Discover the 2016 Toyota Tacoma’s Atkinson-Cycle Engine

March 03, 2015 by Kate Halse

Some call it “all-new” while others say that it’s significantly refreshed. Either way, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma is making a comeback in a big way. It’s no secret that the Tacoma has historically been a top choice for its reliability and performance. The 2016 version promises the same dependability with an entirely new driving experience through Toyota’s own Atkinson cycle, technology currently found in the Prius and that promises to distance the Tacoma from the rest of the midsize pack.

In its press release, Toyota defines an Atkinson-cycle engine as “…one in which the post-combustion expansion ratio is different from the effective compression ratio.” In other words, the compression stroke of the piston in the engine is shorter than the power stroke. The result is pumping losses, or an imbalanced compression/expansion ratio. Ultimately, the goal is to effectively use all of the energy within each cylinder — a process that greatly increases the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Fuel Economy

The Atkinson cycle’s fuel economy has been successfully documented in the Prius. According to Toyota, the net result in the Prius engine is an effective compression ratio of 8:1, with a 13:1 expansion ratio. This leads to roughly 12 to 14 percent increased efficiency over a standard Otto cycle, in terms of power output per fuel consumed.


Let’s face it – the Prius isn’t exactly known for its performance. Fortunately, Toyota seems to have resolved this problem in its upcoming Tacoma. For starters, the 2016 truck boasts a new V6 engine, which is set to replace the current (dated) 4.0-liter V6. The upcoming Tacoma will be the first in its segment to offer a 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 engine with the company’s D-4S technology, providing direct and port fuel injection. The new 3.5-liter V6 and base 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engines pack more power and efficiency than the outgoing engines. The base engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission for an anticipated 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Those numbers jump to roughly 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque for the 3.5-liter engine, which is available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Toyota is expected to release the exact figures at a later date, but these numbers should offer a bit of encouragement to those who believe that the Atkinson cycle engine will sacrifice power for efficiency.


Toyota won’t offer a diesel version of its new Tacoma, but diesel fans can likely expect similar small diesel engine performance with the Atkinson cycle engine. When paired with Toyota’s D-4S technology, the engine will have the same basic motor platform found in the Lexus RC 350, with tuning and calibration that matches the Tacoma’s performance capabilities. The company hopes that this move will return more power and efficiency over the existing Tacoma.

Aside from its impressive new engine technology, the Tacoma’s overhaul includes lots of new features, upgrades, and interior and exterior changes. There’s a wealth of available features and technology, including Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select for off-roading, Qi Wireless charging for enhanced connectivity, and push-button start and blind spot monitor for added convenience and safety. Toyota will also offer a GoPro mount for the first time — just in case you’re eager to catch your adventures on video. A chiseled front end and comfortable, spacious interior gives the truck a well-rounded mix of style and familiarity that appeals to current fans and prospective buyers alike.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.