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2.7L performance on highway grades in 2005+ 4x4s

Discussion in '2nd Gen. Tacomas (2005-2015)' started by Allen9621, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Jun 25, 2010 at 9:28 AM
    #1
    Allen9621

    Allen9621 [OP] Active Member

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    Does anyone who owns a regular cab 2005+ 4x4 Tacoma with the 2.7L four-cylinder find it to struggle on steep highway grades, i.e. over 6%?

    I have a 1996 Tacoma 4x4 w/2.7L 5-speed which does the job to my liking, though you have to use 4th or even 3rd in some cases. I am specifically looking for info on the newer 4x4s, not 4x2s (which should probably be fine with that engine).

    I know the 2.7L has been improved with VVT-i but it looks to have a marginal power-to-weight ratio in the fatter, redesigned Tacoma 4x4. I wish they'd kept the body lean and just added the VVT-i engine for better performance and MPG. (Note to Toyota: Some truck owners like efficiency but just don't want a car. When are the diesels coming to America?)

    Pre-2005 2.7L specs were 150 HP & 177 ft. lbs. and post-2005 specs are 159 HP & 180ft. lbs., which is a scant difference for a truck that's over 300 pounds heavier with bigger stock tires (245 vs. 225) and a wider profile.

    Unless the 2.7L VVT-i has breathing properties that don't show on paper, the 2005+ Tacomas in this configuration would seem to be weaker on steep grades at highway speeds. True or false? What gear (in a 5-speed) is needed to hold 70 MPH on a 6% grade, etc?

    I like the 2.7L in general and it's been ultra-reliable with up to 24MPG highway in my '96 4x4. I don't tow trailers and prefer the smallest, simplest engine that isn't grossly underpowered. I did a test drive but couldn't reach any grades where I could check this myself, plus the engine wouldn't have been broken in yet.

    Thanks for any info from 2005+ 2.7L 4x4 (regular cab) owners who've actually driven in the mountains. Specific examples of roads & grades would be useful.

    Allen
     
  2. Jun 25, 2010 at 9:33 AM
    #2
    NAAC3TACO

    NAAC3TACO Just east of crazy

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    My truck is no rocket up the hills, but it holds speed in 4th gear, unless the hill is very steep. Then I use third. My only performance issue has been off the line. It's pretty sluggish taking off in first gear. A Tacoma is a lot of weight for a 159 hp engine. BTW, my truck is an access cab, so a regular cab would be several 100 lbs lighter. That should make a noticeable difference.

    Welcome to TW.
     
  3. Jun 25, 2010 at 9:33 AM
    #3
    MontanaTaco

    MontanaTaco Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to TW! I have ridden in a older four banger (like yours) with two bikes in the back and it did fine over a pretty good hill. As for the new ones I'm sure if a older one does fine they will be even better. And if it doesn't there is always a supercharger:)
     
  4. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:16 AM
    #4
    Allen9621

    Allen9621 [OP] Active Member

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    Good to hear. I'd be getting the standard cab for its short wheelbase off-road, also.

    Any specific roads in question where 4th can hold 70 MPH? I live near I-80 in the Sierra and there are 1 or 2 stretches eastbound before Donner Lake where I can barely hold 65 MPH in 4th. 3rd has a top rated speed of 80 MPH and if I rev all-out and waste gas, it easily holds 70+ on those sections. My main concern is that the new 2.7L isn't worse in that regard.

    I use a K&N filter, but it doesn't seem to help much at high revs, and passes fine dust as a downside. It adds noticeable breathing at lower revs, though.

    I always thought Toyota made 1st gear extra low in their 4x4s, as a granny for those who do go off-road. My previous '86 4x4 w/22R (vastly underpowered by today's standards) and my '96 both have low 1st gears, so I go for 2nd ASAP. I have heard others mention the same thing and it seems to be a "feature" more than a shortcoming.

    Allen
     
  5. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:19 AM
    #5
    BigRedToy

    BigRedToy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Yep, 3rd gear to hold it at 65+ on that kind of grade. I wish it had power to keep it in 4th.
     
  6. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:25 AM
    #6
    NAAC3TACO

    NAAC3TACO Just east of crazy

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    I agree about the low first gear. It does make the truck slow off the line, but off road and hauling loads it's a great feature.

    I haven't driven over Donner with my truck yet, but I have driven it up to Lake Tahoe and took a trip to Idaho. I rarely had to go into third. Only on the steepest inclines. With a reg cab I may not have had to do that at all. All I know is I never thought about the truck being sluggish. In fact there is a road on the west side of Reno that is high speed and has a good grade to it and I was surprised that I never had to shift below 4th to make it up at about 50 mph. Again, my only complaint from a speed point of view is off the line.
     
  7. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:39 AM
    #7
    Tdup

    Tdup Well-Known Member

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    the 4x4s have 4.10 axle ratios, i think toyota should have put at least 4.56 in em...
     
