2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4×4 Quick Review
Critics' Notebook takeaway: Want a truck, but don't need a huge one? Toyota's got you covered.
Maybe you want a truck, but the thought of driving around in a giant rig doesn't appeal to you. You need something with some hauling capability but a more parking lot-friendly size; something not too big, but not too small.
Toyota's got you covered in that department, as it has for years. Although the current generation of Tacoma is much larger than the original Toyota pickup, it still hasn't swollen to the gargantuan proportions of the modern full-size truck. As a result, it's lighter on the muscle side—you can't carry or tow as much—but for those of us who aren't general contractors the Tacoma can do plenty, and within the confines of almost any tight parking lot or side street you're likely to encounter.
The Tacoma TRD 4x4 we tried came equipped with the crew cab layout, a must if you plan on accommodating more than one other passenger, and a novel, locking hard tonneau cover for the bed. The cargo capacity was small but I managed to secure a couple of 8-foot-long steel shelves back there without too much trouble. With several tie-down loops to choose from, a washing machine or other home appliance could be transported with ease.
The dash layout and interior materials look much like what you'd encounter in a Corolla: spartan but well-made. One look out the windshield, past the hood's triple bulges (from the driver's seat those three lumps appear to pile up on the hood like the waves of a storm surge), and it's clear that this version of the Tacoma is no small car. It has plenty of ground clearance—equally ideal for a trip down your favorite unpaved road or your least favorite potholed Brooklyn war zone—and the ride quality is smooth.
Fuel economy was okay. I averaged around 20 miles per gallon in town—and speaking of "around town," the truck was as comfortable to drive in tight city spaces as it was on the open highway. One glaring difference between this and almost all other trucks save GM's mid-size Colorado/Canyon twins is the lack of a massive grille. The hood bulges are one thing, but not having to look at a glaring, masculinity-reinforcing maw all the time is rather refreshing.
Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4
Price (as tested): $38,290
Powertrain: 3.5-liter V6; 276 hp, 265 lb-ft torque; 4WD; 6-speed auto
MPG: 18 city / 23 highway
Goldilocks Size-o-Meter: Just right
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