Road Test: 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Sport
On-road and off, Toyota's newest generation Tacoma brings more power and capability to the mid-size pickup segment; new V-6 is 40hp and 2mpg better than previous models
By: Bruce W. Smith
It’s an ideal pickup for the outdoorsman or adventuresome wanting a mid-size pickup that fits in the typical two-car garage.
I spent a week driving the new TRD Sport ($37,640) hundreds of miles along the Oregon Coast, over the Coast Range and Cascade Mountains, and the countryside in between. It towed ATVs to the dunes and a boat to the lake.
What I quickly learned about the Toyota’s third-generation mid-size pickup is the new model steers quicker and brakes stronger than the Tacoma of old, and combined with the sport-tuned suspension in the TRD 4x4 Sport, makes it a lot of fun to drive on twisting roads or towing one’s favorite toys.
Combined with all the mechanical improvements, the 2016 Tacoma’s have a definite handling edge over their GM Colorado/Canyon competitors on-road and off-pavement.
MORE FUEL EFFICIENT
Toyota has done a commendable job in refining the Tacoma, including raising the V6 fuel fuel economy by 2mpg while adding 42hp with a new 3.5L direct-injection "Atkinson Cycle" V-6 that replaces the old 236hp 4.0 V-6.
TOUGH LOOK, REFINED RIDE
The 2016 Tacoma TRD Sport is no slouch on looks, either. Its prominent wheel flares and raised beltline with slightly narrower windows than the old model give the truck the appearance of being lifted. In reality, the new Tacoma is within an inch of the Colorado/Canyon in nearly every dimension.
The new truck also looks more aggressive thanks to a bold upper grille and a taller, more muscular hood. The TRD Sport models have a faux hood scoop that really adds to the tough truck look.
The TRD Sport model’s
ride is firmer than the stock base models, but pleasant on-road, on
backcountry gravel roads and off-road trails. It’s also quite stable
towing ATV or boat trailers.
True to Toyota Tacomas of yesteryear, there's no shortage of 2016 models from which to choose. The new Tacoma will be available in 29 configurations in two cab types, the extended Access Cab and four-door Double Cab. Each is available in either 2WD or 4x4 configurations.
Tacoma has five trim levels, each with its own personality and unique look:
Pricing ranges from $23,30 for the basic 2WD SR Access Cab with a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine to $37,820 for the Double Cab Limited 4x4 3.5-liter V6 model. The TRD Sport I tested was $33,730 sans options.
The 2016 Toyota Tacomas command a slightly higher price than the competitors. But along with that higher price comes a higher level of craftsmanship, looks ,and overall off-pavement performance the other mid-size pickups don’t currently offer.