- - Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Toyota team regrouped when they decided on the changes for the 2016 Toyota Tacoma and the introduction of this very popular Toyota midsize truck is coming out better and tougher than ever. You can expect a good ride in this one when it goes on sale in September, but so much more as I found out several weeks ago when the Toyota folks invited me to get to know the new Tacoma off road. After the experience, I can only say this new Tacoma gets high marks.

While it is still the same, but “different,” it’s like a better version of what it was and you will find the differences in the edgier appearance and design as well as the new “bad ass” feel, (which is the word the Toyota folks kept referring to when speaking of it). Don’t be fooled though, it might look good, but it’s still a strong, steel body, only now a lighter weight and suspension, which also gets high marks in this 2016 version.

Competition in the midsize truck market for the 2016 Tacoma includes the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and the Nissan Frontier. And while all the competition might have good and bad points, I can’t get past my favorite Toyota Tacoma feature: the Crawl mode, which I truly enjoyed on the Tacoma. I put the crawl to the test in Seattle on a terrain put together by Toyota that included mud, rocks, hills, and I mean big hills, and rough going that made my adrenaline soar as I sat in the passenger seat and squealed like a teenager as we navigated a landscape that would have made a Navy Seal proud.

There are five trims on the redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma with both the access extended cab version and the crew cab body. Trims include the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited. The SR is the base model including fabric trim, 16-inch steel wheels with a 6.1-inch touchscreen, audio jack and USB port, Bluetooth and an integrated backup camera.

The SR5 will give you flashier interior and exterior while the TRD offers better suspension upgrades and it’s the one offering an all-terrain ability in case you need to get off road for awhile. Both the sport and off-road versions have alloy wheels and for the Limited, it’s 18-inch alloy wheels and a real decked out version for the rough and tumble type who still needs a bit of luxury added to the equation.



For options, the Tacoma will also give you choices to include a three-piece hard tonneau cover for the bed, LED running lights, a push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a sunroof, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

On the TRD trims, you will also be able to choose the multi-terrain giving the driver the easy ability to choose on a dial whether to put it in crawl mode depending on the surface and how aggressive you want the crawl mode to perform. With this option, you only have to steer the vehicle as the “crawl” takes over the throttle and brakes during low-speed maneuverability.

As for size, the Access Cab models ride on a 127.8-inch wheelbase and have a 73.7-inch-long bed. The Double Cab is offered in two versions: the 127.4-inch wheelbase with a 60.5-inch bed or 141.0-inch wheelbase with the 73.7-inch bed.
Both bed styles are built to take punishment with a composite inner bed made from a sheet-molded composite (SMC) deck and tough, durable walls that are 10% lighter than steel. The bed deck features two-tier loading and an integrated deck-rail utility system with four standard adjustable tie-down cleats. The deck rail system is compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories, including a fork-mount bike rack, a cargo divider that locks into the rails to help keep cargo from sliding around the bed, and mini tie-downs with hooks that also help to secure cargo in the bed. An available 120V/400W power point further extends the bed’s utility.

Under the hood the 2016 Toyota Tacoma offers both the 2.7-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with 159 horsepower and 180 pound feet of torque or the 3.5-liter V6 with a fuel injection and an Atkinson power cycle, which adds to this engines fuel efficiency. On this one, it’s 278 horsepower and 265 pound feet of torque. You get it in a six-speed automatic with either engine and you can also opt for a six-speed manual on the V6 version.

When equipped with the V6 Tow Package, the new Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds, which is an increase of 300 pounds over the previous V6.

For safety it’s the Star Safety System™, which includes Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), and Smart Stop brake override technology (SST).

Every Tacoma has standard three-point seatbelts for all seating positions, driver and front passenger Advanced Airbag System, driver and front passenger knee airbags, and front and rear Roll-sensing Side Curtain Airbags.

Standard active headrests for the front seats move up and forward almost instantly in the event of certain rear-end collisions to help reduce the distance between the occupant’s head and the headrest.

Additional standard safety features include a Tire Pressure Monitor System (with individual tire location alert on most grades). A Class IV towing receiver hitch (V6 only) with transmission oil cooler with water and air cooler, 130-amp alternator (manual transmission only), 4- and 7-pin connector, and Trailer-Sway Control.

Inside the cabin, the interior is all refreshed and comfortable whether driving or riding with a nice center stack, a touchscreen that controls the entertainment, navigation and the necessary smartphone functions. There is also a nifty GoPro camera mount available right on the windshield and it’s a standard feature so you can get the best from your off road adventures and remember it later.

Overall, the idea behind this Tacoma is whether you are heading to the beach, the back roads to camp or are even hitting the desert this vehicle has got you covered so you can always have a good time.

Should You Need to Know: The new Tacoma will be available in eight exterior colors including three new colors: Quicksand, Inferno, and Blazing Blue Pearl. Additional colors include: Super White, Silver Metallic, Magnetic Gray, Black, and Barcelona Red.

Miles Per Gallon: The 2016 Toyota Tacoma will average out, depending on engine, at about 19 miles in the city and 21 miles on the highway.

Cost: The 2016 Toyota Tacoma has a starting price of $23,300 up to $37,820.

For more auto tips and information, follow Rita @RitaCook13.

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