Charge It! TRD Adds Power to Toyota Trucks
By: John Stewart Posted: 08-07-08 14:30 PT
© 2008

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Truck owners generally choose Toyota based on the company’s reputation for durability, reliability and quality. Now perhaps they have another reason: New supercharging systems available for both the Tacoma and Tundra pickups.

With superchargers, the trucks are much quicker and have a lot more torque, so there’s significant benefits for truck owners who tow or haul.

The superchargers are offered by Toyota’s racing and aftermarket parts division, Toyota Racing Development, and can be ordered in kit form or installed at a Toyota dealer.

Unlike third-party aftermarket supercharger systems, the TRD system doesn't negate the existing factory warranty, and it's smog-legal. When installed by a Toyota dealer, TRD superchargers carry either a 12-month warranty, regardless of mileage, or the balance of the new car’s five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty, whichever is greater.

Installation time is estimated at eight to 10 hours, so installation at a Toyota dealer would cost between $640 and $1,050. Because the kit is available for enthusiast installation, some owners may opt to install it themselves. In that case, TRD recommends that the ECU be re-flashed by a dealer with specialized equipment to do that properly. The 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty still applies when the kit is installed by a third party.

Supercharged 5.7-Liter V-8 Tundra

Two superchargers are available for Toyota truck owners. The 5.7-liter V-8, which appears in the Tundra, gets the Eaton Twin Vortices System roots-type supercharger, which uses the newest four-lobe, high-helix rotors, like the ZR-1 Corvette. A water-to-air intercooler system with a low-temp radiator is part of the setup. Included are high-flow fuel injectors, iridium spark plugs, a higher-flow fuel pump and a TRD-designed performance air-intake system. Boost pressure is 8.5 psi at maximum demand.

The system provides a significant increase in horsepower and torque. Stock output — 381 horsepower and 401 pounds-feet of torque — improves to 504 hp at 5,500 rpm and 550 pounds-feet of torque. The TRD supercharger performance numbers are SAE validated and corrected, and, more important, are readily evident at the seat-of-the-pants level.

On the Tundra, the system transforms the full-size regular cab truck into a stoplight-to-stoplight warrior capable of covering a 1/8-mile acceleration run in less than 9.1 seconds, which is about as quick as the latest factory muscle cars, such as the Dodge Challenger SRT8. At the 1/8-mile Toyota drag strip in Irwindale, Calif., our best time of 9.096 seconds came with the traction control turned off, even with considerable tire slip at the launch. When we crossed the 1/8-mile mark at 81.16 mph, the engine was still pulling. Peak torque arrives at 4,000 rpm.

The TRD unit is available for 2007-09 Tundras. Because the supercharger is belt-driven, it doesn’t need rpm to build power, and it produces torque relatively early in the rev range. That makes it ideal for towing, trailering a boat and offroad applications. On the other hand, the belt drive adds a degree of parasitic drag that translates into fuel cost.  While the Eaton-built compressor has been engineered to minimize fuel use at light throttle, enthusiasts should expect to see mileage drop somewhat, depending on how they drive.

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