What's Tundra's Next Powertrain Move?

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At a time when half-ton pickup trucks have some of the most sophisticated and advanced technologies, some are saying it is time for Toyota to make a bold move with the Tundra and offer an eight-speed transmission. Toyota recently announced it will replace the six-speed transmission with an eight-speed transmission in the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser and Lexus LX 570 SUVs, so why not roll it out in the high-volume Tundra?

While consumers might like that idea, it seems unlikely that Toyota will use the same transmission on its full-size pickup. Although all three vehicles use similar 32-valve 5.7-liter V-8s, the premium SUVs have much higher prices so they can easily absorb the switch to the more advanced transmission. There's no question Toyota has to do something to address the Tundra's poor fuel-economy ratings, but unless it puts the pickup on an 800-pound diet, a few extra gears are not likely to deliver significantly improved EPA results.

Maybe clues to what technologies might be in store for the new Tundra can be found in the Toyota Sequoia full-size SUV. The Sequoia uses a modified version of the fully boxed Tundra frame and is currently being produced in Princeton, Ind., the spiritual home of the previous-generation Tundra. The Sequoia is not slated to see technological advances anytime soon, comfortably selling about 1/10th the number of Tundras each month (Land Cruisers and LX 570s sell about 1/10th the number of Sequoias each month).

Making some kind of significant investment in better fuel economy technology or more advanced gas or diesel V-8s would be a good move, but also quite expensive. Then there's the issue of production availability. Any type of powertrain upgrade for the Tundra will need to produced in the tens of thousands every month. Toyota doesn't produce that many Land Cruisers and LX 570s in a year. And if the recent debut of the all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma has shown us anything, Toyota will always carefully calculate where it spends its powertrain-upgrade money.

The short answer for Tundra is probably some kind of prepackaged new engine (likely a turbo-diesel) or a modified version of the hybrid technology already seen on several Lexus and Prius models. But don't expect that anytime soon.

Manufacturer photos


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Their next move should be to change the body so it's not the ugliest pickup on sale in the U.S. anymore.

Their second move should be a small diesel option so it's not the least fuel efficient pickup on sale in the U.S. anymore.

Pretty sure that same 8 speed from the Lexus and Criser will find its way into the Tundra. Their not going to develop another high gear tranny when they already have one. I'm sure Toyota is offering it in the High end vehicles first so they feel special then they will put it in the Tundra when they feel Ike it or it needs a sales bump.

The tepid and predictable updates being offered by these manufacturers is the clearest evidence you could ask for about the crappy US economy.

@ papajim, not to mention the euro/asia economy that is affecting the US as we speak

Obviously Nissan is working with the 6 speed aisin and 5L cummins so that could be the default drop in. Unfortunately, Toyota has really dropped the ball the last few years so they might continue to delay tundra changes.

Tundra will get a new intake on the 5.7 to bring power inline with GM 6.2

8 speed is common ground here now. GM,ram will be equipping all their trucks with these very soon, they also will use the 6 speed for cheap packages. Ford will lead with 10 speed for 2-3 years before GM will mainstream the same slush puppy. Toyota will be competitive in one way or another. They have hino powertrain engineers able to put them in position with great setups. Hino is selling tons of rollbacks right now because of how efficient and reliable they are. This will be able to crossover if Toyota decides that's The right way to boost appeal.

Another reason why Toyota wont switch to the 8 speed is because it would be the worst "advanced" trans offered. Both Ram's and GM's offerings are much better, hell even Ford's current 6 speed is better then that crap box.

The new 8speed in the US Cruiser and LX570 is in the same family as the current HD 6 speed. It would be a matter of changing over the trans line here in the US.
Aside from that, expect an Atkinson version of the 5.7, and possibly the 4.6 (maybe the 5.0). I haven't yet read anything about a Euro 6 compliant Land Cruiser Diesel, but that has to be coming soon. At that point, Toyota can use all in-house powertrains to follow Nissans 1500HD/2500LD route.

I'm betting there will be major changes in Tundra for the 2018 models, thats about the time i'll be looking to buy a new one.

well Cheby went to the super strength lightweight steel frame. Ferd went to the Ultrastength light steel frame so Toy needs to go the the super ultra strength lite steel frame to drop part of the 800 lbs
Buddies made round trip to Wyoming on an antelope hunt and got 14.1 mpg in their 2014 Tundra

8 speed automatic is a given.
Valvematic is not out of the question.
Nor is D4-S port/direct injection too.
A displacement shrink to 5 liters, and "only" 400hp is plausible.
So long as the entry level engine is a 300hp V6.

