2016 Toyota Tacoma first drive


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Muscled as much as preserve midsize dominance

Toyota owns the midsize truck section. It’s not even shut. Half of all small pickups have a Tacoma badge on the tailgate. In reality, even with General Motors’ recent onslaught, Tacoma gross sales are up 20 p.c within the first seven months of ’15. Robust. And that’s the previous mannequin. So a brand new, totally modernized one must be a simple promote to this crowd.

“Our objective was to construct a truck that’s badass,” says Tacoma and Tundra chief engineer Mike Sweers. That’s as a result of “badass” is precisely what Tacoma-driving dudes are after. Sweers says Toyota has the youngest consumers within the section. They’re additionally loyal to a fault and didn’t need the brand new truck to stray too removed from the outgoing one.

No shock then, the 2016 Tacoma seems like a muscled model of the 2015 mannequin. In some ways, it’s. Dimensionally they’re the identical. In contrast to nearly each redesigned car, the Tacoma hasn’t been supersized. That is good.

The brand new truck makes use of the identical fundamental ladder body because the previous one, however enhancements forward of the B-pillar assist it meet as we speak’s — and future — security regs. In and out, cabs are the identical dimension because the outgoing Tacoma too, whereas the construction makes use of extra extremely-excessive-power steels to satisfy roof-crush security laws. Toyota has added a number of new seals, silencers and mufflers to almost each floor in and across the cab to fight noise. Sweers says it improves NVH a whopping forty three %.

Because the body is considerably carried over, the entrance and rear suspension designs aren’t new. The springs and shocks have the identical wheel journey however are re-tuned. There at the moment are more durable excessive-energy metal decrease entrance management arms. You gained’t must pay for 4WD to get the look: All Tacomas trip on the taller 4×4 truck’s suspension and have the identical 9.four inches of floor clearance.

“We left all of the [suspension] connection factors the identical as a result of our prospects spend between $three,000 and $eight,000 on aftermarket elements,” says Sweers. “In order that (aftermarket) trade stated to us, ‘Please don’t change what we’re promoting.’” Even aftermarket rear bumpers designed for the previous truck bolt on the ’sixteen.

So a lot of the previous Tacoma’s chassis stays, however almost your complete drivetrain is new. The coarse 236 hp four.zero-liter V6 is gone; a techy new three.5-liter V6 replaces it, delivering 278 hp via each port and direct injection. This engine additionally packs Toyota’s most superior variable valve timing techniques, VVT-iW, permitting the V6 to at occasions run within the extra-environment friendly Atkinson cycle. Most clients will go for the V6 and its two new six-pace transmissions, an automated and a handbook. A direct-injected 159 hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder from the final truck is the bottom engine on decrease-stage SR and SR5 fashions. Irrespective of the engine, gasoline economic system will increase barely on all Tacomas. Automated V6 4WD vans enhance EPA scores 2 mpg in every class to 18 mpg metropolis/23 mpg freeway. A Chevy Colorado geared up the identical means will get 17 mpg metropolis/24 freeway.

Half of all Tacoma house owners get their vehicles soiled, so particular consideration is targeted on the 4WD hardware. The brand new switch case is lighter and faster shifting, co-developed with the workforce engaged on Toyota’s abroad 4WD workhorse — the industrial-grade HiLux pickup. A beefy new eight.7-inch rear axle comes on TRD vehicles, changing the usual eight-inch axle, additionally shared with the HiLux. It features a higher-waterproofed and extra sturdy digital locking differential. And thanks partially to that new axle, the beefiest Tacomas can deal with a 6,800-pound trailer (up 300 kilos) and haul a 1,620-pound payload (up a hundred and twenty kilos).

