Auto Tech

Toyota claims record-setting efficiency for new engine

It's part of a wider release covering all corners of the powertrain.

Toyota

The Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform underpins a whole bunch of new Toyota and Lexus vehicles, from the Prius to the Camry to the Lexus LC. Soon, it's set to get even better with a whole bunch of new powertrain goodies.

Toyota announced a new slate of transmissions, engines and drivetrain parts for the TNGA platform. Some are focused on improved packaging, while others focus on efficiency. One engine in particular lays claim to being the most thermally efficient in its class. That seems like a good place to start.

2.0-liter Dynamic Force Engine

While I have a hard time aligning Toyota with the words "dynamic force," that's the name Toyota gave to its new 2.0-liter gas engine for the TNGA platform. It features variable port and direct injection, an increased angle between the valves and a more thorough and rapid combustion process. 

The result is one seriously efficient engine. In fact, Toyota claims it'll be the most thermally efficient 2.0-liter gas engine on the market, offering 40 percent efficiency in a standard gas car, and 41 percent when part of a hybrid powertrain.

Being able to hot-swap between port and direct fuel injection will also allow the engine to prioritize output or fuel efficiency, depending on engine load and the driver's wants.

2.0-liter Toyota Hybrid System II

Toyota also showed off a new variant of its gas-electric hybrid system, based on some of the tech inside the latest generation of Prius. The power control unit, generators and motors are all smaller and more efficient. The battery is smaller and lighter, as well. The result is a lighter, more efficient hybrid system that'll make for lighter and more efficient vehicles. Makes sense.

But Toyota didn't just focus on efficiency. It also tweaked the hybrid system to deliver extra torque from the electric motor under acceleration. That should make the car feel livelier and a bit more fun to drive when you really step on the right pedal.

All the torque vectoring, all the time

Toyota also plans to debut two new all-wheel-drive systems, one for gas cars and one for hybrids.

The Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD system is meant to help increase cornering stability for gas-powered cars. It uses the car's brakes to adjust the torque on each side of the car, which is a method that's caught some flak in the past for not being "true" torque vectoring -- that term is left for systems that manage torque distribution using complicated and expensive differential internals.

Toyota's system can also disconnect the front axle so all the power is transmitted rearward, which can improve fuel efficiency when the car doesn't need four wheels transmitting power to the ground.

The second system, called E-Four, is for hybrids. It boosts torque sent to the electrically driven rear wheels and operates under the same general principles as the Dynamic Torque Vectoring setup.

Smaller, rev-matchier 6MT

Built in response to "global needs," which Toyota puts mostly on Europe, the automaker developed a new six-speed manual transmission. Here's hoping that it'll make its way to the US, too.

This one is all about packaging. It's about 15 pounds lighter than Toyota's old six-speed, and it's about 1 inch shorter. Toyota claims it's one of the world's smallest transmissions. It should be one of the smarter ones, as well, because it has a system that automatically adjusts the engine's speed for smoother shifting. That sure sounds like a rev-matching system to me.

Toyota didn't have a fun little animation for its six-speed manual. Bummer, that.

Toyota

Direct Shift-CVT

It might seem like the hyphen's in the wrong place there, but it isn't. The automaker claims its new CVT is unlike any other, because it uses an actual set of gears for launching, followed by more traditional operation under all other circumstances.

With the forces from launching sent through that gear, Toyota shrank the belt and pulley components of this new CVT since they don't need to handle those stresses, which means it can swap gear ratios 20 percent faster. The result is a CVT that Toyota claims is 6 percent more fuel efficient than its current one.

And that's not all!

Toyota will start outfitting its vehicles with these new goodies as early as this spring, although the automaker didn't specify which models. It did say that Europe, Japan, China and the US will all benefit from this new tech, and that it hopes to have these parts installed in 80 percent of new Toyota and Lexus vehicles by the end of 2023.

What you see here is only part of it, too. Toyota claims it will introduce 17 different versions of nine different engines, 10 versions of four transmissions and 10 versions of six hybrid systems by the end of 2021. Sound confusing? It should, because it is! In short, if you plan on getting a new Toyota or Lexus within the next few years, it should come with new tech that enables better efficiency and reduced emissions.

All in, these new powertrain components should reduce global carbon dioxide emissions from Toyota vehicles by more than 18 percent.