Toyota Tacoma review: Off-road model has got some tricks up its sleeve

Multi-terrain selector, ‘crawl control’ help make the TRD Off-Road edition one of the most trail-capable pickups of any size

The redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma goes on sale later in September.

Jil McIntosh/For Metro

The redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma goes on sale later in September.

For those of us who love trucks, it’s always exciting to get behind the wheel of a new model. That was the case recently with the redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma, which I drove not just on-road, but on a punishing off-road course, too.

While its pavement performance rates about the same as with the outgoing Tacoma, Toyota has stuffed the available TRD Off-Road edition with features that make it one of the most trail-capable pickups of any size.

A 2.7-litre four-cylinder is carried over, while the 3.5-litre V6 is all-new. It uses technology that automatically adjusts the fuel delivery and engine performance to improve fuel economy, depending on the power needed, and is available with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.

As before, the Tacoma comes as an Access Cab with rear-hinged back doors, or as a Double Cab with four regular doors, and in two- or four-wheel drive.

The redesigned cabin looks more upscale than before, but unfortunately the seating position hasn’t changed. The seats are still set low on a high floor, and my leg gets cramped because I’m forced to sit with my knee too straight.

The off-road model’s tricks include a multi-terrain selector to dial in the best automatic settings for snow, mud, sand or rocks, and a “crawl control” feature that works like low-speed cruise control. Once it’s set, all you have to do is steer while the Tacoma pulls itself up or down the steepest hills. And if you want to prove it to your friends, a GoPro camera mount on the windshield is standard equipment on all models.

Towing capacity increases to 6,500 lbs. (2,548 kg), but Toyota says that smaller trucks are usually used more for hauling, and so payload rises to 1,620 lbs. (735 kg), and the tailgate has been reinforced to better handle ATVs and dirt bikes.

The new truck goes on sale later this month.

The checklist: 2016 Toyota Tacoma

Type. Four-door, five-passenger compact pickup truck
Engine (hp/torque). 2.7-litre four-cylinder (159/180); 3.5-litre V6 (278/265)
Transmissions. 5-speed manual (I4); 6-speed manual (V6); 6-speed automatic
Price. TBA

• Standard fog lamps and heated mirrors
• GoPro windshield mount
• Qi wireless smartphone charging
• Available sunroof
• Locking and damped tailgate
• Available blind spot monitoring and cross-traffic alert
• Composite cargo bed

• The V6’s fuel-saving technology is also used on some Lexus models.
• The off-road package has an impressive approach angle of 32.1 degrees to handle rough terrain.
• New noise-suppressing features result in an extremely quiet cabin.
• The new frame is designed so that existing aftermarket accessories designed for the outgoing truck will still fit.
• A backup camera, and driver and passenger knee airbags, are standard on all models.

While the full-size pickup segment is the most popular, compact and midsize trucks still take a slice of the market. Toyota’s biggest concern is GM’s new trucks, and this update, along with the improved off-road capability, should keep the Tacoma in the running.

More on