In the modern era, those fleet averages dictate plenty of drivetrain and aerodynamic considerations from major manufacturers. But the Tacoma undoubtedly needed a massive engine and transmission update to keep up with the competition, probably more so than just about any other vehicle on the market. A new turbocharged four-cylinder engine with optional hybrid assist puts Toyota back in touch with reality, in terms of both fuel economy and power output, as does an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The drivetrain choices total four specs across all eight trims: SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter. In base SR form, the engine produces 228 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. All others equipped with the eight-speed automatic produce 278 hp and 317 lb-ft. The hybrid system bumps those figures up to 326 hp and a whopping 465 lb-ft, but the six-speed stick shift is available only with the gas engine producing 270 hp and 310 lb-ft.
Given the massive torque figure for a relatively diminutive 2.4-liter four-banger, I asked Brown about the hybrid system. Turns out, the specs should have looked somewhat familiar, since the exact same battery and electric motor already arrived in the Tundra. And unlike other more commuter-focused Toyotas, the Tacoma hybrid will still use a traditional gearbox rather than a CVT.
“We’re actually using the same 48-horsepower motor,” Brown said, “and the exact same 1.87-kilowatt-hour nickel-metal hydride batteries in the back. And those are sandwiched in between the engine and the transmission, so you’re turning gears. All you’re doing is using that motor to spin up your torque.”