
3 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

That’s a cool page! I only know about Illinois and Iowa because I live (or used to live) there.

Kalieaire
Kalieaire
3 months ago

Sweers notes that when he drove down I-94 in Michigan, the trucks of competitors ‘kicked out’ while on the highway, a result of a stiff frame and harsh leaf packs.”

What in Heaven’s name does “kicked out” mean?

John from Ohio
John from Ohio
3 months ago

Yeah, it’s almost like the back tires will skip or hop when going over a particular large pot hole or buckle in the pavement. It’s more annoying than a worry though.

Kalieaire
Kalieaire
2 months ago

That’s fair. I checked in with some friends on separate discord and they echoed similar sentiment in terms of interpretation.

I also reviewed the infamous mike rowe ford commercial and it appears, at the extreme end, where the rear end keeps getting gently kicked about by the foot of god as it goes over those bumps, forcing drivers to take a white knuckle approach over the steering wheel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCHLqN06-Ok

Timothy Swanson
Timothy Swanson
3 months ago

I towed my ~5500 lb travel trailer (Wildwood 181BHXL for those who care) for 10 years and nearly 50k miles with a Sierra 1500 with the 4.8 and 3.23 gears. Everything – brakes, suspension, handling – was fine with a properly set up hitch. Except uphill. It was very much underpowered, which meant a lot of 45 mph in 2nd gear uphill. Which was tiring to drive. It did get 9-10 mpg towing, which wasn’t terrible.

I upgraded to the 3.0 Duramax this year, and everything good remained, but now I have more than ample power, and get 15-16 mpg towing. I’m happy with the mileage as a daily driver too.

Totally agree on the color. Mine is red too. 🙂

Shop-Teacher
Shop-Teacher
3 months ago

All that technology, for 7.2 mpg? Not impressive. Not shocked though.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
3 months ago

I’m amazed that that trailer only weighs 6,300# empty. I would have guessed 8-10k with two slides and 31′ length. Have you run it over a scale? My 26ft without slides weighs around 8k loaded for travel.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that with the Ford, you can have Eco or you can have Boost but not both. Sounds like you can’t even get Eco with the Toyota.

Ben
Ben
3 months ago

The manufacturing sticker is almost certainly a lie (or at least a statistic, in the sense of lies, damn lies, and…). They weigh trailers without anything on them, including “optional” components that often aren’t really optional (like batteries and microwaves). I would bet a Rich Corinthian Leather membership that it weighs hundreds of pounds more than the sticker says, even if you took every single item of cargo out.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
3 months ago

Dang, my 2022 F150 with a 5.4 Triton did 8.7 mpg with a 6300 lb Lance trailer, and 15mpg highway running light. Turning off the overdrive makes a big difference in mileage, also Lance trailers are a bit more aerodynamic than average.
Overall it’s an acceptable tradeoff because the cost difference between a used 20 year old truck and a new truck with payments etc. buys a lot of gas.
My biggest issue with the Tundra is the $72,000 sticker price. That’s completely unaffordable for most people without a debt peonage level car loan. I can happily sacrifice modern conveniences and gas mileage for low TCO.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
3 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

You had a 2022 F150 with a 5.4 Triton?

I had a 1999 Expedition with th.e 5.4 and it was a dog towing and I got around 10 mpg towing a 6k travel trailer. My friend’s 5.3 Chev was a much better engine for towing.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
3 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

I had a typo it’s a 2002 with a 5 4 Triton, two wheel drive and a tow package. Apart from the gas mileage it’s a very good tow rig because of the long wheelbase.

DadBod
DadBod
3 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

you mean 2002?

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
3 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

yes

LTDScott
LTDScott
3 months ago

I’m surprised MPGs changed with the A/C engaged. Does this have a traditional belt driven A/C compressor? My wife’s old 2006 Highlander Hybrid had an electric compressor and didn’t have a serpentine belt at all. In that case I wouldn’t think MPGs would change based on A/C usage but maybe I’m wrong.

JunkerDave
JunkerDave
3 months ago
Reply to  LTDScott

Energy for the A/C has to come from somewhere. Maybe the electric drive is more efficient (belts & pulleys have losses), but the actual heat pump work is being done by the engine even if it does pass through the battery.

BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
3 months ago

“I lost my breath that at 7.2 mpg while towing”

I’d love to get that while towing my camper. I get around 6mpg with the Super Duty with the 7.3L gas engine. I paid about the same price as this Tundra.

Last edited 3 months ago by BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
BunkyTheMelon
3 months ago

7000lbs. To be fair, the truck only gets about 10-11mpg on it’s best day. Love the truck, but it sits until it’s needed. Friggin gas hog!

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
3 months ago

Did I miss the part about the reason to switch to hybrid? It doesn’t seem to be more powerful, more economical, better at towing than a V8, but more expensive to design and (probably) maintain. I am all for hybrids but I don’t see the reason for this. The only thing the hybrid offered (in this story) was to provide electricity to a trailer?

The listed benefits seem to be the same benefits of just a boosted 6, so why add the extra steps of a hybrid system?

Livinglavidadidas
Livinglavidadidas
3 months ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

Probably helps meet some fleet emission goal. Probably more reliable than a more stressed boosted 6 on its own. Powerband wise I think it just helps flatten out the torque curve. My friend has one, it’s really nice inside and drives great. Downsides are it feels even bigger than my old Raptor and he’s getting like 14mpg granted with a camper in the bed.

HOT_HATCH
HOT_HATCH
3 months ago
Reply to  Uberscrub

It’s not meant to benefit you. It benefits Toyota’s fleet emissions.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
3 months ago

Well OK, but fuel use = CO2 emissions, so if their turbo V6 hybrid truck doesn’t return improved in-use fuel economy than the outgoing version, then they’re not meeting their stated goal.
‘Electrifying’ things isn’t intrinsically good for the environment, it is a means to an end. Based on your experience, at least, they’ve missed the mark. If I was given the choice between a less expensive, less complex, more proven NA V8 versus a more expensive, more complex, less proven twin turbo V6 / high voltage hybrid for no fuel economy benefit, just give me the V8, please and thank you.

PlugInPA
PlugInPA
3 months ago

And that’s how Toyota makes it obvious that it doesn’t care about climate change, just marketing.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
3 months ago

My Dad took his 2014 Tundra in for service a few months back. The owner of the shop is a former Toyota dealership mechanic. According to him the new Tundra seems to have some major issues with their engines and many are coming in with broken connecting rods, metal in the oil, and bad bearings. And its starting to get hard to get replacements as there is now a back order. I looked around online and this seems to be becoming a thing. Not a good look for Toyota.

As far as the truck overall? I’m sorry but what exactly was the point of replacing the V8 with a V6 that gets the same fuel economy as the old one?

D-dub
D-dub
3 months ago

TRD i-FORCE Max!

Just relax and let it come. You’re gonna give yourself a hemorrhoid, Toyota.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
3 months ago

We live in a world in which a 6,100 lb truck with factory warranty that does 0-60 in under 6 seconds is not considered fast. Damn, I’m old.

Automotiveflux
Automotiveflux
3 months ago

My RAM Classic 4×4 with the 5.7L and 6 speed transmission averages about 12 L/100km (19.6mpg) in normal driving. I can get it down to 10ish if I’m on a long highway run. Pretty crazy that a newer hybrid has trouble getting that

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
3 months ago

I’ve heard from a lot of owners that the iforce max powertrain gets worse fuel economy than the 5.7, and that they can’t even get 500 miles out of the 36 gallon tank. that’s like 14ish mpg if you’re not running it to empty. oof.

Goose
Goose
3 months ago

If true, that’s crazy how that’s even possible. The old 5.7 was so dang thirsty the fairly low gearing that was standard was a big reason for that.

The biggest mind boggler to me though is that Ford somehow managed to make a more efficient, faster (albeit slightly less powerful), equally as capable if not more, hybrid truck a year or two before this first came out. How does Toyota, the supposed “I’m-not-doing-EVs-because-hybrids-are-where-it’s-at-and-it’s-where-I’m-putting-my-R&D-money-towards” hybrid king allow that to happen?

Last edited 3 months ago by Goose
Pupmeow
Pupmeow
3 months ago
Reply to  Goose

I am similarly baffled, and I’d love a follow up article that explains how the mileage on this thing is so, so, so bad.

Glutton for Piëch
Glutton for Piëch
3 months ago
Reply to  Goose

The first time or two I heard it, I thought it was driving style or something, but I’ve heard it from a LOT of people. Weirdly, it’s almost always the hybrid owners that make the comment. The boggo V6 guys never seem to have a complaint. Don’t know if that’s cause it’s missing the hybrid baggage, or what exactly.. one of my best friends has the 5.7 (and a lot of other people I know, but I hear about it more from him). He claims he got 18 before putting bigger tires on it. The V6 trucks seem to always get 16 or lower from what I hear. And I know at least 10 people that drive them, and hear from a lot more regularly.

