Originally conceived as an America-friendly version of the Hilux—a vehicle known as much for its ruggedness as its bare-bones utilitarianism—the Toyota Tacoma has spent the past two decades steadily evolving.
And the new 2016 version (seen here) is a really big deal for Toyota, as it completes Tacoma's transition from entry level work vehicle to pseudo-luxe truck that's intended to be equally adept at daily commutes and weekend shenanigans.
In some respects, it's becoming the BMW 2-Series of trucks: a highly customizable vehicle that's equally suited to daily driver and weekend warrior alike. That alone warrants a closer look.
The truck sheds the last vestibules of its utilitarian roots by combining Toyota's considerable off-road sporting tradition and adding in creature comforts in a much more thorough manner than any previous Tacoma. You can option it to suit your needs perfectly, and that's where the BMW parallel makes sense.
If you're determined to go bargain basement, you can get the Tacoma in a bare-bones work-oriented form, but you can also get it with everything from wireless charging to leather seats and dual-zone climate control. And no matter how you option it, there's extra sound deadening material both above the headliner and under the carpet.
And then there's the TRD Off-Road version. Mechanically, it has the suspension upgrades you'd expect from Toyota's dirt-obsessed engineers, as well as mechanical differentials to let the four wheel drive really work for you, but it's the electronic bits that stand out. A suite of off-road-specific driver aides can be fine-tuned for nearly any terrain, and a crawl control system handles all acceleration and braking so the only thing you'll have to do is steer.
Engine-wise, the new Tacoma comes with your pick of a four or a six cylinder engine—the latter's all new and is a serious upgrade from the current offering. You can also get it with a manual transmission, if you find yourself longing for the tactile pleasure of rowing your own gears.
The bottom line is that with this new generation, the Tacoma is aiming to keep you comfy from Monday through Thursday, while still being fun enough to justify spending a vacation day for Friday.
We're excited about this truck, so expect a more in-depth review in the coming months.