Update: ‘Powertrain’ section updated.
Toyota started testing the next-gen Tacoma (2023 launch) on American roads just a month after announcing the new Tundra Hybrid. The local media expects the next-gen Toyota Tacoma to come with a hybrid powertrain option, as Toyota aims to increase its share of electrified vehicles in the U.S. market.
Design & mechanicals
In October 2021, TFLtruck.com reader Jordan spotted a camouflaged pickup in Las Vegas, and it was allegedly a prototype of the next-gen Toyota Tacoma. The heavy camouflage didn’t allow the test mule to reveal anything except for two double-slat horizontal grille bars and an amber light below the headlamp. However, the unusual extension of the camouflage below the tailgate hinted that Toyota could be hiding a new rear suspension system on the next-gen Tundra.
Like the Tundra, the Tacoma could adopt a multi-link rear suspension and switch from leaf springs to coil springs. Such a change could provide a more comfortable ride, increase straight-line stability, and improve overall handling dynamics.
Another TFLtruck.com reader sighted a purported 2024 Toyota Tacoma prototype a few weeks later, revealing new information. The spy pictures provided a closer look, indicating a new cab configuration in the making. The current model is available in Access Cab 6-ft. bed, Crew Cab 5-ft. bed, and Crew Cab 6-ft. bed versions, but the spied pickup looked like none of them.
Video Source: YouTube/TFLnow
On May 7, 2022, YouTube channel TFLnow released another spy video of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, showing three heavily camouflaged prototypes quite close. Like in previous sightings, the 2024 Tacoma was covered in heavy camouflage, leaving almost nothing to be revealed unintentionally. However, one change we are certain of after this sighting is that the tailpipe would move to the left side with the lifecycle makeover.
With a few changes, the TNGA-F platform that debuted in the new-generation Land Cruiser will likely underpin the next-gen Tacoma. Also called GA-F platform and Global F-Platform, it’s part of the TNGA family and underpins the latest Tundra, Sequoia, and Lexus LX. Designed for body-on-frame vehicles, the platform offers weight savings, improved ride quality, quietness, and collision safety performance in these models.
In the Land Cruiser 300, the TNGA-F platform brought additional enhancements in the form of a lower center of gravity and superior weight distribution. In the LX, an additional benefit of the GA-F frame was the possibility of relocating the shock absorbers to a better position, leading to excellent ride comfort and keeping the body roll in check.
A significant change in the next-gen 2024 Toyota Tacoma could be the availability of a hybrid powertrain. Toyota could offer a Hybrid Max powertrain that clubs a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine with two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear. This hybrid system, like in the 2023 Crown, could come with a direct shift 6-speed automatic transmission. Hybrid Max could produce up to 350 horsepower in the Tacoma Hybrid.
Another possibility is that Toyota uses a detuned version of the 2023 Tundra Hybrid‘s 3.5L engine-based, 437 hp i-Force Max powertrain along with a 10-speed automatic transmission in the Tacoma Hybrid. This powertrain features a bell-housing motor system. A motor-generator with a clutch located within the bell housing between the engine and transmission allows efficiently deploying the electric power stored in the traction battery. Toyota has developed a new Power Control Unit (PCU) for the Tundra Hybrid’s powertrain, and storing the green energy in this hybrid pickup is a Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery placed under the rear passenger seats.
Compared to i-Force Max, Hybrid Max will probably allow more competitive pricing and clearly differentiate the Tacoma from the Tundra. The company has offered no guidance about the powertrain strategy for the future Tundra, though. So, for the time being, this is pure speculation.
U.S.-developed infotainment system
The next-gen Toyota Tacoma would get the new infotainment system developed in-house in Texas and announced in June 2021. Called Lexus Interface in the 2022 Lexus NX and Toyota Audio in the 2022 Toyota Tundra, the infotainment system is available with touchscreens measuring between 8- and 14-inches diagonally.
The new system offers pinch and zoom functions like smartphones and tablets, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, cloud-based navigation, savable user profiles, OTA updates, and more. A physical volume controller is also a part of the package, and it’s a large, easy-to-grip dial.
Video Source: YouTube/TFLnow
On June 29, 2022, TFLnow released a new 2024 Tacoma spy video showing two prototypes on a test. At the 1:59 mark, one prototype appears to have a huge screen in the center, although that could also be diagnostics equipment of the Toyota engineers involved in model’s development.
At the 2:31 mark, we get a peek inside the second prototype. This test mule also has a new screen in the center, and while it’s not as big as the first one, it’s certainly different from the screen of the 2022 Tacoma. While the current model has an 8-inch unit tucked into the dashboard, the upper edge of the future model’s screen lies above the dashboard, meaning it could be taller or placed closer to the eye level of the driver.
Tacoma ends 2021 as USA’s best-selling small pickup
It’s been seven years since Toyota gave the Tacoma a comprehensive update, and yet, it continues to blaze a trail in the U.S. market. In 2021, the company sold 252,520 units of the Tacoma in the country, 5.7% more than in 2020 (238,806 units). In its 2021 U.S. sales report, Toyota said that the Tacoma was the best-selling small pickup for the 17th consecutive year. In H1 2022, the company sold 21,339 units of the Tacoma in the U.S. Compared to H1 2021 (24,911 units), that was a decline of 14.3%.
Electrified vehicles already make up one-quarter of Toyota Motor Corporation’s total volume in the United States. The company expects nearly 70% of U.S. sales volume, between 1.5 and 1.8 million units, by 2030, to come from xEVs. It has earmarked JPY 380 billion (USD 3.3 billion) for the development and localization of battery packs in the country. It plans to introduce 30 EV models globally by the end of the decade, and many of them, like the Toyota bZ4X, will make it to the United States.
New Toyota Tacoma release date & production
The next-gen Toyota Tacoma does not appear to be part of the launches in 2022. A document (view on The Drive) briefing Toyota’s New York region’s sales targets for the year appears to list new models heading to showrooms by December. The chart includes the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid (confirmed), a Toyota Crown, a Corolla GR, and the bZ4X, but not the Tacoma.
It is likely that the next-gen Tacoma would debut in the first half of 2023 and go on sale later the same year. Expect production of the new Tacoma to begin at Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Guanajuato (TMMGT, Mexico) by mid-2023. We will update the story with more details when they emerge.
Featured Image Source: TFLtruck.com/Jordan