A note from the Editor: with the new Tacoma coming to market with an Atkinson cycle engine, we thought it made sense to republish this older post that explains how it works.
When rumors of a V8 Lexus coupe with “variable displacement” hit the automotive press a few months ago, I was more than a little skeptical. Quite a few Toyota employees have said that the typical variable displacement technologies employed by GM and Chrysler-Fiat are “not in the best interests of the consumer,” which is Toyota-speak for “variable displacement is a stupid gimmick,” at least when GM and Chrysler-Fiat do it.
Considering all the problems GM trucks have had with their active fuel management systems (which can consume 1-2 quarts of oil between changes), Toyota’s stance makes sense. Yet a number of sources claimed Toyota’s new V8 Lexus coupe would have variable displacement technology, and I found myself a bit dismayed. Would Toyota succumb to the allure of variable displacement systems that raises a vehicle’s EPA rating without any real-world benefits?
Fortunately, the answer is no. The new Lexus RC F comes with a 5.0L V8 that can operate both as a traditional Otto cycle engine and as an efficient Atkinson cycle engine, which – in a manner of speaking – means the engine is variable displacement. When you combine this news with today’s announcement from Toyota about a “new series of gas engines,” it’s safe to say that the Tundra will be getting a variable displacement V8. Probably in the next 2 years.