2023 Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX Capstone
A really nice truck for the car-needing truck-lover
With such a fancy interior (and exterior) this pickup is meant for those of us who really want a truck but don’t want to skimp on luxury.
By J-F Wright
Tue, May 9, 2023 04:26 PM PST
all images by the author J-F Wright
Toyota Tundra might not be the truck that comes to mind if you’re picturing hauling a fifth-wheel motorhome larger than some actual homes or bringing your tractor with you to a landscaping job. But, that’s not really a fair comparison either, since the trucks meant for those amazing feats are the biggest, baddest - and heaviest - trucks on the market. Think Ford F-350, Chevrolet Silverado 3500, and the GMC Sierra 3500. Or, if you must, you can replace the “3” in each of those names with a “4”, and you’ll be able to tow my house. Like, “rip it up from its foundation” kinda of fun.
The Tundra isn’t in that segment. No, the Tundra belongs to the full-size but not full-weight segment - together with the lighter siblings of the aforementioned monsters. Think Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and the GMC Sierra 1500. This segment might not have the same impressive capabilities as their bigger siblings, but for most of us that doesn’t matter. We want a truck to haul a bunch of bikes when the family goes out on a Saturday mountain bike excursion. We want to be able to buy the materials needed for a bathroom remodel, without having to opt for an expensive home delivery. We want to be able to forge through knee-deep water so we can take a great picture for Instagram. We’ll probably never have a chance for that last one, but it’s definitely on the list.
Years ago, all these trucks, including Toyota's Tundra, came in somewhat basic trims - they were made to do “real” jobs, not chauffeur around folks in chinos and polo shirts… A pickup was made to haul stuff, usually tools and buckets and the like, and the folks in the cab were wearing tool-belts, not Gucci.
The pickup is still, for the same obvious reasons as before, the go-to vehicle for lots of people with jobs of the more “rugged” type. But, what’s changed, is that there is a trim-level at the top that would qualify some of these trucks into the luxury vehicle segment. Where the leather is so sumptuous and the convenience features so elegant and, well, convenient, that the truck seems more like a luxury vehicle than a worker’s truck.
That is where the 2023 Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX Capstone sits - right there in that luxury-truck segment. Together with Denalis and Limiteds, and other great names found on the most expensive pickups on our roads today.
This isn’t just a Tundra. It’s a Tundra Capstone… Actually, a 2023 Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX Capstone, but that’s way too long of a name to keep writing - and reading - over and over.
The Capstone is pretty much the name given to a Tundra where every option, feature, and luxurious detail has been included.
Let’s start with the massive, iPad-like, infotainment screen. One of the largest touchscreens in a vehicle, it’s the access point for pretty much all features in the Tundra. The extra good news is that it’s really easy to use, the layout is simple and the menu system is easily understood. Yeah, it’s the same as in all the other Toyotas, this one just comes with a much bigger screen.
And while we’re on the subject of screens, the Head-Up-Display (HUD) in the Tundra, at 10 inches, is also massive. This allows for all kinds of information to be presented to the driver, right where their eyes are supposed to be looking - on the windshield.
Our test vehicle has the 10-way power-adjustable front seats in two-tone (white and black) semi-aniline leather. I’m not always a fan of white leather - I’m always wondering ‘how long will this stay white?’ - but this combination, I must say, is really nice. And, with the dark American Walnut wood-grain trim, it makes for a very appealing cockpit.
The interior feels huge - it’s huge by objective measures as well - and there seems to be almost unlimited space in the rear seat. Stick three kids back there and they’ll fit fine. With only two, seated on either side, I’m not sure they’d be able to reach each other - a huge plus. On that note, I (the driver) can’t reach them either, which isn’t good or bad, but it goes to show how large the interior of the Tundra really is.
Speaking of reach - my wife’s comment, sitting in the passenger seat, was that “we have to meet halfway if we want to hold hands”.
Power, Handling, And Comfort
This is definitely a truck. Since it’s made to haul stuff - even if you might never actually use its full capacity - you’ll find that it “bounces” and handles just like a truck is supposed to. With no load to hold up, the rear suspension is fairly tight. Or, from the other perspective, with no load holding it down, the rear suspension takes on speed bumps with all its might. The kids felt it in the rear row where it’s even more prominent since you’re closer to the rear axle. It’s not bad at all - at least not worse than any other truck - but I think the effect is strengthened by the fact that you’re sitting in what looks and seems to be (and is) a luxury automobile. Expectations might not be aligned with reality.
With that said, however, the Tundra offers a really smooth truck-ride. It’s large, but with all the convenience features and safety gadgets helping you out, size isn’t really a problem. Parking is a breeze with the top-down view displayed on the huge screen and sensors all around you. Switching lanes is assisted by the blind spot warning system as well as a very wide-angled camera view displayed in/on the interior rear view mirror. Actually, that rear-view camera-mirror is so wide that it takes care of most - if not all - of the blind spot.
Yeah, this is a hybrid - which in itself is remarkable, it’s a truck! I know we have fully electric large pickup trucks, but whenever I sit in a hybrid - and huge - truck, it somehow seems like an oxymoron. The gas mileage is probably not the key focus for a truck-buyer, but it’s great that we’re seeing more and more action towards hybrid and electric pickup trucks. With it comes not only more environmentally friendly vehicles, but also an extra kick to the power available.
This beast has a lot of “go”. The combustion engine and the electric engine work together to get things moving very rapidly. With the added torque from a stand-still (thanks to the electric motor) you’ll have to make sure to not floor it when the light turns green - especially if you’re making a turn - the rear tires will definitely chirp at ya!
Obviously there is no way to talk about design objectively other than factually noting design elements and actual dimensions. With that said: I really like the exterior of the 2023 Tundra. The bold lines and harsh design make it look a bit more aggressive than its predecessors, from the front, yes, but especially from the rear.
The front still has a fairly rounded overall feel to it, but with its sheer size the roundedness plays to its favor. The added i-FORCE MAX details are a nice touch, as are the lights sunk into the bottom of the front grille.
Quite frankly, this is a nice truck. The 2023 Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX Capstone has all the bells and whistles available, has the space to haul around a whole bunch of things (both people and their stuff), the capacity to take you over, through, or across some perilous places, and it does it all with a really high level of luxury for all occupants.
For those of us who don’t plan on hauling houses and/or tractors, but want a lot of space for our gear, the Tundra is a very potent contender. Add to it the Capstone trim and you’re not even limiting yourself when it comes to luxury, convenience, safety, or “hey, check this out”-functionality.
About The Author
John-Fredrik Wright was born in Sweden, but raised on both sides of the Atlantic. His experience in the automotive industry starts with a summer-job as a host at Volkswagen’s premier showroom in Stockholm. Later, he worked as an instructor at Swedish Active Driving, teaching safe driving (among other things the renowned "elk-avoidance maneuver") and advanced driving techniques.