Toyota Tundra Cummins Diesel – Fact or Fiction

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The latest hubbub has been all over the forums and automotive news sites about Toyota considering a Cummins diesel engine. While it has been fun watching the all the buzz, it is time for us to weigh in. I talked with Toyota’s national brand manager, here is the real deal.

Toyota Tundra Cummins Diesel - Fact or Fiction

All the buzz lately is around a Cummins diesel coming to a Toyota Tundra. Fact or Fiction?

Before we get to what Michael Kroll, Toyota national brand manager and one of the main sources for good/accurate information, let’s review what happened. Edmunds reporter Rick Kranz pressed Toyota’s Rick LoFaso, corporate manager for light trucks, about Toyota using a Cummins diesel engine. This was on the heels of Nissan’s annoucement that they will offer a Cummins diesel engine in their next-gen Titan.

Here is what LoFaso said at a press event (both quotes are together).

“I think Cummins would bring instant name recognition and obviously they are a leader in diesel engine technology,” Toyota’s Rick LoFaso told Edmunds. “That is not the first time we would have a tie up with somebody else,” citing working relationships with Tesla and BMW.

“The diesel engine is something that is on our evaluation list,” LoFaso said during an interview at a press event here. “Hybrid technology is something that is on our evaluation list. Either one of those alternatives could deliver some pretty good real world fuel economy.”

The standard line from EVERY Toyota representative is to say that “we are looking at all powertrain/engine options.” They have said this statement to me time and time again. It makes sense, Toyota doesn’t want to give any hints of what it is working on, so why not say we are “looking” at everything.

Last Wednesday, Kroll (national brand manager) confirmed the “every powertrain” statement to me. He also said that LoFaso was really getting pressed to give an answer and gave an honest answer about Cummins. Looking at his statement more closely and yes Cummins would give instant name recognition. He didn’t say Toyota was going to offer it at all.

The hubbub is understandable with consumers clamoring for a diesel engine. The reality is that this Fall, the introduction of a Ram 1500 diesel will have a large impact on the future of diesel engines in light-duty pickups. If it is a dud, automakers will say told you so. If it sells like hot cakes, consumers will say, we told you so. Either way, it will be interesting to watch.

What is the reality? It would be highly questionable for Toyota to use a Cummins engine. Frankly, they own part of Hino who makes diesel engines and they have lots of diesel engine experience worldwide. Why would they then use a third-party and pay more for each engine? They wouldn’t.

It is most likely to us that the Aussie 4.5L is the engine they would use. Ithas been tested in the Land Cruiser and at one point was supposedly going to be available in Canada. Since the best may to maximize Toyota’s existing investment in diesels is to use an engine on the shelf, and since the Hino product is really very different from a consumer-type diesel, we’d guess that the 4.5L is the engine Toyota’s looking at.

Sorry to all those who got overly excited by this news. It just doesn’t seem logical for Toyota to go forward with Cummins. However, if they do, we will eat crow.

What do you think? A Cummins diesel in a Tundra – fact or fiction?

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  1. Mickey says:

    I wouldn’t think Toyota would go with Cummins. As you mention Tim they have Hino which would be more economical for Toyota. I still think the diesel engine is dead for now.

  2. DJ says:

    Frankly I don’t get the diesel thing. The engines are loud (extremely loud compared to the 5.7), the fuel is more expensive, the oil changes are far more expensive. Plus you have the issue of turnbo’s and reliability. And the tradeoff is more torque and a little better gas mileage? For me I just don’t see what the big deal is. 85% of what the average person will tow can be towed by a Tundra. For huge fifth wheels or gooseneck’s there’s diesel dually’s.

    • Mike says:

      Diesels are a lot more refined these days so noise/smell aren’t that big of a deal anymore. I’ve seen diesel cheaper than premium at a good number of gas stations so the price isn’t that big of a factor anymore and definitely would pay itself with fuel efficiency. The initial upfront cost is also paid for since diesels can basically run forever

    • meep says:

      Diesels are not as loud as they used to be. I’ve been around tons of the diesels used in the new Mercedes Benzes and they’re really quiet. Same for the TDI diesels i’ve seen in the Golfs and Jettas. They’re not smokey either or smelly.

      Diesels are great because you get more torque while gaining MPGs on the highway.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mike it right, the new diesels are clean and not as loud as the past and they out pull any gas motor of the same size using 25 percent less fuel. Not as good as the past due to the UREA NO2 cleanup and the particulate filters which must be flooded with burning diesel to burn off the accumulated soot.

      The Cummins 6.7 is a monster engine. It makes no sense in the current Tundra. It’s just to big. But, cummins makes a different V motor which is going in the Titan. There is a great opportunity here for someone to use a Cummins inline 4 cylinder but since it will only have 400 foot pounds people will turn they noses up at it. I would take one for sure.

      Diesel is used the world over. The engines run longer and make more power with less fuel but, a real diesel runs at a much lower RPM which doesn’t mix all that well with a 6 speed automatic trans. The diesels I drove in the past had 10 speeds.

