The 2023 Toyota Highlander Might Have Spilled the Beans on the Next Toyota Tacoma

Many have waited with bated breath after the redesign of the Toyota Tundra to see if the Toyota Tacoma would get a similar treatment. Since Toyota is keeping a pretty tight lid on things, we have to start looking elsewhere to see any clues. Some think the 2023 Toyota Highlander might have just spilled the Beans on the Next Toyota Tacoma. 

2022 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition midsize pickup truck parked in a rocky desert location
2022 Toyota Tacoma Trail Edition | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Will the Toyota Tacoma be redesigned in 2023?

We expect the next-gen Toyota Tacoma any day now. However, according to Gear Patrol, it could well be reserved for the 2024 model year. So far, Toyota hasn’t given any details about the new midsize pickup truck yet, so we are left to play detective. Although some spy shots come through from time to time, Toyota goes to great lengths to camouflage and hide any details about the Tacoma. Well, they missed one spot; the 2023 Toyota Highlander. 

What can the 2023 Toyota Highlander tell us about the next-gen Toyota Tacoma? 

After over a decade of stagnation in the Toyota 4×4 segment, Toyota redesigned the Tundra for the new generation in several ways, most significantly replacing the ancient V8 with a turbocharged V6. 

Toyota is expected to do something similar with the next-gen Tacoma. The 2022 Toyota Tacoma has the naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V6, magically transforming into a turbocharged four-cylinder. Most speculators thought the smart money was on the new 2.4-liter inline-four in the Lexus NX 350. Well, the 2023 Toyota Highlander just got the same engine. Could this signal that the speculation was right? 

What’s new for the 2023 Toyota Highlander? 

The Highlander is the best clue we have in figuring out what Toyota has planned for the Tacoma. The 2023 Toyota Highlander base non-hybrid engine is Toyota’s turbocharged 2.4-liter inline-four. In the Highlander, this little engine makes a strong 265 hp. If you’re familiar with the outgoing model, you’ll notice a 30-hp drop from the V6. However, the torque gets bumped from 263 lb-ft to an impressive 309 lb-ft of torque. That added torque should make the new Highlander feel quicker in daily driving, despite the horsepower deficit. 

Fear not! If this engine makes it to the Tacoma, there is a decent chance that Toyota will tune it for higher output. The Lexus NX350 with the same engine makes 275 hp and 317 lb-ft. 

How many miles per gallon does the Toyota Tacoma get? 

Toyota Tacoma driving through the sand
Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

The naturally aspirated V6 in the 2022 Toyota Tacoma yields about 21 mpg combined. This isn’t great. One of the most exciting parts of the possibility of a new powerplant for the Tacoma is the hope of a more efficient truck. However, Gear Patrol notes that Tacoma fans might be disappointed with the new engine in this respect. 

Switching from a naturally-aspirated V6 to the new turbocharged four-cylinder did not improve the average fuel economy for the Highlander. Though, in theory, the Tacoma has a little more to gain. If this happens, not only would the Tacoma get a new engine, but it would also go from the very outdated six-speed transmission to the more efficient 10-speed. Even still, we shouldn’t expect much of an efficiency bump from the engine swap. 

An updated Tacoma will be huge news for sure. It makes sense that Toyota is keeping such a tight lid on it. However, with a little sleuthing and context clues, there’s always some information to glean. We’ll just have to wait to see if the detective work was on the right track.

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