Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Preview: 2016 Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 13 II

We will hand out our Best Pickup Truck of 2016 Award during's Best of 2016 event Jan. 12 at the Fillmore Detroit. The awards presentation will cap two press days at the North American International Auto Show, which opens to the public Jan. 16 and runs through Jan. 24. There are six contenders for Best Pickup Truck of 2016, and we are providing a preview of each truck before the big reveal.

Our third preview focuses on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.

It's difficult to find any aspect of this all-new Tacoma that hasn't been redesigned or upgraded in some way; in every way, it's a better truck than the model it's replacing, but, as odd as it sounds, it wasn't enough. At a time when other manufacturers in this evolving segment have come out with new innovations and technologies, Toyota made only incremental improvements and did not take much risk.

Nevertheless, there is still plenty to like about this new pickup. The all-new engine is smaller, has more horsepower, more usable torque and improved fuel economy. The cabin is quieter than any smaller pickup in Toyota's history, the frame is stronger and the variety of four-wheel-drive systems has no equal. However, payload and towing practically stays the same, and Toyota has not provided any unique bed or tie-down technology. As good as this new Tacoma is (better in every way from the previous model), we're disappointed Toyota didn't go further and attempt to reset the bar in this evolving segment.

For more information on the Tacoma, click through to see details on pricing and fuel economy as well as our video review.

Check back with us on Jan. 12 to see how the Tacoma stacks up and who the big winner is.

Editor's note: This story was updated Jan. 4 to correct public show dates. photo by Mark Williams; manufacturer images


Toyota Tacoma SR5 13 II


Toyota Tacoma  033 II


Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 117 II


Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road 24 II


Still, there are several loyal customers out there. And everyone knows Toyotas can be driven into the dirt

Your articles are retarded. Toyota can't do anything right in your eyes Mark. If this new tacoma had a blue oval on it, you would not stop raving about it. News flash, ford sucks.

Since it doesn't have a diesel, it don't interest me.

I think that at present, Toyota has discovered that it's having to play catch up as the American automakers are now making better and more reliable vehicles.

This is a nice looking truck. Who careshould if there is little updating done. Still a reliable truck compared tof the junk GM puts out.

@fordsucks, so do you pal.

This is a nice looking truck. Who careshould if there is little updating done. Still a reliable truck compared tof the junk GM puts out.

Posted by: GM blows goats | Dec 30, 2015 4:43:28 PM

Please provide evidence for your statement. Such a statement as you made could be considered libelous in a court of law.

I don't get it. did not understand the 2nd gen tacoma either. Too small inside, too big outside.

Just humor me: test drive a Nissan Frontier alongside a Tacoma and tell me if the extra elbow room and leg room of the Frontier does not win you over!


@Mr Bob dobalina I own a 2007 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner and a 2011 4Runner, I have also own a Chevy and Ford trucks. When it comes to durability and toughest GM isn't even in the ball-game. I have owned 2 Ford Rangers, a 1994 and 2002, the 1994 I still have. Both Rangers are well build, and tough!!! But the toyotas are damn near bullet proof, the 2.7L 4 cyl and 5 speed manual are unbreakable!! no problems. The 4.0L in the 4runner smooth, powerful, and will last 400,000 miles. Toyota has proven there durability with me, and I will be buying the new Toyota in the near future.

tacoma is over rated, over priced...

@ papa are right, don't forget the price, you get more truck for your money with frontier.

Pffft same old turd with 2mpg better economy... nothing more, just a slant and cant for the poser boys.. and they suck it up with a slurpy straw.

I do think the new Taco is a step in the right direction for Toyota, but it needs the new 2.8 diesel as well in the US market.

This Taco is a refinement of the older Taco, and from what I've read it isn't at the same level of refinement as the Colorado/Canyon.

We have yet to witness the reliability of the new Taco, even as the author put it there isn't much that hasn't been redesigned.

It looks better than the older Taco, but isn't as good looking as the Colorado. I would like to see how well it will perform off road.

If our new Hilux is anything to go by the Colorado should be a better off road vehicle, especially the diesel.

I have a problem with the floor of the bed made of plastic.

