By on December 7, 2015

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Exterior

2016 Toyota Tacoma

3.5-liter DOHC V-6, direct/port injection, CVVT, Atkinson-style cycle (278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm; 265 lbs-ft @ 4,600)

6-speed automatic, optional 4WD

18 city/23 highway/20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

19.1 (Observed, MPG)

Base Price: $24,200*

As Tested: $40,020*

* Prices include $900 destination charge.

Toyota’s small trucks have long been associated with bulletproof reliability (and occasionally militant militias). Despite the Tacoma splitting from the legendary Toyota Hilux bloodline in 1995, the Taco (as some fans refer to their trucks) has continued Toyota’s rugged and reliable image. A big factor in the Tacoma’s long-term reliability is the Toyota’s philosophy to change: it should happen slowly and only when necessary.

Although the 2016 Tacoma is dubbed an “all-new third generation,” just like we see in the Camry, large portions of the design are carried over from last year’s model. This is excellent news for some, but may come as a disappointment for others. The changes are enough to keep brand loyalists happy, radical enough to be called a re-design, but sedate enough that folks eyeing a GMC Canyon may not be swayed by the lure of Toyota’s legendary reliability.

In a nutshell, Toyota swapped in a set of tried-and-true transmissions, fitted a Lexus V-6 under the hood, tweaked the frame with stronger steel and covered the truck in new sheetmetal. On the inside, we get a new dashboard, infotainment systems from the Toyota Highlander and a steering wheel from the larger Toyota Tundra. If you’re a Taco man, that’s all you need to know before you run out and buy one. For the rest of us, click past the jump.

According to Toyota, American customers want their small pickups to look bold, so instead of making the American market truck look like the new Hilux found in the rest of the world, we get one styled after the 4Runner and Tundra (though it thankfully skips the foglamp design that makes the 4Runner look like it is crying). The large front grille is designed for improved cooling when towing, and the lower air dam can be removed for those interested in improving approach angles when attacking a rocky incline.

Its 127.4 and 140.6 inch wheelbase choices remain as before, but overall length and front overhang has grown. As this is a compact pickup, you won’t find an 8-foot bed in the back. Access Cab models are given a 73.5-inch (6.1 foot) bed. Double Cab models make do with a shorter 60.3-inch (5 foot) bed as standard, but can be optioned up to the longer 73.5-inch bed. Approach and departure angles for most models are down versus last year because of the added length and despite ground clearance improving by 1/10th of an inch. There is still a TRD off-road package which comes close to the 2015 Tacoma’s off-road angles, but it’s still a few degrees less capable than before. Despite the reduction, the Toyota beats GM’s compact options by a wide margin and absolutely crushes full size, off-road trucks. Out on a tight trail, the new Tacoma can occasionally feel a little large, but it’s positively nimble compared to a Silverado, Ram, F-150 or Tundra sibling

2016 Toyota Tacoma Interior

The Nissan Frontier is stuck in interior timewarp and GM styles the Colorado and Canyon with conservative cues from their large SUVs. Over at Toyota, the engineers went in a different direction. Controls are placed in groups on the dash, and each group is set closer or further from the driver. Those groupings are surrounded by plastic of a different color to help them stand out at a quick glance. The overall design is a little too busy for my tastes, but it does set the Tacoma apart.

Although Toyota made the cab of the new Tacoma wider than before, the other dimensions didn’t change appreciably. This means instead of sitting upright as you do in full-size trucks, the Tacoma’s seats are close to the floor. This results in a seating position that’s closer to a Mustang or Camaro with your legs and arms stretched out in front of you while driving. Although the seat fabric and cushion design has been improved for 2016, the seat frame seems to be the same with a limited range of motion, a short bottom cushion, no lumbar support and no power adjustment at any price. The Tacoma is a hair more comfortable up front than the Nissan Frontier, but the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado win big in this area with power adjustment in many models, optional lumbar support in top-end trims and more seat padding in all trims.

Out back, the rear seats have lost a little leg room in the Access Cab model, but the Double Cab remains the same as before with a respectable 32.6 inches of appendage space and seat cushions a little higher off the floor than the front. Thanks to the extra width for 2016, it’s now possible to put three average child seats across the rear bench comfortably, although rear facing seat room is still somewhat limited. The rear compartment is one of the big differences between the Tacoma and the world-market Hilux: we get a wider back seat.

