The 2022 Tundra's Twin-Turbo V-6 Hybrid Is All About Torque

·2 min read
Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

With the debut of the 2022 Toyota Tundra, the full-size pickup segment has lost another V-8 engine. In place of the Tundra's outgoing unit sits a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6, complete with a hybrid option. Don't let the battery-assist fool you however, as this new i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain wasn't designed for saving fuel, Executive Program Manager Jay Sackett told Road & Track in an interview. No, this new motor is all about making torque.

"I think the priority was definitely performance," Sackett said. "We did see some improvements of efficiency and that was absolutely one of the things on our list. But one of the things we really wanted to focus on was the performance, and it was really centered around torque. We wanted to ensure we provided the torque numbers that full-size pickup truck customers want."

The twin-turbo V-6 in i-FORCE MAX spec is supported by an 1.87 kW electric motor-generator sandwiched between the engine and a 10-speed automatic gearbox. That motor is powered by a 288V battery, which features a nickel-metal hydride construction. The powertrain is good for a combined 437 hp and 583 lb-ft of torque, which represents gains of 48 hp and 104 lb-ft over the Tundra's standard 3.5-liter. That's an impressive torque figure for a V-6, but the motor-generator setup provided other benefits too. The start/stop system has been reworked by Toyota's powertrain engineers, and will now cycle much more frequently than a typical hybrid. Sackett notes that the motor-generator makes this process more seamless than before, and that customers may not notice it happening at all.

Photo credit: Toyota
Photo credit: Toyota

The motor-generator is also able to directly drive the transmission, allowing for fully-electric driving. That said, Toyota have not given the new Tundra a full EV drive mode. Instead, the truck will use the driver's pedal inputs and load conditions to decide when the engine is not needed. Sackett noted that the truck can enter EV mode at both low and high speeds, maintaining your cruising pace. If you dip into the pedal however, the engine is always ready to provide that swell of torque.

With the level of performance and technology packed into this powertrain, Toyota makes a good argument for not including a traditional V-8 option. Ford's EcoBoost engines have proved that full-size truck customers will accept a V-6 if it brings the proper grunt, even in performance vehicles. Sackett believes this engine will do the same for Toyota.

"Yes, there are bigger big block V-8s that people feel that they need, but these numbers and the performance of the powertrain really speak for itself," said Sackett. "I really believe that people will be won over by what it can do."

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