One of the most famous segments from Jeremy Clarkson’s stint as the frontman for Top Gear was when he took a Toyota Hilux diesel pickup and put it through all manner of torture tests to see how well it would hold up. This included chaining it to a beach as high tide came in, smashing it into trees, and even collapsing a building on top of it…and through it all, the sturdy Toyota diesel engine still started and even moved the mighty Hilux.
With that trip down memory lane in our rearview, it’s now time to look forward to the future. Toyota is launching two new diesel engines for its line of global pickups that improve power and fuel efficiency. It’s a win-win for diesel lovers. It’s a win-win that makes Toyota’s Hilux pickups more powerful and efficient than ever before.
All told Toyota is upgrading or replacing 14 gas and diesel powerplants this year, including the 2.8-liter and 2.4-liter inline-four cylinder turbo diesel engines. The 2.8-liter motor debuted in the built-in-Thailand Toyota Hilux last month, and the motor will also be available in the redesigned Land Cruiser later this year. The 2.4-liter turbo diesel will also be offered in the Hilux pickup, but no word on whether it will be available in the Land Cruiser as well.
Rated at 44-percent thermal efficiency (which is to say that just 56-percent of the total energy is lost as heat), Toyota claims the 2.8-liter motor is “one of the most thermally efficient in existence.” That’s better than even the much-vaunted Toyota Prius, which has just 37-percent thermal efficiency. The new engines also add 25-percent more maximum torque compared to the motors they replaced, while getting 15-percent better fuel economy.
Toyota still isn’t quoting exact power or fuel economy figures yet, and it remains highly unlikely that we’ll see these motors in any American Toyotas in the near future. But there’s definitely a dynamic shift going on in the truck world as small-displacement diesels are gaining momentum and followers with every passing month. The USA could really use another small, efficient pickup to kickstart a long-ignored segment.
Maybe somebody should write Toyota some letters.