Reviews

2017 Toyota Tacoma Driving Impressions


The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine makes 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. With rear-wheel drive, it only comes with the 5-speed automatic transmission, but the 5-speed manual is available with four-wheel drive.

The 278-horsepower V6 is a happy-revving engine. With both direct injection and a variable intake system with a wide intake, it meets the Atkinson combustion cycle. Its 265 foot-pounds of torque work well with the 6-speed automatic, with its smooth upshifts and downshifts and excellent gear spacing.

Ride quality is better than it used to be. The front suspension uses double wishbones with coil springs whose rates were softened for 2016 to improve the ride, along with a softening of the rear shocks. That shock tuning included tweaks to the rebound damping through changed valving, to improve control.

The rigid chassis uses a steel ladder frame that’s closed with a crossmember in front, though not in back. The cabin structure uses high-strength steel with side beams.

Four tunes of suspension mean four different flavors of ride quality and handling. The SR, SR5, and Limited get the standard suspension, TRD Sport models get a sportier suspension setup, while TRD Off Road models get a suspension designed for offroad, with more wheel travel and articulation. The new TRD Pro gets heavy-duty Fox dampers.

The Pro handles really well off road, while the traction and stability control are low-key enough to be effective without interfering under a broad range of conditions. The TRD models actually ride smoother on rough roads and gravel roads.

TRD Off Road and TRD Pro models with the 6-speed automatic have Multi-Terrain Select, its dial located at the top of the windshield, presumably so an offroad charger can change modes without taking his eyes off the trail. The settings are Mud and Sand, Loose Rock, Moguls, Rock and Dirt, and Rock. The system affects a number of the truck’s dynamics, including throttle, and delivers the best theoretical traction for those conditions. For example, it allows a lot of wheelspin for Mud and Sand, but none for Rock.

There’s also hill-start assist and crawl control, which takes over the throttle and brakes at speeds up to 5 mph, so the driver can not worry about traction and concentrate on just steering, around big rocks or logs. Excellent sight lines from the cabin make them easier to see.

The TRD Pro’s 16-inch alloy wheels are mounted with big Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires with Kevlar sidewall reinforcement. The wheels are smaller than standard, leaving room for more sidewall, which is needed in very rugged terrain. That’s where the thick skidplates come in, too.

A key element to these trucks is their durability. Owners who spend a lot of time bouncing their trucks along river banks or over rugged, rocky terrain will find a Tacoma holds up for more seasons of abuse than many other vehicles will. Only Jeep and Land Rover compare in this regard.

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