Toyota has been accused of following, not leading, when it comes to infotainment. This is an assessment I have found justified in some models, but the Tacoma has turned over a new leaf. Although base SR models only get four speakers as standard, the head unit features a 6.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth speakerphone integration, a single-slot CD player, backup camera and full USB/iPod integration with voice commands. Entune Plus adds HD Radio and HD Radio-sourced traffic and weather displays. Optional on SR5 and above is a 7-inch version of the same system with smartphone app integration and optional navigation software.

Toyota’s Entune software received important updates back in 2014 and still compares well to GM’s latest systems with a snappy interface and easy to navigate design. In a nice touch, traffic and weather data is downloaded via free HD Radio broadcasts so you don’t need an XM subscription. Toyota has also killed their subscription-based program for the Entune smartphone integrated services like Pandora, OpenTable, and Bing.

2016 Toyota Tacoma 3.5L V6 Engine-001

Base models use a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that, strangely enough, is not related to the 2.7-liter in the Highlander. Power figures remain unchanged from 2015 at 159 horsepower and 180 lbs-ft of torque. Versus the Highlander’s four cylinder, the truck engine features a wider bore, shorter stroke and 26 fewer ponies than the crossover engine, but the torque does turn on a little lower at 3,800 rpm. You can still mate a 5-speed manual to the 2.7-liter engine, but thankfully ye olde 4-speed automatic has finally been replaced with a 6-speed auto. As you’d expect from Toyota, four-wheel drive is available on the automatic and standard on the manual.

The thirsty 4-liter V-6 used in 2015 has also been sent out to pasture, replaced by a most interesting choice: a Lexus 3.5-liter V-6 that was, up ’til now, used only in the RX 350 and GS 350. For truck duty, Toyota detuned its power to 278 horsepower and left the torque essentially the same at 265 lbs-ft. Setting this engine apart from the V-6 in the Highlander and Sienna is a D4S direct injection system and a more advanced variable valve system that can adjust valve timing and duration across a broader range. This allows the computer to delay closing the intake valve when torque demands are low, thereby increasing efficiency. This modified Otto cycle is colloquially referred to as an “Atkinson cycle” and is the same cycle used in the Prius and many other hybrids.

D4S is interesting in that it combines both direct and port injection, which allows the software to choose the best injection method for the situation and prevents any carbon buildup on the intake valves. Sadly, Toyota decided to leave the Lexus 8-speed transmission on the parts room floor and mated the engine to one of its 6-speed automatics instead. On the bright side, you can still get the V-6 with a 6-speed manual and four-wheel drive.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Exterior-008

Toyota retained the same basic suspension and frame designs but tweaked them for the new Tacoma. The frame is formed out of a different material that’s stronger and more rigid than before, but because the basic designs remained constant, payload and towing numbers barely increased this time around. Towing starts at 3,500 pounds if you select the 2.7-liter four cylinder and jumps to 6,400-6,800 pounds with the V-6, depending on the options selected. The highest tow rating happens in the rear-wheel-drive Access Cab with the optional V-6 towing package. If you plan on towing, this package is essential because the base Tacoma is only rated for a slim 350 pounds of tongue weight. Adding the towing package increases that to 670 pounds.

Payload capacities range from 1,120 to 1,620 pounds for 2016 and the high payload trim is actually the rear wheel drive, four-cylinder model. Filling out the low end is, as you’d expect, the Double Cab V-6 4×4. Toyota tells us that Tacoma owners are far more likely to take their pickup off-road than tow a trailer or haul heavy loads, so more time was spent on those aspects of the Tacoma’s development.

