2016 Toyota Tacoma: First Look

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Many have complained they've waited too long for a redesign of the Toyota Tacoma, but let's look at a few facts. Since the new look and powertrain introductions in 2005, the Tacoma has been a dominating player in the compact/midsize pickup truck segment, lasting and thriving while competitors dropped like flies. There has been only one (slight) exterior and interior design change in 10 years, but the 2016 Toyota Tacoma finally has something special for us.

Introduced at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Toyota pulled the wraps off an all-new Tacoma just in time for a reinvigorated midsize pickup segment. But before you start doing backflips about a "Toyota revolution" or this Tacoma sending shockwaves deep into the auto industry, let us tell you that won't be happening. That doesn't seem to be Toyota's strategy with any of its pickup trucks; tried and true, and steady as she goes are probably more apt mottos.

Evo Not Revo

To be clear, the changes to the 2016 Tacoma are significant, but much of the work is inside and underneath the truck, meaning the look, technology and new features are a nice evolution but not anything earth shattering. With that said, there are some long-overdue and unique modifications we need to highlight.

Although the frame and suspension might look similar to the previous generation, every aspect has been reconsidered and modified for added strength, rigidity and capability. The frame itself is made with a higher percentage of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, while both the front and rear suspensions — as well as springs and axles — have all been retuned for better on-road and off-road performance and durability.


The new Tacoma will keep the existing base 2.7-liter 16-valve inline-four-cylinder engine, but will offer an all-new, all-aluminum 3.5-liter V-6 that should get better horsepower and torque numbers than the previous 4.0-liter V-6, as well as getting better EPA fuel-economy numbers. Both of those numbers will be released at a later date.

This will be the first Toyota truck engine to use an Atkinson-cycle engine, and, depending on the fuel demands, the engine's computer can shift between direct and port fuel injection. Additionally, the V-6 will offer two new six-speed transmissions — one manual, one automatic. From now on, the I-4 will only be available with a six-speed automatic for better fuel economy and reduced build complexity.

New Interior

Inside the new truck, Toyota designers have updated and modified the center control cluster, giving it a more organic and full-size Tundra look and feel. More importantly, given how bad the interior noise levels always have been, the new Tacoma will have a multiglazed windshield, all-new seals around the doors, a thicker floor pad and a sound-absorbing headliner. One changed interior feature we like is the fact that new Tacomas will have a hand-brake-style e-brake, instead of the previous left-foot brake setup. As to cab configurations, the Tacoma will still offer three: regular cab, Access Cab (like a traditional clamshell extended cab that opens almost 90 degrees) and double cab (normally called a crew cab).

The new Tacoma will have five different trim levels, adding one to last year's four trims. They are SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and the returning top-of-the-line Limited. The new trim is the TRD Sport, while the TRD Pro (not officially announced yet) will likely be stacked on top of the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road. No announcements have been made about a PreRunner.

Leading 4x4

One particularly interesting feature Toyota has added to all Tacomas is a GoPro camera mount for the rearview mirror inside the truck. This is similar in strategy to the option package on new Chevrolet Corvettes. Toyota is encouraging Tacoma buyers to explore the world with their pickup, so this seems like a pretty smart way of supporting that capability with a small piece of popular technology. "Go out and conquer a new adventure and record your toughest challenges" is what Toyota seems to be saying.

The most significant piece of new technology to help new Tacomas conquer any and all challenges is a new multiterrain selector system only available on the TRD Off-Road. It allows the driver to tell the four-wheel-drive system what type of terrain is coming up. Whether hard-core rock climbing, deep sand or mud or snow, the driver selects the settings and the vehicle instantly changes transmission mapping, throttle response, gear selection and how aggressively the traction control works. This, along with technology like Toyota's exclusive crawl control — which basically takes over throttle and braking control in certain situations to allow the driver to concentrate on steering — could vault the midsize pickup into the rarified air of master off-roaders like Range Rover, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Land Cruiser.

Backside Features

It doesn't look like the plastic inner truck bed has been changed, with the same cubbies and bed options (120-volt plug and cargo rails) offered on the existing Tacoma, but the tailgate is clearly different. All 2016 Tacoma tailgates will come standard with lift/drop assist and a new design that has the Tacoma name stamped in the metal like the Tundra.

Finally, as far as we know, no changes have been made that increase capacities or make towing any easier; however, official maximum and configuration tow ratings have not been released yet (nor have gross vehicle weight ratings, payloads or axle ratios). We'll know more by the 2015 Chicago Auto Show in February.

To read the full 2016 Toyota Tacoma press release, click here.


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11 Tacoma Limited



Wow...even the press demo is beige!

