DETROIT, MI – Mid-size pickups are not hugely popular in Canada. Full-size models account for 95% of the Canadian pickup market with Ford, GM and Ram accounting for more than 90% of those.
The Toyota Tundra is a solid, but distant fourth with a big lead over the Nissan Titan, thanks to a 30% increase in sales of the full-size Toyota over the last year.
The weak spot in the Toyota truck lineup is the aging Tacoma, which has not seen a significant redesign or upgrade in a decade. Sales of the mid-size Tacoma were down 4% in 2014 in a segment that, surprisingly, was up more than 5%.
While the Tacoma still holds a commanding sales lead among mid-sizers (64% of the segment in 2014), Toyota can't afford to look in its rear-view mirror. GM recently entered the fray with a pair of new mid-size pickups as it and industry pundits predict the segment will continue to grow.
So it came as no surprise when Toyota unveiled the heavily redesigned 2016 Tacoma at the North American International Auto Show. Beefier looking and boasting new drivetrains, capability and technology the new Tacoma was designed and developed in America and is being produced in Texas and Baja, California.
The outgoing Tacoma had reached if not surpassed its “best by” date. The Canyon and Colorado may not be a big sales threat, but they have raised the bar. The new Tacoma brings Toyota back into the game
The design is new, but won't be mistaken for anything but a Toyota. The chassis is stiffer thanks to the use of high strength steel for the frame. Ultra high-strength and hot-stamped steel has been used for the body panels. Toyota says a multi-layer acoustic windshield and new seal designs will bring a considerable reduction in wind and road noise.
The locking tailgate has an easy-down feature and a hard, tri-fold tonneau cover will be available.
The interior has been seriously upgraded. Standard or available equipment will include wireless phone charging, push button start, leather seats, power moon roof, dual zone automatic climate control, touchscreen audio and blind spot monitoring with cross traffic alert
The base engine will be the 2.7-litre four-cylinder used in the current Tacoma. But the old V-6 has been dumped in favour of a new 3.5-litre version with port and direct injection, the ability to run on the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle under low loads and probably a great deal more than the 236-horsepower offered by the outgoing V-6.
Both engines can be paired with a choice of six-speed transmissions, automatic or manual. An entirely new multi-terrain selection system will let the driver set and forget according to surface conditions. It will work in harmony with a raft of electronic aids including automatic limited slip, locking differential, traction control, hill start assist and crawl control (low speed cruise control).
There will be four different wheels available ranging from 16-to-18 inches and the suspension has been updated to allow more wheel travel in the rough stuff and an improved ride on smoother surfaces.
The 2016 Toyota Tacoma will be available in four trim levels: SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Offroad and Limited