2016 Toyota Tacoma: Brake Modulation Lacks Finesse
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on April 8, 2016
I drove our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma for the first time over the weekend. Immediately, I felt like a first-time driver again.
The problem is the Tacoma's brake pedal modulation. It isn't natural, and to an outside observer it can make the Tacoma's driver look like a first-timer. Fellow editor Travis observed it, too. Let's break down the Tacoma's brake pedal action to better describe what it feels like.
Step One: There's some initial pedal travel wherein nothing happens (aka idle stroke). This is typical. Maybe the Tacoma's idle stroke is a hair longer than average. Maybe. In any case, this step isn't where the problem is.
Step Two: Shortly after the idle stroke is an abrupt, nonlinear increase in braking force with little associated increase in effort. This is the first problem with its action.
Instinctively, you back off the pedal a hair to offset this more-than-intended increase in retardation.
Step Three: This brings us to the other problem with the Tacoma's brake modulation — its release characteristic is too aggressive. Ease off the brake pedal a bit and you lose a whole lot (more than expected, anyway) of braking force. Instinctively, you reapply the pedal and you're back at step two.
The upshot of all this is that it's not easy to be smooth in the Tacoma during routine stopping maneuvers around town. Its brake modulation is kinda-sorta workable if you're wearing sneakers (which offer more sensitivity) but significantly more difficult in boots. I found myself having to think about my braking action rather than simply intuiting it, and yet still bobbing the truck's nose more than I'd liked.
For those keeping track at home, the Colorado is clearly better than the Tacoma in the brake modulation category.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor @ 5,786 miles