2016 Toyota Tacoma: ECT Power Switch - The Relic That Makes a Difference
by Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor on January 21, 2016
I've seen the ECT Power switch in Toyota trucks since I was in junior high. I've driven plenty of trucks with the switch. And before this Tacoma, that switch has never made any discernable difference. Now that's changed.
The switch resides on the center stack of our 2016 Toyota Tacoma. I had driven the truck for a day or so before I even noticed it. Then I drove up the longest hill in my neighborhood. We live in the foothills of Orange County's Santa Ana mountains and the houses are built into some real inclines. The one in question rises 450 vertical feet in just over a mile.
Just enough, it turns out, to throw the Tacoma into shift-fits. Be careful how you say that.
The hill is the perfect pitch to create an endless search for the right gear. Try to maintain the speed limit (45 mph) and the Tacoma downshifts. Then speed climbs rapidly and lifting off the throttle is required to maintain the speed limit. As soon as the throttle is closed — even slightly — the transmission upshifts again, the truck begins to lose speed, and the process repeats.
This, friends, is textbook gear hunting. And it's infuriating.
Activating "Power Mode" via the ECT switch essentially solves the problem. Shift points and throttle calibration tweaks let it hold the higher gear up the hill, which is a relief.
It's fairly clear that the Tacoma's stock transmission calibration is a product of a hair-splitting search for fuel economy. It's almost always a gear too high in city driving. Pushing the ECT Power button solves the problem. But should I need to activate an alternate calibration just to drive through my neighborhood?
Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor