The 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX brings hybrids into new territory

Don’t call it a Prius pickup—worlds collide in this cutting-edge hybrid with serious off-road credentials

The Toyota Tundra TRD Pro’s track of 69.4 inches is one inch wider than the rest of the Tundra lineup. | Photo: Scott Murdock

When I climbed into the spacious cab of the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX, it wasn’t the first time I’d driven a vehicle that big—but it was the first time I’d driven a truck like this with a hybrid electric system wired to the engine.

Gone are the days of V8 engines in Toyota pickups. In place of the naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V8 that first graced the Tundra in 2007 is a 3.5-liter V6 with a pair of turbochargers and an optional hybrid system. The new truck’s numbers look good on the spec sheet and Toyota’s TRD Pro-exclusive Solar Orange paint looks incredible in person.

So, is the Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX a truck for hybrid people or a hybrid for truck people? It blurs the line well enough that it might be the best of both worlds.

A different kind of hybrid

For the first time, the Toyota Tundra is not available with a V8. Instead, the only option is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (iFORCE) with or without a hybrid electric motor (MAX). The hybrid system generates 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Those are impressive figures, but where the Tundra makes peak torque is the real accomplishment. Thanks to the electric motor’s instant power delivery, peak torque is available at just 2,400 RPM.

A dirt-covered Toyota Tundra shows it's made for rugged adventures
More than 600 miles away from the beginning of the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail, the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX is no worse for the wear. | Photo: Scott Murdock

Compare that to the outgoing 5.7-liter V8’s 381 horsepower and 401 pound-feet of torque. Not only is the hybrid slightly more fuel-efficient (with an EPA-estimated combined 19 mpg instead of 17 mpg), it’s vastly more powerful.

The takeaway message from Toyota is clear: Hybrids aren’t just for compact cars anymore. The Tundra iFORCE-MAX can outrun and out-tow an excellent V8 while taking you further on a tank of gas.

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A cab you’ll want to spend all day in

With massive vehicles come expansive interiors. The Toyota Tundra has an immense cab that’s a well-designed, solidly built place to enjoy the ride isolated from unwanted road noise. The TRD Pro trim incorporates durable materials and surfaces that stand up to dirt and water better than most.

The heated and cooled driver’s seat of the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX
The heated and cooled driver’s seat of the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX is a very comfortable place to spend long days on the road. | Photo: Scott Murdock

It seems like giant touchscreen displays are everywhere these days, but they aren’t all equally user-friendly. The Tundra’s center display is one of the good ones. The stationary menu in the left margin makes it easy to switch among functions and there are still physical buttons for climate control, drive modes, and volume.

Toyota outsourced its navigation function to Google, which is a wise move. The search function and turn-by-turn directions are as good as it gets even without connecting your phone (which you can use to cue up your favorite off-road or road trip app for a dual-screen command center). Aside from the system’s refusal to keep the north-up orientation I selected, it’s one of the best I’ve used.

The rear seat is equally comfortable and treats backseat passengers to plenty of legroom, their own vents, and charging ports. There’s room for small items in the seatback pockets and doors, but everything else will need to share floorspace with passengers’ feet.

When the weather cooperates, you can open the panoramic sunroof and rear window in addition to all four windows to get a huge amount of airflow and sunlight.

Can the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX tow a camper? 

My testing didn’t include towing a trailer, but the Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX is definitely up to the task. It all starts with an 11,175-pound towing capacity. That’s not heavy-duty territory and there are a few half-ton trucks that can pull more weight, but it’s enough to handle a sizeable travel trailer. If you tow heavy equipment, livestock, or a fifth-wheel camper, diesel pickups still rule the roost.

A tent stands next to a Toyota Tundra in a wooded area
If your tent isn’t cozy enough, the spacious (and heated) CrewMax cab of the 2023 Toyota Tundra isn’t a bad backup plan. | Photo: Scott Murdock

The Tundra’s tailgate-mounted backup camera and optional towing mirrors offer good visibility. Trailer brake and sway control will come in handy whether you’re hauling something light or heavy. Both are standard features on the TRD Pro.

One of Toyota’s best towing features isn’t available with the TRD Pro trim. The trailer backup guide system offers real-time visual cues on a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle on the center screen and helps keep the trailer straight when you aren’t reversing into a turn. The Tundra TRD Pro is an off-roader first and a towing rig second, so you’ll have to back trailers up the old-fashioned way if you want TRD performance.

