by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
Our late-spring trip to the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley had been gnawing at me. We built the trip around the idea of finding the limits of the Honda Ridgeline, but our 2016 Toyota Tacoma, which accompanied in a supporting role, became the focus after its rear shocks failed unexpectedly.
In the intervening months, I'd spoken with people with more miles logged on those Death Valley backroads than me. Few were terribly surprised about the Tacoma's performance en route to the Racetrack. If anything, the Ridgeline's comparative, and admittedly partial, victory surprised them more.
That particular road is notorious in the backcountry "overlanding" community precisely because its unrelenting washboard surface wreaks havoc on shock absorbers. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road is a popular truck among this group, and upgrading the dampers is one of the first upgrades on many owners' list.
I can totally see why.
The dinky 36 mm Bilstein shocks that Toyota fits to its off-road package are the smallest that the shock manufacturer makes. (The measurement refers to the diameter of the piston inside the shock absorber.) Hunt around in Bilstein's consumer catalog for a replacement shock and you won't find anything smaller than 46 mm.
I had a choice to make. I could take a minimal approach and go with Bilstein 46 mm replacement shocks all around, which would probably prevent a repeat of the same scenario. Or I could take a more definitive step forward and choose something bigger, more transformative, and better suited to more regular excursions in washboard terrain.
by Brent Romans, Senior Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
We've kept our 2016 Toyota Tacoma in our long-term fleet for a year and a half now even though we typically just test for one year and 20,000 miles. While that means we've covered just about everything in prior updates, we are getting extra opportunity to evaluate our Tacoma from a maintenance and wear-and-tear standpoint.
We cleared 30,000 miles in June and had to take the Tacoma in for a scheduled service. It was our truck's first service not covered by Toyota's ToyotaCare free maintenance program since that program ends after 25,000 miles. I've also got reporting on how our Tacoma's tires are holding up.
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor
There's a big sticker on both sides of the bed of our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma. It says "TRD 4x4 OFF ROAD" in bold letters. It's impossible to miss, mounted high up on the bed. Yet, after just 6 miles on a washboard road in the desert, the high-performance Bilstein shocks on the rear of our Taco truck were toast. Oops.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
This month our 2016 Toyota Tacoma spent more of its time in town instead of out on the trail. That means plenty of tight traffic and even tighter parking spots, both of which highlighted the Tacoma's advantages over full-size trucks.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on August 29, 2016
Not that it ever rains here much. But there are those times that you've got a bit too much grime buildup or some morning dew. Our 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup had a bit of each one recent morning, but all I got was a big smear when I triggered the wiper/washer function. I tried cleaning the blades off, but they were toast.
Toyota uses the fairly common J-hook style of blade mount, so they go on and off rather easily. The driver's side blade is longer than the passenger side one, and the guy behind the counter at Autozone said I needed 22- and 21-inch blades. I took him at his word and bought a pair.
That was a mistake.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on July 15, 2016
I carpooled home with Dan Frio yesterday. He drove us to his house at which point I left to take our 2016 Toyota Tacoma back to my place. Shortly after we parted ways the fuel light came on, so I found the nearest gas station. I was 10 miles from Casa de Frio.
There was nothing remarkable about the fuel stop, yet. I shut off the truck, filled up, started the truck again and merged onto the freeway. My phone rang, "Hey, it's Dan. Is the truck still running? Don't turn it off. I just found the key in my pocket."
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on April 20, 2016
Our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma calls for its first service at 5,000 miles. It's a relatively simple service compared to some other vehicles in our fleet.
The maintenance log lists the following:
- - Check installation of the driver's floor mat
- - Inspect and adjust all fluid levels
- - Inspect wiper blades
- - Rotate tires
- - Visually inspect brake linings/drums and brake pads/discs
All in all, the tire rotation seems to be the most labor intensive service. Additional service is recommended if you drive frequently on dirt roads or dusty roads, tow often, or a few other situations that don't apply to our truck. No oil change is called for in the first service unless the truck idles extensively or is driven at low speeds in freezing weather.
With just the simple service, I hoped we could get the Tacoma in and out of the dealer in a few hours.
by Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor on January 14, 2016
The Toyota Tacoma has history. It's a workhorse with a reputation for reliability and durability that's known the world over. And it earned that reputation with the easygoing nature offered only in a smaller pickup. As midsize trucks go, it is the standard-bearer.
That reputation is one reason why the redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma isn't drastically different from the previous model. There's a new V6 and an improved six-speed automatic. The interior is updated to modern standards that were desperately lacking in the 11-year-old outgoing version. Dimensionally, however, the new truck is almost identical to the one it replaces. Its track width, wheelbase and suspension remain the same as before. It's still very much the same midsize truck it's always been.
That's a good thing in many ways, as we have always liked the Tacoma's rugged nature and considerable capabilities. Our initial drive of the redesigned model suggested that it was a slightly more high-tech version of the truck we already knew. We decided to find out if that was enough of a leap to keep it at the head of the class, so we bought a crew cab V6 of our own.