      While there are a lot of things I don’t like about the Ram 1500 the VM Motori V6 diesel looks very solid. Not Cummins but a good second choice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I last owned a diesel engine in the early 80s. In those days diesel fuel was cheaper than gas.

    I agree DJ’s points regarding smoke, noise, etc. The upside to diesels (at least for me in the early 80s) is that they get better mileage,generally have more torque, and you can leave them running for days if need be. (explains their popularity on the north slope of Alaska where they idle all winter)

    Of course things have changed now. Diesel cost more, and vehicles cost more. A Cummins engine would probably hang a base price of $50,000 on a Crewmax. I doubt I would be back in the market.

  4. Nate says:

    I think the point of this would be to do an HD tundra that can tow 15,000 – 17,000 lbs.

    I know my buddy is looking at trucks right now. He’s looking at a Ram 2500 because the Tundra is right on the edge for what can tow his trailer comfortably.

    They should just make a monster. HD crewmax 6.5 bed diesel. Hopefully that would sell.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      You know what is surprising to me? The number of 2500 models driven by guys who don’t need them. They jack them up and massive exhaust pipes and strut around with them. Just check out Reddit or Facebook and you will find all sorts of them.

      This is the market Toyota is missing out on as well. Some guys just want a big, bold truck. And they will pay the price for them.

      -Tim

      • Nate says:

        Exactly. There’s a big market for “my truck is bigger”.

      • Larry says:

        Tim,

        You are right on the mark. The majority of big diesel pickups I see are in leather seat trucks which never do any work whatsoever.

        While I would like a diesel, I don’t want a 2000 pound 7 liter motor with 800 foot pounds just to drive around empty. The Ram 3.0L diesel is a good motor choice in a bad truck.

        Larry

  5. art64 says:

    Those Hino diesel engines may not be meeting emission standards for light duty trucks, hence, Toyota cannot use those engines in a Tundra. The Cummins engine has clean emissions, probably cheaper for Toyota to use these engines on the Tundra than to develop another diesel engine. Tundra is not available overseas. So very small market for this truck as far as Toyota is concerned. Same is probably true for Titan.

  6. toyrulz says:

    A diesel mechanic told me that only the guys that spend big bucks de-regulating their deisels with tunes and pipes and losing all emmision stuff are getting superior bang for the buck – but word of big power and mpg numbers spread fast through the grapevine till all mention of the mods are lost and what is left is new deisels rock. People rather believe there is a good answer than the rare words of expensive exhaust replacements, many visits to dealer in limp mode etc…

    Problem in many parts is selling a deregulated deisel to pass emessions test. Better save oem parts and know how to put it back if you need to sell.

    The VM in the Ram is interesting to me as it should be lighter, good numbers after typical tune/pipes and may be the deisel version of the ecoboost with some pull at poor mpg when needed and some capacity to hypermile.

    Me – I’ll stick to gas for now and hope Toyota figures how to add a reverse “tow/haul” mode (let’s say call it ECO-Mode) that when pressed, button turns green and performance drops to Corolla levels but you get Avalon mpgs as it upshifts early everytime, limits accelleration rates, downshifts and engine braking. Mode cancelled when floored of course ;)

  7. Randy P says:

    At a certain level you reach a point that a diesel with super amounts of torque in a half-ton does not make sense.

    Ok, so Titan is going to put a 500 plus torque diesel in its half ton. Really? Are they also going to beef up the springs for Big Towing Weight? Does that then make it a ¾ or 1 ton truck?

    For towing and carrying super heavy loads there is a reason companies make ¾ and 1 ton trucks.

    I have towed for a lot of years with 8,000 to 12,000 lb. loads. Believe me at 500,000 plus miles towing you really want a ¾ to 1 ton for that, not a half ton. Half Tons do not have the heft to get ur done comfortably.

    Now a smaller diesel like the Ram may make sense; if and only if it is thoroughly tested for thousands of miles in a high dew point to air temp ratio situations, and that includes quick climate changes while driving a few hundred miles at a time.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      I really, REALLY can’t wait for Ram to release the fuel economy estimates, so we can finally have numbers to go with the debate about the small diesel 1500. It could be a good thing or a bad thing, we simply don’t have any information.

      -Tim

      • toyrulz says:

        How meaningfull would Ram’s EPA numbers be? I would expect them to be as optimistic as most others and not reflect real world use. How desperate are we when even those in the know are grasping for “a” way to compare competing trucks and are left to marketing materials. Bet their tow numbers compare well too. Here, I’ll tell you right now, let’s say 29mpg and 9,900lb tow. Sorry – couldn’t help it.

        • Tim Esterdahl says:

          Haha! I just want SOMETHING. Yes, EPA estimates are complete BS, but it would at least be something.

          Tim

  8. LJC says:

    After more thought, a 400 HP / 550 TQ for a half ton is too much power. How can this be? Simple: there is mental threshold for a half ton. With this power, 12K is possible, but most truck enthusiasts feel 10K is pushing it.

