2016 Toyota Tacoma Midsize Pickup

On- And Off-Road Adventure
By Durhl Caussey
Durhl Caussey
Durhl Caussey
September 6, 2015 Updated: September 6, 2015

For 50 years, Toyota has been building trucks for the U.S. market. Now Toyota feels they have built the best, toughest, and most durable pickup in this segment. For 10 years now Toyota has dominated the midsize truck market.

“The all new homegrown Tacoma is a tough truck designed, developed, and built for a lifestyle of the young and young at heart,” said Bill Fay, group vice president and general manager Toyota division.

Tacoma was engineered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, but I am proud to say, it is assembled in San Antonio, Texas.

Tacoma has added high-strength steel to help enhance rigidity and over-all strength. This ultra-high strength steel was integrated into the body shell using a new hot stamping process that reduces weight.

The suspension was fine-tuned to help deliver a smooth on-road ride, while making it even more capable off-road.

Tacoma offers two engines. The 2.7 L DOHC 4-cylinder with VVT-i will produce 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. EPA estimated mpg for the 4X2 with automatic transmission is 19/23/21 city/highway/combined. Estimated fuel efficiency for the 4X4 with a manual transmission is 19/21/20 and 19/22/20 for the automatic.

Even more power is presented by the all-new V6, which is a segment-first 3.5 L Atkinson cycle V6 with VVT-i W (wider intake) and D-4S direct and port dual-injection system. This V6 will generate 278 hp (a 42 hp increase over previous V6) and 265 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. Estimated city/highway/ combined mpg for the 4X2 automatic is 19/24/21. Estimated 4X4 mpg is 17/21/19 for the manual and 18/23/20 for the automatic.

Both engines will be joined by a new 6-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift, delivering quick and easy shifting. The V6 can also be found in a 6-speed manual and the 4-cylinder to a 5-speed manual.

The V6 can be equipped with a Tow Package which can tow up to 6,800 pounds, an increase of 300 pounds over the previous V6.

Look for the design DNA. The Tacoma shares big brother Tundra’s more chiseled face with a hex grille.

An athletic posture means just a little “Attitude.”

Tacoma has wheel flairs that are strong and muscular for greater wheel travel, and the high-lift image reflects its purposeful capabilities. There are four new wheel designs to choose from, ranging from 16-18 inches.

The tailgate indicates Tacoma’s wide stance and tough profile. There is also an easy lowering feature, which allows it to slowly retract, preventing it from slamming down. There is also an available factory installed tri-fold hard tonneau cover for securing gear when you are away from the truck.

The front displays an aggressive attitude with a bold upper grille and a taller, more muscular hood. High-tech slim headlights featuring projection beam lamps are mounted high above the redesigned front bumper. LED daytime running lights are available.

The new Tacoma will be available in 29 configurations with two cab styles (access cab or four-door double cab). Both cabs are available in 4X2 and 4X4 selections.

Tacoma grades include:
Work ready SR
Iconic SR 5
Athletic TRD Sport
Tough-as-nails TDR Off-Road
Top-of-the-line Limited

All grades have a four-way adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and four-way adjustable front-passenger seats. Inside the Tacoma looks rather sporty. An athletic posture means just a little “Attitude.”

The instrument panel provides better driver focus. Soft-wrapped trim and metallic accents complement high-quality look and feel that infers an array of premium features such as leather trimmed seats, dual-zone automatic air control, power tilt/slide moonroof, Qi wireless charging, and blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert.

Driving the Tacoma was a quieting experience. All seals have been enhanced, and multi-layer acoustic windshield, and sound-absorbing headliners were added. This is the first vehicle I am aware of that had a floor silencer pad to further absorb and reduce road noise.

The most fun place to drive was off-road. The TRD Off-Road has a Multi Terrain Select system (Automatic only) that allows the driver to choose between different types of terrain, such as loose rock, mud or sand. Each regulates wheel spin by adjusting throttle and brake pressure to provide maximum traction on almost any terrain. Other off-road features include: Locking Rear Differential, Hill Start Assist, Clutch Start Cancel, Active Traction Control, and Crawl Control System. The cost for this 4X4 TRD Off-Road Access Cab is $32,000.

The MSRP for the 2016 Tacoma 4X4 will range from $24,825 for the SR 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission, to $37,820 for the V6 Limited with 6-speed auto.

Current Toyota vehicles come with the Star Safety System which includes Vehicle stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brakes, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop Braking Override Technology.

There is an advanced airbag system which has an array of airbags for driver and passengers as well. Included in the standard equipment are knee air bags for the front seats and roll-sensing side-curtain airbags.

Tacoma truck composite bed is built to take punishment with its sheet-molded composite (SMC) deck and tough, durable walls that are 10 percent lighter than steel. The bed deck features two tier-loading and an integrated deck-rail utility system with four standard tie-down cleats.

Toyota vehicles are backed by a 36-month/36,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty, a 60-month/60,000-mile Powertrain Warranty, and a Corrosion Warranty with no mileage requirements. On top of all that, there is a 24-hour Roadside Assistance Warranty for 2 years or 25,000 miles.

Durhl Caussey writes a car column read around the world. He may be reached at this paper or dcaussey@sbcglobal.net