The best truck is rarely the most extreme. If it beats everything else in terms of performance, then it oftentimes lacks livability. Meanwhile, if it’s the comfiest, it’s rarely the most capable. Not to mention that if it’s the top dog in any one category, it’s typically pretty pricey. The 2023 Toyota Tundra Limited doesn’t worry about being the most anything, and for that reason, it’s pretty darn good.
I tested one that ticks all the right boxes for me, an everyday pickup truck driver. Sporting Softex-lined seats, the non-hybrid power plant, and the value-packed TRD Off-Road package, it’s everything you need and little that you don’t if you expect to wander away from the pavement. And if you ask me, it looks slick too. That Army Green is killer.
The Tundra is like it always has been in a lot of ways. It isn’t the punchiest, nor is it the most luxurious—but it gets the job done. Whether the job is running to town, towing a boat, or, in my case, carrying whatever the heck will fit in the bed, it’s a superb daily driver.
|2023 Toyota Tundra Specs
|Base Price (Limited as tested)
|3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 | 10-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive
|389 @ 5,200 rpm
|479 lb-ft @ 2,400 rpm
|21˚ approach | 24˚ departure
|Ground Clearance (4WD)
|EPA Fuel Economy
|17 mpg city | 23 highway | 19 combined
|A modern truck that's good at everything and nearly great as a result.
Toyota knows that full-size trucks are the United States’ bread and butter. The automaker may sell more Tacomas by a country mile, but there’s more market share to be had in the half-ton space. That’s why it totally redid the Tundra for the 2022 model year and while it’s largely unchanged for 2023, it still feels fresh. (Considering the last-gen Tundra stuck around for 15 years, this iteration has a lot of life left in it.)
The exterior design is angular and aggressive. For sure, it looks like a modern pickup. This Tundra’s styling has proven to inform other models in Toyota’s range, from the also-full-size Sequoia SUV to the smaller Taco. It’s the brand’s body-on-frame flagship, so its design language reflects that with sharp creases and a stout stance.
It’s nice inside, too. I, for one, am a fan of the 14-inch infotainment screen. I get why some might not like it—huge displays can be distracting and troublesome for plenty of valid reasons—but the resolution is clear and the operating system is intuitive. My tester had physical gauges with a modest digital display in between the tach and speedometer, so I wasn’t overwhelmed. The seats were also pretty comfy if not totally remarkable.
All new Tundras have a twin-turbo V6 measuring 3.4 liters—or 3.5 liters, depending on what Toyota feels like claiming that day. Some have a power-adding hybrid system, while others (like this one) do not. Power is still healthy at 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque without the fancy battery and electric motor.
Driving the Toyota Tundra
I’ve actually tested several versions of the new Tundra, but this is the one I’d buy. I know we’re just getting started here but a crew cab Limited trim is the right blend of simple and stylish if you care as much about features as you do your budget. Of course, it’s hard to call this a budget-friendly truck at $62,194 as tested, but considering how much half-ton trucks can cost, this is the new middle-ground. Don't shoot the messenger.
The truck has push-button start and a console shifter, so right off the bat, it’s way more modern than those old ‘Yota pickups that started with a key you actually turn and a column shifter you yank down to go into drive. It’s also a decent amount punchier than even its V8-powered predecessor thanks to an 8 hp and 78 lb-ft advantage. Acceleration isn’t as immediate without the hybrid assist but there’s still very little lag thanks to the properly sized turbos.
I spent time driving the Tundra on the highway as well as off-road around my family’s creekside property. We own and operate a campground in the Ozarks, so the Tundra was put to good use hauling firewood, picnic tables, and yes, 30-gallon bags of trash. Nobody ever said it was a glamorous job.
The multi-link coil spring rear suspension is best on pavement and still good on gravel, though there isn’t a ton of articulation. Thing is, folks rarely test their truck’s limits in that way. People worried about maximum flex probably aren’t buying a crew cab truck, and they almost definitely aren’t buying a Tundra that isn’t the TRD Pro.
