2016 Toyota Tacoma: First Look

2016_Toyota_Tacoma_Family 1 copy II

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.


2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_003 copy II

IMG_0553 nose II

IMG_0557 front snow 1 II

IMG_0549 Bed II

2016_Toyota_Tacoma_TRD_OffRoad_002 copy II

11 Tacoma Limited



ALL new ??? The cab exterior looks exactly the same to me...

1/2 ton is kinda hard to park in a real city.

This truck looks amazing - as long as it tows at least what it does right now (which is more than enough to tow my 24 ft pontoon boat and trailer) then I'll have one of these parked in my garage this fall.

Thank you Toyota for finally updating the most reliable and rugged vehicle I've ever owned.

Amen Gonzo! As far as the midsize market is concerned, the reason it died is because the manufacturers weren't making what we wanted. Mid size trucks that got the same MPG as the big trucks? what's the point? I have driven the 3.0 ECODiesel-great truck but I don't need that much truck to carry dirt bikes and go to the dump and get groceries or go skiing. I took the new Colorado for a test spin the other day and liked it fairly well, was not too impressed with the 4cyl though, doggy off the line and kind of rattly, vibraty. I'm looking forward to the Duramax, if it can post some impressive MPG numbers, 25/35? and the motor's fairly quiet/smooth, I may have 32g to give to GM. I also want to check out the new Frontier and if the TOY 3.5 has good MPG , I can live with looks and that will be a possibility also.

why I will consider this. I want a small regular cab pickup. With a bench seat you can still fit 3 in a pinch and I like the look and smaller dimensions for parking, mpg and style. IF Toyota offers the Tacoma in regular cab form, it will win by default since nobody else does! You can buy a huge regular cab like the ram which looks good but is 209 inches long! the New Tacoma should be around 195 inches long tops in regular cab form! Only other hopeful is that the Frontier comes in regular cab form but I doubt it. Although if it looks like the Navarra I will grab it in crew cab form.

No power seats is my major concern. This is a must before I buy.


Looks uglier then previous generations but can it beat the handsome new 2015 chevy Colorado and the upcomming new 2016 colorado I-4 diesel engine that packs a punch not to mention the ZR2 super off roader. Looks like the new Tacoma has a tough road ahead full of tough competitors.

When is the Tacoma going to get a little bigger? I love the capability of the mid size but I'm a big man. 6'6, 260 lbs. just need a little bigger cab.

I own a 2005 Toyota Tacoma 4 by 4 SR5. Never replaced anything but tires, front discs, and batteries. This truck has the highest resale value of any vehicle. Present value 18 to 20k with 85k miles. Why should they make major changes, if it ain't broke don't change it. This truck has been 4 wheeling and never got stuck. Chevy can't even get their parking lights to work. Let's see in 10 years how the Chevy Colorado holds up. Why are there so many Tacoma's. Toyota will smoke the Chevy's.

I give Toyota great credit for this stylish upgrade. Not sure about any touch-screen in winter with heavy gloves, though. And not sure how substantially changed the underpinnings are.

But back in 2010, when I got my Nissan Frontier Long-Bed Crew Cab, it was essentially the "only show in town". And I love that truck. With 6-speed Manual (essential) and 265/265 HP/Torque, I average 22 MPG in mixed driving, with about 24-25 on the HIghway. And yet the EPA rating for this VQ4 engine* is only 16/20. What gives?

Anyway, if ANY of the 4 midsize truck makers, including Toyota, can match ALL of this, I'll get a new one:
1) 2WD
2) Long Bed (6-foot)
3) 4-door Crew Cab
4) V-6 Engine with at least 260 HP/260 lb.-ft
5) 6-speed Manual Transmission (!)

Are you listening GM? Anybody? Hello.............(*crickets*)

* One of Ward's Ten Best Engines in 2005


regular cab Tacoma in stock for 2016?

No manual transmission in the 4 cylinder Tacomas...?

Giving Nissan that percentage of the market that uses their right hand to shift gears instead of texting on the phone?

Bad idea Toyota....

BOOOOOOOO get a 2015 while u still can... Tacoma r and d needs an overhaul. 4.0 to a 3.5? :( No 5 speed manual with the 4 cyl? :( WTF

I own a 1995 Tacoma LX with the 4 cylinder manual transmission. I'm about due for a new truck.
I'll not be buying a new Toyota because they don't offer a manual transmission with the 4 cylinder unless it's 4WD...

Nissan Frontier S trim will take the Toyotas place in my driveway.

No manual transmission, no Toyota...

I went through more than a few RAMS (2500/1500 series) this year (2015... both '16 and '15 models). All of them had issues that needed repairs right of the show room floor; the cummins 2500 was the worst setting off my auto-immune condition (resulted from military vaccination) by dumping exhaust fumes into the cab. The solution from the diesel tech according to a bulletin released by Chrysler was a lemon fragrance that goes into the engine oil. What a joke... didn't fix my reactions I was having from breathing in the lemon fragranced fumes that entered into the cab during the regen cycles.

Some appointments had to be scheduled a few weeks out on the RAM trucks. Customer service was lacking at three of my local Chrysler dealers and many parts were on backorder. I have a part still on backorder from a dealership on a truck I already traded out of ('15 RAM 1500 with eco-diesel (four months ago). It was leaking water into the cab because of poor weather stripping/seals). I had another Eco-desel (quad cab big horn) I traded for the Crew cab version because it had a horrible shake and my wife and I desired more space). The mechanics at two different dealerships and even a tire shop got involved because no one could figure out what was causing the vehicle to shake. It was lemon law process for me, but I didn't want to deal with it. I work 50+ hours a week, am a husband with two children and didn't want the stress and even less time spent with my family because of a vehicle. So I just traded out of RAM for my first Tacoma.

My '16 Taco Off-road extended bed has had no issues so far. It does not leak water or dump fumes into the cab. While the automatic is not that favorable do to searching for a gear constantly (a pro is smooth shifting), it drives smooth, starts when I want it to (one of my RAMS would short and the power would go out. I would have to wait ten minutes or so to be able to attempt a start on the truck... sucks when running behind for an appointment or work lol).

My brother and sisters have had good experiences with Toyota's in the past. I'm hoping for the same with the '16 Taco and am giving up on RAM. I'm tired of paying top dollar for poor quality control. I'm not saying the '16 Taco is perfect, but I'm giving up on top of the class performance for reliability. Or at least I hope. Time will tell.

Bought a 2016 TuRD offroad. Probably should have looked closer but needed a truck in a hurry. The new Tacoma looks good and has some gadgets and toys that will be broken in a year (or two weeks in my case). Seems that after 90 days owning a Taco I again, need a new truck. I miss my Xterra, better quality, better mileage. The new Taco is nothing more than a All wheel drive, El Camino version of the Camary.

The comments to this entry are closed.