Does the Toyota Tacoma or Tundra Come With a Diesel Engine?

Toyota has an incredible reputation for making sturdy and reliable vehicles. Most of the world is no stranger to relying on the Toyota Hilux, but it took Top Gear trying to kill the OG Toyota pickup on the TV for many Americans to understand what the Japanese trucks were all about. Because Toyota makes such reliable trucks, the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma haven’t changed all that much over the 10 years. While other major truck manufacturers are adding powerful and more eco-friendly diesel trucks to their lineups, Toyota hasn’t, yet – at least not here, anyway. 

Does America have a diesel Toyota truck?

Right now, no, but that might be changing. According to The Drive, a patent was filed by Toyota last year for a high-compression engine that looks like it could run on diesel. The addition of a diesel engine to the Tundra and or Toyota Tacoma could really turn the tide on people’s feelings toward these trucks.

A new diesel motor would likely raise torque numbers and make the trucks more fuel-efficient. It would almost more importantly excite buyers to see Toyota finally update the beloved but outdated Tacoma and Tundra, welcoming them into the modern world. 

How do we know that the patent is for a diesel engine?

We don’t yet, but the patent’s language seems to point to diesel terminology and characteristics. The patent says things like “suppression of smoke and improvement of ignitability,” which should sound familiar if you know anything about diesel engines.

dark exhaust billowing out of a diesel pickup truck
A diesel truck spews black exhaust | George Rose/Getty Images

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Smoke is part and parcel of diesel engines. If you see a big, lifter truck blast past billowing black smoke and some turbo whistle, you’ve been Coal Rolled, and you know all you need to know about diesel smoke. Diesel engines have to fight to mitigate this smoke using particle filters and diesel exhaust fluid (whatever that actually is?) to control the pollutants. 

Toyota sells diesel vehicles all over the world, so why not here? 

Part of the problem is, the demand for light-duty diesel trucks has always been low here in the states. It seems that is no longer the case. We are seeing V6 light-duty diesel trucks popping up left and right, but Toyota is one of the only automotive manufacturers that doesn’t offer one here. 

A photo of the Toyota Tundra outdoors.
2021 Toyota Tundra | Toyota

On the one hand, I don’t blame Toyota for being slow to move away from their big V8s. These motors are reliable and strong, but the time has come for the big motors to take a back seat. Big V8s have fallen out of vogue for two major reasons. The first is that public taste has begun shifting toward more eco-friendly powerplants. The second is that manufacturers have made tremendous progress in making super-powerful small displacement engines in response to the public’s needs. 

We must also prepare ourselves for the other possibility…

There is no guarantee that this patent is for a diesel engine. It very well could be a gasoline banger, but the language used here should make us fairly hopeful. Toyota does currently offers a high-compression gasoline engine. The patent mentions that this new engine achieves 40 percent more thermal efficiency than a normal engine. That sure sounds a lot like a diesel engine to me. 

The most exciting part of this whole thing is that Toyota fans want something new from the marque. A super-powerful, super-efficient new engine would be a really nice way to handle that desire, but anything at this point would be a welcomed update to the outdated trucks. Here’s to hoping.