Time to save production costs?
The Toyota Tundra is about to enter its 13th model year. That's right. The second generation Tundra full-size pickup truck launched for 2007. It was refreshed for 2014 but its basic bones, including the engines, haven't changed. Recent reports have suggested a major redesign is coming fairly soon, but not for 2020. Chances are it'll be 2021. Last month, we got word the new Tundra will adopt a hybrid powertrain featuring a 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 combined with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. We'll see.
In the meantime, CarsDirect has uncovered a fairly significant change for the 2020 Tundra that could very well indicate Toyota is cutting back on options to save money prior to the updated truck's debut. A fleet ordering guide indicates the Tundra's base 4.6-liter V8 engine and Flex Fuel option is being discontinued. If so, the sole engine will be the 5.7-liter V8.
A Toyota spokesperson refused to comment on future products, but we'll have our answer fairly soon because the 2020 Tundras will begin appearing in showrooms this summer. The fact that the smaller V8 could be getting the ax instead of the more powerful one is reassuring. Toyota knows its buyers and although we don't have a precise breakdown, we wouldn't be surprised to learn the 5.7 outsells the 4.6, and for good reason too.
The larger V8 has 381 hp and 401 lb-ft of twist while the base produces just 310 hp and 327 lb-ft. For a full-size pickup truck these days, that's really not enough juice. Here's an example why: a Tundra SR5 4x2 Double Cab with the 4.6 can tow up to 6,800 pounds. The 5.7 V8 in the same trim, however, can pull up to 10,200 pounds. That's a significant difference.
Furthermore, the 5.7-liter's fuel economy is just 1 mpg lower than the base model in 2WD mode. As for the Flex Fuel option, it's only offered with the larger engine and not even in every state. Flex Fuel means the vehicle can run on alternative fuel mixtures including E85. Considering the Tundra is not that great regarding fuel economy, Flex Fuel presents an attractive option for eligible buyers.
The fact that both the 4.6-liter V8 and Flex Fuel capability are likely being dropped for 2020 could simply mean Toyota wants to simplify the Tundra lineup for the second-gen's final model year. That major update/redesign can't come soon enough.