A 31 MPG 2016 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid 4WD pickup is possible
Have you ever wished you could have a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck for light duty, but not have to pay a penalty at the pump? Your days if waiting could be over if Toyota decides to move its proven drivetrain from an upcoming model to the popular Tacoma.
Lexus is about to introduce a new hybrid crossover to the US market called the NX 300h. This new crossover will become the US market’s fuel economy champion for crossovers upon arrival and it is unclear if any real rivals will come along for quite a while. Even the much larger Tesla Model X is a year away. So for now the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Lexus RX 450h will remain on top. However, these vehicles are larger and heavier than a Tacoma and are using 6 cylinder hybrids. Imagine how much of a fuel miser the Tacoma would be if it adopted the 4-cylinder hybrid drivetrain of the “300h” Lexus vehicles.
Engine Specifications for Toyota Tacoma Hybrid
Before you turn away figuring that such a drivetrain would be vastly underpowered for a compact pickup realize that the “300h” drivetrain already packs more power than the base Tundra does. The approximately 200 horsepower is accompanied by 156 lb-ft of torque. That is a problem. With trucks torque matters more and having less of it will make a hybrid Tacoma a truck for light duty only. Towing would be limited to small trailers only, with limited cargo. Still, there are people for whom that would be enough.
We’ve driven the Lexus ES 300h. This is a large car that weighs about 3700 pounds. The weight penalty is only about 100 pounds due to the battery packs. The Tacoma is very close to this weight, almost identical in 4x4 configurations. From this we can say that driving the Tacoma would be fine. The ES 300h does not feel underpowered around town and in normal driving the power is adequate. Those looking for a truck with the emphasis on fuel economy would not complain.