In a major road to roof revision, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma gets bolder, off-road-inspired styling, a new, more powerful V6 engine, an electronically shifted 6-speed automatic transmission, damped tailgate, plus available leather seating, a power sunroof, dual-zone air conditioning, an upgraded 7-inch color touchscreen infotainment system, wireless charging, push-button start, keyless entry and a tri-fold tonneau cover. Blind spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring are also available.
The Tacoma continues as the top-selling midsize pickup, packing impressive capability and legendary dependability into a maneuverable, garageable package. It features a rust- and dent-proof sheet-molding-composite inner bed with four adjustable tie-down cleats and covered in-bed storage compartments, plus an available 120-volt power point and a removable tailgate.
Configurations include a 4-passenger 4-door Access Cab (extended cab) with a fold-up bench seat in the back and rear-hinged rear doors, and a 5-passenger 4-door Double Cab (crew cab) with a full-width back seat and four conventional doors. Both are available with 2-wheel drive (2WD) or 4-wheel drive (4WD).
The Couble Cab is available with the 60.5-in short bed or 73.7-in long bed and the Access Cab only with the 73.7-in bed.
What We Like
More powerful V6; 6,800-lb max tow rating; maneuverable size; off-road prowess; wide equipment choices
What We Don’t
No power driver’s seat; steering and brakes are still a bit vague
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The base 2.7-liter 4-cylinder develops 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque on regular unleaded fuel. Two-wheel-drive versions are rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on the highway with the standard 6-speed automatic. Four-wheel-drive vehicles get an 19 mpg city/22 mpg hwy rating with the 6-speed automatic and 19 mpg city/21 mpg hwy with the 5-speed manual. The 2.7-liter can tow 3,500 lbs.
The 3.5-liter V6 makes 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque with regular unleaded fuel. Four-wheel-drive Tacomas with the 6-speed manual are EPA-rated at 17 mpg city/21 mpg hwy. Equipped with the 6-speed automatic, 2WD Tacoma V6s get a 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy rating, and 4WD models receive a 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy label. The V6 can tow up to 3,500 lbs.
Standard Features & Options
The base SR comes with air conditioning, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, carpeting, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel, cloth front bucket seats, a fold-up rear bench seat with under-seat storage, sliding rear window, backup camera, GoPro mount, a 6-speaker Entune AM/FM/CD stereo with a 6.1-in touchscreen, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth and a USB outlet, power door locks and windows, floor console and 245/75R16s on steel rims. Also standard on 4WDs are front-suspension and engine skidplates, black fender flares and front and rear mud guards.
SR5 upgrades with a privacy-glass sliding rear window, a chrome grille surround and rear bumper, a color-keyed front bumper and wheel flares, cruise control, remote keyless entry, upgraded interior trim, variable wipers, SiriusXM, HD traffic and weather, a 4.2-in driver info display, a connected navigation app, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and optional 16-in alloys.
Limited adds leather seating, JBL premium audio, 7-in display with navigation, a sunroof, heated front sport bucket seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, HomeLink, fog lamps, chrome exterior trim, 265/60 tires on 18-in chrome alloys, rear park assist and blind spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring.
The TRD Off-Road package and TRD Sport package add sport bucket seats, an overhead console, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, fog lamps and a 120-volt/400-watt bed-mounted power point. The TRD Off-Road also gains a locking rear differential, skid plates, 265/70R16 mud and snow tires, alloy wheels and off-road suspension with hill-start assist, Downhill Assist Control and the optional Multi-terrain Select system. The TRD Sport adds a hood scoop, a sport-tuned chassis with Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip differential and 265/65R17 all-season tires on alloy wheels.
The Tacoma has been the best-selling midsize pickup for many years, offering popular features, sensible proportions and a reputation for great durability. All Tacoma Access and Double Cabs retain their resale value, but 4WD Double Cabs bring top dollar.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following 2016 Tacoma recalls:
On V6 models, the crankshaft position sensor may fail, stalling the engine.
The rear differential may leak oil, seizing and causing a loss of control.
The driver’s knee airbag module bolts may loosen, affecting its performance in a crash.
Southeastern Toyota dealer-installed hood scoops may loosen and detach.
Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA gave the 2016 Tacoma Double Cab four stars overall with four for front impacts, five for side impacts and four for rollover performance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 Tacoma Access Cab a Good rating for small- and moderate-overlap front impacts as well as head-restraint and seat crash performance.
Toyota covered the 2016 Tacoma with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty and a 5-year/unlimited-mile corrosion-perforation warranty.
Toyota certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles can’t have more than 85,000 miles and must be under six years old. Every CPO Tacoma undergoes a 160-point inspection and gets a Carfax report. The Toyota CPO warranty covers the whole vehicle for one year or 12,000 miles, extends the original powertrain warranty to seven years or 100,000 miles and includes a year of roadside assistance.
Other Cars to Consider
2016 Chevrolet Colorado — Colorado is larger and roomier than the Tacoma and can tow 7,000 pounds. Engines include a 200-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, a 305-hp 3.6-liter V6 and a new 4-cylinder turbodiesel. Extended and Crew Cab body styles are available. Features include OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and in-truck Wi-Fi, a standard backup camera and available forward-collision and lane-departure alerts.
2016 Nissan Frontier — Nissan’s midsize pickup offers standard stability control along with a 152-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a 261-hp 4.0-liter V6. The Frontier is available in King (extended) and Crew Cab configurations, and can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
No other midsize pickup can match Tacoma’s rock-solid durability reputation, top-rated resale value or equipment combinations. With 4WD Access Cab models topping 4,000 pounds, you’ll probably be more satisfied with the 278-hp V6 under the hood than the 159-hp 4-cylinder. You’ll pay more for a Double Cab than an Access Cab; the Double Cab just feels more solid and some don’t like the rear-hinged doors of the Access Cab. As always, condition is king. These trucks are capable of going several hundred thousand miles if they’re maintained properly, but your best bet is a CPO or lower-mileage example. Avoid modified trucks and ask for a Carfax report. Make sure that all applicable safety recalls have been performed by a certified Toyota dealer.