The 2024 Toyota Tacoma is basically out to take GM's, Ford's, and Nissan's lunch money all for itself. To do so, it's changing a heck of a lot, from major stuff like its new hybrid engine option to more subtle touches. One that hasn't been widely noticed til now is underneath the truck, where Toyota has hidden the catalytic converter to frustrate thieves.
The cat's relocation is most clearly depicted in a YouTube video by Chloe Kuo, where she crawls beneath the truck to highlight undercarriage changes. One of the first things you'll notice is how there's no cat in the exhaust pipe between the engine bay and the rear of the truck, just a muffler. As Kuo points out, that's because it's been pushed upstream into the engine bay. The pre-cat barely visible just after the turbocharger, while only the regular cat's downstream side is accessible from under the truck. It looks like it'd be tricky to take out in a shop, never mind covertly with a reciprocating saw.
This change might reduce hydrocarbon emissions, as the exhaust gases will remain hotter as they reach the emissions controls. But the change is more likely to be a security measure against cat theft, which has become increasingly common in recent years. High-riding SUVs and trucks have been common targets due to their cats' accessibility, with Toyota owners being some of the hardest-hit.
In 2022, the Tacoma was the ninth most common target for cat theft. But another Toyota, the Prius, ranked even higher in third place. That's because the Prius' cat contains more rare metals than most cars, as hybrids' cats need them to sustain operating temperatures with reduced fuel use.
The new Tacoma with its hybrid engine could stand to combine the worst of both worlds, with a valuable hybrid cat easily accessible under a pickup. But its withdrawal into the engine bay means it should be much harder to steal, as that'd require hacking up a lot of other parts to get it out. That may not be beyond the most desperate people out there, but most would sooner move on to lower-hanging fruit. Or rather, a lower-hanging cat.
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