2016 Toyota Tacoma: More Refinement, Power, MPGs and Capability [Video Review]

2016 toyota tacoma trd sport review seattle grille hood
2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

Trucks generally do not get fully redesigned very often. This is the case with the Toyota Tacoma, as the 2016 model represents the model’s third generation and comes 11 years after the second generation came to market. This is a big deal.

Many of you have asked whether the 2016 Tacoma is really all-new. TFLtruck spent a full day with Toyota engineers and designers to get the details. Turns out – Toyota evaluated and improved every aspect of the truck.


The new truck continues to use Toyota’s triple-tech frame design, but it has been reinforced with high-strength steel. The front section of the frame is fully boxed to provide a solid platform for crash protection, engine, and suspension mounting. The middle of the frame is reinforced C-channel to cut down on some weight. And the rear of the frame is an open C-channel to help with suspension articulation.

There are two engine choices. The 2.7-liter four cylinder with VVT-i produces 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm. It is available with either a 5-speed manual transmission or the new 6-speed automatic. The output is the same as with the 2015 four-cylinder, although maximum torque is achieved 200 rpm later (2015 engine has 180 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm). The 5-speed manual is a carryover, but the 6-speed automatic is all-new.

The all-new 3.5-liter V6 with D-4S and Atkinson cycle is one smart engine. It’s a forward looking design that keeps in minds the emissions and efficiency standards several years into the future. It puts out 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm. It makes 42 more horsepower, but one lb-ft less than the outgoing 4.0-liter V6. Maximum torque arrives 600 rpm higher on the counter.

It’s interesting that Toyota decided not to challenge the Chevy Colorado and the GMC Canyon in the horsepower/torque and MPG wars. Instead, the new Tacoma was focused on overall refinement and off-road performance.

On paper, the new Tacoma has less power and fewer MPGs than the GM twins. Transmission, transfer case, and rear-end gear ratios are the ticket for real-world performance, and TFLtruck will do a thorough evaluation and comparison later on.


The 2016 Tacoma will offer a choice of 8-inch or 8.75-inch rear differentials. The 8-inch diff is packed with 3.90 rear axle ratio, and the 8.75-inch holds a 4.30 rear-end.

Toyota says that it still cannot make a viable business case to offer a turbo-diesel option in the United States, hence the two gasoline powerplants.

Horsepower Torque Transmission Drive MPG
2.7-liter I4 159 180 6-speed Auto 4×2 19/23/21
2.7-liter I4 159 180 5-speed Man 4×4 19/21/20
2.7-liter I4 159 180 6-speed Man 4×4 19/22/20
3.5-liter V6 278 265 6-speed Auto 4×2 19/24/21
3.5-liter V6 278 265 6-speed Man 4×4 17/21/19
3.5-liter V6 278 265 6-speed Auto 4×4 18/23/20

For comparison, a 2015 Tacoma with the 4.0-liter V6 236 hp, 266 lb-ft of torque, 4×2 was rated at 17/21/19. Toyota was able to grab two MPG more in the city, three MPG more on the highway, and two more MPG combined.


Toyota spent a huge amount of effort and energy to come up with a new and more aerodynamic body design. The hood sits higher and combines with a specially designed front bumper to meet upcoming pedestrian crash protection regulations. The belt-line has been raised about an inch, which also approximately matches the increase in bed depth. Basically, all of the sheet-metal is new. The cabin structure now features ultra-high-strength steel to reduce weight and increase rigidity.


The interior of the 2016 Tacoma sees a major upgrade. All new layout, design, and materials make for a modern environment. Entune Audio Plus with a 6.1-inch touch screen is available. The driver seating position is still low, but there is more hip and shoulder room in the new truck.

All the new goodies come at a price. The 2016 Tacoma Access Cab 2.7-liter SR 4×2 with the 6-speed automatic starts at $23,300.  For comparison, the 2015 Access Cab 2.7-liter SR 4×2 with the 4-speed automatic listed at $21,865. All prices exclude destination charges. This is an increase of $1,435.

The 2016 Tacoma will start arriving at dealerships on Sep 10th, 2015.

There are so many new details that it’s difficult to cover. Check out these technical documents for the gory details.

Tacoma Technical Specs

Tacoma Information

Tacoma Press Release and Pricing

Watch this TFLtruck first drive review of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.

TFLtruck also has the off-road, everything you wanted to know interview, and 2015 vs. 2016 Tacoma comparison videos coming.


Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, reporter, and software engineer. He has been a contributor at TFL since 2011.