For years it seemed like Toyota was the house that fun forgot, offering seemingly zillions of beige Corollas and Camrys to the bland masses, but little for those who are passionate about cars. Things have been changing in recent years, but that change has seemed glacial. Way back in ’09, we first saw the production version of the wicked LFA, a limited production performance car that Toyota is still schlepping around to auto shows six years later.
Fortunately, the luxury side of the brand has begun selling some drop dead sexy machines these days, but the excitement is still lacking over on the Toyota side of the showroom. There is a glimmer of hope that the FT1 concept, one of the most attractive design concepts in years, might make it to production as the next generation Supra. We can hope.
Over on the truck side of things, despite building tough and nice driving machines, the hauling capacity, options and pricing have never come together to make Toyota’s trucks a serious threat in the marketplace. That may well be about to change with the introduction of the 2016 Tacoma, which the company revealed images of prior to the Detroit unveiling.
In fairness to the Tacoma, it has long been a staple of the mid-size truck market, earning many loyal fans over the years, but not to the same level as the competition from General Motors. The General’s Canyon/Colorado twins are also all new, just hitting the market as 2015 models. The duo are reasonably attractive, reasonably priced and are a nice driving truck. The one comment I have heard from several journalists however is that GM didn’t take any chances with styling. The trucks are a bit on the bland side. The question is, do truck buyers want bland, like the beige Camry buyer, or do they want something a bit more exciting.
Toyota’s money must be on the latter, as the new Taco is by far the toughest looking truck in the segment. Pricing has not yet been announced, but if it is competitive with the Chevy & GMC twins, Toyota might just slay the competition.
Available as a extended cab or crew cab version, the Tacoma can also be ordered with a 2.7L 4 cylinder or a new 3.5L Atkinson cycle 6. Both engines are mated to a 6 speed auto box, while those opting for the 3.5 can also choose a 6-speed manual tranny.
Toyota press release
(DETROIT, USA – January 12, 2015) Whatever the terrain, Tacoma is king of the hill. Rebuilt inside and out with an all-new powertrain and enhanced suspension tuning, Tacoma is ready for dirt stomping adventurers. With a legacy of off-road victories and over seven million units sold in North America since 1964, Toyota revitalizes the midsize truck segment with the introduction of the all-new 2016 Tacoma.
“Adventurous Canadians have always enjoyed pushing Toyota trucks to the limits,” said Larry Hutchinson, Vice-President, Toyota Canada Inc. “Designed, developed, and assembled in North America the all-new 2016 Tacoma is a tough truck that rewards spirited truck enthusiasts on and off-road.”
Built from the Ground Up
The new 2016 Tacoma was primarily developed by the Toyota engineering team at
Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Starting with the frame, they added high strength steel to enhance rigidity and overall strength. Ultra-high strength steel was integrated into the body shell using a new hot stamping process that reduces weight.
To create a truck to meet the needs of active drivers on a variety of tamed and untamed surfaces, the suspension was fine-tuned to help deliver a smoother on-road ride, while making it even more capable off-road.
Get Your Motor Running
The new Tacoma will be powered by a 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine and an all-new, segment-first 3.5-litre Atkinson cycle V6 equipped with Toyota’s D-4S technology, featuring both direct and port fuel injection.
Both engines will be paired to a new six-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift delivering quick and easy shifting. The V6 can also be mated to a new six-speed manual transmission. The new powertrain makes the Tacoma more powerful and fuel efficient than ever before.
Doing It With Style Inside and Out
Serious, yet fun! This is the Toyota truck design DNA. The Tacoma and Tundra are amazingly capable trucks that are designed to reflect their capability. The Tacoma shares big brother Tundra’s more chiseled face, with a hex grille. From there, Tacoma expresses its own identity.
Inspired by desert racing, CALTY designers in Newport Beach, Calif. and Ann Arbor, Michigan made the new Tacoma all about recreational action and athletic agility. To achieve this, the new Tacoma’s wheel flares are strong and muscular for greater wheel travel and the high-lift image reflects its purposeful capability. Four new wheel designs range from 16 to 18 inches.
The front end portrays an aggressive attitude with its bold upper grille and a taller, more muscular hood. Mounted high above the clamp-shaped bumper sits slim, high technology headlights that feature projection beam lamps with available LED Daytime Running Lights.
From behind, the new locking tailgate emphasizes Tacoma’s wide stance and tough image. The tailgate features an integrated spoiler for improved aerodynamics and a stamped Tacoma logo. The tailgate also adds an easy lowering feature, which allows it to slowly retract, preventing it from slamming down. For the first time ever, Tacoma is available with a tri-fold hard tonneau cover for securing gear when you’re away from the truck.
Tacoma’s tough exterior is complemented by an interior that conveys a sport truck image reflecting an athletic, go anywhere, off-road feel. Once inside, drivers will notice a “handlebar” design theme in the instrument panel for a more driver-focused experience.
Softwrapped trim and metallic accents set the stage for a high-quality look and feel that is a starting point for an array of available premium features, including:
Qi wireless charging
Smart key with push-button start
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Enhanced touchscreen audio
Blind-spot monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert
And much more
In addition to offering more premium features, Toyota engineers also made the new Tacoma quieter than ever. To accomplish this, all seals were enhanced and a multi-layer acoustic windshield and sound-absorbing headliner were added. Finally, a floor silencer pad further reduces road noise.
Making the Grades
The new Tacoma will be available in four grades in both 4×2 and 4×4 configurations.
Each grade will have its own personality and unique look. Tacoma grades include:
Athletic TRD Sport
Tough-as-nails TRD Off-Road
Top of the line Limited
The two TRD grades are inspired by Toyota Racing Development’s more than 35-year history in desert off-road racing and a heritage of vehicles that have helped off-road enthusiasts conquer the toughest terrains in the most remote locations around the globe. Tacoma buyers will now have the opportunity to capture their global adventures on video as every Tacoma will come standard with a GoPro® mount located near the rear-view mirror.
Traveling Off the Beaten Path
Tacoma off-roading adventures will reach new levels of fun in the TRD Off-Road grade thanks to the addition of incredible technology. A Multi-Terrain Select system allows the driver to choose between different types of terrain such as loose rock, or mud and sand. Each input regulates wheel spin by adjusting throttle and brake pressure to provide maximum traction on almost any terrain.
Additional off-road technology includes Automatic Limited Slip and Locking Rear
Differential, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), Clutch Start Cancel (manual transmission only),
Active Traction Control, and Crawl Control. Engaging Crawl Control allows the driver to select a speed of 1-5 mph. The Crawl Control system takes over the acceleration and braking, allowing the driver to focus solely on steering.
All Tacoma’s will continue to come standard with the Star Safety System.
A North American Story
Tacoma is assembled at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX) in San Antonio and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Baja California (TMMBC) in Baja California, Mexico. Both facilities play a major role in carrying on Tacoma’s legendary reputation for quality, durability and reliability (QDR). It’s QDR has also helped Tacoma earn the 2014 Winner of Canadian Black Book’s Best Retained Value Award for five consecutive years. The all-new Tacoma builds on this tradition with improvement in every aspect over the current Tacoma including, design, ruggedness, and performance improvements in horsepower and fuel efficiency.
50 Years and Counting
Backed by 50 years of unwavering capability, an unbreakable attitude, and an off-road racing heritage, the all-new Tacoma is hungry for adventure and ready to tackle almost any challenge that it encounters. It truly is the ultimate tool for the outdoor enthusiast.