Toyota Tech Questions Answered
In January we decided to take Nuts & Bolts in a different, temporary direction. We have been gathering up your tech questions and taking them to the people who build new 4x4s. Last month was the Ford truck guys and before them, Dodge. This month is Toyota, but send us your GM and Jeep questions, as we'll be knocking on their doors next. Send your questions to email@example.com.
Leave Your Links
Q Your 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, and Land Cruiser all have rear links and coil springs, but your trucks all have leaf springs in the rear. What considerations are taken into account when deciding between the two for future vehicles?
A Toyota RESPONDS: For some time now, we have had a basic philosophy for the use of two suspension designs on our trucks and truck-based SUVs. For our pickups, we use a frame that has an open C-channel design under the bed area, where most of the cargo load is anticipated to be placed. The separate cab and bed arrangement of the body allows for a certain amount of frame compliance for enhanced ride quality when under a load. The leaf spring suspension works very well with this frame and body design and, in our opinion, is the most suitable for carrying heavy loads, such as blocks or dirt, right over the rear axle.
The SUV has a different body and frame design from the pickup. We have a single-piece body on an SUV, so we prefer to use a fully boxed frame underneath to enhance ride quality. The coil spring with link live axle suspension is best suited for this body and frame arrangement, as the suspension is a bit more compliant. In addition, we anticipate the typical SUV to have a load that is more spread throughout the vehicle, such as a load of passengers in the seats, or a combination of passengers and cargo spread through the vehicle.
Keep Cruising the FJ
Q Is the FJ Cruiser going to be killed? Rumor is that it's not long for this world. What about a redesign?
A Toyota: As of the present, there are no plans to "kill" the FJ. For 2010 it will receive the revised V-6 engine that is being released on the new fifth-gen 4Runner. It will also receive a larger rear differential (same size as the new 4Runner) and a revised steering rack that will enhance steering feel and reduce turning radius. There will also be a limited-quantity special edition coming during the 2010 model year.
Q Why does the Tundra use an oil filter element instead of a screw-on oil filter? What is the benefit?
A Toyota: From a performance point, there is no advantage to this type of filter. The primary reason for using it was to reduce the amount of material going through the recycling process when the filters are removed from the vehicles after service.
4WOR: Keeping it green!
I-Force U to Swap Engines
Q Does Toyota or TRD have any thoughts of making standalone crate engines? Say I wanted to put a 4.7L or 5.7L V-8 in my FJ-40 Land Cruiser.
A Toyota: We have nothing to announce at this time regarding standalone crate engines.
4WOR: Seems like something diehard Toyota guys would want.
Q Why can't we get the great solid-axle Toyota trucks in North America that you offer in places like Australia and the Middle East? Those diesel solid-axle trucks are very cool and seem like the perfect competitor for the Jeep Wrangler.
A Toyota: This comes down to choosing a suspension design that we feel best meets the needs of the typical consumer for each product and provides the desired on- and off-road performance. In recent years our engineers have preferred the double wishbone (A-arm) front suspension arrangement mainly due to its superior on-road capabilities, with what we feel is a small sacrifice in off-road capability. This suspension system allows us to build a well-balanced product that performs well in a wide variety of driving conditions, with a wide variety of drivers.
4WOR: Seems logical enough, but we still want a solid-axle Toyota. Why not bring a sample over and see if they sell?
Taco De Grande
Q Tacomas seem to be as big as first-generation Tundras and T-100s. And Tundras are now as big as the domestic trucks. Will we ever see a small truck from Toyota again? I miss the small trucks Toyota was famous for.
A Toyota: This has been under study, but at this time we have nothing to announce regarding plans to bring a smaller-than-Tacoma truck to the U.S. market.
4WOR: "Under study" is a good sign.
Stick to Sticks
Q What 4x4 models does Toyota offer with a manual transmission?
A Toyota: Tacoma four-cylinder and V-6, and FJ Cruiser.
4WOR: It sure would be neat to see one behind the 5.7 in the Tundra.
Dees Ol' Toyotas Are Great
Q I was in Australia and got to drive a truck with the Toyota V-8 diesel. My wife would kill me, but I'd trade the kids to get that engine in a new Tacoma. Is there a future for Toyota diesels in the U.S.?
A Toyota: We have studied and will continue to study the possibility of bringing diesel-powered trucks to the U.S., but have nothing to announce at this time.
4WOR: What if he traded his kids and his wife?
Wanted 400 4.7
Q I'm not having any luck finding performance parts to build my engine with. I have an '01 Tundra with the 4.7L in it. I hate the idea of putting a Chevy motor into a perfectly good 'Yota, yet I never hear about anyone building a stout Toyota engine. I'm hoping to get some high-performance from the small V-8 and to build it to push about 350-400 horses. I imagine some boring and stroking will be involved, but I'm having no luck finding the parts to do it. Any help would be appreciated.
A Toyota: At present there are no extreme performance options for the 4.7L from the manufacturer side. There are several supercharger kits available for other engines in our lineup, such as the 3.4L and 4.0 L V-6s and the 5.7L V-8-the big V-8 with a TRD blower would be a great option for the performance-minded customizer.
4WOR: now if we only had a 5.7L crate engine to swap in.
Q I have an underpowered '09 4WD Dual Cab 4.0L V-6 Tacoma. I've installed the TRD Cat-Back Exhaust and cold-air intake, with some improvement, but it still lacks zip. What can I do to get more power from her without voiding the warrantee?
A Toyota: A dealer-installed TRD supercharger kit would retain all factory warranty coverage and boost the engine's output significantly.
Direct vs. Diesel
Q If a diesel doesn't come to the U.S. 4x4 market from Toyota, are there some advanced gas engines (supercharged, turbocharged, direct injection) we could look forward to? Why are these better than diesel?
A Toyota: Toyota Racing Development (TRD) currently offers superchargers for various engines in our lineup and is continuing to develop new products for our engines. Direct injection is being introduced on some of our Lexus engines and could possibly make its way to the Toyota lineup in the future-although there is nothing to announce at this time. The gas versus diesel comparison is complex and involves many factors. Overall efficiency and engine emissions are two of the areas under study.
4WOR: Direct-injection gas sounds very enticing. We'll keep watching for that.
Lectro vs. Lockers
Q The new 4Runner has a plethora of electronic traction control and off-road performance. Why not a front selectable locking differential?
A Toyota: The electronic systems offer a driver the ability to gain nearly as much traction as a locker would offer, yet maintain optimal steering response via the open diff condition when using electronic systems such as our A-TRAC or Multi-Terrain Select system found on the new 4Runner. This system also has been found to work well with the factory electric locking rear differential in slow driving in technical off-road conditions.
We feel the front locker brings traction enhancements, yet also brings some handling challenges to the drivers who use them. We currently feel that the typical consumer would be best served by a vehicle with an open front diff-using our electronic limited slip capabilities. As a manufacturer, we must be sensitive to the variable skill levels of the drivers who could take our products off road.
4WOR: These systems do work very well, but the way you use "electronic limited slip" may be confusing. This is brake-based traction control, not an actual limited slip differential, as many may assume.
Q Will we ever see a removable-top FJ Cruiser or 4Runner?
A Toyota: These have been studied at various times. There currently are no plans to bring this feature to either vehicle.
4WOR: With experience from our FJ Cruiser, the Turtle, we can say that having the top cut open is great. Sealing it back up might be difficult.
Q What is the most fuel-efficient 4x4 (with a low-range transfer case) that Toyota offers? Include the options best suited for 4x4 and mileage.
A Toyota: The new fifth-gen 4Runner would currently hold the title with a 17/22 EPA rating.... The Tacoma 4x4 with the 2.7L four-cylinder engine matches these numbers too!
Q On Toyota.com, under the "build your Toyota" section, how come I can't build different trucks from one ZIP code to another? For example, if I enter a California ZIP, I can't build a regular-cab 4x4 Tacoma, but I can if I enter a Pennsylvania ZIP. Is this truck not available in California?
A Toyota: That is a possibility. We focus on providing versions of our products that are in demand in various parts of the country, and may not offer versions that are not in demand in some areas. This distribution process is a dynamic system and is constantly changing as consumer demand changes.
Q Amongst your 4x4s, how do you determine which trucks get a fulltime transfer case and which get a part-time?
A Toyota: Several factors may contribute to the selection of a transfer case on a vehicle. Some are: The perceived consumer desire for a certain system, the size and weight of the vehicle, whether it has to tow/haul heavy loads, how we anticipate the owners will drive the vehicle, and how the transfer case will work with the power output of the engine/trans combination that will be used.
