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2016 Toyota Tacoma First Look

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/13/2015 Manufacturer, Patrick M Hoey, Scott Burgess

Showfloor update: Bill Fay, Toyota Group VPP and General Manager cut to the chase at the 2015 Detroit show, showing us what we really wanted to see, and it looked even better in person. The 2016 Toyota Tacoma and Tacoma TRD models bounded onto the off-road themed stage at the Detroit show, with the TRD making its grand entrance with off-road racer Ryan Millen at the wheel. Toyota continues to bank on the Tacoma, saying that 3 million Tacomas have been sold since it was first born in the U.S. 20 years ago. What's more is that 75 percent of those trucks are still on roads today. With that, Fay proudly boasted that at the end of the current generation's 10-year life cycle, the pickup managed to outsell its closest competitor 2 to 1, making it seem like he isn't too worried about the Chevrolet Colorado cutting into sales. Toyota stressed the Tacoma was much more capable than the outgoing truck, which only makes us want to drive it off the stage and out the Cobo Hall doors for a little fun on Detroit's snowy roads. - Karla Sanchez

2016 Toyota Tacoma First Look

Calling the 2016 Toyota Tacoma's redesign "overdue" qualifies as the biggest understatement of 2015. The Tacoma has always been a good truck -- it's been the best-selling midsize pickup for the past 10 years -- but in recent years, it earned that title more by default than through competition. American truckmakers gave up on the segment long before they discontinued the Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, or Dodge Dakota.

But there's been a slight resurgence in the midsize segment with the return of the Colorado, and Toyota has no plans to give up its top spot without a fight. That's good news for everyone considering a small pickup. For 2016 Toyota has rebooted the Tacoma with a new powertrain, more efficient transmission, a new suspension, a new look, and loads of new features.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image The anemic 4.0-liter V-6 is gone and will be replaced with Toyota's 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V-6. Power numbers have not been released, but this direct-injection/port-injection engine promises to outperform the 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of the 4.0-liter engine. Toyota will keep its 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine, though it is unclear if power will increase from the 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque found on the current version.

Both engines will be mated to a new six-speed automatic transmission. The V-6 model will have an optional six-speed manual transmission, as well. We expect a jump in fuel economy, but numbers were not released.

Like previous generations, the Tacoma will come in five trim levels: the base SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and the top-of-the-line Limited. The two off-road models will include specific suspension adjustments and a Multi-Terrain Select system that will allow the pickup to adjust to different surfaces. The system adjusts throttle response, wheelspin, and brake pressure to make moving through different things easier. Additionally, the Tacoma will offer a limited-slip and locking rear differential, hill start assist, clutch start cancel, active traction control, and crawl control. For off-roaders, Toyota has even included a GoPro mount near the rearview mirror so you can quickly upload your escapades to YouTube.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image Although the Tacoma has always been a great off-roading vehicle and around-town work truck, its interior left many customers wanting more. The outgoing model had more hard plastic points than a Fisher Price Little Tikes Cozy Coupe. Toyota has modernized the cabin, which can be either an extended cab, known as Access Cab, or a bigger Double Cab. There's leather, soft points, and a very user-friendly front that makes sense.

There is a smart key with push-button start, Qi wireless charging, a moonroof, dual climate control, a new audio system with a touchscreen, and safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and cross traffic alert. All of those features, as well as the newly styled cab, are certainly welcome.

As for the exterior, Toyota has tried to toughen up the Tacoma's looks with a new front end, LED daytime running lights, and a more chiseled hood. Honestly, it looks good, especially the Access Cab TRD model, with good proportions and a higher stance. The rear adds a locking tailgate with an integrated spoiler and a system to let it lower slowly. (Toyota will also offer a tri-fold tonneau cover for the first time.)

We can't wait to learn more about this pickup, and we know Toyota will tease us with more details as time rolls on. MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image

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