The Only Tacoma Review You Shouldn’t Read!

I bought a thing! In January I ordered a 2016 Toyota TRD Sport, manual, 4x4, Double Cab in blue. Extra options: Tow package and 4x4. I picked up my latest purchase from the dealership at the end of February.

Ta Da! Bonus points if you know what the black car is.

Full Disclosure: Toyota wanted me to drive a 2016 Toyota Tacoma so bad the traded me it in exchange for a large sum of body parts every month until eternity!

This is my review. It is terrible and poorly written. There is no TL:DR version, deal with it. I reference my boat quite a bit when talking about the engine and towing. Considering I bought the truck specifically to tow a boat, this is probably relevant. It is a 1976 Lund Shellstar 15 Harley Davidson Edition with a 70 HP Johnson. It does the job but I wish I had a bigger Johnson. It probably weighs around 1,500 lbs. including the trailer.

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I picked the TRD Sport because it is the cheapest way I could get a Tacoma with a manual. I consider the GMC Canyon, test drove the Canyon and Colorado. I laughed when someone brought up the Nissan Frontier.

As optioned, the MSRP was $33,650. I paid dealer invoice*, which was just a hair over $32,000 plus taxes, fess, registration and 500 bucks for aftermarket heated seats(installed by the dealer).

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Exterior – 8/10

Looks are polarizing. The fundamentals of the 2016 have remained the same and as such, the design isn’t a clean departure from the 2015. The side profile of the cab is almost identical to the 2015. The hood is raised significantly for pedestrian impact. This is obvious due to the immediate bulge at the windshield base. This is indicative of not moving the junction point between the firewall and the windshield. (See pics below) It is most likely a carryover from the previous generation. I really don’t give a crap about how much of the truck is carried over. The structure may be older, but I like it. It looks like it is trying to look butch. It wants to be a tough guy instead of being itself. The Tacoma is the arm guy at the gym, curls are for the girls is his motto. He skips leg day, but his six pack and massive biceps are impressive none the less. He wants to project being stronger than he really is.

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This 2016 has the B-pillar wrap removed.
2015 Tacoma: Does this cabin structure look a little familiar?

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Interior – 6.5/10

The seats are good. Really, really solid. One of my deciding factors was lumbar support being standard across the model range. The Canyon and Colorado have lumbar support but only as an option depending on the trim level. The Canyon gave me back issues after a 20 minute test drive, having to move up to the SLE package was a deal breaker. Four adults can all fit comfortably for a few hours.

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Hard plastic abounds. Soft touch materials are mediocre. The windows can’t be controlled from the driver seat if the window lock is on. The driver’s window will work, which is odd when the three others won’t.

Ergonomics are a mess. The seat is close to the floor, a Tacoma trademark, the radio seek buttons are on the opposite side of the center console screen. The ergonomics describe the truck, could be better but good enough to live with on a daily basis. Nothing is so unforgivable that you couldn’t live with it every day and adjust accordingly. It’s not bad, just not good.

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Infotainment/Technology/Toys - 5/10

Try again. SRSLY. HD radio cuts out constantly, reverting back to standard FM. Imagine your cd keeps skipping and you can’t fix it. (Gather round you young kiddos, let ole pappy tell you what a compact disc is!)

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Why the power text on the radio volume knob isn’t back lit like the HOME, APPS, AUDIO, SEEK/TRACK touch points are, is asinine. You can’t actually see the text unless you are looking directly at it. Even then it is hidden. Stupid. Just dumb.

The traction and stability control sequence is harder to understand than VW’s buyback plan. Press this button and hold for a fortnight for a mystical light to appear on the dash. Press and hold for two fortnights for a seemingly random combination of traction and stability control lights to illuminate!

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A brake biased electronically-simulated limited slip differential is not a real limited slip differential. Or maybe the truck actually has a real limited slip different. No one knows because the corporate speak about what the truck actually has is indecipherable to anyone who doesn’t major in Sandscrit.

I just need off/on functions! Traction control off. Stability control off. The limited slip should be constantly engaged. This isn’t hard.

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Braking 7.0/10

Drums brake may be old tech and a pain in the ass but the truck will slow itself down towing a boat in a very short manner when you come over a hill and traffic decides to stop for some reason, ask me how I know. They also won’t fade under load when descending a 6-7% grade for 8 miles. Pedal is devoid of feel and I prefer more initial bite with a stiffer pedal but you can’t argue with their effectiveness.

