2016 Toyota Tacoma: Monthly Update for November 2016
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
With the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and the LA Auto Show happening around the same time, I spent two straight weeks in our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma. We're often limited to evaluating a vehicle on our comprehensive 120-mile test loop or driving it to and from the test track, so this was exceptional. I treated the Tacoma like I owned it.
Dan Edmunds also put in some seat time, taking the Tacoma up and over a mountain (more on that in an upcoming post), but I had the full spectrum of Tacoma experiences. I got stuck in gridlock traffic, roamed empty highways to see family and even got the chance to take it to my local off-road park. Here are the impressions from the entire month.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The Tacoma traveled 1,440 miles during the month of November and recorded a new best range of 369.1 miles on one tank of gas. That fill-up required 18.96 gallons of 87 octane, which meant it got 19.5 miles per gallon. That's pretty disappointing considering the Tacoma's EPA city estimate is 19 mpg and most of those miles were open highway, but there were some significant changes in elevation that likely played a role. However, after 11 months, our lifetime average is still sitting below the city estimate, let alone combined or highway.
Average lifetime mpg: 18.3 mpg
EPA mpg rating: 21 mpg combined (19 city/24 highway)
Best fill mpg: 21.3 mpg
Best range: 369.1 miles
Current odometer: 17,259 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"This is the truck I would choose if I were in the market for a truck while living in L.A. It has its negatives, but it also has a bunch of positives. Something I noticed in traffic the other night was the fact that the Tacoma is nearly the same size as an older model and body-style Toyota Tundra. It's easy to drive, rides at a perfect height, and completes most any task you ask of it." — Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant
"The Tacoma will face a whole new level of competition once the new Chevy Colorado ZR2 comes out. The ZR2 (freshly revealed at the LA Auto Show) looks to be a real-deal off-road truck in a space that was solely occupied by the Tacoma in the past. Sure, our long-term Colorado Z71 had some dirt-road capability, but that front air dam was a huge disappointment. Remember when Dan Edmunds pulled out his RTI ramp to measure suspension articulation? The front air dam was so low that the truck couldn't even make it onto the ramp. If early photos and spec sheets are any indication, this ZR2 will be a much better competitor for the likes of our TRD Tacoma. Game on." — Travis Langness, Automotive Editor
"About an hour north of West Los Angeles, Rowher Flats is my local spot for a bit of fire road action. When we've got a truck or a Jeep in the fleet that boasts some off-road chops, I like to take it there. There are more serious courses for ATVs and dirt bikes, but I mostly stick to the more wide-open, non-single-track stuff. And when rain hit L.A. over the weekend (the first real rain in months), I was practically required to take our long-term Tacoma there.
"The rain did more damage than I had anticipated though, making some of the actual off-road areas/courses pretty treacherous. I didn't have a passenger to guide me through the muck, nor did I have any signal on the cellphone in case I got stuck. When I saw an abandoned last-century Tacoma stuck in the mud with a snapped axle, I took it as a sign to stay out of the tough stuff.
"Even so, there were a few moments of true off-roading that required four-low. There were dips, hills, and even a few massive mud-puddles to go splashing through. By the end of the day, it was the splattered mess you see here. Exactly what a truck like this should look like." — Travis Langness
"Toyota's audio interface is definitely a weak link for the Tacoma. There are few actual buttons (most everything you do is through the touchscreen), and that makes changing the radio station while driving a bit of a hassle. Also, the volume and tuning knobs have very little tactile feedback. They're slick plastic, hard to grip and small. Not a good combination. The sound quality is OK, and the volume levels are decent for windows-up rocking-out, but I'd consider replacing this system altogether with something aftermarket if I bought a Tacoma." — Travis Langness
"On the highway, this is definitely still a truck. The seats are stiff, the tires make a lot of noise, and the body bounces quite a bit. I almost want to load up the bed with a bunch of sandbags just to get a better ride out of the Tacoma, even if it grenades the fuel economy. This is one thing our old long-term Colorado had that the Tacoma doesn't: a highway ride I could live with." — Travis Langness, Automotive Editor