The sad thing is people will fork over their hard earned money for this outdated truck. Big Yawn!!!!!!!!

...Don't get me wrong...I'm a Toyota guy from way back and have owned an '84 pickup, a '95 T100 and a '2000 Taco. They were all great, reliable vehicles. It's just that Toyota REALLY seems to be resting on their laurels lately.

Well that's all it'll take to put the kabosh on Canyon/Colorado sales. The tacoma may still not measure up *that* well to the GM twins, but this is enough of an update to keep any mass migration towards the GM twins at bay.

Any idea on estimated MPG numbers. How much of a increase can we see with the 4 cylinder paired with 6 speed. Any idea on 6 cylinder MPG numbers? Disappointed they are not updating the 4 cylinder.

Best part? No UAW Parasites involved! Don't have to feed those political thugs. The CALTY Design Brats were overruled by Ann Arbor adult men, it appears.

Why no manual with the I4...Are you High?

I hope they improved the most uncomfortable driver position of all the trucks on the market. That seat was so low it must have been made for midgets. An I hope they raised the head clearance a little (it does look like the roof is up 20-25 mm.)

if they did both-I don't know, maybe I'd buy....
Oh, and I hope the polymer in the bed has been improved!

I had to look at the press release - new 6 speed auto and 6 speed manual.

I like the biege truck. A good colour for a truck touted as a good off-roader.

The question is:

Will these changes be enough to beat the Colorado?

Toyota's reputation alone will make things tough for GM. That baby Duramax better be a stellar package.

The off-road multiterrain selector system is obviously targetting GM's rumoured ZR2.

The changes Toyota made are much more than what I expected.

Ok so here we go.

No one made any changes that mattered in the last 10 years in the pretender pickup segment because there was no reason to. Toyota virturally owns the segment that has been in decline for years with everyone but Nissan dropping out.

Why was this? Because these trucks appeal to a very small market. Young and Old men without children/empty nest that don't have real work to be done, like to sit up high, occasionally go to home depot and have money to burn. These people don't care that for a little money more and a MPG less and a few extra feet on their turning radius they could enjoy a wealth of additional room/capacity/capability with a nice full size half ton. Most people know this and value their money hence the shrinking demographic and market in decline.

GM has decided to re-enter this market mostly as a trick to close with its CAFE goals. By selling a few less full size trucks, and a few more too big to be little to little to be worth working trucks and taking some share from Toyota and Nissan the General can make some small gains in the CAFE and hold onto some money. Its not that its a horrible plan its just not going to work or at least very well.

So GM arrives with the first "fresh" pretend truck in a decade. It looks good (which is the single most important aspect for a pretend truck) and its modern and nice. It like its dead predecessors in this segment FAILS of offer advantages in efficiency, size or cost that will grow this market beyond those kidding themselves or those that have money to burn. The problem for GM is that here comes the new Taco. And the Taco owns 75+% of the pretend truck market. As nice as the GM twins are their advantages over their competition will be short lived not to mention they don't enjoy the reputation the Taco has.

The temporary fall in fuel prices will further stagnate this market (at least temporarily) until those who like to lie to themselves and their wives can try to justify one of these over a full size or a crossover for the 5 imaginary MPG advantage claimed that turns into 1 or 2 in reality.

The Toy Taco will continue to dominate this market. GM will get some sales. Nissan will suffer until the new frontier comes along and full size trucks will take a small hit. All this will be the way of the world until fuel prices rise again then this market will go from cold to luke warm.

This sounds like the engine the Lexus RC 350 uses, 3.5L with both direct and port fuel injection.
The power specs for this engine are 306 HP and 277 TRQ, but this is for premium fuel.
So, for a truck application and regular fuel, these numbers will take a small hit me thinks.
As for MPG, with the Atkinson cycle, I would expect the figures to be inline with the Colorado V6.

whats with all the negativity from the above haters? This truck is bringin it!

Toyota is the ONLY manufacturer to utilize Atkinson cycle in their engines AS WELL as being able to shift from port to Direct Injection. Furthermore Fords first engine to have dual independent variable valve timing was the 5.0 coyote engine a full 7 years AFTER Toyota launched one.........

Then to top it off multi terrain select and Crawl Control added to these things will be BEASTS off road......... Cant wait to hear power and MPG numbers....

And for what its worth.

THANKS for the 6 speed manual WITH the V6.

It's official. Chevy caught Toyota with their pants down with the Colorado. This Tacoma is the best Toyota could muster in a short amount of time. It is not "all new" or remotely impressive. Big disappointment.