People calling the Tundra 6 speed junk, it's made by Aisin (Toyota partially owned). Which produces the Ram HD's HO transmission (because Ram can't build one to hold the Cummins power) and the new 5.0 V8 Cummins going into the Titan.

Tundra sales are up, even with the “failure” of a truck. Toyota has said many times that the Tundra/Tacoma plant is at max production.

I find it funny it's the people that don't own a Tundra that complain about the MPGs, every Tundra own I've talked to doesn't seem to care.

I like my Tundra, even with the “old powertrain”. I never had any problems on my 11 or on my current 14, both were lifted on 37” tires. I can’t say the same about my friends big 3 trucks. The big 3 trucks stock components don’t like larger tires, those CV axles seem to snap like twigs. Plus I put up better MPG figures than the rest, sitting with the stock 5.7 and stock 4.30 gears.

john nobody said that tundra's 6 speed is junk. It is the worst "true" 6 speed in the market though.

The tundra 6 speed has the worst ratios, the smallest spread, and a lot of internal losses. All of which make it so inefficient.

Tundra would be better investing in the 6 speed by giving it better ratios, as I said before, because the 8 speed is horrible. The 8 speed has a ratio spread that isn't much wider then the current 6 speed, and unless they did a lot internal changes to it, it isn't very refined and has a lot of internal drag.

Both GM's 8l90e and 8HP70/870RE are much better then Toyota's 8 speed.

I like the new Tundras, but the powertrain needs upgrading. Give it an extra 40hp, 2 more gears and 3mpg and I'll buy one.

@lube bc- the ratio spread on the AB80 is over 7.13. That's more than the 8HP70 and the 8L90. Where are you getting your info about friction? Where have you even seen the AB80 transmission??? are you confusing it with the AA80 in Lexus cars?

So they did do some changes yo it? Mr knowitall, please post info about the "ab80". Even a quick Google search showed nothing about it.

when are they going build worth talking about. Every guy I know worked them like they work there diesel trucks where sorry. Yeah can move 10,000 pounds but they do it efficiently. I don't think they make a good work truck. More like hauling camper on weekend type of rig.

2 dollar gasoline make the MPG far less of an issue. Here in Houston, Tundra's extended cab with 4.6 V8's are being advertised for $25,777. Getting tempting.

The next move should be to shelve this insignificant TeRD.

Toyota's midsize and fullsize pickups are very long in the tooth because the brass back in Japan are very bearish on the US truck market right now. Why take the risk.

When was the last time a big Lexus or Toyota truck or SUV sold any kind of respectable numbers in North America?

Besides the 350 crossover, what have they sold?

The current Tundra even though it's on an 8 year old platform and power train is still very competitive with the big three.

I still drive my 2007 Tundra crewmax 4x4 that I bought new when they first came out. Great truck pulling my 25' toyhauler with two full size 4wheelers in it and sometimes a third one in the back of the bed of the truck. I would do this 5-6 times a year along with pulling our 20' ski/fish boat multiple times to the lake throughout the summer and a lot of hunting trips pulling just the 4wheelers. I have about 98k miles without any issues. It's just been a very solid and reliable truck.

I was all for replacing it when the new Ford F-150 came out. Last month the local Ford dealership gave me a loaner 4x4 crewcab with the 3.5 ecoboost to test drive pulling my boat for a weekend.

The F-150 is a nice truck with the ecoboost but not good enough to convince me to buy. The Tundra is definitely more stable and feels more solid pulling my 20' boat. I could imagine how much more control it would have over the Ford if I was pulling my toyhauler with three 4wheelers.

I decided to keep my Tundra. I'm not in a hurry to buy a new truck but may give the 6.2 GMC a look.

I do think the ISV V8 Cummins is looking promising.

Toyota globally has not done much work in large engine development. Toyota has done considerable engine development with the smaller engines.

The most viable company Toyota can source a V8 from is BMW, whom is in partnership with Toyota. But I do consider the twin turbo 4.4 V8 an expensive engine.

I wonder if Toyota can turbo the 3.5 Atkinson Cycle engine?

That might work and be the cheapest option for Toyota to have a modern engine.

I'd expect the Toyota V6 with a turbo fitted would easily produce the power that the 3.5 EcoBoost is achieving.

@bc-lube- http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/2016+toyota+land+cruiser+product+specs.download
That's the 2016 'Cruiser data sheet.

