by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma has been in our fleet for some time now, but we're still finding it pretty useful and, therefore, using it a lot. This month, we added well over 3,000 miles to the odometer, most of which were acquired during a trip to Portland, Oregon, to pick up a motorcycle and a shorter, unladen road trip to and from San Diego.
by Jason Kavanagh, Senior Road Test Engineer
Where Did We Drive It?
Our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma's voyage in Death Valley and subsequent suspension issues happened several weeks ago. But due to the lead time of video production, you're only hearing about them now. In the meantime we had to keep a lid on the trek, so as not to spoil the surprise. So while the Death Valley trip is technically old news, we're going to make it official in this month's update.
For more insights into why the Tacoma's shocks went limp so readily, our own Dan Edmunds shared his thoughts here. Suffice it to say that you will probably learn something you didn't already know.
That's not all. Our Tacoma spent a portion of July with an editor who lives in a faraway land called Fresno, otherwise known as the farming capital of Central California. It also went for a hike in some local mountains, where it once again was subjected to the rigors of off-road use. Nothing as severe as Death Valley, but what is?
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
The fact we blew out both rear Bilstein shocks on our 2016 Toyota Tacoma has created a lot of consternation among pickup enthusiasts in general and the Tacoma community in particular. Among other things, the refrain "Bilsteins are crap!" is something I've been reading and hearing.
Not so fast. I'm not jumping on the "Blame Bilstein" bandwagon, even though I was as surprised as anyone else as our own shocks sat there smoldering in Death Valley. There's more to the story than what you've seen and read so far, and after thinking it through I've got a good grasp of what happened.
And I know more than a little something of the backstory. After all, I was the engineer at the proving ground who was responsible for tuning the suspension of the very first TRD Off-Road Tacoma when I worked at Toyota in the 1990s. No, really. It was me.
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 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.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
Where Did We Drive It?
Our one-year test of our 2016 Toyota Tacoma is nearing its end. Yet December was one of our truck's busiest months thanks to a few road trips. Editor Cameron Rogers drove from Southern California to Las Vegas and back, and I loaded up the Tacoma for 1,000 miles' worth of holiday-related driving. Want to know what happens when you put a family of five in a Tacoma, pack the bed full of presents and luggage, and then drive hundreds of miles ... in the rain? Fun times, let me tell you. We also posted Dan Edmunds' full report on using the Tacoma to its fullest off-roading potential this month.
Specific highlights and commentary from the 2,500 miles we put on our Tacoma this month follow.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing
Where Did We Drive It?
Ever been to Joshua Tree National Park? Travis Langness drove our 2016 Toyota Tacoma there this month. It's a relatively short freeway drive with the crowded bustle of the L.A. basin on one end and desert camping and rock climbing on the other. You can get there and back on one tank of gas. The Tacoma works well for this sort of duty, with plenty of bed space for dusty gear and enough underbody clearance to get you most anywhere on the desert's network of washboard roads.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on October 25, 2016
We've had our 2016 Toyota Tacoma in our test fleet for about nine months now. That's ample time to figure out a truck's strengths and weaknesses. We've also introduced another pickup to our fleet recently: a 2016 Nissan Titan XD (a.k.a. King Banana).
The combined seat time has given me greater clarity as to why I think a shopper looking at trucks would want a Tacoma.
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.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on August 25, 2016
I know it's there, but I keep forgetting about it. Our 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup has a factory-installed Go-Pro mount bonded to the top edge of the windshield. It's easy to overlook because this unobtrusive bit of plastic is positioned high up on the glass where it's out of sight, out of mind.
It's just a clip, the receptacle half of a standard Go-Pro mount, the part you would stick to your motorcycle or bicycle helmet. The camera and the mating half of the buckle-style snap are not included, of course, but anyone who owns a Go-Pro has those.