After seeing the Titan, Raptor, and GT, is anyone going to get excited about the Tacoma? Also, the 3.5 might have higher torque figures than the 4.0, but you can bet they will be at a higher rpm.

This sounds like the engine that already exists in the Lexus IS350, 3.5 liter V6 with Toyota port and direct injection D-4S. That is adapted to take the new Dual VVT-iW, W stands for Wide. Which means the engine can switch between the Otto cyle (typical automotive engine) to the atkinson cycle which is more efficient (typical cycle for hybrid vehicles gas engine).

The direct injection 3.5 liter V6 in the Lexus vehicles creates 306 hp & 277 lb-ft of torque.

All engines with VVT on both camshafts can enter 'atkinson cycle' mode. That is pure marketing department spin.

Toyota has 3 engines with port & direct injection [Denso D4-S]: the 3.5 liter V6 2gr-fse, 4.6 V8 1ur-fse (Lexus LS460), and longer stroke 5.0 variant(s) 2ur-gse (sporty) & 2ur-fse (hybrid)\

Nice that Tacoma gets the 2gr-fse, but if they take the fuel requirement down from 98RON to US regular, I'd expect 298hp, 263ft-lbs as the ceiling.

Well that's much ado about nothing

I actually really like the beige paint too--good for hiding dirt & scratches but not boring fleet white. While I can think of a few things I would have liked, I am more interested in reliability and durability than gee-whiz change for the sake of "progress."

Overall disappointment. Nothing happening with toyota as usual.

Well, not as much changed underneath like I thought.

But it should be a better pickup. I wonder what the FE will be.

Atkinson-cycle engine

That will be the next thing coming to the Tundra. Probably in the form of the 5.0

I doubt Toyota will give this truck an engine that is basically pulled out of a car (similar to the 3.6 in the GM trucks). I bet this 3.5 will have more torque than horsepower, similar to how the 4.0 and all Toyota truck engines has been for years.

Does this thing still have rear drum brakes?

What I do like:
Qi wireless charging
Dual-zone climate control
Blind-spot and cross traffic

Smart key and push-button

I had hoped for more, but expected what has presented today. yawn!!!! Most likely didn't fix the awful ergonomics of the seat, given that they made no change to the outer shell other than the new glass and interior dash layout. Guess I will keep my Ford Ranger.

The nose looks like a pigs snout. Just when you thought nothing could be uglier then the tundra....yeeee haaaaw let us show you the pig snout edition

To go along with there all new very old tundra they enterduce the new old Tacoma. Why would any one buy a Toyota that is so far behind .

With no Turbo Diesel option on the way, the Colorado / Canyon TDI when it hits will slowly but surely erode Toyota's lead in the mid size market. Also, I'll bet Nissan will launch its Global Frontier with a TDI in the next year, which will also eat away at Taco sales.

Saw the dash on another site. Johnny 5 is alive!

I agree with the seat comments. Sitting flat on the floor with no means for a tall man to tilt and adjust for leg room immediately removed this truck from my list in the past.

If they've corrected this problem then I could consider one. That Limited in blue is a good looking truck. I couldn't use it for my work but I could use it as a daily driver when at home. The new V6 will probably be near identical to the Canyon/Colorado output.

Toyota missed a huge opportunity by ignoring the potential for using turbo to upgrade their 4 cylinder and skip the V6 altogether.

Carmakers that did that with their sedans were able to vastly improve FE and performance without the expense of a larger/heavier engine.

If Ford's 2.7 can haul a half ton around, the 4 cylinder Toyota engine with a turbo can really sing.

Whether we love this truck or hate it based on it's appearance, the good thing overall is that the wait is finally over based on a much needed update for the Tacoma, and yes; we all know that they will sell well to those who are loyal to the brand and the truck itself.

Are you guys too fat to crawl under the Tacoma?
Take a look at the weak suspension, the sheet metal lower control arms, the front CV axles on my ATV are BIGGER !
Front bumper? Where is it? Oh its a piece of plastic!

Take one for a test drive, it feels like something is grinding under the floor
Whats that noise?
Doesn't sound good to me!
Can't they use a bigger front wheel bearing instead of using the SAME bearing the Camry uses?

You should go to the local Toyota Dealer! He will stick his nose up in the air and say: "YOU PAY FULL STICKER PRICE CAUSE WE ONLY HAVE LIMITED SUPPLY"
There's a sucker born every minute !

I'm looking forward to seeing some performance specifications on these trucks.
These upgrades are more than I expected and should be enough to keep the Toyota faithful from straying.

GM should of unveiled the diesel Colorado/Canyon at the same time and torpedoed any Tacoma fanfare. A baby diesel with stellar mpg would attract much more attention than an Atkinson-cycle V6 borrowed from another product.

