2016 Toyota Tacoma: Monthly Update for February 2017
by Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing
Where Did We Drive It?
Just over one year has passed since we added our 2016 Toyota Tacoma to the long-term test fleet. We know it pretty well by now and it has some quirks, but it stays active nonetheless. The truck spent a portion of this month as a city dweller before breaking free on a road trip to the snow.
Editor Frio snagged the Tacoma for a weeklong getaway to the Reno-Lake Tahoe area. He added more than 1,200 miles during a stretch that saw some of Tahoe's best snowfall of the season. Back in two-wheel-drive suburbia, the Toyota reminded us of its low-speed shortcomings, but it also impressed us with its technology.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Frio made a run at our best mpg ever along his highway-heavy trek to Mount Rose near Lake Tahoe. But at 20.5 mpg, he fell 0.8 mpg short. We've yet to match the EPA-estimated 23 mpg for the Tacoma. Our other fuel-economy marks also remain unchanged.
Average lifetime mpg: 18.4
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 21.3
Best range: 369.1 miles
Current odometer: 22,880 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"The Tacoma was just not as good a road-tripper as I thought it might be. Over 1,240 miles, the six-cylinder engine and six-speed transmission weren't a good match for all the mountain grades and passes. The combination gets you there, sure. But it makes a heck of a racket doing so, mostly because the V6 lacks the low-end grunt to do it gracefully." — Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
"We wanted the Tacoma for its four-wheel drive to get us up the snowy grades without needing to put chains on the tires. And it did that just fine. 4WD systems have come a long way, from exiting the cabin to lock the hubs on your Bronco to simply turning a dial to 4WD High like you can in the Tacoma." — Dan Frio
"The brakes on this thing ... ugh. Every time I get back in, it feels like I'm relearning how to drive. When the linings are cold at low speeds, braking goes from 2 percent to 90 percent with seemingly nothing in between, and whatever was on the front seat is now in the footwell. Also, the brake pedal sounds squishy, like air leaking out of a bicycle pump." — Jonathan Elfalan, Senior Road Test Editor
Audio & Technology
"It took me a while to figure out what was going on with the backup camera, but after I got out of the truck and took a look at it, everything made sense. While most cameras, no matter where they're located, are flush with the body, the Taco's camera protrudes from the top of the tailgate, angles down and is off-center. It's a more commanding view of the rear bumper, and once you understand the angle, you can stuff the Tacoma just about anywhere you like with a good deal of confidence. Only the brakes make parallel parking difficult. Ugh, those brakes." [Yes, the second editor this month to say "ugh" — Ed.] — Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor
"I thought the Tacoma would be fine for four or even five of us. Two dads up front, two or three girls in the back for a nine-hour drive. What could go wrong? Turns out my daughter's friend couldn't make it and that was just as well. Though we would've loved the company, the Tacoma had just enough room for the two of us after all our bags, pillows, blankets, jackets and snacks were loaded. My kid had space to lie down in the backseat when she needed to, and I had a passenger seat piled with duffels, a backpack and beef jerky." — Dan Frio