I was talking to a fellow who owns a 2007 Tundra. He was saying that MPG is on par with his current ecoboost work truck and his previous 5.3 Chevy work truck.
Toyota did a stellar job on the 5.7. The only weak spot, at least on paper is the MPG.

I suspect that Toyota will boost the power of the 5.7 and will most likely offer a smaller more efficient mill for the MPG crowd. Toyota due to its hybrid line up does not need to worry about pickups hurting CAFE. (Unlike FCA).

The tundra just doesn't appeal to me over the other trucks in any way except for perceived reliability. The looks of it totally turns me off. The tundra I drove was not impressive in any way over the other trucks. Plenty of power, but the fuel economy was terrible in the truck I drove, at about 14 mpg. The interior was not very nice. They need to offer something with better MPG. They are falling further and further behind in my view. They are taking the titan's place for worst overall truck.

It needs more than a powertrain. It needs to be the truck leader with the best of everything and updates every couple years like Ford, GM and Ram try to do with their updateso. But as papa jim said, Toyota just isn't interested in full-size pickup trucks. So I'm not going to take them seriously, probably ever.

Can't see how you can make the argument that Toyota isn't making enough from tundra to justify the cost of a new transmission. Hell this tundra is 10 years old and it is more expensive each year. They are making money head over fist.

Also not sure what kind of person is willing to pay the current price for a Tundra given that is is a dinosaur, in both options and efficiency . Reliability aside, you will not see me in a Tundra until it has a new more efficient powerplant.

If we don't see a change in 2017 (after 10 years) like we did with the Tacoma then it is because of pure greed on their part and the idiocy on the part of anyone purchasing one.

At current and near future predicted gas prices, by far the most cost efficient "drivetrain" upgrade Toyota can make, is fitting a larger tank. The current drivetrain is rock solid and extremely well proven. Much more so than any Ford turbo/DI or GM DI engines under the kind of sustained heavy loads Toyota insists ought to be the reason to get the Tundra over the Tacoma. But with a comparatively puny tank, fairly hungry engine, and less than class leading ridequality, there isn't many drawbacks from simply skipping the Tundra for a 3/4 ton from one of the "Domestics" for heavier-end-of-half-ton-usage scenarios.

Too many on here have probably never actually owned (or even driven) a Tundra yet spout BS like it is gospel.

These same folks likely subscribe to the "spec (put out by OEM) is bigger = better" line of thinking. As an aside, I doubt many on here understand that the MANUFACTURER states what their MPG numbers are--not the EPA--and often game the methodology to get "big numbers" to put on the Monroney sticker

The GM transmission in my wife's rig shifts like crap compared to my Tundra--my brother's Fiat is even worse.

Toyota trucks are boring and that is why their sales are so bad. The same boring truck that they brought out when they entered the large truck market. They are just along the side of the road watching the competition drive by.

@Stuki Moi- ask and you shall receive

I have a company 2007 Toyota Tundra DC with the 4L V6. I got this truck new in October of 2007. I am in outside sales for a block manufacturer. I just hit a touch over 305k miles, and no issues except for a few recalls, all the miles put on by me! Truly I am a Mopar guy, having a 04 Cummins 2500, and an '09 Super Bee Charger, my personal vehicles, which have hardly any miles. My company has the sales force buying their own vehicles this time around, and giving us a monthly stipend to cover costs! Believe it or not, I went out and bought a 2015 Tundra, crew max 4.6L. Other guys purchased Fords and Dodges, and one GMC, due to the boss wanting MPG's as they are still paying the fuel. Once you experience Toyota reliability first hand, it's truly hard for me to go back, the other guys wanted a change. Fuel Mileage could be better with the Tundra, but again, the driving I do, I am willing to sacrifice that for Bullet Proof reliability!

I have had SEVERAL (5) Toyota Tundras !!! I have a 2013 crew max now . I use it to haul junk cars and trucks for a living !!! in 3 years with this one I have hauled 350 cars and trucks . some loads weigh 12.000 lbs ( load and trailer) That 6 spd. trany is BULLIT PROFF !! I LIVE IT !!!! NO problems ! Over the years I have saved THOUSANDS ON 1. REG FEES 2 .TAXES 3 INSURANCE . Compared to a 1 ton truck ! I a half a million miles and 5 different trucks. I NEVER Had one .............BREAK !!!!! ( 20 YEARS ) !!!!! I wouldn't spend my money on any other company !!! They won't sell the public any thing BUT bullit proof !! And They (TOYOTA ) always owe me money when we trade !! YOU ARE A FOOL IF YOUR NOT DRIVEING ONE !!

