The pending re-launch of the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon with aluminum engines, lighter weight construction and direct injection got us thinking. What could a 2015 Toyota Tacoma EPA mile per gallon estimates be? Maybe 32 mpg?
This is a hypothetical story – not real facts. It is a “what could be” story.
Before we start making assumptions as to what future fuel economy numbers may be, let’s recap what is going on in the full-size truck market and how that could impact the compact trucks. Also, this is simply a best guess at what could happen.
New Engines + 2.5 MPG
The full-size trucks are coming with sorts of different types of engines like Ford’s EcoBoost with turbochargers or GM’s EcoTech3 engines. The new EcoTech3 engines (just announced on brand new Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra) are all aluminum and normally aspirated. They come with fuel-saving features like: direct fuel injection, continuously variable valve timing and seamless cylinder deactivation.
It seems save to estimate using new engine technologies, trucks will increase fuel economy by 2 mpg.
Weight Savings + 1.25 MPG
All the new trucks are dropping weight – lots of it. It is rumored that the 2015 Ford F-150 will drop as much as 700 lbs through more aluminum and lighter brakes and axle. A reliable Ford source says this will result in the new Ford F-150 gaining 3 mpg.
The new Chevy and GMC haven’t released their weight drop, but they have used so much aluminum throughout the frame and cab that it is hard to think they won’t drop similar numbers. This weight savings immediately helps improve fuel economy.
Now the Tacoma doesn’t have as much to lose as the full-size trucks, so MPG gains would be rather limited. Our estimates are conservative with a 1 mpg gain.
Aerodynamics + 1.25 MPG
One of the big items for GM when it unveiled its new pickups is the talk about how aerodynamic they are. GM went over every aspect of the front end to achieve a tighter fit on the sheet metal in an attempt to reduce drag.
While a tighter fit is definitely beneficial, another advancement in aerodynamics is in the Dodge Ram 1500. The new truck is using grille shutters to improve air flow at optimal times. By closing off air when it isn’t needed (along with other features), Dodge says the Ram 1500 might hit 25 mpg (up from 20).
What would the Toyota Tacoma obtain if it used grille shutters and more aerodynamics. How about +2 mpg.
Transmission + 2 MPG
Would Toyota look for improvements in transmission like the full-size trucks? You bet. Full-size trucks are moving toward 8-speed transmission to improve fuel economy. Improving the entire powertrain is part of the increasing MPG puzzle. Toyota has already established this goal.
“By 2015, through improvement in the engine and powertrain alone, we aim to achieve a fuel-efficiency improvement of 10 percent to 20 percent on the models adopting the improvements,” said Takeshi Uchiyamada, Toyota’s outgoing product development chief told Autoweek.com.
Let’s say the gains from an improved transmission (lighter weight, more efficient use of gears) is 1/2 mpg.
What does all of this add up to?
+ 2.5 New Engine Technology
+ 1.25 Weight Savings
+ 1.25 Better Aerodynamics
+ 2 Better Transmission
= 7 MPG gained
With the 2012 Toyota Tacoma 2WD 4 cyl, 2.7 L, Manual 5-spd, Regular Gasoline sitting at 21 City, 22 Combined, 25 Highway, according to Fueleconomy.gov, we could see a 2015 or 2016 Toyota Tacoma hitting 32 MPG. Make it a Hybrid and it could reach 37 MPG.
Why would Toyota want to increase the MPG? GM is planning on a diesel version of the Chevy Colorado hitting 30. If Toyota wants to keep up, they had better get busy on improving the MPG on the Tacoma.
What do you think? Could a compact truck ever reach 32 mpg?