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Engine – 5.5/10

Altitude is a mf’er. It highlights the engines powe rband and weaknesses, your results will vary. I spend considerably amounts of time between 6,000 to 8,000 feet. Take this section with a grain of salt.

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Toyota dropped the ball on this one. The flywheel is too heavy. The engine isn’t a huge fan of revving which is counter to where the power is made. The motor comes on with a noticeable power increase at 3800 rpm. HP peaks well into the upper reaches of the usable rpm range.

Truck meet Boat. Boat this is Truck. You two will be seeing a lot of each other.

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I towed my 16’ boat from Denver, CO to Dillon, CO. This is a long pull. It is about 60 miles from Denver to Loveland Pass with elevation changes of about 6,000’ vertical feet. Lots of up and downs, third gear is normal operating procedure to maintain any speed. Minimal grades can be done in fourth, but any acceleration will take third gear and north of 4000 rpm. A screaming motor, when it sounds good, can be wonderful. This motor does not sounds wonderful. There is a video on YouTube which directly compares a 2015 Tacoma with the 4.0 engine and a 2016 with the 3.5, the 2016 is faster by over a minute from Dillon, CO to the Eisenhower tunnel. This stretch of road has a 65 mph speed limit, and climbs about 2,000 feet in roughly 6 miles. By the numbers it is a better motor than the 4.0 but it may not feel like it. The video linked, at 8:00, shows the tach sitting 500-250 rpm shy of redline.

What this truck really needs is the 2.7 turbo motor out of the F-150………I may need a moment. That would be the right engine. Maybe down size it to 2.5 liters and get another mpg or two.

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Even unladen, the truck cannot maintain 65 mph on moderate grades at altitude. It sucks when you have to down shift after the truck loses 10 mph and the cruise kicks off.

Starting out in anything other than first is out of the question. Slipping the clutch in 2wd to pull the boat out of the water is something I have grown accustomed to.

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What this truck really needs is the 2.7 turbo motor out of the F-150………I may need a moment. That would be the right engine. Maybe down size it to 2.5 liters and get another mpg or two.

Transmission - 8/10

This is a selling point. Gates are well defined for a truck. Throws are pretty short considering the length of the shifter.

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The major fault I have found is the spacing on between 1-2. First is short, you wind out 1st to about 2500, and then go into second and the engine just bogs down. 2nd should be just a bit closer to 1st. The drop off is a buzz kill.

Towing/Hauling/Cargo Management – 8/10

The bed is a restraint fantasy. Four movable tie down points, two fixed point forward on the bed, tow fixed points at the rear of the bed, two in-bed cubbies, and a 120V outlet as well. The truck has more tie down points for restraints than my sex dungeon.

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Pictured: Truck stuff. Source: Me! Aspiring hack photographer.

Off-Road Performance – 5.5/10

This is a tire issue. The stock tires are meant for the highway and putting down some miles. If you really need or want off road performance, you are getting the off road package not the sport. If you do get the sport and want to go off-road, you should buy better tires.

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Ride/Handling – 7.5/10

The truck rides well. Expansion joints inflict a sharp bounce in the cabin and bed. It doesn’t ride as well as the GM twins though. They are better on the highway and around town. Putting weight in the bed or something on the trailer hitch helps smooth out the ride. The downside of being loaded is the truck does its’ best impression of a 70’s/80’s land barge and floats up and down after a bump. The shocks could be retuned to better manage one aspect or the other. I don’t know if you could help both at once without some electronically adjustable shocks, a’la GMs Magnetorheological shocks.

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Fuel Economy – 7/10

EPA rates my truck at 17/19/21. I routinely average 22-23 mpg in city/rush hour driving on the in-dash display. Hand calcs of the fuel economy show I average about 23.5 mpg and 17 mpg while towing. 14 mpg while towing up and around the mountains. I’ve recorded as high as 27.6 mpg, although this a over a short period under very ideal conditions.

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This is good for the Earth or something.

‘nuf said. Suck it EPA.

Verdict – 68/100

Would I Buy It Again: Yes.

If you can keep out of the throttle, you can get good mileage out of the truck. Even better mpg’s if you opt for the automatic. For those of you who are willing to put your money where your mouth is and get a manual, this is a solid truck. Tacoma’s have the best resale value of any vehicle. If you don’t tow on a regular basis or only tow/haul on occasion, the truck is solid. There isn’t anything that would drive you crazy. You can adapt by the first oil change.

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* I know dealer invoice is a relatively useless number. I don’t care. It was the cheapest price I found considering one dealership had sold 56 Tacomas on 6 test drives. The Tacoma was in pretty high demand over the winter.