Spied: 2016 Toyota Tacoma 'Mule'

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You can bet both Nissan and Toyota will be watching how well the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are received by pickup truck buyers when they go onsale later this year. We're hearing both companies have their truck teams working hard on how to compete with the new players with their next-generation offerings. In fact, we just got this series of photos from Death Valley in California that looks like Toyota will be taking a cautious and measured approach (not that unusual) to how much the next Tacoma will change. These "mule" shots highlight a new powertrain (maybe diesel?) and a refined suspension. We should know more soon.

"We came upon a parked Tacoma — attached to a trailer — in what is a favorite hot-weather-testing zone for various automakers. A closeup inspection of the vehicle confirmed its 'mule' status with a thoroughly mocked-up interior and signs of a modified undercarriage. The test truck was packed with wires and sensors, makeshift window and door switches, and computers riding on the rear seats.

"We are hearing that Toyota may drop the regular-cab Tacoma and focus solely on the Access and double-cab models. We're not surprised, then, that it's the double-cab model we see 'muled' up on the test scene.The test truck was outfitted with a six-speed manual transmission. We expect the 2016 Tacoma to drop the four- and five-speed automatics in favor of a six-speed automatic for those that don't want to shift for themselves.

"Our sources have told us that the revised 2016 Tacoma will use an adaptation of the current truck's frame, and that information is confirmed by our detailed inspection of this Tacoma test mule. The Tacoma mule testing here doesn't have any noticeable riveted sections suggesting altered dimensions, so the current truck's footprint will likely remain the same. Expect new, restyled sheet metal and a new, upgraded interior to be the key changes. Our series of photos taken of the Tacoma mule's undercarriage reveals a rerouted exhaust snaking around some modified parts, but it's clear that Toyota is relying on a lot of the current Tacoma's successful bones to keep it competitive in an evolving market.

"General Motors is about to make the midsize truck market significantly more crowded and competitive with its all-new 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, due this fall. The new midsizers from GM look to be a serious effort, so it will be very interesting to see how they stack up against a market stalwart — and eventually the revised Tacoma (previewed here) when it reaches market sometime next year."

KGP Photography images

 

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Comments

Looks nice. They couldn't come soon enough.

I really hope there is a new power plant in that truck.


Unlike some on here, I really like the way the current Tacomas look although the interior is lacking, and the engine is behind big time.

Looks nice? It looks like a gd mess.

Toy O Ta! is a great example of what happens when their is no competitors in the segment. No one to leap frog Toy O Ta! so they don't upgrade or try to improve. Just keep making money on the same old design. Saving money not putting it back into the vehicle for improvement. Hopefully Chevy will take the segment over. :=)

"...but it's clear that Toyota is relying on a lot of the current Tacoma's successful bones to keep it competitive in an evolving market."

@PUTC

Whoever wrote that sentence should look for work as a White House speechwriter. Based on the great photo shots Toyota appears to be standing pat, and your description says they are trying to keep it competitive (???)

♪♪♪ You asked for it--you got it, TOYO-DUH !! ♪♪♪

Really Hemi V8? Chevy take over the segment? Maybe they should address their recall issues first! Now, maybe the Frontier diesel should take over the segment.

But I do agree with a lack of competition Toyota has remained stagnant. I hope they really do something different. Is that still an open C under that truck?

I love that navigation system in the first pic!

Looks the same to me unless the engine and transmission are different. Maybe Toyota will go 15 to 20 years on the same design for Tacoma.

Toyota and Nissan created the small pickup market in the US. Chevy, Ford and Fiat have tried multiple times to compete, often slapping their names on trucks built by Japanese manufacturers. When that didn't work they lobbied for a tariff on imported trucks. Then they gave up and exited the market.

Toyota and Nissan are still out there. And now you think the Big Three are coming back with something to drive them out? Do you also dream of winning the lottery?

@Hemi V8

Before you start posting recall spam and Ram spam I wold just like to point out that you are wrong again. This does not show what someone does when their is no competition it just what Toyota does. They did this and less going from the 2nd Gen Tundra to the 3rd Gen Tundra. In fact the 3rd Gen Tundra did not even require any testing like this. Keep in mind the Tundra is not the class leader in anything.

@papa jim

I would say it was a better written then some sentences used by Tea Party darling Sarah Palin http://uproxx.com/webculture/2014/08/see-if-you-can-pinpoint-the-exact-moment-that-sarah-palins-brain-stops-working-in-this-clip/#gotdamn which made me think of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hfYJsQAhl0. May God have mercy on her soul.

