Aside from its hybrid technology, Toyota has fallen behind the competition in terms of vehicle powertrains which could leave popular cars like the Toyota Camry and Toyota RAV4 lagging behind the competition. While most of its rivals have started using gasoline direct injection, turbochargers and some have moved to Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) to balance performance and fuel economy, many Toyota models are still using underpowered engines and outdated transmission technology. According to a report in Autoweek, Toyota is finally going to start dabbling in all of these technologies over the next couple years.
In the States, Toyota only currently uses direct injection on the Scion FR-S, Lexus GS and Lexus LS, but AW says it will be introducing two new GDI engines over the next two years: a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle engine for its hybrids next year and a sportier 2.0-liter turbocharged mill a year later. It sounds like Toyota is also looking to convert its AR family engines to direct injection as early as next year for use in cars like the Venza and Lexus RX, but it won't be used on the Prius due to higher cost that would likely only return an "incremental benefit." The 2.0-liter turbo engine would be a derivative of the 2.5-liter AR engine, but there is no word as to what models this would go into. Based on the success of the Ford EcoBoost engines, we'd have to guess at least the Camry, RAV4 and Highlander.
Toyota's transmission lineup will also get some much-needed updating with wider-spread use of CVTs and six- and eight-speed transmissions for its bigger cars. Toyota is one of the few remaining automakers still using a four-speed automatic on its small cars, and this is rumored to be ending with the next-generation Corolla receiving a new CVT.