Toyota Tundra Rumor Mill Swells With Hybrid Talk

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
toyota tundra rumor mill swells with hybrid talk

While Toyota remains tight-lipped about its next-generation Tundra pickup, the online commentariat is abuzz with rumors these past several months. The automaker holds no aspirations of unseating the Ford F-150 as king of the full-size truck segment, but numerous reports suggest Toyota at least wants to offer something on par with its modern domestic rivals. Perhaps even class-leading.

The rumors include the possibility of the Tundra sharing its new platform with its midsize Tacoma stablemate, the adoption of an air suspension system (or perhaps even an independent rear setup), and now this: a hybrid turbo drivetrain.

Having debuted in 2006 for the 2007 model year, the current-gen Tundra allowed ample time for speculation to build up. From TFL Truck comes the latest, with a company insider claiming high-end versions of the upcoming Tundra will adopt a hybrid drivetrain employing a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6.

That’s the engine found in Lexus’ new-for-2018 LS sedan, which generates 416 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque without the assistance of electricity. The source claims the truck’s hybrid setup is similar to the wildly complex Multi Stage Hybrid System found in the LS 500h, with output projected to be in the area of 450 hp and 500 lb-ft. Toyota is reportedly aiming for a fuel economy figure of 30 mpg or higher. That’s a highway figure, surely.

If true, Toyota wouldn’t have the fledgling hybrid truck market all to itself. Ford’s F-150 hybrid should debut well before the next-gen Tundra arrives in 2021 or 2022. Apparently, the cab and bed of the new Tundra have yet to be finalized, so don’t expect to see a surprise early introduction.

While the Tundra boasts exceptional buyer loyalty, sales are falling off as the industry contracts. Volume is down 5.1 percent through the end of April. It’s the opposite situation for the Tacoma, which can’t seem to stop finding new buyers.

Adding a high-MPG, high-tech Tundra variant would help Toyota generate buzz for an often overlooked model that currently doesn’t even offer a V6. As Toyota left its full-sizer to wither on the vine, focusing instead on admittedly lucrative new crossovers (as well as sedans), rivals began offering turbo sixes, light-duty diesels, and even a turbo four. Compared to its Ford, GM, and Ram competitors, the Tundra is beyond ancient, boasting a porky curb weight, an outdated interior, and fuel economy that fails to reach 20 mpg in any configuration.

The changes made to the next-gen model will need to be extensive and meaningful.

[Image: Toyota]

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on May 29, 2019

    Time to add D4S injection (which equivalent dual port and direct injection Ford already has on its F150 engines) to that Toyota 5.7l DOHC. New cylinder heads required as well. The 5.0l Coyote V8 is more advanced than this lumbering old giant. Adding the Lexus LS hybrid setup isn't a bad idea. With the low sales of those things, some investment needs to be recouped by churning out a few more 3.5 V6 twin turbos.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on May 30, 2019

      @Fordson Don't tell credit criminal Ram buyers that they can't afford to change their 32 spark plugs.

  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on May 30, 2019

    I'm sure that 30mpg number is the city number as that is where most hybrid designs shine.

    • Gtem Gtem on May 30, 2019

      I just gave back a Fusion Hybrid SE rental, averaged an indicated 43mpg with a highway drive to Chicago and back, mostly at 75-78mph and A/C use. Not too shabby at all considering its 3700lb heft. The thing is, I've gotten 40+ mpg out of a Passat 1.8TSI and Optima (2.4 NA) doing similar drives. I agree, city is where hybrids really shine. On the open road, regular 4 cylinder sedans are getting some incredible numbers.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.