Someone edited that to give a false impression. The people on the left are liars.

I suggest watching the entire video:

http://tinyurl.com/k4jshnr

They did the same thing to Rick Perry during the last election cycle. He gave a speech in NH, and they edited it to make him look drunk. I saw the entire speech and didn’t think he was drunk. And the people who were with him all day said he didn’t drink at all, but the video was played and play even on “conservative sites”.

@ Montesa_VR

The Ford Ranger was the best selling midsize truck for many years. Ford did not get out of the midsize US truck market because of its sales. They killed it because new emissions regulations favored making vehicles with a larger footprint more fuel efficient then vehicles with a smaller footprint.

PUTC is the best site for trolls PERIOD! There is no moderation, the regular posters engage with and react to the trolls.

On top of that the trolls here know the viewpoints of those whom they troll. That make it all the more fun to watch.

@All1. But isn't it always about sales? If Ford thought they could make money, they would have kept the Ranger around--apparently Toyota and Nissan thought they could.

Somehow I don't think this is the next Taco.

Toyota will not use this old truck after seeing the vehicle that GM is going to bring on line in the US.

Toyota is fully aware of it's global competition.

This is an old Taco possibly testing next generation US drivetrain and suspension components.

Doesnt look like they changed anything... Colorado is going to eat this Taco for lunch

front seats are so low it feels like your sitting on the floor

The Ford Ranger was never a mid size truck! It was smaller then any of the mid size pickups. And that is why it failed big time.

I would be happy if they came out with a black interior. Why don't they offer a black interior? Give me a Pyrite Mica SR5 with a diesel, and black interior and I'll buy one right when it rolls out the factory doors.

It isn't unusual to see test mules hidden under old body work. They may be testing new engines and transmissions. A diesel would be easy to spot. Just wait for them to start the truck.

Toyota is incredibly conservative so I doubt they will rush a speedy update just to compete with the Colorado.

The Taco is a popular truck for the terrorists invading Iraq with machine guns mounted to the bed

@KT

Thank you for posting the whole thing as she still rambles and sounds just as dumb.

@Lou_BC
I do think Toyota will change it's stance with their conservative approach in model releases. Toyota is finding out they just can't rely on the reputation they built a couple of decades ago.

Toyota have invested very heavily in the new Hilux and this will undoubtedly become the next Taco or even 'renamed' Hilux in NA.

The new Hilux is significantly larger than the current Hilux around the size of the Taco.

The US might receive a slightly different variant of the new Hilux similar to the way GM has modified the Colorado.

It has to so it can realise the US's design and emission regs, ie, CAFE, EPA, etc.

I would bet they are testing new drivetrains. Chassis and suspension testing would be done using the newer platform.

I would like to see what the next diesels are for the Hilux. Toyota and BMW worked closely, with Toyota 'exchanging' hybrid tech for BMW diesel tech.

Will the next Hilux run a smaller BMW diesel. The new Navara is using a 2.3 twin turbo diesel. The Asians' are importing Euro diesel tech quite often now.

I would have loved to see the little ISF 2.8 Cummins in our Navara, but it didn't happen. The Renault 2.3 is just as powerful and more economical.

@Lou_BC
I do think Toyota will change it's stance with their conservative approach in model releases. Toyota is finding out they just can't rely on the reputation they built a couple of decades ago.

Toyota have invested very heavily in the new Hilux and this will undoubtedly become the next Taco or even 'renamed' Hilux in NA.

The new Hilux is significantly larger than the current Hilux around the size of the Taco.

The US might receive a slightly different variant of the new Hilux similar to the way GM has modified the Colorado.

It has to so it can realise the US's design and emission regs, ie, CAFE, EPA, etc.

I would bet they are testing new drivetrains. Chassis and suspension testing would be done using the newer platform.

I would like to see what the next diesels are for the Hilux. Toyota and BMW worked closely, with Toyota 'exchanging' hybrid tech for BMW diesel tech.

Will the next Hilux run a smaller BMW diesel. The new Navara is using a 2.3 twin turbo diesel. The Asians' are importing Euro diesel tech quite often now.

I would have loved to see the little ISF 2.8 Cummins in our Navara, but it didn't happen. The Renault 2.3 is just as powerful and more economical.

@Dav

Like I said earlier, the emission regulations is what played a big role in why Ford did away with the Ranger in the US. Ford's biggest seller is trucks so they have to make those big trucks more fuel efficient to to meet their corporate emission carbon credits. If Ford sold a lot more smaller fuel efficient vehicles then they can afford to use some carbon credits towards midsize trucks. Nissan and Toyota sell a lot more cars than bigger vehicles like trucks so they can afford for some of their carbon credit points to go towards midsize trucks.