If you plan on towing with your compact truck, GM’s new diesel is the most competent option with gobs of torque, an integrated trailer brake controller and a ginormous price tag. Aye, there’s the rub: GM’s 2.8-liter Duramax is a $3,980 option, but you can’t get it on every trim. That makes the price of entry for the Colorado diesel around $34,000, or $3,o00 more than a base RAM 1500 EcoDiesel.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Interior-002

Although Toyota has continued to update the drivetrain, the engineer’s conservative upgrades mean that the Tacoma is outgunned by GM’s Colorado and Canyon. Although GM uses a smaller 2.5-liter base engine, it cranks out 41 more horsepower and 11 lbs-ft more torque than the 2.7-liter mill in the Tacoma. Likewise, the Chevy and GMC 3.6-liter V-6 delivers 27 more horsepower, 4 more lbs-ft, and torque comes on at 600 fewer revs than Toyota’s Atkinson-style V-6. In terms of shove, this puts the Tacoma between the GM trucks and the Nissan Frontier.

Because Tacoma owners have off-roading in mind, Toyota brought some of their latest off-road electronics down from the 4Runner. TRD models gain a Range Rover-like multi-terrain select controller that helps coordinate the traction control, stability control and drivetrain systems based on your choice of five different surfaces. You can add an electric locking rear differential, but Toyota says that leaving the front diff open and controlling slip with the electronic systems actually results in better off-road performance than a traditional locker. Forward crawl control and hill start assist are also bundled into the TRD model, but selecting the manual transmission removes hill start assist.

Due to the transmission gearing, final drive gearing and the nearly 4,500 pound curb weight of our Limited model, acceleration to 60 mph takes nearly 8 seconds in the V-6 4×4 model. That’s about 6/10ths slower than a comparable Chevy Colorado. A closer look at the numbers reveals a sluggish 3.5 second 0-30 mph time, which makes the Toyota feel sluggish when hooked to a 5,000 pound trailer, especially on up-hill starts. On the flip side, the Tacoma is positively sprightly when compared to a full-size truck with a V-6.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Exterior-009

Although many have complained about the lack of rear disc brakes, the average person is unlikely to ever notice. Stops from 60 took 133 feet, which is two feet shorter than the Accord we recently tested. Although the Tacoma’s brakes will fade more rapidly than your average mid-sized sedan, the numbers are excellent for a pickup. Toyota claims the reason for the rear drum brakes are that they resist dirt and sand better than a disc design when off-roading. The real reason is likely cost: it’s cheaper. Since Toyota claims that towing was literally number 22 on the list of things Tacoma shoppers cared about, and towing would be the only big reason to want disc brakes in the back of a pickup that’s light in the rear, I’m going to call this a non-issue.

In terms of general road manners, the Tacoma’s steering feels overboosted compared to the Colorado and Canyon, the ride is a hair firmer and handling is comparable in models with similar tire sizes. Just as you’d expect, the Tacoma handles like a small truck, so expect it to feel less connected to the road than a Highlander but more connected than an F-150, Silverado, RAM or Tundra. What you might not expect is that you’ll actually get better fuel economy on the highway and a similar or higher average in real world driving in certain trims of the F-150 and RAM 1500. Over the course of a week with the Tacoma, we averaged 19 mpg. On the same course, I averaged a similar score in a 5.3-liter V-8 Silverado. Small pickups don’t necessarily mean high fuel economy numbers.

Starting at $23,300 for the four cylinder and $26,995 for the least expensive V-6, the Tacoma is the most expensive option in this segment when comparing similarly configured vehicles. The Nissan Frontier may be ancient, but with a base price of $18,190 and more cash on the hood than Toyota, it’s the least expensive truck in America. The Chevy Colorado bridges the gap at $20,100 starting and $23,960 for the V-6. Adding all the options to the Colorado, including the diesel, and you top out at just $2,800 more than a Tacoma despite having nearly $5,000 in additional equipment. That said, resale value on the Tacoma is better and expected maintenance costs are lower than the GM trucks, so your final cost is a factor of how long you plan to keep your truck.

Toyota seems to put a reasonable distance between the base Tacoma and the larger Tundra, which starts at $28,640. However, a six-cylinder Tacoma is just $1,600 less than the larger truck. In a country where “more for less” is usually better, you should know that the RAM 1500 will cost you less than a Tacoma V-6. Although a Silverado V-6 stickers for a little more than a Tacoma, there’s likely to be enough cash on the hood to even things out. If that sounds too good to be true, there is a catch. Those full-sized trucks won’t have a rear seat at that price. That said, our Limited model’s sticker price was over $40,000, which is enough to buy you a 1/2 ton truck with enough options to satisfy.