Count me in that group.
by Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor on July 21, 2016
When work dictated that I bring our 2016 Toyota Tacoma to the High Desert, north of Mojave, I did not argue. I'd been wanting to sample our Tacoma in a more appropriate environment ever since it showed up in our garage. And because I could, I strapped my 1976 Yamaha DT400 into the bed and took it along for the ride.
By the end of the day, I'd learned that one of these things has good low-end grunt and is light on its feet but generally awful, while the other is a little high-strung and unsurprisingly capable but has terrible brakes.
Place your bets.
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 James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on June 6, 2016
Despite a decade in the biz, I haven't exactly spent a lot of it off road. Perhaps it's because I don't like driving slowly, perhaps it's because I don't like getting dirty. Either way, getting a chance to take a 2016 Toyota Tacoma off road is a worthwhile experience, as unlike other trucks, its modus operandi seems to be venturing beyond where the pavement runs out. This is especially true of our TRD Off-Road trim level (shared with the test truck I also drove above) that benefits from a variety of features supposedly designed to help out experts and novices alike.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on May 26, 2016
A couple of the new trees in my front yard are growing quickly, and I needed to re-stake them. So I pointed our 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup toward the nearest Home Depot for a pair of tree stakes.
The rack they were stacked on said they were 8 feet long, which I should have expected, but didn't. Our crew cab Tacoma rides on the standard wheelbase, which means it has a 5-foot bed — 60.5 inches, if you want to split hairs. My new stakes were destined to hang out more than 2 feet.
I first loaded them in straight. It could have worked, but I wasn't a fan. Then I put them in diagonally, which was better from a hanging-out-the-back standpoint but introduced a side overhang that had the potential to snag a lane-splitting motorcyclist.
Then I had a third idea, but it wasn't perfect, either. I went with it anyway.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on May 24, 2016
It isn't perfect, but I generally like the EnTune touchscreen audio system in our 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup. It's clearly better than the touchscreen systems that the Honda Pilot and Civic use, and one of the main reasons boils down to a feature that the Honda systems lack: physical volume and tune knobs.
But Toyota's knobs are smallish, a bit slippery and — worst of all — they don't project far enough away from the touch-sensitive radio faceplate. In the course of using them your fingers skim the surface of the radio, which often leads to false contact with nearby touch-sensitive areas — especially when a moving car is jostling around. On the volume side, you might accidentally trip the number-six preset. On the tuning side, you'll trigger the fader and balance sub-menu.
This weekend I had an idea that's more of a proof-of-concept design change proposal than a permanent solution. It's a suggestion I'd give to the Toyota radio design team if I ever got five minutes of their time. And there's much to be gained because this is not just a Tacoma issue. Our Prius and Mirai have the same knobs, along with every single current Toyota that's fitted with the EnTune touchscreen audio system.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on April 8, 2016
I drove our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma for the first time over the weekend. Immediately, I felt like a first-time driver again.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on April 6, 2016
The handsome gray pickup was also tasked with considerable road time, racking up some 2,455 miles over the month.
In short, it was a month of highs and lows.
by Josh Sadlier, Senior Editor on April 4, 2016
Sedona, as you are likely aware, is more than just a current member of the Edmunds long-term fleet. It's also a town in Arizona, one that incidentally was named after the wife of its first postmaster, a man called Theodore Carlton Schnebly. My wife and I went there for vacation last week, accompanied by the long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma. We left town as auspiciously as possible, taking rock-strewn Schnebly Hill Road (pictured above) to Interstate 17, and found ourselves bursting with impressions when all was said and done.
Here are three that stood out (plus bonus off-road video action!).
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 10, 2016
Here's the setup: You're going to buy a new vehicle. You want something that can stomp around in the wilderness for recreation (hiking, camping/fishing, off-roading). But this will also be your daily-driver.
Ideally it's also versatile as well as easy and comfortable to drive.
What's the best new vehicle to get? Would it be a 2016 Toyota Tacoma?
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 8, 2016
Toyota introduced keyless ignition and entry (Toyota's "Smart Key") as a new feature for the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. The good news: it's pretty easy to get on a Tacoma. If you pick the midgrade TRD (Sport or Off-Road) or top level Limited, you get it as standard equipment.
