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Toyota now one step closer to 2016 Tacoma 2.0-Turbo

Lexus has done the hardest part. Why adding a 2-liter turbo is now easier.


When Lexus announced its 2015 NX 200t crossover would use a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, the first thought we had was that this engine would do wonders for the Toyota Tacoma. Sure the base engine needs to be an inexpensive, low-power, four-banger, and yes, the V6 will still be important, but why not add a middle engine offering? One reason is that the layout is not an easy adaptation. The NX is a vehicle with a transversely-mounted engine because it adapted from a front-drive architecture. The Tacoma would need its engine mounted longitudinally, (pistons in-line with the driveshaft). This week Lexus announced it will longitudinally mount the new 2-liter turbo in its rear-drive 2016 IS 200t sports sedan. Tacoma engine mounting issue solved!

Toyota has repeatedly said it will never do a diesel Tacoma for the U.S. The only alternative for buyers planning to tow medium duty loads is to choose the V6, which uses more fuel. A high-torque, fuel efficient four-cylinder turbo might be perfect for medium-duty towing, and also be a peppy, torquey engine for normal driving. There seems to be room for a turbocharged four in the Tacoma engine offerings.

Most people object to turbos for two very good reasons. First, they lag. When you give them throttle, they need time to spool-up, and then they take off. Also, most use premium fuel, which negates the cost savings of the turbo in the first place. Having driven the NX 200t, our feeling is the turbo-lag issue is not a problem for Toyota. However, the NX 200t crossover does “recommend” premium. But, with both Ford and Hyundai offering excellent turbocharged four-cylinder engines with very little lag and using regular unleaded, we know it can be done.

What is your take? If a 241 hp, four-cylinder turbo with more torque than the V6 between 2,000 and 4,500 rpms was offered, would you consider it? What if it cost $2,000 less than the V6 and got two mpg combined better fuel economy? Let us know in the comments below.


Dave (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 9:39AM

2k less than the V6? No way. That would eat right into their profits since a turbo 4 would likely cost about the same as the V6 to make. The truck itself would have to lose some content to make up for the lost profits.

Fossini (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 2:32PM

I would asbolutely consider it! I'm torn between the 16 Tacoma or a full size truck (F150 or Tundra). I'm not planning on towing a lot, but for off roading, the low-end torque would be welcome in addition to better gas mileage and $2k less in cost.

Stuki Moi (not verified)    August 4, 2015 - 4:14PM

In reply to by Fossini (not verified)

Have you ever "offroaded" with a turbo engine? They have NO low end torque, as in off idle. Then hits hard around 1500-2000. For precise crawling, they are a genuine pain. Constant managing of boost with the brakes and gas. Ditto for turbo diesels. Ram nixed the Cummins in the Power Wagon for a reason. It'll be interesting how Ford does with their next gen (ecoboost) Raptor, although in a high speed dessert truck, off idle crawl performance is less important than in a woods truck or crawler.

John Goreham    August 6, 2015 - 3:50PM

In reply to by Stuki Moi (not verified)

Stuki, you make an excellent point. Toyota would have to consider that, or simply offer a V6 option better for off-roading (TRD). My off-road driving time is very limited, but I have been to a Land Rover off-road course a couple times the Mfg. sets up annually at our motor press meeting in the woods of New York state. I drove a 2.0-turbo Range Rover Evoque slowly on a very technical course and it seemed to have that crawl thing under control. Of course it cost about triple what a Tacoma costs, so there's that...

Big Bob Tacoma 05 (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 3:15PM

Still waiting for Tacoma Diesel 4 cyliner and will continue to wait. I Might send my current V6 to Texas and have it converted to 4 cylinder TRD Company in San Antonio will do it.

Liam (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 6:02PM

Very interesting! I have a 2009 Tacoma TRD Sport with the 6 cylinder. I have 167,000 miles on it and I drive it like I stole it. Never had any issues.. I will be in the market soon for a new truck and hope I like the look of the 2016 Tacoma.

Regarding your article..perception (not reality) is that a 4 cyl turbo does not seem like it would be suitable in a truck....but that perception is s l o w l y going away... heck the new Porsche Boxster will have a 4 cyl. turbo....

I would rather the 6 cylinder and higher MPG's in my new Tacoma but like anything else I think I could be persuaded by driving it, seeing it and feeling the difference between the engines.

Great article!

Bob Washere (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 6:14PM

The appeal of Toyotas is reliability, low cost and ease of maintainence. Even though Turbo engines are not the engines of the 80's, they still have more complexity over a V6. Additionally, power is developed differently which affects the ride. Nobody likes winding out an engine just to achieve power.

Alexander Fisher (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 6:39PM

I want the turbo because I primarily use a truck for trips to Tahoe. High altitude turbo performance is a real winner in the mountains.

Adam (not verified)    August 3, 2015 - 9:20PM

If it was $2000 less, didn't need premium fuel, could still tow a decent amount (4500lb rating asking too much?), and got 2 more MPG I'd be all for it.

Mark Day (not verified)    August 4, 2015 - 4:03AM

Eric Peters said it best: "The same forces are driving the adoption (the force-feeding) of small, heavily turbocharged engines in lieu of the simpler (read: less expensive/lower profit margin) larger, not-turbocharged engines that most cars used to be powered by. The reason for this is not market demand. It is government edict." I suggest a new measurement, along with 0-60 times, turbo lag time.

Stuki Moi (not verified)    August 4, 2015 - 4:21PM

Why? Let's see what the Atkinson enabled 6 can do mpg wise first. The ecoboost trucks tend to have good mileage when driven epa level slow. As in, slower than a dead grandma. And good power when gunned, but at the cost of atrocious mileage. Not necessarily a bad tradeoff in a half ton driven empty 363 days of the year, and towing 10000lbs for the remaining 2. But that's a very different use case than what most Tacos are bought for.

steve. (not verified)    August 8, 2015 - 6:24AM

What is wrong with you toyota?? Why don't you just make the tacoma with a Hilux D4D 3.0 diesel? Like you already make all over the gets way better fuel economy and far less pollution. than that of the V6. and more overall torque.

Charles (not verified)    November 2, 2016 - 12:34AM

The new 2016 Tacoma v6 has very little low end torque ... my older 2002 solara v6 engine and transmission were much smoother shifting and better acceleration. I would go for turbo charging both 4 and 6 cylinder versions if possible ... these engines need low end torque and only going to get that by turbo charging .... that is why Porsche now turbo charges all their 911s. Unfortunately we are looking at new fuel efficiency standards and must achieve somehow ... I think a 4cylinder turbo is a great option and trying to cut some weight out of the truck is the direction that Toyota is going to have to go. There are tricks to reduce turbo lag these days ... also, the weight of the truck is significant ... it is built like a tank ... the engine hood alone must be 150 lbs ... reducing some weight by 10% could help performance and efficiency.