The 2016 Toyota Tacoma an improved version of itself.

The Tacoma is designed to explore the great open country.

The Tacoma is designed to explore the great open country.

So popular is the Toyota Tacoma you seemingly cannot drive a mile down any road and not see one drive by. This mid-sized/compact pickup truck has become the choice of the budget minded, or those workers and hobbyist who want a smaller platform for their truck.

The new 2016 Tacoma appears to be destined to continue this dominance, at least in the more compact side of the equation. With the introduction of the General Motors mid-sized trucks, the Tacoma, which has more compact dimensions, will no doubt continue to attract those who want to remain with a smaller footprint.

Getting to the back country with ease.

Getting to the back country with ease. Copyright Ron Moorhead

The Tacoma has proven to be a capable and reliable mode of hauling, transporting and providing fun for decades. After my test with the new version it shows that will not change much. If anything, a change will be most apparent in how the Tacoma adds more comfort to the experience.

Though the V6 engine has been the most popular choice, the smaller inline four-cylinder will continue to be available. These two all new engines certainly will continue to give the Tacoma its wide reaching popularity.

The 2.7-liter four-cylinder is a Double Overhead Cam Shaft design combined with variable valve timing that gives the engine 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft. of torque. Fuel economy estimates are reported to be as high as 19 city and 21 highway.

The V6 is an all new addition that offers engineering and technology to give the Tacoma more power and better efficiency. This 3.5-liter V6 incorporates Atkinson cycle along with Variable Valve timing and Intelligent Wider Intake (VVT-iW) Toyota speak for ever changing value timing to extract the most power with the lest fuel use possible. Toyota engineers also included two different fuel injection systems, direct and port, which again are meant to provide the upmost in power with the smallest drain on fuel.

Clawing through a dry boulder bed made easy by the new Tacoma.

Clawing through a dry boulder bed made easy by the new Tacoma. Copyright Ron Moorhead

The new V6 produces 278 horsepower an increase of 42 hp over Tacoma’s previous V6, and more importantly, 265 lb-ft. of torque. Estimated fuel economy numbers are as high as 19 city and 20 highway. Both new engines can be coupled to a new six-speed automatic transmission, which incorporates electronic shift. Toyota engineers say that this new transmission delivers smoother and quicker shifts that provide better comfort and abilities…

Continuing for 2016 is the TRD Off-Road Tacoma equipped with a more rugged off-road suspension system including Bilstein branded shocks and Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Selection system. Also new to the Tacoma is Crawl Control which via a demonstration by Toyota engineers showed that you can quite literally bury the Tacoma up to its axles in a sand pit and the vehicle can walk itself right out with no more input from the driver than the labor intensive action of pushing the activation switch on the dash.
Check out our video to see how the Tacoma accomplishes getting out of that sand box. While it takes the fright out of getting stuck these systems also takes the learning principle out of off-roading. In our view that may not be the best for the novice off-roader. Honing your skills in how not to get into a precarious situation is just as important as getting out.

2016 Toyota Tacoma intr
Yes, the Tacoma exterior design is all new, although your eyes just might react as though little has changed. Toyota designers wanted to update the Tacoma look without changing its hardy appeal. No longer is there a regular cab design, just not enough interest. The 2016 Tacoma is available in Access Cab and the Double Cab, four-door configurations. Both are also available in 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive arrangement. A five-foot short bed and a six-foot long bed are also available. Remember these are mid/compact sized trucks and not meant to haul the payloads of the full sized Tundra.

Driving the Tacoma is as one would expect, the cabin is compact and cozy. All the switches and gauges are within easy reach and view, although with the compactness I had to move around just a bit in order to get full view of some of the switches. The rear seat in the Access cab is, understandably, tight in leg room. The Double Cab rear seat offers more room but is most fitting for two adults.
We did not get to experience the four-cylinder model; however the V-6 TRD we drove was comfortable, although did suffer from a bit of intrusion of road noise into the passenger compartment. Much of this was the big off-road ready 265/70R16 Goodyear Wrangler tires. We, as no doubt most Tacoma buyers, will trade a bit of noise for the added capabilities offered by the off-road components.

The sculpted highlight line adds character to the tailgate. Copyright Ron Moorhead

The sculpted highlight line adds character to the tailgate. Copyright Ron Moorhead

The 2016 Tacoma is an improvement over the previous model without abandoning the attraction the truck has carried over decades. The design is modernized without offending loyalists. The drive and capability is updated without losing it ruggedness. All in all the 2016 is an improvement of itself making it better version of Toyota accomplishments.