Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
On the rare occasion that we review pickup trucks, we find that our driving style dramatically changes. You can’t turn corners like you can in a nimble BMW 3-series, nor can you three-point turn in one shot like a MINI Cooper – its more of a five- or a ten-point turn depending on how tight the road is.
But we’ve just been handed the keys to a brand new 2016 Toyota Tacoma, also known to the locals as the Big Taco, the Tonka Truck, or what the world knows it as the best-selling compact pick-up truck out there. And why is that? Because all of the Tacoma’s competition has either gone unnoticed or defunct like the Honda Ridgeline or Ford Ranger.
While Toyota was busy hogging all the pie, other automakers suddenly realized the potential of the compact truck market and decided to step up and claim the throne for themselves. Only GM has recently re-entered the arena with their highly coveted GMC Canyon and identical twin Chevrolet Colorado. Honda is also in the works of release an updated Ridgeline.
How about the reigning king? How has the Taco survived so long without drowning in an incestuous gene pool? The easy answer is that it’s a wonderful and versatile truck. The not so well known answer is brand loyalty. I’ve gotten more thumbs-ups and highway hellos when driving the new Tacoma than when I was piloting the bright blue 600 hp BMW M6 a couple of weeks ago. Taco Club, Taco Cult, name it whatever you want to, but there’s no denying that the brand has a huge following of devoted owners and prospective buyers.
So you can’t blame Toyota for playing it safe with the new 2016 model year. They’ve refrained from diverging to a path that the current-gen owners wouldn’t recognize or appreciate. Updated styling carry the new Tacoma over with a conservative yet chiseled face with muscular flares on the side. The Tacoma also receives upgraded performance and new entertainment features to top it all off.
Most of the chassis remains the same but it’s been reinforced to be three times stronger than the one it replaces. The all-new body is also more aerodynamic than ever, helping to further lower its fuel consumption.
There are two engine sizes to choose from, along with three transmissions, two drivetrains, two cab configurations, two cargo bed lengths, and 12 trim levels – I hope you’re not the type to be indecisive because Toyota wants to make sure there’s a Taco for everyone.
However, the heart of the Tacoma lies within its two main packages, the TRD Off-Road package and the TRD Sport Upgrade package – be sure not to mix these up with one another. You can spot the difference on the rear quarter decals.
The TRD Off-Road package is only available on the Access Cab configuration (there’s less rear space and seats only four) and adds an Bilstein shocks, all-terrain tires, a 4-wheel Crawl Control system, a Multi-Terrain Select system, an electronically locking rear differntial, a unique mesh grill, trailer hitch, 7-pin wiring harness, a 400-watt power outlet in the cargo bed, and a handful of exterior and interior upgrades along with a better approach angle (32 degrees) thanks to the removal of the front air dam. If you plan on hitting up the trails, this is the package you want.
The TRD Sport Upgrade package on the other hand (the one we tested) is only available on the Double Cab configuration (four doors and seats five) and takes the Off-Road package and adds beefier 17-inch tires, a sport-tuned suspension, a power moonroof, wireless phone charger, and a few safety systems such as a Blind Spot Monitoring System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert system – both of which will really come in handy for newbie truck drivers that recently converted from driving a small crossover. The Tacoma TRD Sport even gets its own hood scoop – ever thought you’d see one on a truck? Too bad it’s nonfunctional, meaning it’s just there for show.
I’m happy to report that the new V6 is as smooth as ever and pulls strongly throughout the rev band. We have yet to test the smaller four-cylinder, but the six-pot makes a case for itself by being more efficient thanks to Variable Valve Timing technology and utilizing both direct and port injection. The use of an Atkinson cycle over the traditional high-powered Otto cycle also helps to improve fuel economy at the expensive of power output.
And the Tacoma was surprisingly good on gas despite utilizing a thirsty V6 engine – we averaged 12.8 L/100km on our week-long test drive and it didn’t need premium fuel either. A full tank lasted us around 500 km and depleted our wallet by around $60.
You can have your Tacoma’s gearbox in three ways: a 5-speed manual on the base model, a 6-speed manual, and a new 6-speed automatic with a lockup torque converter. We only had the opportunity to test the automatic but that was fine by us. The gear shifts were smooth and it didn’t spend too much time scouring for the appropriate cog. Downshifts were also seamless, and vice versa.
