2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Access Cab V6 – quick drive

2016 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Access Cab V6

2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Access Cab V6

I’ve occasionally fantasized about owning a pickup truck or some kind of expedition-style SUV.  Two of the vehicles I’ve daydreamed about owning are the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck (sold outside of North America as the Hilux) and the Land Cruiser.  Both vehicles have earned world wide reputations for being bulletproof, almost indestructible.

Watch an international news story from Africa, Asia or the Middle East and chances are you’ll see the Hilux and Land Cruiser somewhere in the background, ferrying locals, UN staff or military personnel.

Full disclosure – I am NOT a truck guy, despite living in Pickup Truck Country – Alberta.  Apart from the fantasies mentioned above, at heart, I’m a sports car guy.  Give me a quick, light, powerful car any time before handing me the keys to pickup truck.

Still, the Tacoma has some appeal.  And I make no bones about wanting to test Toyota’s newest iteration of their mid-size pickup exactly at the same time a pile of ‘stuff’ had accumulated at our residence that needed hauling to our local recycling centre.  What a coincidence.

Pricing

Our test unit was a 2016 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 Access Cab V6 with 6-speed automatic transmission, with a base MSRP of $35,425.  The TRD Offroad Package adds another $2,475 and includes a long list of extras for serious off road use:  4 wheel Crawl Control, rear differential lock, skid plates for the gas tank/transfer case, trailer sway control, front and rear Bilstein shocks, larger 265/R70-16 all terrain tires, automatic climate control, heated ‘sport’ seats, push button start, to name a few key items.  The chrome grille and black fender flares are design elements that also come with the TRD Offroad Package.

Freight and PDI add another $1,730, plus $100 for the federal AC excise tax.  The Grand Total is $39,730 (+GST) for an out-the-door price of $41,716.  Not chump change, for sure.

The Tacoma's box features standard liner, tie down loops and two handy storage boxes, one on each side of the box

The Tacoma’s box features standard liner, tie down loops and two handy storage boxes, one on each side of the box

Fuel economy

Natural Resources Canada’s official fuel economy rating  is 13.1/10.5 L/100 KM (City/Hwy).  Our Tacoma 4×4 returned a very respectable 13.0 L/100 km (regular unleaded) in mixed (70-percent highway/30-percent city) driving.

The Tacoma's rear jump seats are for children only. Any adult will have to splay their knees to either side of the front seat

The Tacoma’s rear jump seats are for children only. Any adult will have to splay their knees to either side of the front seat

Driving impressions

We tested the new Tacoma like the proverbial Urban Cowboy – on pavement  and using 2 Wheel High only.  We didn’t test the vehicle off road, nor did we test the truck in 4 wheel drive high or low.

Getting into the driver’s seat was problematic for me.  Even with the adjustable steering wheel in its highest position, sliding into the driver’s seat had the steering wheel foul my thighs.  The passenger side has a handy grab handle mounted on the inside of the A-pillar, so that helps entering and exiting from the curb side.

The Tacoma has a keyless entry and a convenient push to start button; I like these features.  The heated front cloth seats have 3 settings, Hi/Med/Lo and if turned on when the truck is shut off, stay on after the vehicle is restarted.  Great!

From a stand still, the Tacoma’s 3.5-litre V6 engine emits an unpleasant noise when accelerating.  To me, it sounds like cooling fan noise.  It’s a minor irritant.  Throttle tip-in is surprisingly fast.  It takes very little throttle movement to get the Tacoma rolling.  In fact, throttle tip in is  aggressive and feels like it would more calibrated for a sports car.  But one quickly becomes accustomed to it, and it’s only an issue for the first few minutes if you’re behind the wheel for the first time.

The ride is rough.  To be fair, this IS a truck, and perhaps the trucks stiff ride is partly due to the TRD Off Road package that features specially tuned Bilstein shocks.  For me, the ride is too unpleasant for daily use (and this coming from a 2015 Subary WRX daily driver, a car renown for its stiff suspension.)

The Tacoma is a purely utilitarian vehicle and makes no pretense at being ‘sporty.’  Handling is exactly what you’d expect from a pickup truck.  The Tacoma is built for hauling ‘stuff’, not a**.  The drill is to approach a corner, brake, brake, brake and slow the truck down so you can cruise ’round the corner at a pace that would make grandma smile, and trundle your way down the road.

On the highway, the Tacoma’s truck demeanour is undiminished.  It has a ‘bouncy’ ride (although Toyota claims the suspension has been softened compared to the previous generation of truck), and we detected noticeable wind noise coming from the rear of the cabin.

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Rear jump seats

The Access Cab features ‘half’ doors that open in the reverse direction of ‘normal’ doors.  These are often referred to as ‘suicide doors’ and allow access to the 2 jump seats behind the two front seats.  Make no mistake, these rear, jump seats are suitable only for children, or in an emergency, for adults to ride perhaps for five minutes.  I’m 5’7″ and with the driver’s seat correctly adjusted for me and then hopping into the rear jump seat to test leg room, there’s not enough space for my legs.  I have to splay my knees around the sides of the front seat.

Overall

I’m just not a truck guy.  But I can see the appeal of the Tacoma pickup.  It possesses Toyota’s legendary record of reliability, is undoubtedly sturdy and certainly has a comfortable cab if you can acclimatize yourself to the truck ride.  If (and that’s a big ‘if’) I had to own a pickup truck, the Tacoma would absolutely be on my shortlist.  As a company, Toyota is one of those manufacturers that can do little wrong.

Likes

  • V6 engine has plenty of torque
  • Legendary Toyota build quality and expected reliability
  • Mid-size pickup is better for daily driving in urban use than full size pickups

Dislikes

  • Handles, well, like a truck
  • Steering wheel fouls legs when entering driver’s side
  • Rough ride (perhaps due to optional TRD Package?)
  • Rear jump seats for kids only

 

 

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