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2016 Toyota Tacoma 4X4 Double Cab Review By Larry Nutson

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By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Admittedly I’m a car-type of guy and not really a pickup man. I don’t usually write about trucks. However with the growing popularity of midsize pickups (MSPU), in part due to full size pickups being really large (and expensive) combined with the increase in city-urban living, I have spent some time with these new midsize entries.

There are about 12.5 million mid-size pickup trucks on the road today. Last year total sales in this segment were around 350,000 units. The segment is small but growing. For comparison, back in the late ‘90s Ford alone sold 350,000 compact pickups.

For quite a few years now only Toyota and Nissan offered a midsize pickup, with their Tacoma and Frontier models, respectively. Last year GM jumped into the MSPU segment with the introduction of their two all-new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon models. GM saw lots of opportunity to satisfy folks who don’t need a really big full size truck but do want the versatility of a pickup in a more “user friendly” size.

Toyota Tacoma has been around for about twenty years and is the biggest seller in the MSPU segment. Note, however, that Toyota has offered a pickup in the U.S. since 1964. That was the Stout but you might be more familiar with the Hi-Lux name that came first around in 1969 and lasted until 1995 with the Tacoma introduction.

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The Tacoma is all-new for 2016. Appropriately, I spent a week driving around Chicago and its surrounds in a 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited 4X4 Double Cab. This is Tacoma’s priciest model with a $37,820 MSRP.

The Tacoma comes in a myriad of configurations with prices starting at $23,300. There are twenty-nine different Tacoma models with unique base MSRPs listed by Toyota.

Tacoma is available in SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and Limited models. There’s a 159HP 2.7-L 4-cylinder or a new 278HP 3.5-L V6 to choose from. The four comes with a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. The six offers a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. There’s 4X2 or 4X4 drive trains. Based on my V6 driving experience that would be the engine of my choice. Acceleration, highway merging and passing performance is adequate but not overwhelming. That said, I’m not sure if the 4-cylinder would get the job done especially if you are doing a lot of hauling and climbing hills.

Body styles are either an Access Cab 2-door with its extended cab, small rear-access doors and seating for four or a Double Cab 4-door with seating for five that also comes in a Long Bed model.

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PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

The cargo bed has a bedliner and a bed rail system with fixed and moveable tie-downs. An optional tri-fold tonneau cover ($650) keeps whatever is in the bed protected and out of sight.

EPA test-cycle fuel economy ratings don’t vary much between the various configurations. The best EPA test-cycle ratings are with the 4X2s, with the top being the V6 with automatic getting 21 mpg combined, 19 city mpg and 24 highway mpg.

Depending on model, the Tacoma can tow from 3500 lbs. up to 6800 lbs. with the optional V6 Tow Package ($650). My choice here would be for max towing ability.

Trucks are lagging cars in terms of being equipped with the latest in driver-assistance safety features and technology. The Tacoma does offer a rear view camera, rear parking assist sonar and blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert. Perhaps in the next couple years we will see smart cruise control, automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist showing up in these trucks.

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The Tacoma has very capable off-road cred. No doubt you might ask how I test that out in Chicago. Each year at both the Spring Rally and Fall Rally put on by the Midwest Automotive Media Association, of which I am a member, we get to drive various off-road capable trucks and SUVs through mud and water, over-hills, down step grades, climb some boulders and what have you. The Tacoma is right there among the best, getting very dirty.

All Tacomas have a Go-pro mount at the top of the windshield so you can easily record your trail adventures and misadventures.

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PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

Around town the Tacoma needs a bit more space to maneuver in with its larger turning circle. To get in you have to climb up; ladies beware. My wife was wanting for running boards. Once up in your perch outward sight lines are good.

The interior is more rugged than luxury and clearly designed for glove-wearing workers. There are knobs for climate controls and radio tuning along with switches. On the Limited and offered on other models there’s an Entune Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite and a 7-inch touchscreen.

More specs and features on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma can be found at You can compare the Tacoma to other midsize pickups right here at The Auto Channel.

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Among its laurels, the Tacoma was chosen the Mid-size Pickup Truck of Texas at the Texas Auto Writers Association’s (TAWA) annual Texas Truck Rodeo event. Additionally, the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) named the 2016 Toyota Tacoma the Rocky Mountain Truck of the Year.

Toyota’s TRD Pro Series arose from their storied off-road racing heritage with numerous victories in the grueling Baja off-road endurance races to their credit. At the 2016 Chicago Auto Show Toyota introduced the 2017 Tacoma TRD Pro Off-Road Pickup with all-new factory-installed off-road equipment designed by the experts at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) featuring unique exterior, interior and chassis performance features for challenging extreme off-road terrain. Look for it this Fall.

© 2016 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy

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