The 2023 Toyota Tundra Capstone Capstone Review: Should You Buy Toyota's Luxury Pickup Truck?
Toyota does durable. But can they do fancy?
Full-size trucks have become America’s de facto default luxury vehicles, with the average transaction price for a new one eclipsing $60,000. The Big Three have embraced this with super-lux trims like the GMC Sierra Denali, the Ram 1500 Limited and the Ford F-150 Limited. Toyota hasn’t really followed suit — until now, that is, with the swanky new Tundra Capstone grade. It starts at $76,145, more than twice the Tundra's base MSRP and nearly $7,000 more than what had been the flagship TRD Pro model.
The Capstone grade was not available (or even confirmed yet) when I drove the Tundra at its launch event. But recently, I was able to get one in to test — technically a 2022 model but identical to the version on sale for 2023 — as a family car around my home outside Detroit for a week. And as painful as this is for me to admit — I do like the new Tundra — it’s hard for me to recommend leveling up to Capstone. The truck looks the part, and offers some nice features. But it's not the ultimate, transformative Tundra experience its price point would prime you for.
The Capstone-grade Tundra nails what it needs to be on the exterior. It treads the fine line of being stately and flashy without crossing over into garish; think less King Ranch and more lord (or lady) of the high-end shopping center parking lot. The Capstone Tundra looks premium, with its big fancy wheels, but does not blare its presence with garish badging.
My chic two-year-old daughter still asks to take the white truck to preschool a month later. When told I was just borrowing it, she asked why we haven't bought one yet.
Like all high-end Tundras, the Capstone trim only uses the new iForce Max 3.5-liter V6 hybrid engine. It’s not a particularly efficient hybrid — 20 mpg combined per the EPA. (And I have yet to come close to matching that in several times driving the Tundra.) But the engine is potent, with 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque, and the 10-speed transmission is smooth.
Unlike other Tundras, the Capstone trim comes with acoustic glass on the front doors, which delivers a quieter ride. Many drivers will also like the automatic power running boards that make the cabin more accessible. That said, I'll confess I disabled them halfway through the week because they jabbed me in the shins one too many times while extricating my kids from the back seat.
Toyota knows how to do luxury; they created Lexus, and they built the plush Land Cruiser. But the Capstone feels closer to a Platinum Toyota Crown than a Lexus take on a pickup. It has the requisite trendy materials, like “semi-aniline” leather seats and open-pore wood — but they're slapped unimaginatively over the usual Tundra interior with its utilitarian switchgear. There aren’t any other elements that make it feel unique enough for what you’re paying.
One more note: White leather on the touch surfaces feels like it was a better idea in the design studio than it will be for people who own the truck. And that's the only choice with Capstone.
Buyers like full-size trucks in part because they ride comfortably. The Capstone Tundra doesn't. It's the only Tundra to boast massive 22-inch wheels, which gives you less sidewall to deaden impacts. And not coincidentally, it's the only Tundra trim I've driven that felt unsettled on rough pavement (a.k.a. basically all paved roads in southeast Michigan).
My tester also had the upgraded adaptive variable and load-leveling rear air suspension, and it's the only Tundra I've driven where, about once per drive, I would hit a moderate bump at about 20-40 mph and receive a sharp jolt like the suspension had bottomed out — strong enough that my kids would comment about it.
I would save some money and buy a lower-trim Tundra. Ride quality is a big issue with the Capstone. And even if you set that aside, the grade just does not measure up to the lux truck experience the Big Three offer (and Toyota isn't offering their option a discount).
I think the Tundra Limited offers the best value. It delivers some fancy tech features. It opens up the Hybrid Max powertrain and the TRD Off-Road package as options. And it starts more than $20,000 cheaper than the Capstone.
What we know so far about the most-eagerly-awaited midsize truck.