The steering feel in the Tacoma is actually quite good. It’s light and numb at any speed, but there’s good on-center feel so you won’t have a hard time figuring out where your front wheels are actually pointing.
The only downside is the ride. A fair bit of tire noise seeps its way into the cabin, certainly more than a Colorado or Canyon, and the ride is also a bit bouncy. It’s not intrusive enough that you’d be bothered by minor bumps on the road, but it’s not plush by any means.
If you’re migrating over to the compact pickup truck market from a smaller, say crossover, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re intimidated by the size. However, the Tacoma has got a few new features that will help you ease your way through the grocery store parking lot.
There is a rear view camera so you can see how long your rear bed is reaching, and a blind spot monitoring system keeps you in check with surrounding vehicles on the road. There’s also a feature called rear cross traffic alert, which really comes in handy. If you’re reversing out a parking spot, the cameras and radars will detect if any car is approaching at a perpendicular angle. And due to the long bed behind you and limited view out the rear, this feature will certainly save you from an impending fender bender.
The interior is where the Tacoma receives the biggest change for 2016. Softer materials and a more modern design give it a big jolt into the 21st century. Falling only a sliver behind the brilliant infotainment system used by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (Jeeps, Dodges, and even Maseratis), Toyota’s system is by far the next in line in terms of usability and responsiveness. It’s notably one of the best there is. The setup is similar to the ones used in Lexus vehicles (RC, NX) but without that tech-savvy mousepad ordeal.
The touchscreen is exceptionally responsive and simple to use with vibrant resolution and colours. You can also customize how sensitive you want the touchscreen to be, meaning at the most sensitive setting, even a light graze will elicit a button response. The system is ten times better than the odd and laggy ones used in Hondas, and races ahead of the ones used in Ford’s and GM’s trucks.
Hidden within the straightforward menus is an app called Maintenance, and it lets you manually enter and keep track of all your car’s maintenance records (engine oil, filter coolant, etc.) and at what mileage it will be due for service of those parameters. You can program it to remind you when it hits that mileage as well. It’s a small feature, but one that dedicated owners will certainly appreciate.
The rest of the Tacoma’s cabin is brightly lit and feels rugged. There’s a plethora of storage areas, including four cupholders alone in the center console along with a Qi wireless phone charging station under the center stack as part of the TRD Sport Upgrade package. Some good news: the Tacoma comes standard with a GoPro mount on the front windshield, which should heavily appeal towards adventurers that have a knack for sharing on social media.
Cabin space is adequate, though it certainly falls short when comparing it to the Colorado or Canyon. Headroom is certainly lacking at the front and back seats, and the front windshield is also quite narrow – the same problem previous-gen Tacoma owners faced as well. The HVAC display is also awkwardly angled downwards for some odd reason, and it makes the temperatures hard to read.
The Tacoma has always been an easy sell but with updated looks, new features, and a fuel-efficient engine, the deal just got even sweeter. Even with GM’s recent offensive into the segment, this new Tonka Truck is brimming with functionality even if it doesn’t come equipped with 4G LTE. Though its cabin isn’t as well insulated and it can’t tow as much as the GM twins, Tacoma owners carry so much brand loyalty that the minute differences probably won’t matter to the educated driver.
There’s so much versatility and appeal that it’s hardly a debate between the competition, rather it’s the mind-boggling dilemma of having to choose 1 out of the Tacoma’s 29 available configurations, and that doesn’t even include the paint colours. We’ll take ours in Barcelona Red with a V6 and automatic transmission, please. Oh, and we’ll take the TRD Sport package too – I love that hood scoop.
型号 Model: 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab
顏色 Paint Type: Barcelona Red Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $36,670
試車售價 Price as Tested: $40,585
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 3,235
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 5,392 / 1,910 / 1,793
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,975
引擎 Engine: 3.5-litre DOHC V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 278 hp @ 6,000 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 265 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, part time 4WD with electronically controlled transfer case and automatic limited slip rear differential
前懸 Suspension-Front: Coil springs, double-wishbone and stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Multi-link spring with staggered outboard-mounted gas shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 13.1 / 10.5 / 11.9
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.8
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P265/65R17
Build & Price: 2016 Toyota Tacoma