@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason/Hemi Rampage/smartest truck guy/Maxx/SuperDuty37/Ken/Ron/johnny doe/jim/ALL1/Frank/Idahoe Joe/The Guy/AD/Casey/papa jim/Young Guy/BeeBe/Steve/Chris/The truck guy/Alex/Mr Chow/Yessir/All Americans/Scott/Buy American or say Bye to America/Ram Big Horn 1500/Hemi Monster/Tom Wilkinson at Chevy/mark49/Tom#3/Truck Crazy/carilloskis or whoever you want to call yourself.

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

@All1 - The Ranger also would of needed too much work to meet roll over and side impact requirements.

@Tom3 - "The Taco is a popular truck for the terrorists invading Iraq"

1. The Tacoma isn't available in the rest of the world.

2. Iraq is in a civil war. Civil war by definition does not involve an invasion.

3. Combatants will use what ever is readily available. if the USA saw war you'd be seeing tons of footage of F350's on Al Jazeera news broadcasts.

My guess is it that they are testing new powertrains under the old body.

I've said it before...

My best guess for the next Tacoma.

Graft everything from the 4 runner in, add a 6 speed, a better interior, and minor improvements all around.

If they choose to add DI, THEN the powertrain will get interesting.

Non DI 4.0L/270-hp/278-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6
Add DI est. 4.0L/290-hp/285-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6

6 speed + DI will result in 2-3 additional MPG. If you add active shutters you may squeak out an additional MPG.

Toyota has some great diesel options as well.

All they need to do is beef up the frame, suspension and brakes to handle it.

Tow is already rated at 6,500lbs, so it's not far off compared to the Colorado's 6,900lb rating

It's not a stretch to see Toyota pulling this off.

Although Toyota make competent and reliable products, I would not buy a Tacoma because it is overpriced and underpowered for what it is. Also, it does not have a fully boxed frame, nor does it have four wheel disc brakes which makes it not much better than the Series 1 Chevy S10's. I'd prefer to put my money on the New Colorado Diesel which has a long list of excellent technologies that one would expect in a modern Mid Size Pick Up truck.

No signs of a DPF so nothing I'd be interested in.

Toyota had better jump right to an 8 speed automatic.
They had better have a 200hp 2.7 Valvematic I4 for 4x2, with 250hp turbo 2.7 I4 Valvematic for 4x4.
Maybe even a 300hp 4.0 V6 too.

If you cram a light V8 in there or a turbo diesel with a manual transmission, you've got my attention. Toyota, are you listening?

The 6 speed manual is on the current truck. I agree with papa jim. Other than the wires strapped throughout the truck and rerouted exhaust I'm not seeing any changes here.

My hope would be for a Tacoma with:

The 1GR-FE w/ dual vvti and direct injection or the 2GR-FE from the IS350 (or something new with a factory turbo/SC) and a diesel (3.0 D-4D)

The FJ cruiser 6 speed manual with FT4wd and a locking center diff as the manual option and a ZF 8sp auto.

The 4runner interiors/packages as options (sr5, trail, limited)

A good looking exterior of same or slightly smaller dimensions.

Probably won't happen but I'll keep dreaming.

The King of the pretender pickup market (a segment in a state of decline) will have a new entry shortly (a year or 2) after Government Motors brings the first modern contendors in a decade into it. GM's modern edge in this market will be short lived and probably not unseat Toyota's dominance. The Nissan Frontier has been superior to the Taco for years but has made no real headway against it. The Toy's rep for quality and durability are just so strong that excitment and innovation havent proven relevant to this segment in a very long time. The problem this segment has is that its not relevant to the masses. The compact pickup has grown to the midsize. Demands for features and power have made it heavy and expensive while still unable to present real advantages over or capability comperable to full size half tons. Advances in half ton MPG have made these trucks even less relevant. To small to do real work, too expensive and thristy to be a good commutter, too many other better options for anyone that isnt single with money to burn. GM's CC twins will make excitement simply because there has been NOTHING interesting in this segment since 3 of the 5 manufactureres that were in it decided to leave it. They will bring a new standard that Toy and Nissan will have to meet and then things will again stablilize and possibly resume stagnating. Toy will continue to have the lionshare of this market. GM will make some penetration. Nissan will probably reamain more or less stable. Diesel options will be expensive and exciting but offer very little in real savings for those that dont drive them over 300K.

