2016 Toyota Tacoma: Monthly Update for May 2017
by Will Kaufman, Associate Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Our Taco truck continues its road-trip streak with a drive to Colorado and back. Of course, it still handled some local commuter duty — such is the life of anything with wheels in the greater Los Angeles area. We also had a few first-time Tacoma drivers in May, and those fresh eyes reminded us that the Tacoma feels like an old truck. This was a rough month for the scrappy Toyota.
The Tacoma also went on a super-secret road trip to a place I cannot reveal to do things I cannot talk about, but we'll have a special feature coming soon. Keep your eyes peeled!
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The road trip to Colorado gave us our best mileage ever. We saw 25 mpg over one tank, handily smashing the Tacoma's 23 mpg highway rating and our own previous record of 21.5 mpg. This exceptional return came thanks to extended travel on two-lane roads with a 55-mph speed limit. Our average for the entire 2,019-mile trip was 20.6 mpg, which just beats the EPA estimated combined number of 20 mpg. Considering that most of those were freeway miles, this isn't a great turnout.
As Senior Manager of Content Strategy Josh Sadlier noted in last month's update, we've had a lot of trouble breaking that 20 mpg number with any consistency, even under optimal long-distance driving conditions. Part of the problem is that the engine works hard at the usual freeway traffic speed of 70 to 75 mph. In fact, after two months with lots of freeway driving and several record-setting tanks, our lifetime average has only gone up 0.2, to 18.6 mpg. It's just more evidence of how consistently the Tacoma has fallen below its promised returns.
Average lifetime mpg: 18.6
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25
Best range: 455.7 miles
Current odometer: 29,450 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"Most in-car mpg meters are liars. In almost every case the calculated value is 1 to 2 mpg worse than the meter reading. But I've refueled the Tacoma nine times in the course of driving it about 3,000 miles in the last two weeks, and the calculated mpg value of each tank was better than the readout in eight of nine tanks. The meter reading for the final tank read only 0.1 mpg higher than my calculated result, which counts as a tie in the context of onboard meters. In short, the Tacoma's onboard meter does not seem to be programmed to exaggerate." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing
"Our Tacoma drives and feels like a truck from 10 years ago. It's slow to accelerate, the engine sounds coarse and the brakes are way too grabby. I can see why people would want to pay a little more for a more refined full-size pickup truck." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor
"The steering wheel feels super heavy when making turns. Does it come with power steering? The braking system is super sensitive, and it takes a while to get used to. The on-road performance of this truck falls way short." — Sal Meda, imagery production specialist
"Driver-seat adjustments fail miserably, only allowing you to adjust forward and backward with no height control. For tall people this is a problem because your knees will rub against the lower portion of the steering wheel. Moving on to the backseats: Where's the legroom? At least the bed has plenty of strap-down hooks and loops for strapping down cargo." — Sal Meda
"Wow. This air-conditioner really pumps out some frosty air. It's only 85 out right now, but even in the high noon desert sun I find myself turning it way down. The outlet temperature at the vents is nice and chilly. It's a manual system, and that seems just fine with me. Auto systems never seem to satisfy anyone in full auto mode, so why bother?" — Dan Edmunds
"The windshield molding frequently makes a loud reed noise above 72 mph if there is also a distinct crosswind. It's the vertical molding where the windshield meets the front roof pillar, and it can be the driver side or the passenger side (but never both at once) depending on the direction of the crosswind. Such winds are usually gusty, so the reed noise only happens for a second or two. But it happens a lot here in Colorado and Oregon, where desert winds are common and freeway speeds are posted at either 75 or 80 mph.
"It made me wonder if we had had our windshield replaced, and the issue was due to bad aftermarket molding or a poor installation. I couldn't imagine this being normal factory performance, especially from Toyota, a company that normally checks that such things don't happen." — Dan Edmunds
"Odd. The trip meters, both A and B, spontaneously reset themselves when I stopped to buy some snacks. Wiped out the mpg meter reading for the tank, too. Odd. I've never experienced that with any vehicle ever before." — Dan Edmunds