The bad news: "entry" only works on one door.
by Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor on March 2, 2016
Want versus need. Keep an eye on what's out on the road and it's immediately obvious that full-size trucks rule the sales charts. And considering that for the price of a new 2016 Toyota Tacoma you can often get within budget range of a discounted or rebated new full-size pickup, going for "more" of what you want certainly makes a lot of sense.
At the same time, you can also make an argument for just getting what you need.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on February 10, 2016
One of the things that irked me about our 2015 Chevrolet Colorado was the simplistic way its 60/40 rear seat folded. The seatback simply folded down on top of the seat bottom, leaving a slanting surface that was a fair ways up from the ground. The seat bottoms flipped up to reveal a hidden bin, but the available space was laughably small.
I had forgotten most of this until I drove our 2016 Toyota Tacoma to a local store to pick up a few groceries. The Tacoma's rear seat folding strategy differs from that of the Colorado, and it's a difference that makes a difference.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on February 4, 2016
The thing about off-road potential is that you can often simply look at a vehicle, or study certain fundamental specifications, and size it up pretty accurately. Ground clearance is a good one, along with the clearance angle triplets: Approach, departure and breakover. Tire size and the general knobbiness of the tread pattern are plain to see, of course. Gearing is invisible to the casual observer, but you can readily look it up.
One of the things you cannot see or easily look up is Ramp Travel Index, a measure of the maximum articulation of a given suspension. We had the same problem, so we built a 20-degree test ramp of our own. It was only a matter of time before we pointed our 2016 Toyota Tacoma up the ramp.
We did the same with our 2015 Chevrolet Colorado soon after we bought it last year - or tried to. But the Colorado scored a zero because its comically low and unexpectedly rigid chin spoiler frustrated our attempts to even drive up the 20-degree RTI ramp in the first place.
The story is quite different when it comes to the new Tacoma.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on February 1, 2016
Although there have been various versions of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma in the office over the last few months, I never managed to get behind the wheel. This weekend, I got my first chance to get acquainted with our new long-term Tacoma. Here's what I found:
by James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on January 28, 2016
I got my first taste of our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma, so I set up my iPhone holder and pressed record. Vlog time!
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 26, 2016
My head moved as if on a swivel as I wheeled our 2016 Toyota Tacoma into the parking lot of my local Costco and scanned for the nearest open spot. As luck would have it, the first and best one I saw was alongside my truck's doppelganger.
Crew cab? Check. Magnetic Gray Metallic paint? Uh-huh. 3.5-liter V6? Present. Optional 2-inch receiver hitch? Ditto. Brand-spanking new with temporary tags and no license plate? Yes, even that, too.
TRD Off-Road? Hang on a second. That one's a TRD Sport.
Together they represent at least 40 percent of Tacoma sales. The two are identically-equipped as far as interior trimmings go. And they cost exactly the same when the cab, engine, transmission and drive-type selections match. The differences boil down to things we can see here in the parking lot — mostly.
The rear bumper end caps jump out immediately. They're chrome on our TRD Off-Road and painted body-color on the Sport. The fender flare difference is subtle, owing to the particular color of these trucks. They again match the body color on the Sport, but a TRD Off-Road wears textured and unpainted black ones that are more resistant to stone chips and better at concealing the "desert stripe" you get from driving on narrow brush-covered trails.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on January 22, 2016
That didn't take long. I headed for the local mountains the very first weekend I got my mitts on the keys to our brand new 2016 Toyota Tacoma. And it was good.
No, it was excellent.
I'm talking about the TRD Off-Road suspension, which impressed me more than it had during my drive at last summer's launch event near Seattle. Here on my rougher local terrain, it was even better than expected at smoothing out awkward bumps and the sort of rough cross-grain erosion grooves you get on forest service fire roads that haven't seen a grader for a few seasons.
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.