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 Compared to its Ford, GM, and Ram competitors, the Tundra is beyond ancient, boasting a porky curb weight, an outdated interior, and fuel economy that fails to reach 20 mpg in any configuration.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.