2016 Toyota Tacoma Interior-008

So who is the Tacoma for in the end? Its target is the daily commuter that wants a rugged, off-road capable truck with the utility of a bed but without the need to fit 4×8 sheets of anything in the back. It’s for the person that values a go-anywhere reputation over the creature comforts offered in the competition. It’s not for the shopper looking for the most efficient truck or the most capable for towing (that’d be the Canyon/Colorado with the diesel and the integrated brake controller). It is for the person interested in modding their ride. Because so much of the Tacoma is only slightly tweaked versus the 2015 model, expect to see more aftermarket snorkels, brush guards, lift kits and the like for the plucky Tacoma than the Canyon or Colorado.

Toyota is a company that believes in product evolution and not revolution. In addition, digging through the tried-and-true parts bin is strongly encouraged when developing a new vehicle. This design philosophy is vexing to some and comforting to others. By using parts that have been proven in other products, Toyota is able to refresh the Tacoma without the reliability concerns you’d find in a truly all-new design. The rear drum brakes, naturally aspirated engine lineup, proven 6-speed automatic, low number of drivetrain variants, manual seats and frame and suspension designs heavily based on the past are key to the expected high reliability and durability of the Tacoma. On the flip side, it’s also what makes the Tacoma less exciting than the Canyon or Colorado. The GMC and Chevy feel fresher, are more comfortable, the beefier four-cylinder is a more viable base engine, the V-6 is stouter and fuel economy is slightly better as well. This means that if my money were in the line, I’d buy the GMC Canyon because I prefer its looks to the Colorado. The Tacoma may be the better vehicle off road and it may have better resale value and better reliability, but when it comes down to it, the GM and Chevy are just better trucks.

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of fuel for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.47 Seconds

0-60: 7.93 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.8 Seconds @ 91 MPH

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72 Comments on “2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited Review – Off-road Taco Truck [Video]...”

  • avatar

    Did anybody check the temperature in Hell this morning?

  • avatar

    Fellow principal (high school) has one of the previous gen Tacos that he’s had almost since that generation debuted. V6, TRD, extended cab – it is his sole vehicle (he’s newly divorced) and he needs the small bed for hauling his dual sport motorcycle that he largely rides off road.

    He told me yesterday that he “doesn’t fit” in the 2016 – not enough headroom. He’s started seriously looking at Tundras to replace his Taco.

    I’ve always liked the Tacoma, handsome truck, nice size. But the sticker prices make my eyes water.

  • avatar

    Very disappointed in replacing the engine with a less torquey engine, wasn’t worth the minuscule fuel economy gains that might happen.

    Props for the lower air dam, it’s clearly an after thought on the design meant to be removed immediately after the truck is sold, I wish all manufacturers would do this. Fortunately Toyota doesn’t put an air dam on the 4Runner from the factory, less work for me, and a clean face that the rest of the industry seems to scared to follow after.

    Don’t care for the rear end looks very similar to the Mistubishi Raider rear end, and that was awful when it was introduced.

    • 0 avatar

      New Diesel 2.8 in the Hilux is a vast improvement over the old 3 Litre. 4 Litre Petrol and 2.7 are retained as base or entry level engines. Others makers have discontinued their Petrol engines.

      • 0 avatar

        Wish they’d offer the diesel in the US. It does serve some users (expedition use and preppers) better than a gasser. Even with the “Atkinson” engine, range with a camper on board, is pretty darned pathetic. While having jerry cans of gasoline strapped to you “house” during Death Valley summer, isn’t really all that comforting. The lack of commercial use for the taco over here, unlike the HiLux over there, along with lack of other vehicles Toyota could offer the diesel in, just doesn’t add up to much sense for them in bringing it in.

  • avatar

    The poor seating position and lack of adjustments have turned off many buyers according to my salesman friend and the loaded examples have caused sticker shock. For 40 large I would expect full range power driver seating adjustments, rear disk brakes, more headroom and mileage that exceeds the full size trucks. Reliability does sell but most everything today has proven to be far better than what was sold in the past so the playing field is far more level than ever before.

