5 Things Overlooked on the 2016 Toyota Tacoma


The new grabbed a lot of attention when it was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit (). Sure, there are many changes to the new midsize leader, but there are other details that haven't received much attention. Here are five items we want to make sure you don't miss.


1. Rear Drum Brakes

Truck buyers and journalists love to hear about new styling, powertrains and technology, yet the nitty-gritty maintenance items are often overlooked. For example, while the new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon got disc brakes all around, Toyota opted to keep using drum brakes on the rear of its 2016 Tacoma, but the decision is not without logic.

The reason has to do with trade-offs, according to Toyota Tacoma chief engineer Mike Sweers. Toyota improved the drums brakes with a new vacuum booster and a new antilock braking system to improve how the brakes feel, reduce fade and improve stopping distance.

"Based on these changes and the proven durability of our braking system, the disc/drum was determined to meet all of our criterial for on- and off-road performance and maintain proper brake surface temperatures," he said. "Bottom line is that disc/drum or disc/disc setup will give you similar performance and stopping distance based on system cooling and/or temperature buildup. Disc brakes provide better cooling and reduced mass over drum systems. Drums provide less exposed braking surface and less brake vibration due to braking surface flatness [rotor warping] concerns resulting from overheating of surface."


2. Qi Wireless Charging

Another overlooked feature available in the new Tacoma is Qi wireless charging. Simply put, this system will wirelessly charge your smartphone by setting it on top of a charging pad. This pad resides under a storage tray in front of the cupholders. If you have a Qi-enabled smartphone, you can charge it by simply setting it down.

This may not seem like a big deal to the truck guy who only wants a bare-essentials cabin and truck, yet it is a great convenience for the tech-savvy owner.


3. GoPro Camera Mount

During the past several years, we have witnessed a boom in the use of video cameras. From police cruisers using dash-mounted cameras to off-road junkies sharing videos of hitting the trail and everything in between, GoPro cameras have become a must for some. But they present a challenge: Mounting them on a vehicle can be a struggle, and suction-cup attachment systems sometimes give out.

The new Tacoma solves this problem with a unique GoPro camera mount next to the rearview mirror. While this standard feature will be overlooked by many Tacoma owners, it is a smart innovation for those who use it.


4. Driveline Vibration Update

For years the Toyota Tacoma has been plagued by a persistent driveline vibration. This vibration occurs when driving at speeds of 15 to 25 mph and causes the truck to feel like it has a shimmy. Even more maddening than the shimmy is the fact it doesn't equally affect all trucks. A service manager we spoke with a few months ago said you could drive a variety of Tacoma trucks on his lot and each one would have a different degree of shimmy.

Service managers and owners have created all sorts of remedies to the problem, and Toyota has had an ongoing technical service bulletin stretching back to 2005 models. This service bulletin offers a variety of remedies to the problem, including installing a foam pad behind the steering wheel cover.

We asked Sweers if the problem was resolved in the 2016 model. "Completely gone," Sweers said. "If you can find it, I'll buy you dinner."

But what caused the problem in the first place? Sweers said it was a combination of angles and manufacturing tolerances. He said the new truck has a completely new differential with new spring sets and corresponding angles. This basically changed the driveshaft angle, which resolved the problem.


5. No Turbo?

Diesel seems to be the buzzword these days. While Toyota has so far avoided using a diesel, we wondered why not a turbocharged engine? This engine is not new to Toyota. Toyota's luxury brand uses a new turbocharged engine in the new Lexus NX SUV, and Toyota announced at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show that it was looking to add more of these engines to the lineup.

"The problem with turbos is that they are great for giving you power, but we haven't seen the fuel economy," Sweers said. "Until we can have a lean-burning turbo, the fuel economy isn't there. Where our competitors are running a lot of turbos, in our testing we can't find the fuel economy [benefit]. The biggest issue with the turbo is to keep the turbo and the catalyst cool you have to dump more fuel into it, so your fuel ratio is high. Honestly, driving some of the turbos that are out there, I drive a Tundra crew cab every day and I see better fuel economy in that than I did in my competitor's turbo. Sure, it gives you great power and there are great turbo engines out there, but on a daily driver, not so much benefit for the cost to the consumer."

Sweers did add that Toyota is always looking toward the future and if something changes, it will look closely at adding turbo engines to its lineup. photos by Evan Sears




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