Still, this is the one I’d have because it has a lot of the pricey TRD Pro trim’s fundamental features for less. The TRD Off-Road package adds Multi-Terrain Select and the much (much, much) improved Crawl Control feature, along with an electronically locking rear differential, Falken Wildpeak all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, and skid plates. Sure, it’s down on torque and you don’t get the Fox suspension, but I personally don’t care. This one is also a lot better looking, subjectively speaking.
While this Tundra may stop you short of tackling infamously tough trails in stock form, it’s more than enough for the average person. It also does a great job of getting traction so it can get out of almost anything it gets into. That’s what’s most important. If you think you need something more, I’d strongly urge you to take a more honest look at your trucking habits.
The Highs and Lows
I like this Tundra for what it is and what it doesn’t pretend to be. It’s well-rounded and what we as a car site staff would call a “normie” truck. You don’t have to be an adrenaline junky to feel like you’re getting the most out of this middle-trim, standard-power pickup. At the same time, you aren’t left wanting more, either.
My gripes are limited. The suspension can be hoppy, especially with a single-axle trailer behind it. It’s also pretty thirsty, and while I don’t expect any full-size truck to get excellent fuel economy, it’s clear that Toyota took the smaller displacement, forced induction route for more power instead of efficiency.
Toyota Tundra Features, Options, and Competition
The truck I tested was a Limited CrewMax model with a base price of $55,740 before any extras were added on. That gets you features like the 14-inch infotainment screen as well as wireless Apple CarPlay. Impressively, Toyota Safety Sense 2.5 is baked in with pre-collision assist, radar cruise control, lane departure assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and road sign recognition.
The total price of the Tundra was $62,194 after options, the priciest of which was the TRD Off-Road Package at $3,050. The second most expensive add-on was the $1,350 panoramic sunroof that I could live with or without. A 12-speaker JBL audio system was worth the $565 upcharge, as was the $395 Limited Premium Package which added the fancy LED headlights and towing tech.
Prospective Tundra buyers are sure to cross-shop the Toyota with the iconic Ford F-150. Spec that truck in the leather-lined Lariat trim and you’ll be met with a base price of $57,480. In that case, a 12-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, though the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is less powerful at 325 hp and 400 lb-ft. You can ultimately get more capability from the Ford if you spec it with a more potent engine, but as far as standard features go, the Tundra is a pretty strong player here.
The Tundra is no superstar when it comes to fuel economy, but it matches the 3.5-liter EcoBoost-powered Ford F-150. Each of the trucks pictured above has more efficient powertrain options but this is the most direct comparison in terms of displacement and power levels. You might expect the electrified Tundra hybrid to get considerably better mileage, but it only adds a single mpg to the combined rating.
The Toyota and Ford are equally matched on city, highway, and combined ratings. Twenty-three mpg on the highway sounds a lot better than the Silverado’s 20 mpg, and around town, the Tundra manages 2 mpg more than the Ram with the 5.7-liter V8. Also, for what it’s worth, the V6-powered Tundra gets way better mileage than the old V8 model that got 13 mpg city, 17 mpg highway, and 14 combined.
Value and Verdict
Again, it’s hard to call a vehicle that costs more than $62,000 a bargain, but the 2023 Toyota Tundra Limited does offer a solid list of features. You’re getting something for your money, then, and it’s a well-rounded daily that’s comfy as well as capable. I’m not in the market to spend that much on a pickup, but if I were shopping around, the Tundra would be a strong contender. Especially if I could get one just like this.
Overall, Toyota has done a solid job with the Tundra as it’s modern enough to feel fresh without being overly newfangled and glitchy. It’s a departure from the stone-cold simple ‘Yotas of yore, but I think that’s OK. We’ll know for sure once these things start surpassing 100,000 miles, which if you ask any previous-gen Tundra owner means it’s just getting broken in.
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