Reviewed: 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

The Tacoma has been around since the mid-90s, evolving from a utilitarian compact truck to a larger, more substantial hauler that can tow, carry a bed full of cargo, and move passengers with comfort and tech in the cabin.

Tacoma has been a dependable hauler for decades,  allowing it to be rated one of the vehicles vehicles for value retention.

Fuel economy averaged 21 mpg on the highway, a little below the 23 mpg EPA rating but that did include some city driving, which means it exceeded the combined rating of 20 mpg. Power output of the 3.5L V6 and six-speed auto gearbox feels adequate in the default driving mode, albeit a bit sluggish at times because of the focus on improving fuel economy.

A quick read of some Tacoma forums directs us to the ECT PWR button on the center console. ECT stands for Electronically Controlled Transmission, and with a tap of the the button, alerts engine response by modifying shift points. The transmission was not as eager to shift to a higher gear and much better at accelerating from a stop.

Don’t be fooled by the Sport nomenclature in the Tacoma’s name. There’s nothing sporty handling-wise in this truck, but we do prefer the butcher TRD Sport looks over other trim levels. The exterior is all masculinity and Tonka-like, with LED daytime running lights and the Tacoma name embossed in the easy-open tailgate.

Inside, the cabin is utilitarian, durable and comfortable. There’s plenty of room for five in our double cab model. Interior designers cut out lots of nooks for stuff and the cupholders are oversized to hold large drinks.

All switchgear feels substantial except for the infotainment systems’. They’re a piano black finish and tied to the systems touch-sensitive buttons which don’t lend themselves to smooth operation when wearing gloves, moving or have anything but perfectly clean, dry hands. We’d like to see Toyota swap out the Lexus-like controls for something more rugged, like knurled knobs that protrude further out and screen buttons that are tactile.

That’s truly nitpicking, as we couldn’t find one other flaw with the truck’s cabin.

Dual-zone auto climate control, smart key with push-button start, heated cloth seats, a backup camera, rear sonar system and blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert make the Tacoma one of the easiest trucks to maneuver in a parking lot or down the highway.  Really unique items to this segment include a Qi wireless charging pad ahead of the shifter that charged our phones up quickly and a GoPro mount at the top of the windshield for recording any adventures (or crazy drivers).

Tacoma engineers added more useful features like a 120V outlet in the truck bed, a locking hard tri-fold cover that seals out the elements when needed and folders out of the way when taller items have to fit and trailer sway control for those days when you have to tow.

Overall, it’s hard to find a fault with a truck that’s been finessed with each generation to be better at doing what people buy it for. It’s more comfortable than the last, more efficient and now safer thanks to technologies like rear cross-traffic alert. The stellar reliability and resale value that the Tacoma is known for are the two cherries on top.

Make: Toyota
Model: Tacoma
Trim Level: TRD Sport
Engine: 3.5L 6-Cylinder
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Observed Fuel Economy: 21 MPG (mixed driving)
Available Packages: Premium & Tech Pckg, V6 Towing Pckg
Base Price: $33,730
As-Tested Price: $38,290


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