Toyota Tundra on the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail

To give the Tundra a thorough shakedown, I turned to the Trans-Wisconsin Adventure Trail, a route that runs more than 600 miles from the Illinois state line to Lake Superior. The journey includes paved country roads, dirt forest service roads, and a few tight trail sections.

A 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX travels over a rugged, wet and muddy landscape
Adventure is calling and the 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX is ready to answer—this time with hybrid power. | Photo: Scott Murdock

Since the forest would provide my accommodations, I also brought along a tent, sleeping bag, a few dehydrated meals (which should always include astronaut ice cream), a Solo Stove Lite, and the usual fire-starting and first-aid gear. Many campsites provide a fire pit, but the Solo Stove is a much more efficient way to cook quickly and easily with nothing more than twigs. 

I only ended up stopping to refuel once on the way north and once on the return trip using the highway. A week of heavy rain on top of late snow left the ground soft and slick in places, but the Tundra’s four-wheel drive, locking rear differential, Falken Wildpeak tires, and multiple drive modes never missed a beat. Even when I encountered a section of washed-out road, I waded through to check the underlying ground’s condition with a long branch and drove through like it was nothing.

Ultimately, it wasn’t GPS, fuel consumption, or mud that forced me off my planned route. A severe storm had knocked down several trees and after cutting a few limbs to squeeze the Tundra through, my hatchet and I met our match. If it weren’t for a downed log the size of a telephone pole and seasonal trail restrictions in certain areas, the Tundra could have made most of the trip without touching pavement.

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How could the Tundra be better?

The 2023 Toyota Tundra does a lot of things very well, but it’s not without a few drawbacks.

One piece of technology that’s extremely polarizing shapes the way the Tundra TRD Pro sounds. Outside, it’s nothing special—just a hushed V6 exhaust note and the occasional turbo whistle. Inside the cab, the speakers blast artificial V8 sounds that will drive purists absolutely bonkers. Your local Toyota dealership can disable this feature but I’m not aware of a way to do it at home.

The engine of the Toyota Tundra hybrid
It might be missing two cylinders, but the V6 engine inside the 2023 Toyota Tundra hybrid gets more than enough help from a pair of turbochargers and an electric motor. | Photo: Scott Murdock

Automakers have been digitally “enhancing” engine noise for years, but this doesn’t even sound like the same engine configuration. It’s particularly frustrating because turbo noises are great—give us those sweet, sweet blowoff valve chirps, Toyota. 

The real elephant in the room is fuel economy. Our test vehicle’s combined 19 miles per gallon is respectable given its capabilities, but the hybrid moniker might lead some people to expect more. I averaged between 16 and 17.5 miles per gallon with a combination of city, highway, and trail driving. There are plenty of 20-year-old diesel pickups still rolling along with better fuel economy than that.

The reason for this is simple: power. I’m sure Toyota could have made the Tundra iFORCE MAX less thirsty, but only at the expense of horsepower and torque. People who hit the road with a camper or trailer full of motorized toys will love this hybrid the way it is.

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Should you buy a 2023 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX?

Passengers 5
Towing capacity 11,175 pounds
Chassis Body on frame
Ground clearance 10.9 inches
Full-size spare Yes
Fuel range 19 miles per gallon (EPA-estimated combined fuel economy)
MSRP $69,420 ($73,175 as tested)

I’m optimistic that this hybrid version of the Toyota Tundra will draw new buyers to the truck market. Sure, the fuel consumption could be better (and it is slightly improved without the TRD Pro trim), but now the segment of buyers who aren’t interested in a big V8 don’t have to sacrifice performance to tap into electric power.

On the other hand, plenty of truck buyers like a V8 simply because it has historically been the most powerful option available in a half-ton pickup. They might not care if the Tundra uses forced induction and batteries as long as it gets up and boogies when they mash the go-fast pedal to the floor, which it does.

Compared to the competition, our tech-heavy test vehicle’s sticker price of $73,175 is fair—but it’s still a lot of money. Fortunately, Toyota offers seven trim levels of the Tundra ranging from stripped-down to luxurious. There are ways to save money if you don’t need all the rugged features on the TRD Pro version. At the affordable end of the spectrum is the non-hybrid SR trim, which starts at $38,965. If you do splurge for the no-holds-barred Tundra TRD Pro iFORCE MAX, feel free to explore all the paved and unpaved routes your heart desires and expect to get lots of approving thumbs-up along the way.

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