Only 1 Full-Size Pickup Truck Has Never Offered a Diesel Engine

Diesel engines and pickup trucks go together like peas and carrots. And Toyota earned its reputation for reliability–in part–with the bulletproof diesel engines in its Land Cruiser trucks. Yet, the Toyota Tundra has never offered a diesel engine option. But for the latest Tundra, Toyota was able to build a gasoline engine with a “diesel-like” flat torque curve by using a surprising technology.

What are the 2022 Toyota Tundra’s engine options?

Toyota made a unique choice with the third generation of the Tundra. The automaker tossed the old truck’s only powerplant, a naturally-aspirated V8, in favor of a new twin-turbocharged gasoline V6. Every 2022 Tundra has one of three levels of the same engine.

Workers assembling the Toyota Tundra i-FORCE MAX powertrain.
2022 Toyota Tundra powertrain | Toyota

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The entry-level 2022 Toyota Tundra is the SR. It starts at $35,950 with a small, four-door cab and 2WD. Its engine is Toyota’s twin-turbocharged 3.44-liter V6. And in the SR, this engine makes 348 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque.

All the mid-range trim levels of the 2022 Toyota Tundra come with a more aggressive tune of this same V6. This engine makes 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. This improves slightly on the outgoing V8’s output (381 horsepower/401 lb-ft) while trouncing its fuel-efficiency rating.

Tundra buyers can upgrade the mid-range trim levels with the i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine option (also standard on the TRD Pro and Capstone trims). This hybrid powertrain makes 437 horsepower and 583 lb-ft of torque.

Learn more about the new Toyota Tundra trim levels.

Why doesn’t Toyota offer a diesel in the new Tundra?

Toyota claims it shot for a “diesel-like” flat torque curve with the hybrid version of its twin-turbocharged V6. And according to MotorTrend, the automaker succeeded. The result rivals the efficiency and power of the small turbodiesels found in light-duty pickups.

Tundra truck towing a trailer on an empty highway to illustrate its diesel-like performance in a Toyota promo photo.
2022 Toyota Tundra towing | Toyota

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Many Toyota fans hoped the third-generation Tundra would offer a diesel engine. But according to Toyota, its engineers targeted a diesel-like flat torque curve and fuel efficiency with its i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine.

MotorTrend was astounded by how quickly the 2022 TRD Pro could transition from an all-electric start, to a combined electric/V6 acceleration, to gasoline-only propulsion once the turbochargers had kicked in. It concluded that you could only tell which power source was engaged by looking at the tachometer.

The new Toyota Tundra can also tow up to 12,000 pounds (11,000 for 4WD models). Check out how Toyota achieved diesel-like performance.

What light-duty full-size trucks offer diesel engines?

Diesel engines were once exclusive to heavy-duty trucks. Now, you can get fuel-efficient diesels in several light-duty pickup trucks. Both the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 offer a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6. The Silverado/Sierra’s light-duty diesel is a 3.0-liter I6.

Pickup truck driving through a snowy field.
2022 Toyota Tundra | Toyota

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While heavy-duty Rams are legendary for Cummins-built I6 engines, the light-duty Ram 1500 offers an in-house diesel. Ram’s 2022 EcoDiesel is the third generation of its turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6.

Ford’s light-duty diesel is also a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel. It wears Ford’s in-house diesel badge: Powerstroke. It is mated to a ten-speed transmission.

General Motors co-developed an inline six-cylinder 3.0-liter diesel with Opel. It offers this efficient engine in both its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Nissan used to offer a Cummins-built 5.0-liter V8 turbo-diesel in its medium-duty Titan, the Titan XD. But for the truck’s 2020 redesign, Nissan canceled this option.

See how well Toyota’s i-FORCE MAX hybrid Tundra pulls to 60 mph in the video below:

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