“Come say hello to my little friend,” but it won’t be a mobster’s rocket propelled machine gun you’ll be meeting, it’ll be the monstrous rocket-like propelled 2016 Toyota Tacoma. Boasting a front end that looks as though it’s been chiselled from granite, this all-new muscle machine promises to outperform, outmaneuver, outsmart and outmuscle just about everything in its class. An off-road vehicle that’s just as much as a joy to drive on it.
The States has been blessed with the presence of Toyota’s range of pick-up trucks since the sixties, but it’s been a whole decade since the Tacoma’s had an update. And boy, what an update it is. There is a pair of these beasts to choose from, the standard SR or TRD Sport models, both desert-racing inspired, split into five grades in both 4×2 and 4×4 configurations.
The already bold upper grille and raised muscular hood has been emboldened and raised some more for added attitude, while beyond sits a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or all-new segment-first 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle V6 complete with Toyota’s D-4S technology and boasting both direct and port fuel injection and fine fuel economy. This thing will move. Both engines are paired to six-speed automatic transmission, though a manual option is available for the V6.
The vehicle sports a high lift, rides on a choice of four wheel designs which range from 16 to 18 inches and comes equipped with high-tech headlamps with projection beams and available LED Daytime Running Lights. Opt for the TRD Off-Road with trim level and you’re rewarded with Toyota’s very cool Multi-Terrain Control system, one which automatically customizes throttle, transmission and traction control depending on the terrain upon which you’re driving.
Round back, its wide stance serves to emphasis its can-do credentials, while an integrated spoiler makes for a smoother drive. Continued is the double-wishbone front suspension with a stabilizer bar and leaf spring rear. The easy lowering tailgate eases your workload and for the first time this truck is available with a tri-fold hardcover to secure your gear while away.
And so we step inside. More sports car than pick-up truck décor, there’s a handlebar theme to suit driving purists, while the soft-wrapped trim is backed my metallic accents for a very high quality standard look. Available premium features include Qi wireless charging, Smart key with push-button start and leather-trimmed seats. Safety features include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, there’s a 4.2-inch color information display and we were especially taken with the powered moonroof. One of the biggest – and most pleasant surprises – taking into account the vehicle’s aggressive presence is its silence. Seals have been enhanced, a multi-layer acoustic windshield and sound-absorbing headliner added and even a silencer pad placed upon the floor. So although it heart beats like a raging beast, inside, at least, it’s as quiet as a mouse.