2016 Toyota Tacoma: Baptism by Fire Road
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 22, 2016
That didn't take long. I headed for the local mountains the very first weekend I got my mitts on the keys to our brand new 2016 Toyota Tacoma. And it was good.
No, it was excellent.
I'm talking about the TRD Off-Road suspension, which impressed me more than it had during my drive at last summer's launch event near Seattle. Here on my rougher local terrain, it was even better than expected at smoothing out awkward bumps and the sort of rough cross-grain erosion grooves you get on forest service fire roads that haven't seen a grader for a few seasons.
Off-road suspension does not automatically mean stiff suspension. It couldn't be if it were to suck up under-maintained dirt roads like these without rattling the cage containing me and my buddy, Mike.
Due credit goes to the tall and enveloping sidewalls of the Kevlar-reinforced 265/70R16 (a.k.a. 31-inch) Goodyear tires and the 16-inch wheels on which they're mounted, a breath of fresh air in this day and age of "over-dubbing." Do the math and you'll see that these wheels have a full 7.5 inches of rubber protecting them from the rocks and ditches below.
This wouldn't amount to much if the Bilstein monotube shocks weren't tuned to match. A monotube design is preferable out here because such shocks shed heat faster than it can be generated by internal damping valves hammering across washboard and other broken surfaces. But even this does not guarantee success on a wide range of paved and unpaved roads unless the suspension tuning engineers calibrate the damping just right.
They nailed it here. These shocks suck up impacts without jostling the cabin or its occupants. The truck moves as the general shape of the road changes, but the suspension and tires filter out all of the messy and uncomfortable details. Heck, there wasn't even a single squeak or rattle all day.
This truck is tight.
It all translates fairly well onto paved roads, too. The baseline spring tuning stops short of being overly stiff, the tall sidewalls that work well in the rocks do a good job with potholes, and the Bilsteins have the finesse to smooth out the small stuff.
Yes, there is a bit of head toss and some wiggle now and then, but it's all very agreeable, especially considering how capable this truck is on the way to the campsite or mountain bike trailhead.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 1,382 miles