Only one full-size pickup truck has ever offered a diesel engine

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

What are the engine options for the 2022 Toyota Tundra?

Toyota made a unique choice with the third generation of the Tundra. The automaker ditched the old truck’s sole engine, 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.

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 four-door, 2WD small cab. Its engine is Toyota’s 3.44-liter twin-turbo V6. And in the SR, that engine produces 348 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque.

All midrange trim levels of the 2022 Toyota Tundra come with a more aggressive tune of that same V6. This engine develops 389 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque. This slightly improves the outgoing V8’s output (381 horsepower / 401 lb-ft) while slashing its fuel economy rating.

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

Learn more about the new Toyota Tundra trim levels.

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

Toyota claims it shot for a flat “diesel-like” 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 small turbodiesels found in light-duty pickup trucks.

Tundra truck towing a trailer on a deserted highway to demonstrate its diesel-like performance in a Toyota promotional photo.

2022 Toyota Tundra Towing | Toyota

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Rumors of a diesel-powered third-generation Tundra swirled before Toyota finally unveiled the truck. But according to Toyota, its engineers targeted a flat torque curve and diesel-like fuel efficiency with its i-FORCE MAX hybrid engine.

MotorTrend was amazed at how quickly the 2022 TRD Pro could go from all-electric start, to combined electric/V6 acceleration, to gas-only propulsion once the turbochargers kicked in. He 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). Find out how Toyota achieved diesel-like performance.

Which full-size light trucks offer diesel engines?

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

Pickup truck driving through a snowy field.

Toyota Tundra 2022 | Toyota

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

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

General Motors co-developed a 3.0-litre straight-six diesel with Opel. It offers this efficient engine in its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Nissan offered a Cummins-built 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel in its mid-weight Titan, the Titan XD. But for the truck’s redesign in 2020, Nissan canceled that option.

See how Toyota’s i-FORCE MAX hybrid Tundra reaches 100 km/h in the video below:

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