Although Toyota has long been at the forefront of hybrid technology, its standard gasoline powertrains are starting to lag behind the curve in terms of performance and fuel economy. That’s about to change, according to a report from Automotive News which says Toyota is working on updating its mainstream lineup with a whole new set of high-tech gasoline engines.
This could include a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine for the Toyota Camry midsize sedan, as Toyota senior managing officer of powertrain development Koei Saga told AN. This new engine, which would replace the current Camry’s V-6 option, could make it into the next generation of the Toyota Camry which is set to arrive in 2016.
"We would like to achieve No. 1 performance in fuel economy and cost for all the engines that we will be developing," Saga said in an interview with AN. "It might be able to replace a six-cylinder with a four-cylinder plus turbo plus direct injection. Compared to a V-6, we think this solution will be less costly."
We would expect this turbocharged four-cylinder to be a version of the same 2.0-liter unit that just debuted in the 2015 Lexus NX 200t crossover. We previously reported that this engine would be a likely choice for the Toyota Camry, as some of its midsize sedan competitors including the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Chevrolet Malibu have done away with their V-6 engines in favor of more efficient turbo four-cylinder engines. This engine should also make its way into the Lexus IS 250 sport sedan and possibly the Toyota RAV4 in the near future.
Saga's comments to AN only underscore our belief this engine will come to mainstream Toyotas in due time. At the same time, he questioned whether American customers are ready to lose V-6 options in midsize sedans. "Right now we don't know what the reaction of U.S. customers will be," he said, "So probably right up until the last moment, we will have to be ready with both and watch customer feedback."
All in all, Toyota will introduce 14 new global powertrains over the next year. These engines will fit in with the company’s new product strategy which will focus on a new platform approach to be called Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA). This will be a comprehensive powertrain and platform strategy in the same vein as Mazda Skyactiv. The next-generation Camry will reportedly be the first full TNGA vehicle, with the next Toyota Prius set to use a TNGA powertrain on an existing, non-TNGA platform.
Improvements for the new TNGA engines will include an expanded variable valve timing system; a high compression ratio for better power and efficiency; and the possibility for more engines to run on the more efficient Atkinson cycle, which is typically only used for hybrid models.
Stay tuned for more news about this new TNGA initiative that should eventually result in more competitive and efficient powertrains for Toyota’s entire lineup.