    • 0 avatar

      One might also expect leather seats that actually came built with leather and vinyl, instead of those baggy, saggy zip-on covers.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, I find myself liking these every time I see the ad. Yet for the money, the 4Runner is essentially a much nicer truck in every way. I know it doesn’t have an open bed, but for what most Tacoma buyers need, I bet the 4Runner gets cross-shopped a lot.

  • avatar

    Toyota continues it’s slow march to emulate the bad old days of Detroit. Today’s example is the Tacoma, using essentially the same design since 2004, now “all new” for 2016 with a new grill and dashboard. Isn’t it blatantly obvious to everyone that Toyota is using the exact same cab structure – doors, roof, glass, and just putting on a new front end and bed?

    Ford Ranger anyone?

    • 0 avatar

      You hit the nail on the with regards to the “all new” Tacoma. It’s really generation 2.5, but these rolling anachronisms do sell. I bought a 2015 in September, a 4×4 Access Cab with the bog standard 5 speed manual mated to the agrarian, “cast iron” block, 2.7 liter 4 cylinder for $22.5K, plus TTL.

      * The 2.7 is carried over as the base engine on the 2016. It debuted on the 1996 model year, base 4×4. It received a VVT upgrade for the 2005 model, which gave the engine a very slight boost in power.

      * While low on the numbers, it doesn’t rev very high and it is bullet proof.

      I bought it because the truck is an anachronism and is much better place to be than a bottom-of-the-line Colorado WT or Frontier S. The Colorado LT is a much more modern truck, but it’s hard to do a deal under $29K, because GM loads them up with options. The 2015 Frontier SV isn’t too bad and was doable at $22K, but manual transmissions are difficult to come by. The next gen Nivara will be sold here soon and will be more car-like.

  • avatar

    No height-adjustable power seats in a “loaded” truck is a deal breaker. In today’s market at least the driver’s seat should be so equipped on everything but the fleet special.

    This refresh feels really phoned in.

    • 0 avatar

      +1: I like the rest of the Tacoma but the seating position is a deal breaker for me (and so is the price).

    • 0 avatar

      Bean counters have taken over Toyota. No height adjustment for driver seat? Horrible, like an 80’s build.

      • 0 avatar

        Definitely a Generation 2.5 refresh versus a true Generation 3. The floor to ceiling height is the same as the 2005 model year. Throw in a sun roof on the 40K model and you had better be shorter than 5’9″.

        F.Y.I. I did raise the rear of the seat rails by 1″ with longer bolts and alloy spacer blocks on my 2015 Tacoma. I love it – but at 6’1″ – the top of my head is within three inches of the head liner.

        I had to reposition the rear view mirror mound, to the very top of the windshield to get rid of the blind spot it caused.

  • avatar

    Normally, I’m not the type to crow about whether fullsize trucks are a better value than midsizers, but this is one case where it’s hard to deny. Compare the typically-priced ’16 Tacoma equipped with the double cab, 4×4 and V6 (you’d be a fool to go with the 4 cylinder) with the 2015 or 2016 RAM 1500 with the Pentastar and 4×4. The Toyota pulls in 18 city/23 highway and the Ram gets 16 city and 23 highway. Very close. The handling of the Ram, despite its size disadvantage, will handle fairly decently due to the omission of rear leaf springs and lower profile than some of its peers. I won’t go into great detail digging up numbers, but my understanding is that the RAM will have greater towing and hauling capability with a decent weight to power ratio (305 hp).

    Actual transaction prices will favor the RAM, especially with incentives, even if the residual is less. The Pentastar has gotten past most of its teething issues and the reliability gap between it and the Toyota 3.5 probably won’t matter for as long as the average buyer keeps a truck. The 8 speed has (largely) proven its reliability too. Essentially, you have more utility without a footprint that’s not disadvantageous for most DD purposes with a lower purchase price. Everything else is subjective, like comfort, styling, brand biases, etc. Just my $0.02 (not a dissertation or statement of favor one way or the other).

    • 0 avatar

      A gently used full size from all the makes is pretty much a better value then this. Heck, I would take a lightly used tundra over a new taco. If you are going to do some hardcore 4 wheeling you are not going to buy one of these new anyways.

  • avatar

    I have no doubt this is a good, solid, reliable truck, but the pricing is ridiculous. One can get a V8 Crew Cab Ram or Silverado (on a good day) for the price of this thing.

