Toyota unveils brand new Tecoma

Toyota-tacomaTOYOTA has left its Taco sitting on the counter since 2005, and it has almost gotten stale. By default, those hungry for a mid-size truck have had no choice but to clog their noses and scarf down what Chef Toyota was cranking out of its kitchen until the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon came out. Now Toyota’s cooked up a new taco.

Toyota, the long-time king of the mid-sizers, has been displaced from the top of the leader board. And that’s what makes this 2016 model so important.

The front of the third generation Tacoma looks wildly different than that of its predecessor. The more pronounced grille gives the truck more of a “big rig” look, and the slim, projector beam headlights exude confidence.

On the back of the truck, the new lockable, damped stamped tailgate looks pretty slick, and the taillights are a simple and clean design. But the rest of the truck kinda just looks like the outgoing Taco. It’s not a huge step forward in styling for this third generation truck, but we think it’s a nice evolution from last year’s model.

Driving the 2016 Tacoma on road was, well, pretty uneventful. It felt floaty, and its high center of mass didn’t exactly shine in the corners. But the brakes and steering felt solid, and the V6 engine never left one wanting power. The six-speed automatic transmission did a good job at managing those horses, and did a remarkable job at keeping engine speeds down on the highway. The truck was turning only 2,000 rpm at about 70 MPH, which helps with both noise and fuel economy.

Despite that, considering how much Toyota flaunted its NVH improvements, it’s really not all that quiet. In the end, the Tacoma drives very much like a truck. It’s heavy, has a high center of mass, and has an old-school leaf sprung rear axle.

The solid axle in the rear offers quite a bit of flex, as does the truck’s ladder frame. That’s a good thing, because the independent front suspension isn’t going to win any awards for articulation. The soft suspension soaked up rocks and ruts without issue, and the standard backup camera made navigating tight trails a breeze.

Though all trims can handle the rough stuff, the TRD Off-Road model is a different breed. It gives you Bilstein shocks, an electronic rear locker, Multi-terrain Select, a higher 32 degree approach angle, offroad tires, and a feature called Crawl Control, which supposedly helps maximize traction during low speed driving.



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