In Greater Sudbury, the launch of the latest new pickup is a joyous and celebrated occasion. In your writer’s locale, disposable income is spent less on hot cars, and more on cottages, boats, hunting and fishing gear, power toys, and the pickup trucks that support all of the above.

As such, when the latest-generation F-150, Canyon, Sierra or Ram comes home with your writer for a week-long test, it draws curious crowds, smiles, pointed fingers, and questions from passersby, on a similar level to a hundred-thousand dollar sports car. Some crowds go all abuzz with excitement about the latest Kardashian yoga-pants tweet, or the introduction of the newest Royal offspring. Instead, in Sudbury, the guys and gals get excited about the latest trucks.

This time around? The new Tacoma. Updates, changes and enhancements abound throughout this virtually all-new model, helping to reinforce the top-dog position it’s held in the Canadian mid-size truck segment for years.

Despite the updates, it’s still instantly and unmistakably a Tacoma from a mere glance or a quick drive, which makes it a natural upgrade for existing customers looking to get into the latest.

The look is still distinct: slim, lithe, and muscular as pickups go, but with more accenting, sculpting, a deeper hood scoop and surrounding bulges, and more character built into the fascias with redesigned lamps and grilles. The prominent TACOMA stamping on the tailgate, and taller box-sides, further freshen the look to one that’s improved and more striking, but still immediately Tacoma. Said tailgate opens gently and closes easily thanks to an assist spring, reducing the risk to the cranium of nearby children or short folk.

Numerous upgrades are on offer beneath Tacoma’s new skin, starting with the new frame structure upon which it’s built. Similar in shape and dimension to the outgoing frame, the latest Tacoma skeletals include reinforcements, bracing, and the use of high-tensile steel towards added strength and rigidity. Mass optimization and safety benefit, though the stiffer frame also gives engineers a better basis from which to fine-tune suspension characteristics against targeted comfort levels. In this case, more wheel travel was enabled alongside a quieter and more comfortable ride.

High-tensile steel is now utilized in Tacoma’s body as well, adding stiffness, and safety. More importantly, it reduces body deflection on rough surfaces, which moves air through the cabin, which creates noise.

On Return of the Small Truck

So, from the driver’s seat, the added stiffness and recalibrated suspension means that shoppers coming out of a few-year-old Tacoma can expect notably lower noise levels at speed, less road and suspension noise on rough surfaces, and a reduction in the rigid jiggle-jounce ride when driving the Tacoma on uneven surfaces. It still feels like a tough, durable and solid pickup, though even with the beefy shocks fitted as part of the tester’s TRD Sport package, body motions are kept better in check, and softened around the edges. Overall comfort and noise, even on rough surfaces, are notably improved, here.

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