  • avatar

    “Tacoma splitting from the legendary Toyota Hilux bloodline in 1995”

    Wasn’t the T100 kinda-sorta Hilux underneath also?

  • avatar

    …a short bottom cushion, no lumbar support and no power adjustment at any price.

    I find this totally unacceptable when buying a truck at this expense level.

    • 0 avatar

      I should say I’ve always liked the idea of buying a truck with Toyota’s pedigree, but for someone who’s 6’3″ a short seat with no adjustments is an automatic no-sale at any price. You can actually see how narrow the truck cab is vertically and it becomes instantly obvious you’ll be sitting with your feet forward, not down. Someone needs to check the Frontier’s pulse, but at least the seats give your legs some dangle.

  • avatar

    “Toyota claims that towing was literally number 22 on the list of things Tacoma shoppers cared about”

    #1 on the list was “Does it have a cap available?” followed by #2 with “Can I park it easily at McDonald’s at 6:48 AM on a Tuesday to get coffee?”

  • avatar

    Also I have decided the last time the Tacoma actually looked good and not stupid cartoony and plastic was 2004.

    • 0 avatar

      Thumbs up to that. Kind of the last gasp of Golden Age Toyota Truck Design™ in my opinion. There’s the tiniest scraps of it in the current 4Runner, but it’s largely been bred out of their lines by the current studio.

  • avatar

    When the driver’s seat in a $40,000 compact truck has fewer adjustments than the one in my 2006 Subaru Forester I have to suspect that Toyota is resting on it’s laurels. I’m shopping for a pickup, thanks for validating my decision to skip Toyota.

  • avatar

    I can guarantee you one thing – the laurels Toyota is resting on have more seating adjustments than the 2016 Tacoma.

  • avatar

    “[B]ut selecting the manual transmission removes hill start assist.”

    That seems counter-intuitive.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The Tacoma must have a fairly loyal slice of buyers for whom the practical arguments against this truck have no traction. I’ve watched in amazement over the last 5 years as Toyota raised the price on an already aging truck and nonetheless enjoyed increasing sales.

    On paper, the Tacoma is the truck for me because I’d value its off-road chops, low depreciation, and probable reliability and care little for the modest towing or more carlike demeanor of the GM twins. What gets me is the price of these things.

    Unsure about the new V6 as well. The peaky power curve seems to affect more than just towing ability: an 8 second to 60 run is pretty pokey when the last truck could do it in about 7 flat, and 3.5 seconds to 30mph would quickly become irritating in everyday driving.

    Frankly, the outgoing generation looks like the better rig.

    • 0 avatar

      Other than having moderate sized vehicle for under-maintained, BLM and Forrest Service roads, I see no reason to purchase a Tacoma.

      A little known secret is the base 4×4 Tacoma, model #7513. Invoice is $23.5K. I purchased my 2015 4×4 Access Cab at the end of September for $22.5K, plus TTL.

      You want a quad cab, V6 and automatic with that 4×4, you’ll be spending at least $30K – which is about the price of a 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport with no options.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Those kinds of roads are exactly why I’d want it. I would do little hauling or towing. Unfortunately Quad Cab is a must so I’d be looking at well over $30K. That is too much, but I also think that of the 4Runner and Wrangler Unlimited. The market has decided that body-on-frame 4×4 is an archaic form, but truth is that if you want it you are going to pay dearly for it.

  • avatar

    Alex, you should have waited until tomorrow to post on Taco Tuesday.

  • avatar

    GM twins are not better. They’re essentially cars with trucks glued on and have worse departure angles than a Camry. And the GM 3.6 is same vintage as Toyota’s 3.5 but the GM still has problems with timing chains stretching. Outside of the USA Toyota is the #1 seller of trucks and for a reason.

  • avatar

    Well, from the look of that grille, Ford lovers should look at the Tacoma as the new Ranger.

  • avatar

    And despite all the complaints above, Toyota can’t build them fast enough.

    Salmon really do return to the same stream every year.