The looks are growing on me though. An improvement over the pug nosed prior Tacoma. I'm happy they didn't go to the scowling predator look like the 4Runner.

"As to cab configurations, the Tacoma will still offer three: regular cab, Access Cab and double cab"

Is this a typo or are they bringing back the regular cab? Right now they are not making the Tacoma in Regular Cabs.

This is about what I expected: significant carryover from before, 1 new engine and a 6 speed, nothing groundbreaking.

I like the beige color as well but I have to see this truck before I pass judgement on it. I still lean more toward the new Colorado/Canyon.


I found your comments amusing because I personally think half-tons are pretender trucks.

I have a 3/4 ton as a third vehicle because of the trailers I tow. Now that we have a desert property & river property in the family, I no longer need to tow the toys and the living space. Thinking about downsizing to a mid-size and selling the duramax and TDI.

A midsize (thinking Colorado diesel) will allow me to tow the toys home when necessary. It will be more efficient and perform better then a half ton commuting, towing a tent trailer for long distance camping, and tooling around off road with the family.

If you just have a wakeboarding boat or don't tow anything so you need bed-space for camping or need 5-6 passenger space, I can see the case for half ton. But in most cases, if you are spending 40k+ for a truck and 30k+ for a trailer - might as well step up to the 3/4 ton because in a few years you will be regretting that super-light cardboard box trailer you bought because the salesman said you can tow it with a half-ton.

For a few grand more (sometimes the same money with incentives) and 1 or 2 MPG less a half ton will outperform ANY too big to be cost effective/efficient and too small to do any work mid size truck. That's just fact and that's why the segment is neglected and in a state of decline.

If you don't have enough work for a modern half ton with or without optional engines then you don't have enough work to do justify a truck.

I buy what makes sense and for my needs my super duty is just fine. Its the money I wasted on Tacos and Rangers in the past thinking I was saving money and needing to drive a truck because it was "cool" and fed my ego as it sucked my wallet dry and made no sense as they did little or no work.

When I was selling trucks it was incredibly EASY to talk people out of the silly pretender truck and into a full size half ton because it made so much sense and you got so much more for your money.

I wish little pretend trucks would get little and light and cheap and real MPGs enough to justify buying over a half ton.

Calling a modern half ton a pretender truck is HILARIOUS as modern half tons are rated to pull and haul as much and sometimes a bit more than non diesel 3/4 tons from less than 10 years ago.

And calling a Colorado a pretend truck is just as HILARIOUS, considering it's more capable than 80% of all the V8 1/2 tons 20 years ago and 100% more capable than all the V6 1/2 tons 10 years ago.

If this is all the Toyota can do , the chevy twins are going to eat a lot of taco sales .waiting for Colorado diesel

I agree that after incentives on full size and lack of mpg differences made mid-size trucks a tough sell in the past 10 years. Only advantage I saw was it was cheaper to make them capable toys.

My wife's 5 series has a higher payload capacity then Edmunds.com's ecodiesel Ram. That Rams payload is 400-500 less then then a Colorado. Sure, a half ton can be equipped to tow and carry quite a bit more then that - but my whole point is you sound ridiculous calling these trucks pretend trucks. It is just as ridiculous me calling half ton trucks pretend trucks. Like you said, people buy what makes sense to meet their needs and if buying a new vehicle, a high twenties mpg mid-size that can tow 7k makes a lot of sense for my needs.

My golfs undercarriage, mildew smell from wetsuits, and dents in the interior from lumber prove I didn't need a truck before I got one for towing. But really, if people only buy new cars on what they need - very few would sell.

Ed, 100% agree with you. I was really hoping for a small diesel option, too bad they don't see what's coming. Colorado Duramax and upcoming Frontier diesel will own the market. You can't beat the torque, durability and mpg of a diesel. Toyota didn't address any of the issues I was looking for: the quick rusting frame, the "diesel" option, the front seat position and legroom in the back. I could live with the look (after removing the ridiculous air dam) but other than that big big disappointment. I drive an explorer sport trac with 346,000 miles and I promised myself that I would buy another truck if it's a midsize and with a diesel engine. So far only GM (which I never considered in the past) meets my needs. I'll wait to compare with the Diesel Frontier and pick one. Too bad Ford and Toyota are deaf about what people are asking for. And for everyone here pretending that they know better what someone else needs and wants and trying to make the point of going full size they better mind their business. Personally I never had a need for a full size truck and never will. It's much easier to drive, park a mid size truck and I love the fact I can be nimble on the road instead of moving like a whale. A mid size truck with a cap on is better than an SUV, the stuff back there is still protected but doesn't smell inside the cab, it can spill and I don't mind, is roomier, I don't have to heat or cool that space and so on... And yes you can carry big items if you need to by simply leaving tailgate down.

