Toyota’s New Tundra Hybrid Can’t Outdo Detroit’s Dependable Diesels

Toyota shocked the automotive world by killing its full-size Tundra pickup trucks‘ V8 engine option for the 2023 model year. The automaker devoted its energy to creating an efficient and powerful twin-turbocharged V6 instead. The new premium powertrain is a hybrid that achieves a “diesel-like” flat torque curve. That said, this complicated Tundra hybrid gives up several mpg to the Detroit Three’s dependable turbodiesel drivetrains.

The hybrid Toyota Tundra offers a ‘diesel-like’ torque curve

Promo photo of a brown Toyota Tundra pickup truck driving, a brick building visible in the background.
2022 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition | Toyota

RELATED: The Secret Behind The New 2022 Toyota Tundra’s “Diesel-Like” Hybrid Engine

Diesel engines are a favorite powerplant of many pickup truck drivers. This is partly because diesels offer bountiful low rpm torque. This low-end torque results in a “flat” torque curve which gives a diesel truck its unique driving characteristics.

Toyota targeted a “diesel-like” flat torque curve when it engineered its new hybrid Tundra powertrain: the i-FORCE MAX. To accomplish this, the automaker installed an electric motor between the truck’s V6 and ten-speed. This motor makes 184 lb-ft of torque from zero rpm. It can launch the truck and rapidly propel it up to 18 mph while the V6 starts up.

Once the hybrid Tundra’s gasoline V6 is running, its electric motor continues to assist with acceleration until its turbochargers build pressure. At this point the electric motor smooths out the transmission’s shifts and recharges its 48-volt battery whenever you tap the brakes.

The i-FORCE MAX option makes the Tundra efficient in stop/go traffic

Brown Toyota pickup truck parked in front of a rustic barn for a publicity photo.
2022 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition | Toyota

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The regenerative braking function of the hybrid Tundra’s i-FORCE MAX adds a couple of mpg to its city fuel efficiency and one or two mpg to its combined fuel efficiency. It does not help the truck much on the highway.

The 4WD Tundra equipped with a hybrid earned an EPA rating of 19 city/22 highway mpg (20 combined). You can see the traditional Tundra and hybrid Tundra’s fuel mileage compared in the table below:

2WD Toyota Tundra (non-hybrid)4WD Toyota Tundra (non-hybrid)2WD Toyota Tundra (hybrid)4WD Toyota Tundra (hybrid)
City Fuel Efficiency18 mpg17 mpg20 mpg19 mpg
Highway Fuel Efficiency23 mpg22 mpg24 mpg22 mpg
Combined Fuel Efficiency20 mpg19 mpg22 mpg20 mpg

The 2022 Toyota Tundra hybrid is not as fuel efficient as Detroit’s diesel trucks

Three diesel-powered Ram 1500 half-ton pickup trucks parked in the country, a lake and mountains visible in the background.
2022 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel trucks | Stellantis

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Toyota successfully achieved diesel-like performance with its hybrid Tundra pickup truck–according to MotorTrend. The automaker even increased the Tundra’s towing capacity by nearly 2,000 pounds. The 2022 Tundra’s maximum tow rating still trails the Detroit Three’s maximum half-ton tow ratings by a hair, but it is a competitive 12,000 pounds.

Bet even though the Toyota Tundra’s hybrid engine option may be a diesel competitor in performance and towing, it can’t touch the fuel efficiency of Detroit’s turbodiesels. See how the EPA fuel economy rating of the i-FORCE MAX hybrid stacks up to diesel-powered half-ton trucks in the table below:

4WD Ford F-150 diesel (2021)4WD Chevrolet Silverado 1500 diesel4WD Ram 1500 diesel4WD Toyota Tundra hybrid
EnginePowerstroke 3.0-liter V6Duramax 3.0-liter I6EcoDiesel 3.0-liter V6i-FORCE MAX 3.4-liter V6 gasoline hybrid
City Fuel Efficiency20 mpg22 mpg21 mpg19 mpg
Highway Fuel Efficiency27 mpg26 mpg29 mpg22 mpg
Combined Fuel Efficiency23 mpg24 mpg24 mpg20 mpg

Next, find out how much money you can save when you spring for the Toyota Tundra hybrid or see Ram and Chevy’s half-ton diesel trucks go head-to-head in the video below:

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