After a decade of stagnation in the midsize truck market, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma will become the third new model in the segment, following the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The Tacoma's new styling starts with a larger, bolder grille than it had in 2015, and the front end is now blockier, with a more squared-off hood line. Buyers will be able to choose from four new wheel designs, ranging from 16 to 18 inches.

There have been changes under the new hood, too: the optional V6 is now a fuel-efficient 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine with both direct and port fuel injection. It is the first of its kind in the category, and appears to be related to the Atkinson-cycle engine that powers the Highlander Hybrid. The base engine, a 2.7-liter I4 is the same size as the current Tacoma's four-cylinder, however Toyota hasn't said whether that engine has changed for 2016. Both the I4 and V6 will be backed by a new 6-speed automatic transmission and a new 6-speed manual is also available with the V6.

Two cabs, five trim levels

The new Tacoma will be available as an Access Cab or Double Cab, in five trim levels with 2WD or 4WD: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road and Limited. The frame now uses some high-strength steel to increase strength, and the suspension has been upgraded to improve ride quality and off-road capability. Buyers will be able to get a tri-fold hard tonneau cover for the first time, and the tailgate now has an easy-lowering feature.

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The TRD Off-Road grade uses a Multi-Terrain Select system, which allows the driver to choose a setting based on the type of terrain they are going to tackle. Choices are designed for mud, sand and loose rock. Other off-road features include Crawl Control, hill start assist, limited-slip and locking rear differential, active traction control and Crawl Control. The Crawl Control system handles acceleration and braking so the driver only has to focus on getting around and over obstacles on the trail.

Standard GoPro Mount

Every 2016 Tacoma comes standard with a GoPro mount near the rear-view mirror, a nod to the off-road and lifestyle adventurers that buy these types of vehicles. The all-new interior has soft-touch trim, updated touchscreen audio, and premium options like a power moonroof, push-button start, leather seats, dual-zone climate control, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and Qi wireless charging.

Toyota has not yet announced pricing, fuel economy, or when the truck will go on sale, but we expect to see them in dealerships in the second half of 2015.


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