One big thing everybody missed about the Tacoma is its higher priced than any full size pickup so you got to ask yourself is the Tacoma worth the extra money?
Its just not worth the money cause how cheap its made, a plastic truck bed, cheap, uncomfortable seats, hard plastic interior, drum brakes.

It reeks cheapness!

Just driving one you can "feel" the cheapness

no sound insulation "RUUZZZZZ" tire noise.

Can't haul or tow anything with it, plus the bed isn't big enough for an ATV.

When you go high speeds with a Tacoma on the highway its unstable, you feel every defect in the road.
You have to floor it to get any power out of it, no reserve power!

Look at the crash tests on the Tacoma! you're dead!

You got to be "STUPID" to want one! STUPID !

Why buy this reliable truck unless your a pansy. I bought a semi truck for my daily driver as a 3/4 or 1 ton just didnt suit my needs. I liked fixing my chevy every weekend and the inevitable motor replacements on my ford, and I didnt mind the extra insurance premiums, but when I needed to haul some rakes that one time, or that shrub I got from home depot my semi was the only answer.
I wish toyota would finally stop making proven choices like selling a reliable product that performs and instead give me 3 different infotainment systems, a toilet built into every seat and robotic arms that come out of the dash and massage my sinuses. Why cant they sacrifice a little longetivity for a feature that shoots laser beams out the tailpipe?

northj wins.

Urghh... After driving many Toyota HiLux's in central America, getting 28 mpg with the 3.0 lt diesel with 4wd, I still wonder what politics are keeping this incredibly built, dependable, run forever truck to the US. Pundits say there is no demand for it - I say b.s., it would take over the small-medium truck market. Even Nissan's diesel truck with 4wd beats this new Tacoma, but they won't bring it to the US either.

As a current Sienna owner (wife's car) and former Tacoma owner all I have to say is yawn. Typical Toyota, too conservative to ever be class leading and cutting edge. At least they are reliable.

@MickyM -
Gallus gallus import tariff is part of the problem. Diesel emissions and pricing another issue. Supersizeme mentality also part of the problem.

As a LIFELONG Toyota fan and former employee, I'm semi-impressed with the Tacoma re-design. However, after having driven my dad's Nissan Frontier 4.0 4x4, I must admit it's a pretty good truck as well. My parents have owned many Nissan's, with the VQ series V-6, and I own a Infiniti G35x (as well as a 96' 4runner 3.4v-6), and previously a 2008 Camry SE 3.5V-6 while working for Toyota. Therefore, VERY familiar with both brands V-6's. Now that Toyota has 'shown their hand' with the 16' Tacoma's powertrain (Lexus 3.5 D.I/P.I combo V-6 & 6-spd automatic), This opens the door for Nissan to "Trump" Toyota. Nissan..PLEASE retain the VQ 4.0, but Direct Inject it, and ADD a ZF 8-spd Automatic. 300hp/300lbft torque..A TRUE Tacoma BEATER!!!

I like it. Keep in mind the toyota apporach to releasing new models is to put technology in that is already tried and true. It isa more of an incremental approach. GM revamps the whole thing with chanes that usually do not have all the bugs worked out yet. Witness the reliability problems from the Silverado. No doubt the Colorado will have similar problems.

Toyota is not without its faults but GM has not caught up yet. I will stick with Toyota for now.

A person would have to be crazy to think Toyota would build an "all-new" truck, indistinguishable from the current "old" truck cab and doors. Not that there was/is anything exactly wrong with the old/current Tacoma. But just call it what it is. A refresh.

It only shows there's no hard money in the segment to spend/waste on constant "all-new" trucks every decade or so. Likely the Camry pays the bills here. Profits took a nosedive when America largely abandoned the small pickup segment. And small truck OEMs largely abandoned America. See how that works.

No, import pickup OEMs aren't P!$$!NG themselves to come back to the US, Chicken tax or not. It's not anywhere near the feeding frenzy it used to be. And they all easily got around the Chicken tax.

But midsizers are lifestyle pickup anyway. And a heavy dose of fleet. Neither of which really care to spec out a truck down to axle ratios, tow, payload or other packages. Or heavily into luxury. Whatever's on the lot and fits their budget is fine. Nor do midsize pickup OEMs care so slow down the assembly line to give buyers highly specific choices, like Big 3 OEM pickups.

This kinda looks like the old truck, with some left over from the last generation highlander front grill!

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