The truck you see before you – a 2016 Toyota Tacoma – is only a few months old, and it’s already a legend in its own time.
Toyota’s reputation for building long-lasting and nearly indestructible midsize (and formerly, compact) trucks is well publicized internationally. In fact, it was an old Hi-Lux cousin of the Tacoma that the hosts of BBC’s Top Gear television series tried, in vain, to kill. After setting it ablaze, attempting to drown it in the Atlantic, and blowing it up in the demolition of an apartment tower, they still couldn’t stop the Toyota’s (diesel) heart from beating.
If you need a vehicle that you can depend on running, regardless of how badly you mistreat it for decades to come, it’s likely you need a Toyota truck.
While it’s still far too soon to tell if this 2016 Tacoma will live up to its ancestors’ past successes, the odds are pretty good if the initial impressions are anything to go by. Our particular truck had just spent the week previous to its time with Autos.ca being subjected to repetitive and rigorous testing at the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Canadian Car of the Year Awards testing. There it was repeatedly flogged by several dozen automotive journalists who zipped up and down highways and secondary roads, then subjected the Taco to an off-road course that looked more like a swamp by the end of the rainy week. Despite that, this truck looked – and drove – as if it had just rolled out of the factory.
So, naturally we had to get it dirty again, but more on that in a minute.
This all-new Tacoma is now powered by a 3.5L Atkinson cycle V6 that’s a half-litre short on displacement versus last year’s Taco engine. Despite that, the new power plant provides 42 more horsepower (278 now), but a single foot-pound less torque at 265. A four cylinder is still offered in the Tacoma, as is a manual transmission, but our tester has the new six-speed automatic.
The automatic is well matched to the engine and shifts smoothly and consistently, while also helping to improve fuel efficiency which now rates at 13.1 L/100 km city, 10.5 highway and 11.9 combined. We saw an average of 13.3 L/100 km that included a mix of on-road and off-road conditions.
Although the V6 is sufficient to motivate the Tacoma, it never feels overly eager, or dare we say “fun” the way the 3.6 V6 in GM’s mid-size pick-ups does. Plus it makes us wonder how anemic the four-banger must be giving up nearly 120 hp and 85 lb-ft of torque. Those accustomed to grunty, low-revving truck engines of days-gone-by may be left wanting with either engine.
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Still, it’s a smooth and fairly quiet engine (though when it is revved, and heard, it sounds pretty agricultural). And it’s got enough oomph to earn our Double Cab TRD Sport 4×4 a 2,900 kg towing capacity and 430 kg payload. If that latter figure doesn’t impress, don’t worry, with only a five-foot box on this model (the TRD Sport is the only one to get the short box – every other new Tacoma gets a six-footer), there’s not much space to burden the truck anyway.