Final yr, Toyota expunged the outdated-faculty common cab from the Tacoma’s lineup as a result of no person was shopping for them. Small and low cost isn’t actually what midsize consumers are in search of anymore — the bottom SR grade solely represents about 6 p.c of all Tacomas. As a substitute a larger share are SR5s in each Entry and Double Cab briefly- (5-foot) or lengthy- (6-foot) mattress configurations. And half of all Tacomas put on a TRD sticker on their flanks cut up between the toughest-core TRD Off Road package and extra-athletic TRD Sport. The highest sliver go for the brand new leather-based-trimmed Restricted with push-button begin, twin-zone local weather management, an influence moonroof and tech like blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-visitors alert. Irrespective of the trim stage, all Tacomas have customary Go Professional mount on the windshield. Dude! And the brand new, deeper cargo beds put on an ordinary inside rail system with adjustable cleats. Each a sensible lockable laborious tonneau cowl and an inside bedside energy outlet are elective.

Photo: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Photo 6

2016 Toyota Tacoma Restricted Photograph by Toyota

 

What’s it wish to drive?

If you happen to’ve frolicked in a Tacoma, the brand new one’s outward view and seating place will really feel acquainted, however the inside is trendy, contemporary and lightyears forward of the previous truck. Although the cab isn’t any bigger, engineers carved out extra hip and shoulder area, so it feels a bit roomier.

As keen as we had been to pattern a truck with the brand new six-velocity handbook, each check truck available was V6-powered and hitched to an computerized transmission. The excellent news? This powertrain is terrific. The outdated V6 had torque aplenty down low, however would run out of breath as engine pace climbed. The brand new V6 is easy, pulls strongly to redline and sounds a lot sweeter. Transfer the cool console shifter over to “sport” and it locks out fifth and sixth gear and actually wakes up the trans. We don’t have laborious acceleration occasions, however the brand new Tacoma feels noticeably faster than the outdated one.

Oddly, Toyota retained the rear drum brakes. They are saying one predominant purpose is Tacoma house owners don’t tow regularly sufficient to wish disc-brake efficiency. Nonetheless it looks like an affordable transfer to have drum brakes on a 2016 truck with a high-trim stage approaching $40K. No matter these drums, the truck’s braking energy felt acceptable on our drive.

Although this truck rides on a comparatively tall suspension, it feels composed within the corners. That’s very true of the firmer TRD Sport mannequin. It’s additionally quiet, making the Tacoma simple to reside with.

Since so many Tacoma house owners enterprise off-highway, we examined it over rutted, bumpy and dusty forest roads on personal land in Black Diamond, Wash., about forty miles from Seattle. The TRD Off-Highway vans with their fatter sixteen-inch tires and Bilstein shocks had been the very best at filtering out each small and bigger bumps. So good, you find yourself driving more durable simply to see if the suspension can take the abuse. We will verify — it could actually.

Toyota arrange some quite elaborate sluggish-pace off-highway workouts to showcase the abilities of the highest canine TRD Off Street mannequin. On Automated transmission vans, the bundle comes with Crawl Management, a 5 place off-highway cruise management system borrowed from the Land Cruiser and 4Runner. We used it on the toughest sections, and since it operates the throttle and brakes for you, it takes all of the white-knuckle anxiousness out of 4-wheeling. Simply keep in mind to steer. The vans even have Multi-Terrain Choose, and like methods in additional-costly SUVS, it calibrates the traction and stability management to the terrain, extra wheel pace in say “mud and sand” mode, and extra traction intervention in “rock” mode. All of it provides to the Tacoma’s ease and magnificence at negotiating a troublesome rocky climb. So good in truth, we by no means wanted to lock that rear diff.

Photo: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Photo 12

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Highway Picture by Toyota

 

Do I need it?

The brand new Tacoma is faster, quieter and extra snug than the outdated one. So in sensible phrases, it’s a greater truck and may have a very good probability warding off all the brand new midsize competitors. The TRD Off-Street package deal is the mannequin that strikes our soul. Even in case you by no means level your Tacoma in direction of a mud path, there’s one thing cool or sure, even badass, about driving a Tacoma with the TRD bundle. No different midsize truck appears as powerful or has fairly this stage of off-highway functionality. We’ll take ours painted Inferno orange, please.

 

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