Next-gen Toyota Tacoma (2023 launch) spied, could be another hybrid pickup [Update]

Update: Spy video added to ‘Design & mechanicals’ section.

Toyota had 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 the 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’s allegedly a prototype of the next-gen Toyota Tacoma. The heavy camouflage doesn’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 hints that Toyota could be hiding a new rear suspension system on the next-gen Tundra.

2022 Toyota Tacoma front three quarters
The next-gen 2024 Toyota Tacoma could feature a multi-link rear suspension with coil springs. Current-gen model pictured for reference. Image Source: Toyota

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 a new 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 from the right side to the left with the lifecycle makeover.

Platform

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 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.

2022 Lexus LX TNGA-F platform GA-F platform
The next-gen Toyota Tacoma will likely sit on a version of the TNGA-F platform, which is designed to offer electrification. Image Source: Toyota

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.

Powertrain

A significant change in the next-gen 2024 Toyota Tacoma could be the availability of a hybrid powertrain. Toyota could offer a 2.5-liter D-4S gasoline engine with an electric motor (2WD)/two electric motors (4WD), and an additional traction battery. The company has offered no guidance about the powertrain strategy for the future Tundra, though. So, for the time being, this is pure speculation.

Rumor has it Toyota plans to club North America’s Tacoma and the Hilux, which is popular in the rest of the world, into one model. The Hilux, which reports have said will also receive a hybrid system, should undergo a complete redesign a year or so after the Tacoma. Ford also plans to offer a hybrid variant of the Ranger in its next generation, and perhaps even an EV. Here, Toyota may be preparing its product for future readiness.

The Tacoma Hybrid could borrow the electrification technology of the Tundra Hybrid. The latter features a bell-housing motor system called i-Force Max. 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.

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.

2022 Toyota Tundra infotainment system Toyota Audio
The next-gen Toyota Tacoma would get the new Toyota Audio infotainment system that was developed in Texas. Image Source: Toyota

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.

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.

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, 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 next 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