More Than Just a Refresh: Our 2016 Toyota Tacoma Impressions

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The return to availability of GM’s Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon last year gave the midsize pickup market a shot in the arm. Long a staple in what’s now one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto business, the 2015 Toyota Tacoma suddenly looked outdated. For 2016, it had to be more efficient, more comfortable, and more refined.

Companies bring outdated cars up to modern standards all the time (just look at the Hyundai Elantra), but very few of these companies are tasked with fully re-designing a vehicle that was already at the top of its segment. The 2015 Tacoma still sells like hot cakes, but if the company expected future iterations to perform as well, it would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, without giving away its off-roading crown. Toyota reps told us over and over again that the goal with the 2016 was to build a “wicked badass truck.”

To prove the 2016 Tacoma could pull off this miracle feat, Toyota’s team invited us out to Mansfield, Massachusetts, to play around on a couple of off-road courses they’d built. The courses themselves were ambitious, if limited by nature (we’re talking about a couple of hills, a whole lot of dirt, and enough standing water to upset most Californians). Regardless, the Tacoma did very well.

Clearly, its off-road chops are still there, and the 2016 Toyota Tacoma is definitely more comfortable than the outgoing model. Its interior isn’t quite on par with the Colorado’s and definitely falls short of the more upscale Canyon’s, but it’s worlds better than the previous generation. The cabin is quieter, with a better integrated dashboard, and the 3.5-liter V6 is particularly special. The ability to save fuel by switching over to an Atkinson cycle means the Tacoma is more efficient than ever. This may be a golden era for anyone looking to buy a midsize pickup truck, and the Toyota Tacoma is now a better option than ever.

Will the 2016 improvements put a Tacoma at the top of your shopping list?

-Words by Matt Smith; video by Jake Hughes

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