Ben
Ben
3 months ago

I wonder if the extra weight of the hybrid system pushes the gas engine into boost more often.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
3 months ago

Appreciate the comparisons to other tow vehicles that you’ve had. Shame that the Tundra can’t seem to hit the posted MPG under normal driving.

Cliff notes to me is don’t expect hybrids to improve MPG when towing over the V8’s they’re replacing. Would be interested to see what the F150 hybrid could do with the same trailer if you can get a press loaner.

Loudog
Loudog
3 months ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

Some data from towing my 25 foot Airstream Classic across country with a 2021 F150 PB: 10 to 11 mpg at about 70 mph. The trailer is roughly 7000lbs. We average 21 around town and 23 on trips and we don’t baby it. The power gen feature is a lifesaver if you’re hitting rest stops on the way; find a spot, leave the truck on and locked, plug the trailer into the 30A bed outlet and go to bed. Everything just works.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
3 months ago
Reply to  Loudog

Good to know. I think Ford got the formula right on that one. If I needed a full-size thats what I would buy.

That guy
That guy
3 months ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

Buying new today I probably agree with you. But as a data point, I have a ‘17 F150 4×4 5.0 with 107k on it, about 30k of that pulling an RV. 22’ and 5500lbs got ~11mpg. 31ft and 7500lbs gets ~9mpg. That’s an older truck with less power at 385/387, a 6spd versus 10spd, and less aero optimization. The F150 weighs (a lot) less empty, but towing we have it loaded near or at max, so that gets negated.

Anyway, I don’t really expect small boosted motors to get better mileage towing. Some like the torque curve versus revving a V8, which I get. But they need to get better mileage empty (and the truck needs to weigh less to help this! – a Toyota and Ram problem) and comparable towing or, to me, the extra complication isn’t worth it

Voeltzwagen
Voeltzwagen
3 months ago

Perhaps it’s physics, and/or I’m just ignorant, but I’m continually miffed that Toyota hasn’t been able to apply their MPG achievements to their trucks.

HOT_HATCH
HOT_HATCH
3 months ago
Reply to  Voeltzwagen

I think it has a lot to do with torque. Their cars use Atkinson cycle engines with CVT’s, neither of which would jive for towing.

Voeltzwagen
Voeltzwagen
3 months ago
Reply to  HOT_HATCH

Ah, yes. Makes sense.

VanGuy
VanGuy
2 months ago
Reply to  HOT_HATCH

Just going from what I’ve heard in prior comment sections when I talk about my Prius, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong–but:

  1. I heard the Atkinson-cycle engine is just something to do with VVT and isn’t technically “always on”, per se?
  2. The Prius eCVT is very different from an ICE CVT, right?

So, if those two are true, could it be possible to “upscale” something akin to the Prius drivetrain to be better for towing?

Church
Church
3 months ago

As usual, a well written review. Thanks, Mercedes!

Completely unrelated to any content: my mind instantly rebels at my tow vehicle being lifted in anyway. I’d prefer lower to the ground and two-wheel drive, even. Is that just me?

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
3 months ago
Reply to  Church

I’d prefer lower to the ground and two-wheel drive, even. Is that just me?

Depends on the tow vehicle, I would suppose. My 4×4 Sprinter tows like a champ, though I admit the most mass I towed was my TJ (curb weight 3,400 lbs). I towed a long flatbed trailer carrying tree limbs and didn’t notice the trailer at all. On the other hand, during the Covid shutdown I installed a 6-inch lift on my TJ and now would not tow anything because the new suspension is optimized for off-roading.

tldr; I don’t think four-wheel drive in and of itself makes a vehicle less worthy or safe as a tow vehicle.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
3 months ago
Reply to  Church

Depends on what/where you’re towing. If you’ve ever been out to the Glamis sand dunes in So Cal its nice to have 4wd and some clearance on your tow vehicle as you’re going through soft sand to the campsites. If you’re staying on pavement in the southwest and just towing to trailer parks, I agree, probably not needed.

Ben
Ben
3 months ago
Reply to  Church

Low to the ground I will agree with, 2WD not so much. I’ve driven up some steep gravel hills on my way to campgrounds that were not fun until I engaged 4WD. I’ve also heard stories about people getting stuck in grass campsites if they have a little slope and the grass is wet.

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