  8. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:43 AM
    #8
    BigRedToy

    BigRedToy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Oh man would that be nice. I am trying to figure out how I can get 4.56s in my truck without it breaking the bank. I want to put a locker in the front at the same time.
     
  9. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:47 AM
    #9
    Tdup

    Tdup Well-Known Member

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    i know theres an auto locker, powertrax i think, because i was looking at it its fairly cheap gears aren't to bad if you can put em in yourself
     
  10. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:51 AM
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    BigRedToy

    BigRedToy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Yep, I will start looking next spring. A good gear install is worth the money.
     
  11. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:56 AM
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    NAAC3TACO

    NAAC3TACO Just east of crazy

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    Do you guys think that with 4.56 gears, we'd be able to take off in 2nd? Right now I shift out of 1st fairly quick, but the truck lugs if I try a 2nd gear start.
     
  12. Jun 25, 2010 at 10:58 AM
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    Tdup

    Tdup Well-Known Member

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    yea i think so cause i can start (downhill) in 2nd now and im running 265s load range Es on mine
     
  13. Jun 25, 2010 at 11:01 AM
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    NAAC3TACO

    NAAC3TACO Just east of crazy

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    Cool. I'm still running the stock 245 Dunflops.:( I'm gonna buy new tires in the fall and I've been thinking about switching to 265s.
     
  14. Jun 25, 2010 at 11:05 AM
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    BigRedToy

    BigRedToy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Next year I might run 285/75s so the gear change wont be as dramatic for me. I could run the new gears with 265/75s and see if I like it better.
     
  15. Jun 28, 2010 at 11:44 AM
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    Steve_P

    Steve_P Well-Known Member

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    I have a 4 cyl access cab 4X4; as I've said in other threads, it's slow going up hills. 4000 lb / 159 hp is not a good weight to power ratio- and especially going uphill. And it's 159 HP @ 5200 RPM - in an engine that does not like to rev.

    On really steep grades I just get in the slow lane, 3rd gear, and take my time at 50ish, or whatever speed/gear combo keeps it running 2500-3000 rpm which seems to be where the engine is happy. The engine doesn't seem to have much more power at 3500 than it does at 2800; it just makes more noise. You'll get to the top of the mountain a minute or two later than the guy going 70 so no biggie.

    The low first gear increases torque multiplication and makes it easier on the clutch when starting off.

    The 4 cyl could really use a 6 spd manual with closer spaced gears; 5th gear is a pretty deep OD that makes it almost useless going up anything but a small hill.
     
  16. Jun 28, 2010 at 11:52 AM
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    NAAC3TACO

    NAAC3TACO Just east of crazy

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    I believe torque peaks out at about 3800 rpm. I never go over 4000. It doesn't seem to do much after that.
     
  17. Jun 28, 2010 at 10:58 PM
    #17
    chad68

    chad68 Master Jedi Member I am...

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    I've driven from hwy 101 to Cabelas in Verdi via hwy80 about 6 times in the last 4 months out of boredom and ammo runs. I have 32" MT's on my 2009 Reg cab 4x4 and I can hold 65+. I may need to use 3rd or 4th to maintain that speed but I can do 65+ all the way there. I have never lost speed in 3rd on any stretch of HWY 80.

    I have a aftermarket exhaust and a K&N conical filter but they may actually hurt HP than help but anyway mine does it.
     
  18. Jun 28, 2010 at 11:07 PM
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    Kelson

    Kelson My Truck is Cuter than Yours

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    fyi the pre 2005 and 05+ 2.7 4 bangers are two different engines, its not just the addition of the vvt-i
     
  19. Jun 29, 2010 at 1:08 AM
    #19
    MajKong

    MajKong Well-Known Member

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    I live in Reno and have a 2008 4X4 Access cab with a 5-speed and have no problem driving over Donner Summit at the speeds you want. 4th gear is the lowest I ever have to put it in. You'll be fine.
     
  20. Jun 29, 2010 at 1:59 PM
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    Allen9621

    Allen9621 [OP] Active Member

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    This is more in line with what makes sense, based on my experience with a lighter '96 regular cab straining on extreme grades. I don't mind going into 3rd when needed, but I'd rather not buy a new truck that seems to be bloated vs. what I've got now.

    I consider my '96 to be right on the edge of underpowered, but overall I'm fine with it. I rarely feel pressured by traffic flow to move faster, as I did with my old '86 (22R). I am running 225/75/R15 stock tires with a fiberglass camper shell but it's otherwise in a lean configuration. I just can't see it liking larger tires. I tried 235s on it once but hill performance was noticeably bogged down (no axle changes were made).

    I'm really not sure what to think, based on mixed assessments of "no problem!" vs. comments like yours that seem more true to the physics. I'd like to think the VVT adds a magic torque curve, but it just doesn't seem much better than the non-VVT 2.7 in a truck thats significantly heavier, wider, and has bigger 245 stock tires.
     
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