so, i get asked the question a lot â€œdo youown your own vehicle and if so, what is it?â€ well, i do and itâ€™s a 15-year old toyotatacoma prerunner v6 double cab. and other than the fact that i wish it had 4-wheel drive,i love it. which is why iâ€™ve been anticipating this test-week for so long; this is the next-generation,2016 toyota tacoma. iphone pix and vids 174if it ainâ€™t broke,donâ€™t fix itâ€¦thatâ€™s toyotaâ€™s approach here. a decade has passed since the last all-newtacoma was introduced but no worries; itâ€™s been the best-selling truck in its segmentsince 2008. the headlines here for 2016 include a new v6 engine, transmission and suspensiontuning. the 2.7-liter 4-cylinder carries over and is available on the base sr and sr5 grades.itâ€™ll save you money at the point of sale,
but likely wonâ€™t provide any better gasmileage than the optional v6. that motor replaces the old 4.0 and makes more with less, withoutput raised from 236hp to 278 horsepower while its 265 pound-feet of torque remainsvirtually unchanged, though peaking at a higher rpm. though almost exclusively reserved for hybrids,the fuel saving atkinson cycle has been applied to the tacomaâ€™s new 3.5-liter v6 with theloss in power density presumably made up for by toyotaâ€™s unique valvetrain and combinationfuel injection. but the throttle response languishes and the new 6-speed auto will driveyou nuts with its reluctance to keep the engine in its power band. the result is truck thatfeels like it has a dead gas pedal and a busy
transmission that struggles to hold the rightgear. there is a power mode for the transmissionand you can shift manually at the gear selector â€“ both alleviate these symptoms â€“ butboy, this isnâ€™t good. with that major disappointment on the table, iâ€™m glad to report that thistrd off-road grade lives up to its name, acing every test i threw at it. big ground clearance,bilstein shocks and a bevy of electronic assistants like an auto limited slip, locking rear diff,multi-terrain select and crawl control, provide the backbone for the tacomaâ€™s tough-as-nailsreputation. we had this truck descending icy hills, bobbing across moguls, and tackingheavily rutted and rocky trails and the only thing that surrendered was the right frontgoodyear, ironically with a large gash right
through the kevlar badge, where one particularrock was no match for the tireâ€™s durawall technology. the full size matching spare camein handy. now, if i had my druthers, i would take this tacomaâ€™s part-time 4-wheel drivesystem and give it an auto setting for changing surface conditions, plus none of these goodieswork unless youâ€™re in 4-low, such as terrain select which could come in handy for 2-wheelor 4-high driving. that being said, the trd off-road is a great grade choice if youâ€™reinto taking your tacoma where others fear to go. from a design and appeal perspective, thisinferno double cab with the 5â€™ box is a great looking truck and even though the mainlighting is old school, the daytime running
lights are led. thereâ€™s smart key entryand push button start while running boards are optional to ease the somewhat high step-in.speaking of whichâ€¦ iâ€™m not ashamed to admit that now that iâ€™ma little bit older, getting up into the bed of these trucks can be a tad challenging.but toyota makes this one extra difficult by giving you no place to put your foot oncethe tailgate is down. there is an ac outlet, cubbies, movable tie-downsand for the first time, an optional hard, tri-fold tonneau cover with lock, but iâ€™mstill scratching my head at this oneâ€¦perhaps they just want you to buy the optional bedstepfor $300. this truck, with the optional tow package, is good for pulling 6,400 pounds,an increase of 300 pounds.
the rear seat leg- and headroom on my tacomais actually very generous. and compared with my truck, the rear seat legroom is actuallyless on the new tacoma. yup, itâ€™s a little tight back here and ittakes some maneuvering to get the seats folded, where underneath youâ€™ll find additionalstorage. up front, i like the inclusion of the exterior color running through the dashand the optional premium and technology package adds the entune with navigation system. workingin conjunction with your smartphone, entune apps open up even more connectivity in thetruck. graphics displays and ease of usability are above average. this truck also benefitsfrom really hot heated seats, dual zone climate control and a blind spot monitor among otherupgrades. no height adjustments for the manual
seats, however. itâ€™s much quieter now andthe ride comfort, thanks in large part to the upgraded shocks, is comparatively excellent.and when you look out through the windshield the hood is much more noticeable giving youthe feeling that youâ€™re driving a full-size rig. gas mileage is up 2mpg, now rated at20mpg in combined driving though my weekly average fell far short of that. carrying aweighty sticker price of $37,610 iâ€™ve got mixed feelings about the tacoma. on the onehand, it performs up to and even beyond its lofty off-road reputation. but on the otherhand, the drive just isnâ€™t right and it seems as though toyota is doing a bit of restingon their laurels here â€“ giving us 5 years of innovation when we were expecting 10.