Weeks of Real-World Testing Leads to TFL’s 2022 Best Truck of the Year: The Winner Is…

Only one can the overall winner!

2022 tfltruck best truck of the year

TFLtruck.com announces the winners of the annual TFL 2022 Best Truck of the Year competition. These awards recognize new 2022 pickup trucks for their trailer towing ability, efficiency, off-road prowess, technology, and performance.

TFLtruck considered the following four pickup trucks for this 2022 competition. In order to be eligible for this competition, these new 2022 models had to be all-new and available as of December 2021. Here are the contestants.

  • 2022 Ford Maverick
  • 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • 2022 Nissan Frontier
  • 2022 Toyota Tundra

TFLtruck also invited the Ford F-150 Raptor, GMC Hummer EV Truck, and Rivian R1T – but these pickup trucks were not available for testing as of December 2021.

The four all-new 2022 trucks competed in the following six categories:

  • TFL Best Towing Truck
  • TFL Best MPG Truck
  • TFL Best Off-Road Truck
  • TFL Best Truck Technology
  • TFL Best Performing Truck
  • TFL 2022 Truck of the Year

And the winners are… After weeks of strenuous real-world testing, the TFLtruck.com team picked the following winners. Congratulations to the manufacturers and the development teams that created these capable new pickup trucks.

TFL Best Towing Truck

In order to be considered for this prestigious award, contestants had to survive the Ike Gauntlet™ – the world’s toughest towing test. This is an 8-mile stretch of the I-70 interstate with a 7% grade, a 60 MPH speed limit, and a maximum elevation of 11,158 feet above sea level. If a pickup truck can tow a trailer well on this mountain highway, it can tow well anywhere.

2022 toyota tundra towing ike gauntlet best award

The 2022 Toyota Tundra takes the TFL Best Towing Truck award with confidence. In a short amount of time, we had the new Tundra tow an 8,100 lbs trailer over 300 miles. This includes two runs up and down the Ike Gauntlet. The truck performed confidently on the way day in Tow Haul and Tow+ modes. The new 2022 Tundra chassis and the updated suspension make for a very stable and confident towing platform. There were times when I had the trailer behind the Tundra and it felt like the trailer wasn’t even there. The twin-turbocharged V6 offered effortless power on the way up the mountain, and the truck’s cabin was the quietest we ever tested.

Congratulations to the Toyota Tundra team for making an excellent trailer towing machine not just among these competitors, but among all other half-ton pickup trucks in this segment.

TFL Best MPG Truck

Which pickup truck has the best real-world efficiency? We put all of these trucks on our MPG Loops. This includes a 50-mile mixed city-and-highway loop, 66-mile highway loop, or a long road-trip MPG verification. Not all of the contestants were tested on every loop, but we drove many miles in each. The Tundra did a 1,000+ mile road trip from Houston, TX to Boulder, CO.

While most of these trucks did well, one was simply way above all expectations. The 2022 Ford Maverick Hybrid is the TFL Best MPG Truck. We verified 40.5 MPG after one of our mixed driving loops. This real-world result is simply outstanding for any crew cab pickup truck. The Maverick Hybrid comes only in a front-wheel-drive configuration. The combination of its 2.5-liter I4 and an electric motor is one of the smoothest and efficient powertrains we recently sampled.

Congratulations to the Ford Maverick team on such an achievement, and offering a pickup like this at an affordable price. The Maverick Hybrid XLT we tested had an MSRP of under $28,000.

TFL Best Off-Road Truck

Picking the best off-road truck is not as easy. We took all of the contestants on various Rocky Mountain off-road trails in Colorado to see how they perform when the going gets steep, dusty, rocky, and muddy.

We compare all of the off-road specifications: ground clearance, approach/departure angles, tires, turning radius, off-road modes, transfer cases, and differential lockers. Since off-road trail conditions are ever-changing, opinion comes into play when choosing the best of the bunch.

The 2022 TFL Best Off-Road Truck award goes to the all-new 2022 Nissan Frontier. The Frontier PRO-4X we tested has what it takes to tackle difficult trails. It has the locking rear differential, low-range transfer case, Bilstein shocks, and skid plates. It was a very good off-road pickup truck in its previous generation, and this new one is no different.

The 9-speed automatic transmission provides the needed gear ratios for slow-speed crawling or faster off-road running. The Bilstein shocks make short work of most obstacles. We took it up Webster Pass and the Tombstone Hill trails. Its relatively small mid-size proportions make it better on narrow trails.

Congratulations to the Nissan Frontier team for making a mighty capable off-road pickup truck.

TFL Best Truck Technology

This year we are taking a closer look at the user interfaces and interior design inside these new pickup trucks. We have a new 100-point scoring system to judge each truck on the ease of use of the infotainment system, steering wheel controls, gauges layout, voice command system, device integration, and more.

The TFL Best Truck Technology award goes to the all-new 2022 Toyota Tundra.

Congratulations to the Toyota team for simplifying the user interface, keeping the gauges easy to use, and improving voice command and device integrations systems.

TFL Best Performing Truck

If you have been watching TFL, you know that we love drag racing pickup trucks to see how they accelerate and which one wins. Naturally, we had to take all of these pickup trucks to our test track at IMI Motorsports to see how they compare. The Ford Maverick and the Hyundai Santa Cruz have turbocharged engines and all-wheel-drive. The Nissan Frontier has a naturally aspirated V6 that has class-leading horsepower. The Toyota Tundra has a twin-turbocharged V6 with lots of torque.

In the end, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz wins the TFL Best Performing Truck award. The Santa Cruz surprised us all by its speed. We expected the new Tundra to be relatively quick, but the Santa Cruz was nearly just a quick during our 0-60 MPH testing. We also voted for the Santa Cruz because of how well it drives on the pavement. It’s nimble and comfortable. If you don’t look back, you may not remember that it has a small pickup bed back there.

Congratulations to the Hyundai Santa Cruz team for building a compact pickup that is quick and drives just as nice as a compact crossover or SUV.

2022 Best Truck of the Year!

Finally, when all is said and done, after long deliberation, we vote for the all-new 2022 Ford Maverick as the TFL 2022 Best Truck of the Year. This little pickup promised to be affordable and efficient, and we found it to check all the boxes. It was also able to tow a trailer with confidence, carry 1,300 lbs of logs, and accelerate quickly.

Congratulations to the Ford Maverick team on this achievement. We cannot wait to drive a Ford Maverick again.

Please join our deliberations in the video below.