Why a 2016 Tacoma Diesel makes more sense than a Tacoma Hybrid
In our recent story we applied our knowledge of the Toyota/Lexus family of drivetrains and speculated on what a Toyota Tacoma Hybrid might be like. Readers liked the idea of a 31 MPG Tacoma. However, many have pointed out to us since the story that a Tacoma diesel might make a lot more sense. Does it? Let’s compare the pluses and minuses of both.
A Toyota Tacoma diesel is difficult to imagine since Toyota has no diesel engines in the US right now. We could speculate on what a Toyota diesel from another market might do in the US, but as Mazda has recently proven, adapting a diesel from other markets does not yield the same results in our EPA testing. If our Toyota fans will allow it, we’d like to instead look to a proven leader in US diesel vehicles, the Volkswagen Passat for our diesel estimates.
These estimates are already EPA certified, so we can start from a known point. The Passat has 170 horsepower, but its 1.8 liter, 4-cylinder turbo-diesel delivers good torque at 236 pound-feet. That is much more than the Tacoma Hybrid we imagine and that will be a big part of the advantage for the Tacoma Diesel when we get to that part of our discussion.
Tacoma Diesel Fuel Economy
The 2014 Passat Diesel earns a rating of 34 MPG combined. We are comparing automatics since there would never be a stick-shift hybrid Toyota. Let’s now adjust that as we did previously when we came up with our estimates for the Tacoma Hybrid. First, we need to adjust for weight. The Tacoma weighs roughly 3700 pounds and the Volkswagen Passat weighs 3400 pounds. That is roughly a 9% difference. We will be generous and only apply a 6% penalty to the fuel economy for this. That gives us about 32 MPG. Now, just as we did for the Hybrid in our other analysis, we are going to assess a 15% fuel economy reduction due to the Tacoma’s larger frontal area and overall poorer aerodynamics. That brings us to 27.2 MPG of diesel fuel. Finally, we are comparing 4WD vehicles, so we need to assess a penalty to the Tacoma Diesel for the efficiency losses. Let’s say just 3%. We hit the Tacoma Hybrid with a 10% penalty for 4WD, so we are really still leaning hard to help the diesel. Now we are at 26 MPG.
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Finally, we will cross check that logic with a real diesel truck. The 2014 Ram 1500 4WD. That vehicle has a fuel economy of 22 MPG. So our Tacoma, being smaller, and having a smaller diesel engine would be realistic. We think 26 MPG combined is a fair estimate.