    Now, if you are thinking that this would be great for a 3/4 ton, well it comes up short. Now, 380 HP and 700 TQ for a diesel is commonplace.

    If Toyota did go with a Cummins diesel, all the bashers will say “Toyota couldn’t come up with a diesel of their own, they has to use Cummins”. So, with these thoughts in mind “it ain’t gonna happen”.

    I think RAM is on the right track: V6 diesel with an 8 speed. With an 8 speed, keeping the revs in the diesel’s sweet spot will generate some decent fuel mileage.

    If Toyota does come out with an HD truck labeled as such, it will be compared to 3/4 HD trucks. Toyota will have to be very careful how they label an HD truck. Will they define a new class? Will they just go the 3/4 ton route?

    We’ll see.

    Note: I quickly slammed these comment together :)

  9. […] Those guys are anal about testing for years and years! Here is my post I wrote on it: Toyota Tundra Cummins Diesel – Fact or Fiction | Tundra Headquarters Blog […]

    • Mark says:

      Guys I live in Australia would love a tundra but the price to get one converted is over 100k and it comes in a petrol. If Toyota where to put the TT diesel engine in a tundra I would by one I have had 3 land cruisers with this motor in it and they go well. We are 500km from the nearest town and I sit on about 150kph in these and use around 15ltr per hundred. The gas engines cant do this and we pay $2 a litre for fuel here.

      • Tim Esterdahl says:

        Mark,

        I can see a diesel Tundra, but only if the Ram diesel sells AND other after 2016. I just can’t see it anytime soon.

        -Tim

      • larry says:

        Funny, you want a Tundra and I wanted the basic land cruiser 70 truck which our government says is not safe enough or clean burning enough to be used in the US.

        Here in the US you can’t sell a truck unless it’s automatic everything. 4WD trucks are the norm on Los Angles and Las Vegas freeways where it never snows. The trucks never see a dirt road. Front drive free hubs are a thing of the past. If you are 500K from the nearest town they you understand the importance of being able to unlock the front drive line when a U joint fails a hundred mile from help. Here all the front components are always in motion, can’t be freed up, and with a failure our truck is dead by the side of the road and needs to be towed away. No hubs which can be unlocked to free up the broken drive line. If a truck in the US has less then 350 foot/lb of torque and less then 350 HP people will laugh at it.

        For light trucks, our government has declared war on diesel. We are penalized 25 percent on the fuel over gas. In addition all diesel engines now must have UREA injections systems to lower Nitrogen compounds and filters which will trap fine particulates then burn them by injecting fuel into the exhaust. I am all for making engines run cleaner but, they seem to be going too far. I would rather have smaller engines which consume less fuel but, seems like a 3/4 ton pickup must be able to tow 30000 pound or it’s considered weak. Not that I have ever seen anyone haul 30000 pounds with a pickup truck. So instead the monster 7 liter diesel 4 door truck is used to run the kids to school in the morning and with a 1000 pound engine with 5 gallons of coolant and 3 gallons of oil, it need to warm up for 1/2 hour just to melt the frost off the window for the 10 minute ride.

        On new trucks with the cost of the engine, the exhaust components and 25 percent more expensive fuel there is just no advantage in diesel unless it really does need to tow extremely heavily loads on a regular basis.

        Those driving around diesel pickups are paying a huge premium to be cool. With all the controls and the move to bigger engines, the fuel consumption is now down around what gas engines deliver and the engine costs another 5000 – 7000 dollar US up front when purchased.

        As for me, I would take the land cruiser 70 with the small diesel over the tundra any day. But, uncle Sam said I couldn’t have one because it doesn’t have cools stuff like anti-lock brakes and it doesn’t have DEF fluid injection or a canister filter. It’s just not safe and the rest of the world is really in danger driving them around.

        • Mark says:

          The 70 series is a good unit larry and they are like flies here every one has one.

          the latest rumour over here is the are deleting the 70 series as well which will only leave us with Hilux.

          Toyota must be thinking of doing something with the tundra as this will leave a big gap over here for a ute where the landcruiser was.

  10. Dodge Cummins says:

    I Would buy a Tundra Crewmax WITH a Cummins in a HEARTBEAT. I own a 02 Ram 2500 Cummins. I love the reliability of the toyota and the EXSTREAM reliability of the cummins… Put them together and you’ll have a truck that will live forever!!!! IN A HEARTBEAT

  11. when I compare my 2003 2500 with a 5.9 and 19 MPG in town driving to todays Tundra and 12 MPG in Town its a no brainer. if Toyota with all its quality standards for manufacturing matched up with the Cummins new V6 I’ll buy the first one.

  12. […] 29 Post(s) On the interwebs. Toyota Eyes Cummins Diesel Engine for Tundra | Edmunds.com Toyota Tundra Cummins Diesel – Fact or Fiction | Tundra Headquarters Blog ^THQ suggests they'd use the 4.5L Hino used in Aussie Land Cruisers. All mod descriptions […]

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