Q Wrangler, Hummer, Raptor, and Power Wagon all come with aggressive tires. Can I get an FJ Cruiser with a more aggressive tread?
A Toyota: We offer a more aggressive tire on special editions and in some cases from TRD as a wheel/tire accessory. We feel that it is a good practice to offer the FJ with an all-weather tire that meets a great variety of driving conditions, and allow the owner to purchase more terrain-specific tires of their choosing.
Special Toy Trucks
Q Toyota has made some great concept and show trucks in the past: a solid-axle Tacoma, a diesel Tundra, and a convertible FJ Cruiser. Do you sell these after they are done on the show circuit? Or is there a museum or somewhere that we can see them? Do they actually work, or are they just for looks?
A Toyota: Some of these concept vehicles are "runners" and some aren't. We store them but currently have no plans to make them available in a museum setting. These vehicles can be used as a reference when future product design studies are underway.
Tow Rig Tundra
Q Is a heavier-duty Tundra a possibility, or has that program been scrapped?
A Toyota: We have nothing to announce at this time.
4WOR: We'll take a diesel dualie like your concept vehicle.
Q Why are there e-locker options for the Tacos and 4Runners but never for the Tundras? Will there be one in the future now that Tundras are making a name for themselves off road?
A Toyota: There are currently no plans to offer an e-locker for the Tundra. Our anticipated consumer use for Tundra indicated it would be more appropriate to equip Tundra with our A-TRAC system for the off-road conditions we envisioned it operating in.
4WOR: Ford announced a rear selectable locker in the back of its Super Duties, and Dodge has it in its Power Wagon. Just saying.
Q Is there a place where I can find hard technical data for my truck and other Toyota vehicles such as spring rates, torque specs, and power/load limits for drivetrain components?
A Toyota: These data items are typically not published. Currently there is no reference data to provide on these areas of driveline performance.
Q I've heard of Toyota University. Is this something I can attend or contact for information as a Toyota owner?
A Toyota: That is the name of our corporate training division. Toyota University produces training courses and materials on the products to both the dealer sales force and technicians, as well as to internal corporate departments, and also provides training to corporate associates on various work-process subjects.
4WOR: Are there Toyota fraternities and sororities? Like Pi Tapa Toy, Lambda Loda Tacoma, or Alpha Beta Cruiser?
Automatic Taco Taste
Q Why did the previous-model Tacoma Double Cab only come with an automatic transmission?
A Toyota: At that time, it was determined that there would be very limited demand for a manual gearbox from the Tacoma Double Cab customer.
Q There are many complaints of wheel chatter and chassis flex in the Tundra during highway driving over expansion joints. Is this being addressed in newer Tundras? What type of upgrades can we see?
A Toyota: We have nothing to announce at this time regarding changes to the Tundra chassis; however, all our products are evaluated in various areas of vehicle performance. We also utilize customer feedback in our evaluations.
Q Toyota has a multitude of off-road vehicles: FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, 4Runner Trail, and Tacoma TRD. If I were setting up an around-the-world road trip, which vehicle would you recommend as the best expedition off-road machine?
A Toyota: This is a very difficult question. We feel that any of these vehicles could get you where you want to go.
4WOR: Boo! All right, we'll answer for you. The four-door Tacoma with a small camper shell would make the best expedition vehicle (excluding some of the cool diesel solid-axle trucks you can get in other parts of the world). It is cheaper than the Land Cruiser, larger than the FJ for hauling people or gear, and available with a rear locker like the 4Runner. The Tacoma has a rugged leaf-spring rear suspension and a great 4.0L V-6. Add a winch bumper up front, some cargo drawers with a sleeping mattress on top in the back, and maybe an auxiliary fuel tank.
Q As lame as I think the Prius is, I understand the value of a hybrid for fuel economy. Any chance we could see a true hybrid off-roader from Toyota? Or would all the batteries short-circuit when the thing drove into a deep stream?
A Toyota: We have nothing to announce regarding an off-road-capable 4x4 hybrid at this time, but Toyota plans on offering a Hybrid option on every vehicle in our lineup by the 2020s.
4WOR: Thank you for answering our readers' questions, Toyota.
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using "Nuts, I'm confused" as the subject and include a picture (if it's applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I'll be checking the forums on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I'll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245, fax 310.531.9368. Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org