Pretty eight machine. Whoever designed the Toyota Tundra clearly had a soft spot for octagons. When you start paying attention to the design of this rugged Japanese pickup truck (which is actually made in Texas), you’ll spot them from the giant radiator grille and indicators to the infotainment screen surround and central cupholders. Even the flanks have octagon caps recessed into them, for no obvious reason. Whether any of this makes the Tundra pretty or desirable is debatable – to these eyes, it’s a bit tacky and overly aggressive – but it’s certainly more interesting than many of its competitors.

Inside the cabin, things are more conventionally Toyota. The instrumentation is clear and effective, the seats are large and supportive, and there’s loads of glass so even small children will be able to see out of the rear windows. This should minimize the risk of bodily fluids being ejected onto the hardwearing fabric or synthetic leather seats, whose design is a bit Nineties Nissan; at least they’ll pass the test of time. Plentiful storage suggests the designers appreciated how much clutter truck drivers tend to accumulate.

A model pro. The Tundra wouldn’t be a proper truck without a wealth of options, and this extends to its drivetrain. AWD is optional on most models but standard on TRD Pro and Capstone versions, while off-road prowess on other models can be augmented with a TRD Off-Road package that includes a rear diff and Bilstein shocks. The Pro shows how it’s done, though, with Fox internal-bypass shocks and a raised ride height. Some models have a low-speed crawl mode, but there’s no transfer case on offer. Even so, in the right configuration, you can tow as much as 12,000 lbs.

Performance is aided by a brace of excellent engines, starting with a twin-turbo 389 hp V6 and extending to a 437 hp hybrid that’ll achieve 22 mpg combined in RWD mode. Even the thirstiest Tundra will return 19 on the combined cycle, which isn’t bad. Toyota’s decision to eschew leaf springs in front of coils all around means you’re unlikely to need the optional rear air suspension or adaptive dampers unless you want to select the biggest 22-inch wheels in the options catalog. Don’t bother – ride quality is good provided you avoid them. And while we’d never describe a truck as being exciting to drive, quick-witted steering is far more responsive than you’d expect, while the ten-speed automatic transmission makes light work of heavy acceleration.

2023 Toyota Tundra Interior

Getting in trim. If budgets are tight, you can buy a Tundra for less than $40,000. For this, you’ll get an eight-inch touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, a keyless start, and a power tailgate. There are six other trims, though you’ll spend more money upgrading the mechanicals and body style. Adding a Crew Cab brings eight inches more rear legroom than the smaller Extended Cab, while the standard five-foot six-inch bed can be extended by a further foot. It’s finished in resin composite, and a nice touch on higher trims is being able to open the tailgate if your hands are full by nudging the taillight.

Also found higher up the Tundra food chain is a 14-inch infotainment screen which could give Audi a few sleepless nights thanks to the caliber of its mapping. Not only does it look stunning, but it also dovetails well with the available surround-view camera system. Higher trims adopt ever more creature comforts without becoming opulent – there’s wood and leather, but none of the swagger found in a GMC Sierra Denali, for instance. Top-range Capstone models will be touching $80,000, though they do pack adaptive dampers and air suspension.

Built to last. Every Tundra is burdened with Toyota’s underwhelming three-year/36,000-mile warranty but blessed with its legendary build quality and reliability. It’s also impressively safe, having earned top marks from the IIHS in Crew Cab guise, though Extended Cab models haven’t been tested yet. Whichever trim you choose, you’ll benefit from automatic emergency braking, active lane assist, and cruise control, plus auto high beams. Despite excellent visibility, we’d like to see blind-spot monitoring as standard across the range on a truck this big.

Final thoughts. If you don’t mind owning a foreign-badged (though domestically built) truck, the Tundra makes a strong case for itself. It lacks some of the skid-plate ruggedness and seat-massaging luxury found on certain competitors, but it’s a solidly built and well-appointed workhorse with lusty engines, good road manners, and (in Crew Cab models at least) a spacious interior.

Yes, the cargo bed maxes out at 78 inches, and yes, some models aren’t especially good at towing. But all things considered, there is a lot to appreciate. By the time you’re looking at mid-range SR5 or Limited trim, you’re getting a well-appointed vehicle with impressive infotainment tech and a cabin that’ll withstand anything short of a tiger fight, all at competitive prices. You might not appreciate the divisive styling or the lack of full-time four-wheel drive, but it’s impossible to overlook the Tundra’s practicality and durability.

Check prices for the 2023 Toyota Tundra