Toyota to Focus on Turbocharging, Diesel May Come to US

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

Big changes in the traditional Toyota engine lineup may be one the way soon in the form of turbocharging and possibly even diesel engines in the American market.

With Ford and Hyundai pushing ahead with turbocharging and direction-injection, while Mazda rolls out its new Skyactiv light weight engine plan and even Honda announcing its new Earth Dreams Technology innovations with CVT transmissions and direct-injection, Toyota’s engine technology has fallen behind.

Don’t chalk it up to do-nothingness in the company’s engineering department, though. The unintended acceleration scandal worked as a major drain, keeping many of the minds busy that would have otherwise been dedicated to keeping up with the Joneses, so to speak. Now, with the scandal all but gone, the brand is turning its attention to reaching the head of the pack like a kid in gym class running wind sprints.

Unfortunately, that still doesn’t mean a turbocharged Scion FR-S will be around the corner anytime soon, but it does signal that the Japanese and European markets might get them.

Equally as disappointing, there doesn’t seem to be any set plans for turbocharged engines in the brand’s mid-cycle refresh plans through 2016, but that might not matter. It certainly hasn’t so far, with both the Corolla and Camry remaining among America’s favorites in terms of sales, though that might not last as the competition progresses.

Most people probably hear the word “turbo” and think of a performance car, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Recycling a car’s exhaust to force more air into the engine can improve fuel efficiency by allowing a smaller-displacement engine to create the same power as a larger one, thereby using less fuel.

Given that Toyota’s immediate goal isn’t specifically to shrink engine size while keeping power intact, something more in line with BMW’s plans, you would naturally turn attention to the other key points where cars save gas: weight and transmission gearing. That’s exactly where Toyota, much like other companies, will be banking to save fuel.

With the 2013 model year, the Corolla will get some mild changes to the exterior, extensive style updates inside, and a new transmission along with weight-saving measures to improve efficiency.

As for the possibility of a diesel engine, it won’t come in the form of a small TDI to compete with Mazda’s SkyActiv D, set to arrive in fall of next year as a tipster revealed to AutoGuide. Instead, the Toyota is said to still be talking with partner Hino about an oil burner to pair with the Tundra pickup truck.

Given how quickly Toyota’s truck is being left behind by Ford’s EcoBoost F-150 and consequent responses from RAM and GMC, a diesel would make sense. Still, such an engine is far on the horizon with a direct-injection version of the 4.0-liter V6 likely as the company’s key to reduce CAFE numbers while offering a truck with more than 300 hp.

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="">Google+</A>.

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