  • avatar

    These are great off-road sporting vehicles for all types of terrain. They are one of the Toyota vehicles renowned for their durability and reliability, despite the Toyota difference denialists out there. I would pay for one as an alternative to a Wrangler, which has the opposite reputation. I love the Wrangler Rubicon, and the upcoming Wrangler pickup, but I hate buying problems when life gives you plenty for free. Both vehicles are expensive off-road beasts. For me, the Toyota is a better bet and worth the money. I don’t mind paying for quality. I hate making a big dollar gamble and hoping for the best from Jeep.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I think Toyota again has only improved the Taco enough to remain on top with sales. I suppose Toyota’s view would be why waste money.

    The Hilux here is a completely new pickup and is selling well.

    Even though the Taco and Hilux have been making changes they are slowly representing a smaller amount of their segments proportionally as new pickups enter the market.

    The makers of smaller pickups have realised the consumer will pay for refinement, like their cars.

    The pickup market is slowly changing, as the demographic looking for pickups change. The pickup is mainly an SUV this day and age. Just look at some of the comments, ie, 0-60 in 7.9 secs is a problem for one person.

    One thing that is US centric, those really fugly front ends you put on your pickups. Our pickups are heading in the same direction, VW with the Amarok probably makes the best looking front end.

    • 0 avatar

      “The pickup is mainly an SUV this day and age.”

      The light duty trucks are all headed in that direction.

      We’ll be getting the new Nissan Navara someday and it’s definitely geared toward on pavement duty.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    Toyota’s contention that drums are better for off-roading seem like BS. If they’re better for OR, who do both the 4Runner Trail and 4Runner TRD Pro come with rear discs? For that matter, are Wrangler Rubicon engineers thinking, “Let’s use discs since they cost more and are less effective off road.”?

    • 0 avatar

      The FJ Cruiser came with rear discs, and that was for all intent and purposes built as a pure off-roader out of the box.

      The Jeep Wrangler comes with rear discs (I’m sure at some point given how long the Wrangler has been around it came with disc/drum at some point)

  • avatar

    The reason the seating position on the Tacoma is so weird and and offers so little in the way of adjustment is because of the height of the ladder frame that the truck employs. You get more ground clearance with a Tacoma, but it feels like you’re sitting on the floor when you’re driving it.

    The Chevy/GMC twins have a lower frame height, less ground clearance, but a better seated position.

  • avatar

    And some more things. The frame is all new and made entirely of high strength steel. It is not “just a few tweaks” like you want to claim for your false “this isn’t all-new” narrative. And it’s the 3rd gen Tacoma, not 5th.

    And the people complaining about the styling not being “different” enough are probably the same ones who high five Ford execs each time Ford slapped a new grille on the 1997 F250/350 and called it a new generation.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      The frame with a few tweaks isn’t my description, it’s actually Toyota’s. At the launch for the 2016 Tacoma they made a point to say that the frame is the same basic design, just made out of stronger material. This is an asset to the Tacoma in that it means aftermarket off-road parts don’t need a substantial redesign (or for some any redesign at all) in order to fit on the new truck. Since there was nothing wrong with the old frame to begin with, keeping the old frame design is not a negative, it’s just a statement of fact.

    • 0 avatar

      “The frame is all new and made entirely of high strength steel.”

      Hmmm… if that’s true, what’s “low-strength” steel?

  • avatar

    I have to call total BS on rear drums are better for offroading.

    If rear drums are better for offroading, then why did the FJ Cruiser, the purpose built Toyota offroader come with…

    …front and rear disc brakes. Wouldn’t the FJ have come with rear drums because…they’re better for offroading.

    Why is the Jeep Wrangler, the defacto offroader for decades comes in its modern form with…4 wheel disc brakes.

    Marketing spin. One thing is apparent, if you’re planning to pull a trailer, the Tacoma should be by default be off your list.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    With the baby Dmax soon to be available in the much better looking(in my eyes) and more refined & sophisticated GM twins I couldn’t give this truck so much as a second thought. When I think of what I need and want out of a truck, the poor Taco doesn’t check any of the boxes and to boot the styling is a mess. My old ’93 Toyota PU puts this thing to shame. Like someone already commented once, the only thing a Taco excels at over a 1/2 ton is being smaller.

  • avatar

    As someone eyeing a 4runner one of these days….does the 4runner generally suffer from the same complaints I’m seeing here about the Tacoma? The poor seat comfort, lack of adjustment in the wheel and seats, the cheap seat covers, etc?

