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Petersen’s 4-Wheel & Off-Road’s 4x4 Of The Year 2016: The 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on January 8, 2016
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Photographers: Harry Wagner

“The 2016 Toyota Tacoma continues to raise the bar of capability and performance, all while maintaining a refined feel for the everyday user”

As is usually the case in our annual 4x4 of the Year competition, the 2016 race for first place was a heated one. In the end, just a few points separated the first and second place contenders. The minutia that helped the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road eke out a win over a potent and effective Chevy Colorado Z71 with a 2.8L Duramax Diesel are hard to determine, but what certainly didn’t hurt were the Tacoma’s cost (relative to competitors), potent and effective manual rear locker, finely tuned suspension, and complex yet very effective electronic Crawl Control. This truck excelled in almost every aspect of our test, proving capable in all of our off-road testing environments, always clawing forward, and only stopping after the bar set by other contenders.

Early on during the test it became obvious to many of the judges that we had a strong contender in our hands in the form of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road. Toyota takes its past and current popularity with off-road enthusiasts seriously, and the design and effectiveness of the overall product for 2016 shows this. The Tacoma TRD excelled in the hillclimb, when several other contenders were hampered by traction control systems. It also creeped and crawled its way up difficult (for a factory stock truck) obstacles in our rockcrawling venue. In the soft sand of our secret test area the 3.5L V-6 and rear locker kept the Tacoma from being one of the many vehicles that got stuck with as-delivered tire pressure. In the high-speed off-road portion of our test the Tacoma was fun and controlled at speed without intrusive stability controls or other nannies kicking in. Also, the antilock braking system was well matched to off-road use, not freaking out and releasing the brakes when different tires grabbed in the varied terrain.

New for 2016, we also spent time behind the wheel in ice and snow. The Tacoma provided confidence-inspiring traction and braking. With well-rounded performance on the street too, the Tacoma TRD did what many other contenders could not by excelling in almost all of our testing environments, getting judges down the trail, over the obstacle, and from point A to B with confidence.

The 2016 Tacoma TRD Off-Road takes its place amongst the hallowed few, the winners of P4WOR 4x4 of the Year (which includes several other Toyotas, including its direct ancestor, the 4x4 Toyota Pickup from 1989 and last year’s TRD Pro 4Runner winner). With a heritage and off-road prowess that harken back to the first solid-axle 4x4 Toyota pickup trucks of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the ever-popular and easily modified trucks of the late 1980s and 1990s, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma continues to raise the bar of capability and performance, all while maintaining a refined feel for the everyday user.

The 3.5L V-6 moved the midsize truck well on-road and off. Our only major complaints revolve around the transmission, which seemed to hunt for the right gear, and the easily damaged front and rear plastic bumper pieces.

At the end of the day, when all the testing was done and the vehicles were ready for a good wash and some rest, the 2016 Tacoma TRD was ready for more. It has many features that make it the best choice for a dedicated dirthead’s next new vehicle purchase. It is capable in stock form and ripe for modification. With some aftermarket suspension lift and tuning, larger tires, durable bumpers, and skidplates, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road would make for a good addition to any off-roader’s driveway.

View the official press release here.

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