Lou I was leary of the plastic bed but after having one for a few years it works just fine and in some ways is really nice, dirt and small items sweep/hose out very easily and the pockets/compartments in it are very handy. Everything big slides around but its such a small box not being a real truck it doesn't have far to slide, a load should ALWAYS be secured, but it also makes sliding big things off/out the back real easy. No paint for sissies to cry over and never saw the plastic chip dent gouge or scratch noticeably and no warping. Truck is an 05 with 240K on it now.

The big disappointment here is rear drum brakes... Even GM eventually got away from that although it took them 2 attempts on the fullsize half tons.

The engine is the best part.
The lack of an 8 speed automatic is sad.
The drum brakes are worse.
No center differential, nor is there a clutch pack in the transfer case for 'auto' setting.
Preaching to the choir with this one.

Ford sucks.

I have plenty of experience with a test run on a complete composite material truck box tested in late 90's and offered as an option in early 2000 models years of GM half tons. The bed in that box was tough as hell.
I don't know much about the taco, however I know Toyota don't build crap. I won't hesitate buying a taco if you like it. I would just throw in a box liner or one of those custom fit rubber bed mats for some extra protection.

@BAFO - Yes it desperately needs more power, but a V8 would do the job for far less and far less maintenance and hassle, vs a diesel option.

The only consumers that "need" a diesel engine in this segment want the romance of an oil burning rattler like big boys.

I had the last version of the Taco, I drove and looked the 2016 over and did not see much difference in it compared to mine. You still almost sit on the floor, legs outstretched. They did not redesign that, Seats feel the same, not updated. Cupholders are

I worked at the Savannah River power plant and my team was given a Ford, GM and Dodge. The S-10 fell apart first, followed by the Ranger and then the Dakota. I couldn't believe that a truck could be so bad after 15k miles at a job site. But we didn't really care, because they were replaced every two years.

As a result my first truck was a Tacoma. And if you look back, you find that Toyota's philosophy is continuous improvement. You will never see a huge change year over year, but you will see the truck incrementally improve - that's why it's bullet proof.

When my 2005 Taco hit 200k, I traded it in for an Eco F150 to see if I was missing anything. It had great power, tons of room and poor build quality, mediocre mileage and I had numerous transmission problems (re-flashed 3x). I finally gave up and bought a 2010 Taco. When it dies, I'll buy a new one.....

The bed is not plastic- it is a fiber composite, stronger than steel. It is also lighter than steel, so you get a higher payload capacity and of course it won't rust out. Take the bedliner out of any old pickup and you will see that the bed is rusted; keep it long enough and it will rust out from the bottom. There is no downside to the Tacoma bed and I'm surprised nobody thought of it sooner.

Power up high, not down low where trucks need it

Plastic cargo box

Drum brakes

C-channel frame that is weaker than Nissan's

Interior that feels like a Camry

Highest pricetag

No improvements in real world MPGs

Explain to me again why Tacoma is so popular?

I have been driving and owning Toyota Pickups (the old Tundras and later Tacomas) since 2005.
My only comments are RELIABILITY & DURABILITY, the BEST!!!!

Bought a 2016 TuRD Off Road access cab. Not very impressed, 30+ days at dealer for repairs to the 4x4 front driveline, brake system locking up and serious tracking issue (never solved, destroyed at least one tire) Transmission shifts are erratic, 5th and maybe 6the when going between 65 and 75 downhill. Gets about 14 in the city and 13 on the freeway. Smells like burnt plastic everywhere I park...

High strength steel may be used in parts of the jigsaw frame. I am guessing that the stiff steel is the brittle welds that are showing separation from the plates of rusty Texas oil-rigs. Any trade-school instructor would be deltied to show the welds as examples of how to fail his class but likely excel in hamburger or taco assembly management.

After ten years of owning an xterra and thitry days in the Ford that Toyota provided as a loaner I know that Toyota is great at marketing. Engineering, not so much. I can saw, with much conviction. that the 3rd generation Tacoma looks good and fortunately the radio works well. Keep an eye out for recalls, hold on to your Gen2's; they will likely become the Icon of times past.

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