    I guess I just don’t see a ringing endorsement here other than off-road and reliability. Admittedly I’m eyeing the 4runner as a do-all, go anywhere, keep it for 10-15 years kinda truck, but if it is as lacking in comfort with cheap seats and insides then maybe it isn’t worth thinking much about.

    Sorta waiting to see if these engine changes and other upgrades come to the 2017 4runner.

    Though I don’t get the impression that the new engine in this Taco is really getting a ringing endorsement either….

  • avatar

    Toyota knows the off road pickup crowd loves them. They are catering to them. Thank goodness. TTAC commenters don’t trend that way, but Taco buyers apparently do.

    • 0 avatar

      Commenters and auto journalists are typically so far flung from actual reality and buyers. The Camry is the biggest POS on Earth…except to the 400,000 “sheep”, “salmon”, or whatever derogatory term a bunch of internet thugs can conjure up because of pre-conceived notions of what they consider worthy.

      • 0 avatar

        You do realize that you’re an internet thug as well, just of a different sort?

      • 0 avatar

        The Taco has a well-earned reputation for durability and reliability, which are two very important measures of “quality.” People who value these characteristics tend to be drawn to the Tacoma, and to other Toyota products as well. Cars are complex and every company creates products with issues. Toyota, over time, over many models, has earned a reputation for building reliable vehicles. The evolutionary approach works.

        If like to go off road and you value toughness and hate breakdowns in your small pickup, you are likely to buy the Taco. It has a proven track record and Toyo can charge top dollar as a result.

  • avatar

    The short seat bottom is why I recently purchased a Ford sedan instead of a Toyota sedan. The rear drum brakes are unwarranted. Toyota has been sitting on their laurels too long and while their sales continue to impress, the product stagnates too quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “Stops from 60 took 133 feet, which is two feet shorter than the Accord we recently tested…Toyota claims that towing was literally number 22 on the list of things Tacoma shoppers cared about, and towing would be the only big reason to want disc brakes in the back”

      Non issue.

  • avatar

    Toyota should continue using the ’04+ platform indefinitely. Drum brakes and all. There’s nothing wrong with any of it.

    Cars and trucks have evolved enough where all you get is a *restyle* with each, “from the ground up” all-new generation anyway.

    I’m not sure if some vehicles change just to keep you buying new “dealer only” parts for the body/engine/trans, and “dealer only” service/repairs/reset modules, while the aftermarket, junkyards, backyard mechanics, independants, locksmiths and DIY’ers scramble to keep up.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Some perspective on why Tacoma buyers might still find it more appealing than the GM twins despite its obvious faults, particularly if they are more interested in off-road performance than towing or car-like dynamics in town. Edmunds had a Colorado (in z71 trim) in which the front air dam was a continual problem in the type of off-road situations you would think the Z71 should be built for. Removing the air dam was a pain, and their vehicle test director found a warning in the manual not to leave it removed: “Caution: Operating the vehicle for extended periods without the front fascia lower air dam installed can cause improper air flow to the engine. Reattach the front fascia air dam after off-road driving.”

  • avatar

    I’m not sure of any of you internet experts have looked at the 07-13 chevy/gmc half tons, even those costing 50k, but they are running rear discs. I’ve got no dog in this fight, never really “got” the mini pickup concept, having owned a slew of GM and Ford half and 3/4 ton trucks over the years. I’ve been “pickupless” for almost a year now after the wife nagged me into selling a perfectly good F-150 Lariat that was not getting used very often the last couple of years. While that truck was pretty, it was a maintenance nightmare once it hit 100k miles. It ate tires, ball joints, brakes, seals, alternator, you name it. I babied it, and drive 90% rural paved roads. Now that it’s gone, and my Ford and Chevy brainwashing has worn off, as I consider a replacement, the reliability and cost of ownership factor is a huge consideration. I don’t care if this vehicle is 100% new, the simple fact is Toyotas are dead nuts reliable. So are Honda vehicles. I would not even consider a brand new GM product in it’s first year. The MSRP on these are eye watering, but I’d have no hesitation choosing this over a GM or Ford product.

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