Photos & Words: Evan M. Yates
Exterior: The recently redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma looks as if its spent the offseason in the gym because its updated appearance has some extra muscle packed on with its bolder front end and extended fenders. On top of the facelift, the Inferno orange paint makes the Tacoma stand out in a sea of mundane, mid-sized trucks. The only new addition to the exterior that needs to be rethought is the ostentatious chrome grille which would be much more attractive in satin black. The wheels and tires are a nice fit in both size and design and the five-foot bed with deck rail system is plenty large for additional cargo.
Interior: The updated dash in the 2016 Tacoma is a major improvement over the previous generation. First and foremost, the body-colored painted accents add a bit of flare and fun inside a predominately utilitarian interior. In addition, there are plenty of cubbies and pockets integrated throughout the inside of the Tacoma to place your phone, wallet and other items. I really enjoy the fact that Toyota understands people have stuff and need a good place to store it. The seats are fairly basic but also properly supported and comfortable. The orange contrast stitching is a nice touch but the zigzag pattern featured in the inserts is a bit of an eye sore. With the price of this particular Tacoma, it’d also be nice to have leather.
A/V: The Entune premium infotainment system featuring the seven-inch touch screen reminds me of an iPhone; it’s fairly elemental but so darn easy to use that you love it for its simplicity. This particular test vehicle also came equipped with the Premium and Technology Package which features a blind spot monitor with cross traffic alert and rear parking sonar which aids in navigating tricky parking situations and is much appreciated.
Performance: For all of the fun they seem to be having on the Tacoma commercials jumping sand dunes and playing in the mud, I was left wondering if they had the same model I did. The 278 hp 3.5 liter V6 was unfortunately a let down during typical daily commutes. It feels underpowered and it sounds like it’s struggling during acceleration even though it’s not actually registering high RPMs. It’s also quite noisy on the highway with a plenty of road noise entering the cabin. If this were 1995 that would be an afterthought but in the era of premium trucks, this just isn’t acceptable unless it’s a work vehicle. The Tacoma also came equipped with off-road tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, locking rear differential, crawl control and hill start assist. Clearly, the Tacoma shines on rugged terrain and is equipped for almost anything you can throw at it.
Final Verdict: The new Tacoma is good looking, fun and certainly useful. If you’re someone who doesn’t need a lot of fancy appointments and loves to hit the trails on the weekend, this new rig is right up your alley.
Power: 278 hp, 265 ft lb
0-60: 8.0 sec
Gas Cash: 20 MPG (combined)