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Everything to Know About the i-Force MAX

The i-Force Max Is Not Exactly All-New

When Toyota revealed that upper-level versions of the new 2024 Tacoma would come equipped with a hybrid engine, some may have been surprised. However, if you’ve been paying attention, the move away from the V-6 to the hybridized 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine wasn’t all that shocking. (Entry-level Tacomas get the same 2.4-liter I-4 turbo engine, minus the hybrid stuff.) That’s because we’ve already seen this hybrid powerplant a few times before it showed up under the hood of the new Tacoma pickup truck.

It made one of its first appearances in the 2023 Toyota Crown, transversely mounted in the sedan-UV’s nose, where it sends 264 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque to the front axle and is aided by another electric motor turning the rear axle. The 2.4-liter hybrid also made its way into the new 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander—also transversely mounted—where it delivers 362 horsepower and 400 lb-ft. The same hybrid powerplant also calls the 2023 Lexus RX500h F Sport home.

How Is the Toyota Tacoma Hybrid System Different From Other Models?

You might have noticed that, among the listed Toyota and Lexus vehicles already using this hybrid powertrain, all are front-wheel-drive-based, transverse-engine products. (Wherein the I-4 engine’s cylinders are arranged from left to right, along the same axis as the front axle, rather than along the vehicle’s axis front to rear.) Did Toyota just take that hybridized engine, bolt it lengthwise into the Tacoma, and call it a day? In the initial announcement, Toyota was somewhat coy about how the system differs from other vehicles currently utilizing it. We reached out to get more information and a Toyota rep told us that while the engine block is almost identical, the hybrid system is “entirely different” than what’s found in the Crown or the Grand Highlander.

Powertrains HP/Torque Available on these trims:
2.4L turbo I-4 270 hp / 310 lb-ft St. on SR (XtraCab)
2.4L turbo I-4 278 hp / 317 lb-ft St. on SR (double cab), SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited
i-Force MAX 2.4L turbo I-4 hybrid 326 hp / 465 lb-ft Std. on TRD Pro, Trailhunter; opt. On TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited

How? It’s more trucky, basically, like the hybrid system found in the Tundra i-Force MAX. Unlike Toyota’s other, more car-based hybrids, which assist their gas engines with two electric motors (a starter-generator and a more powerful motor) and work through planetary-type continuously variable transmissions to help manage the trio of power inputs, the Tacoma’s system places a single large electric motor between the engine and the otherwise conventional eight-speed automatic transmission (the motor takes the place of the torque converter). The more powerful hybrids such as the Crown and Lexus RX500h add a third electric motor to the rear axle along with the inverter (the system is split such that there is no mechanical connection between the front and rear axles; the front is spun by the gas-electric hybrid setup, while the rear is handled solely by an electric motor). The third motor isn’t really an option here, given how 4WD Tacomas route torque through a part-time four-wheel-drive transfer case with low-range gearing to all four tires.

Why Is the 2024 Toyota Tacoma a Hybrid?

The short answer is because hybrids are Toyota’s “thing.” Also, the larger Tundra pickup recently adopted an optional hybridized, turbocharged V-6 engine, so there’s the trickle-down effect in the truck lineup there. Unlike in Toyota’s cars and SUVs, however, this isn’t only a fuel-economy play—it’s also about performance. Namely, torque.

In the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, the available i-Force MAX 2.4-liter turbocharged hybrid powerplant generates a massive 465 lb-ft of torque. That is an increase of over 75 percent when compared to the 265 lb-ft from the previous model’s optional 3.5-liter V-6, and it eclipses the 430 lb-ft maximum in GM’s non-hybrid, larger-displacement turbo I-4 in the new Colorado and Canyon pickups, as well as the same figure in the new Ford Ranger Raptor’s twin-turbo V-6.

What Is the MPG for the 2024 Toyota Tacoma Hybrid?

Officially, Toyota hasn’t released fuel economy numbers for the 2024 Toyota Tacoma hybrid. However, as we already elaborated, this powertrain is currently in a few other models so we can look to them to make an educated guess. For example, the EPA tells us that the Lexus RX500h city, highway, and combined fuel economy is 27 mpg, 28 mpg, and 27 mpg, and the 2023 Tundra V-6 hybrid’s economy is 22/24/22 mpg.

Considering the Tacoma differs in weight and power we don’t anticipate the truck to have the exact same economy numbers as the Lexus, but it should definitely be better than the Tundra. Our best guess is that combined mpg for the Tacoma won’t be higher than 30 or lower than 25, but we’ll have to wait for final EPA estimates to be sure. In all likelihood, the figures should match or better those of the outgoing Tacoma’s V-6.

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