Not willing to let General Motors steal its midsize truck mojo, Toyota marched into the 2015 Detroit Auto Show Monday afternoon and unveiled its 2016 Tacoma truck.
The automaker hopes the all-new model capitalizes on Tacoma’s 10-year reign as the most popular midsize truck in the U.S. That stranglehold on the market got a lot harder in 2014, when the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks returned to the segment in a very big way.
At the time, the previous generation of Tacoma was outdated, as was the only other competitor in the segment, the Nissan Frontier. Ford and Ram left the segment entirely several years ago, citing low demand.
Previous efforts from GM had been weak by its own admission. But the revived Colorado and Canyon were good enough to put Toyota on notice: Don’t take this segment for granted. Toyota seems to have been paying attention.
“The all-new homegrown Tacoma is a tough truck designed, developed and built for lifestyles of the young and young-at-heart,” Bill Fay, Toyota general manager, said ahead of the unveiling.
With more at stake, the updates on the 2016 Tacoma are more thorough than Toyota redesigns are known for.
The truck comes with an all-new optional engine, a direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 that will be more powerful and efficient than the 4.0-liter V-6 it replaces. While Toyota doesn’t have power or fuel-economy figures yet, the outgoing engine made 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, and was rated at 16 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway.
The Tacoma’s base 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine carries over from the earlier model.
A new six-speed automatic transmission will be standard with both engines, though V-6 buyers can opt for a six-speed manual gearbox.
Toyota said it added more high-strength steel to the truck’s frame and body for durability, and acoustic glass and sound deadening throughout the cabin to make it more quiet. All models also come with a GoPro camera mount near the rear-view mirror.
Five trim levels will be available, including the trusted SR5 model, the trail-ready TRD Off-Road model with multiple off-road traction settings, and a high-end Limited model.
Optional creature comforts include a wireless charging spot for smartphones, leather seats, moonroof, touchscreen audio systems, and blind-spot monitoring.
It was no accident that Toyota chose GM’s hometown of Detroit to unveil its new Tacoma. GM’s midsize trucks were unveiled on Toyota’s turf at the 2013 LA Auto Show.