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