You can tell that this is definitely a powertrain mule:
#1- there's a marmon flange on the tailpipe- these are used for running a vehicle on a chassis dyno.
#2- Its a very interesting Y-pipe where there is usually a catalytic (you can tell by the factory heat shield)
#3- definitely NOT a diesel, as it would have a sizable aftertreatment system instead of the small cats before the cross member.
#4- still a V-motor, but no way is the Tacoma getting a V8- so its still a V6. Most likely a direct injected 3 or 3.5 liter. Those are the same engine family as the current 4L, and wouldn't look any different from underneath.
The Tacoma is a J120 derivative. The newer J150 groups are not that different. The rumor that the Hilux and Tacoma will again share a platform has still not been put to bed, but this truck doesn't necessarily disprove it either. The easiest way to mule test a V6 drivetrain is in the current Tacoma platform, rather than in a specialty-market Hilux V6 truck.

It's about time, I love my TACO and am excited to see what's happening with the new generation of trucks. price being excluded from my fantasies I imagine a all aluminum body 2.0l turbo pushing ~300 HP and getting 30 mpg... or a diesel variant. we're seeing from the other manufacturers what works and what doesn't...it's time to take the best of both worlds and put them together into the next gen super truck.

p.s. i'd also like parking sensors, automatic windows, projector headlights, android auto, heated and cooled seats, and a electric roll down rear window like the tundra...that thing is just bad ass. thanks Santa

I say: 2.5 4-cyl (the one used in the RAV4 and Camry), and the 4.0 V6 used in the FJ and Tundra, ditch the 4 and 5 speed auto, get six speeds at least.

The box does not match the cab.

Are the lines we see on the box going to be the body lines of the new Tacoma?

People here are ridiculously retarted.

These pics are speculation. Yet people comment as if this is a finished product....open c blah blah blah.

At best it's a mule truck which can mean it dhows very little changes. Ever see the Titan with the 2.8l cummins?

Double-cabs are not trucks. They are SUVs for suburban fatboys with a need to compensate, plus a teeny bed. Sorry to see the standard cabs go extinct.

No matter what...it's still a toyota!

I hope the GM Colorado powertrain sets the new standard for this class of vehicle because Toyota will have to match it. They offer a 193hp 2.5L 4 banger, and then a 300hp 3.6L v6. Both have more power than Tacomas and Frontiers while supposedly also having better fuel economy.

It doesn't look like there is anything in Toyotas current engine lineup that can match those kinds of numbers so I expect them to release all new engines. The just released 2.0L turbo Lexus engine is an interesting possibility but seems to go against the historic norm for Toyota trucks 4 cyl option, a rock solid slightly under-powered boring reliable bulletproof engine.

The improved 4.0L V6 currently available in the FJ/4Runner is still inferior to what Chevy is offering at 254hp on 87 octane (285 on 91 octane). Although it would be a zero cost option for them, and it is a good engine. Plus there is the bolt on TRD supercharger which would bump it up to 345hp. But that requires premium gas which most people hate. I have a hard time believing that Toyota would really be so stupid and/or lazy to release a new truck with a 10 year old engine with vastly worse MPG compared to existing competition.

If Toyota can get a power plant in the new Tacoma that matches or exceeds what the Colorado is offering, it will kill it as a competitor. Others have predicted that GM is going to steal market share from it's own larger trucks, and may end up being a huge boondoggle for GM. Based on the stats, i expect GM to sell a lot of these trucks as an alternative to the current 2nd generation Tacoma in 2015. It's a better truck by all measures.

I like to imagine Toyota delayed their Tacoma product cycle to wait for GM to blow their load so they can release the 3rd gen Tacoma specifically to beat it. Then they don't have to spend a penny on mid size truck R&D for another 10 years. Perhaps that's a bit too Machiavellian. I'm looking forward to seeing how all this industry drama plays out.

Only thing I liked in this post was the 6speed manual option! Where the Fk is the diesel option Toyota hinted of a couple years back??? Sick of seeing these half hauling, wimpy gas guzzling 4-6cyl trucks that get 19 mpg in a 4cyl 4x4!! Done with that garbage...
Hey Toyota ask VW how to build a crew cab 4x4 mid size truck with 7k lb towing getting 36mpg COMBINED!! Its call the Amarok... look and learn you mofo's!

really no change for about 10 years, I'll be keeping my 05 until I can tell these tacomas have some real updates besides colors.



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