The Test: The 2016 Tacoma is undoubtedly superior in every way to its 2015 predecessor—no small feat considering last year’s model outsold every rival two to one. The new 3.5-liter V-6 is smaller but delivers 42 more horsepower (for a total of 278), and it’s mated to a smoother six-speed transmission that never had to hunt for the right gear when we were creeping up a pass in the shadow of Washington’s Mount Rainier.
The Tacoma boasts features like Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control: choose the surface (mud, sand, or rock), dial in the speed (up to three miles per hour), and steer. The traction mode for each type of terrain is calibrated to allow just enough wheel spin to keep you going forward without any fishtailing drama. We tried it on a barely hikeable Class 4 rock scramble, and the Tacoma easily clambered up.
Also, Toyota significantly refined the interior with better-grade plastics and fabrics that feel less utilitarian, added a GoPro mount, and made the entire truck more aerodynamic for less wind roar.
The Verdict: A stem-to-stern reboot that was well worth the wait.
$30,765; 19 mpg city/24 hwy