Toyota To Get Cummins Diesel?
Come 2016, the option list for the next-gen Tundra will include a Cummins 5.0-liter turbo diesel. That oil-burner is predicted to be rated at 300+ horsepower and, in true diesel form, more than 500 lb-ft of torque. This should make Nissan product planners sit up and mumble “rats,” as this appears to be the same engine being developed for the redesigned Titan, which debuts next year.
While there are still some reasons to wonder what Toyota is planning here (which I’ll get into below), odds are good the 2016 Tundra is a gettin’ a Cummins Diesel.
Why We Still Have Some Doubts About Diesel Tundra Rumors
First, please know that I had a source tell me Toyota was testing a Cummins-powered Tundra about the time the Wards Auto story broke. It’s 100% certain that Toyota has put a Cummins diesel in a Tundra and has done some testing. It’s also clear from the strong sales of the diesel Ram 1500 that there’s a market for a diesel-powered half-ton. Finally, there are emissions and fuel economy rules that strongly encourage Toyota to offer a diesel (or perhaps hybrid) Tundra.
- Toyota has completely and totally maxed out production at the San Antonio plant. The only way they’re going to sell more trucks is to add production capacity somewhere in North America. Unless and until Toyota announces plans to increase truck production, there are reasons to doubt diesel rumors. Adding a diesel engine only aggravates the current capacity problem (especially with the new Tacoma debuting in the next year or so).
- Tundra project engineer Mike Sweers (and others) is on record as dismissing the long-term viability of diesel under the coming fuel economy rules. After 2020, the picture for light-duty diesel trucks is very blurry, as the exhaust treatment systems become very expensive in order to stay compliant. This isn’t a problem for Ram and their baby diesel, as they’ll get to sell diesels for 5 or 6 years before the lights go out. But Toyota wouldn’t get to sell the diesel very long before emissions rules make it difficult to justify.
- Toyota isn’t the kind of company to outsource engines. I’m struggling to think of an example of where Toyota brought in an outside engine to fill a need, except for the new Scion FR-S/Toyota 86, which uses a Subaur motor. It could be that Toyota is more open to this sort of thing now that Akio Toyoda is in charge, but who knows.
Could it be that the Cummins diesel is merely a “bridge” that helps Toyota maximize Tundra fuel economy until they release another powertrain that’s cleaner and greener? Perhaps. Toyota has long stated that they intend to offer a hybrid version of very vehicle in their lineup by 2020, and there’s also the emerging possibility of a fuel cell powered Tundra (which I will enumerate in detail sometime next month).
Nonetheless, these are some good reasons to doubt diesel rumors.
Is The 5.0L Diesel A 5.7L Replacement?
The Tundra 5.7L is getting old enough now to merit replacement. Toyota tends to replace engines every 10 years or so, and the 5.0L Cummins could easily take the place of the 5.7, providing heaps of power while offering better fuel economy.
And if the 5.7L is indeed going away, wouldn’t the 5.0L Lexus V8 with Atkinson variable displacement be a great choice? The new line-up for 2016 could look something like this:
- The aging 4.6L would be the “value” engine, offering decent performance for Tundra buyers who opt for a bare-bones truck
- A 5.0L variable displacement gas-powered V8 could offer best-in-class performance and solid fuel economy
- A 5.0L Cummins diesel would be a great choice for Toyota truck fans looking for serious pulling power, but who aren’t willing to buy a 3/4 ton truck for Ford, GM, or Ram
This is obviously speculation, but the variable displacement 5.0L V8 I’m talking about makes 467hp in the Lexus RC F, yet is still efficient enough to earn a 25mpg highway rating in that coupe (which weighs nearly as much as a Tundra at more than 4,000lbs). If the Lexus 5.0L V8 could be re-tuned for fuel economy and low-end torque, it would work great in a Tundra, and it might generate enough horsepower to win the coveted “most powerful engine available in a half-ton” title.
What’s more, a 420hp (or so) 5.0L Tundra V8 could probably hold the the “most powerful engine” title for years, as Ford, GM, and Ram all seem to have punted horsepower in favor of fuel economy.
It seems likely that Toyota will be adding the 5.0L diesel to the 2016 Tundra, but we’ll wait for confirmation before we book it.
The question is, will this new diesel compliment the aging 5.7L V8, or will it help to replace it? And if the 5.7L V8 is being replaced, will it be the 5.0L Lexus V8? Finally, what transmission options will be available? New engines usually debut with new transmissions.
Whatever the future holds, it’s important to remember that:
- The 5.0L Cummins isn’t going to be cheap. It will be an option that runs a few thousand dollars.
- The current 5.7L V8 and 6 speed transmission are rock solid in terms of reliability. They’re not flashy or exciting, but they’ll last forever.
As exciting as the possibility of a diesel Tundra or new high horsepower V8 might be, reliability and durability are the main reasons to buy a Toyota. There’s plenty of reason to get a new truck now, rather than waiting to see what happens.
Filed Under: Tundra News