Engine Deep Dive: Toyota Tacoma’s Atkinson-Cycle V-6

In the world of upgraded and redesigned pickup trucks, new vehicles normally do not get a new powertrain at the same time. This was not the case with the redesigned-for-2016 Toyota Tacoma; it received the 2GR-FKS engine — a 24-valve V-6 rated at 278 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque. Though new to the Tacoma platform, it wasn’t an all-new engine for Toyota. The 2GR-FKS — an Atkinson-cycle engine — is part of an engine family found in a range of other Toyota and Lexus vehicles such as the Toyota Highlander and Sienna, and Lexus GX, RX and LS. Its distinguishing characteristic is the ability of the intake valve to stay open longer than it does in other engines. That causes some of the air/fuel mixture to be pushed back into the intake manifold, allowing the engine to burn less fuel than a normal engine. However, the downside to the Atkinson cycle is that having less fuel in the piston cylinder chamber means the engine provides less power. Atkinson-cycle engines are most often paired with electric motors in hybrid vehicles to make up for the resulting power deficit. Toyota first used a variation of this engine in the 1997 Prius; now the technology is creeping into othe...

Home networking explained, part 3: Taking control of your wires

Editors’ note: This post is part of a regularly updated series. For the other parts, check out the related stories below. All home networks start with a network cable. Even if you plan on using all wireless clients, in most cases you will still need at least one cable to connect the wireless router and the broadband modem. A typical home network needs more than that because chances are you also want to connect a few Ethernet-ready devices to the router. Knowing how to make your own networking cable is an important, handy skill for a few reasons. First, network cables that you buy at the store are generally grossly overpriced: a 7-foot-long cable can run you $20, almost $3 per foot. Secondly, it’s hard to find a ready-made cable that’s just the perfect length; most of the time it’s either too long or too short. When you make your own, the cable will be exactly the length you want, and if it’s not, well, you can make another one or adjust it. You can also make other hardware parts for the network, including network wall ports and patch panels. As you will see after reading this post, this is a skill that’s not only easy to learn, but it doesn...