I have been driving Toyotas since 1996. Some have been used in oilfield work, exceeding 300K miles with multiple drivers.
Besides routine maintenance, my largest repair has been 1 spark plug wire failure. If you consider lack of repairs and retained resale value, the Tundra gets an equivalent of 35+ MPG! Proof is in the pudding for me!! I can'y afford NOT to drive Toyotas.

I drive Ford Chev and Fiat pickups on the job at the county. I get to try all of them out for free and often put on up to two hundred miles per day. My opinion is that my Tundra has been super reliable so far and feels quite a bit more comfortable than those three when you spent a whole day in it. Fuel milage is around the same. I always look forward to getting into my tundra after work.

I find it amusing when some of the "Big 3" owners bash the Tundra because of insecurities. I have owned Chevy, Ford, Nissan, and I now own a 2015 Tundra 1794 series. The truck is loaded with every option under the sun and it is stickered at anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 less than a comparable Chevy, Ford, GMC or Dodge. The "Big 3" spend way to much time inflating their numbers, misleading the uninformed consumer about their capabilities, etc. instead of telling the truth. When I buy a truck, I want to know how that truck performs, not it's big brother with a turbo charged engine, etc. that costs boat loads more. The big three has used the "bait and switch" tactic for years by stripping their huge limited edition, turbo charged trucks, testing them and then putting the results on EVERY truck with the same name plate. Anyone who does the research knows this. My truck is currently averaging 17.4 MPG and it has tons of power, rides like a dream and comfortably accomodates my wife and kids. I recently pulled a 35ft ultralite camper from WV to NC and I averaged 14MPG. The Tundra is a beast, it simply outperforms, out lasts, and out re-sales the competition when comparing apples to apples or dollars to dollars. Option for option, package for package the Tundra is thousands less with a much higher resale value expected if I ever decide to trade in for another Tundra.

I predict the Tundra will be all new for the 2017 model year.
High strength steel frame and heat treated high strength steel body panels.
Variable displacement engine using a Atkin/otto cycle engine based off the Lexus RC F 5.0L. Direct injection and part time port injection depending on engine loading. Thermo efficient intake and injector spray patterns.
Dual automatic climate controls
8-speed transmission
Engine size will likely remain at 5.7ls with a considerable jump in hp/torque output althou a 5.0l engine is possible with similar hp and torque numbers as the 2007-2016 5.7l .

I hope the last post is right I have 2014 Tundra CrewMax and cannot break 14mpg for nothing dismal. My 2005 CrewMax got 17mpg wished I would have kept it. I am waitng ot see what 2017 Holds.

fellow commentors, this is my FIRST comment on this article. Some idiot using my ID has been making unwelcome comments under my name.

Today's economic issues in the US have NOTHING to do with China or other Asian economies. This has been one of the canards of the Obama administration to blame anything that is remotely the fault of Obama's restrictive policies on somebody else.

I'm not sure that switching to a Republican candidate in the Fall 2016 will help but you can sure count on the Democrats to blame someone else for the mess they've made with the situation on Wall Street and at the US Treasury during the last seven years.

I also read so many guys sh>t on Toy but having 06, 10 and now 14 and not ever had to take my truck back for repairs to the dealer says enough to me. My personal experience with Ram was blew trans every year for 5 years. total rebuild, Chevy well GM CEO said it best we built crap. I have had NO luck with the those trucks but all good wit toy. I laugh at you guys every day with your comments. Only thing you can argue is toy limit to 1/2 ton series truck for serious pulling in comparison to HD series trucks but wait I am sure its not far away.

bought a new tundra in 2008 and it was a great truck. Used it for pulling trailers and work around the city. Just bought a 2016 exactly like the old one. Hopefully it is as good as the old one. I have not driven newer domestics but hated the old ones. Constantly fixing the stupid stuff on domestics has put me into buying toyotas and hondas and have not looked back.

I have owned tacoma and tundra.just waiting see what is gonna happen with the 18 tundra and tacoma,sure power train changes ..I will say ,both of these trucks were flawless for my wife and i.Waiting,waiting.I will prob buy one..I do have to say apple to apple the tundra is cheapest halftonright now.,and that is tempting.

Ok guys the biggest thing that is killing toyota on their gas mileage for the tundra is the rear end. The 4.6 litre has a 4.10 and the 5.7 if I remember has the 4.56. I mean holly crap none of the heavy duty 1 ton trucks have a 4.56 rearend. Lower the ratio to say 3.90 or 3.70 maybe both could get slightly more mileage than what they are getting

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