Sneak Peek! 2016 Toyota Tacoma Breaks Cover!

8 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited: First Look.

We had the chance to take a quick look at the all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma Tuesday in advance of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week. Up front, truck fans are no doubt relieved to see that early spy shots depicting a Highlander-esque front end have not translated into the production model. That probably makes sense given how long Toyota has been able to get away with so few changes during the last decade and still sell close to 150,000 units in 2014. Most of the exterior design changes — we weren’t allowed to get close enough to see the interior upgrades — are in the newly shaped and configured front grille and headlights, along the lower body panels between the fender wells, and in the tailgate.

The overall front-end graphic is similar to that of the outgoing Tacoma, but narrower headlights and some additional sculpting make the look fresh and familiar, and it’s undeniably a Toyota pickup. Both grille and tailgate seem to be clear attempts by designers to bring the new Tacoma more in line with the look of the half-ton Tundra: Note the hexagonal shape of the grille and the Tacoma name stamped into the tailgate. We’ll have specifications and details about the more significant changes to the Tacoma in the next few days, but for now we are very encouraged that Toyota is calling this an “all-new” Tacoma. The shiny stuff accents the grille, fog light surrounds, mirror caps, and door handles, while the grey six-spoke wheels with polished pockets add some brightwork to the truck’s lower half.

The Japanese automaker — which had 70 percent of all small-truck sales in 2013 — has dominated the segment since U.S. automakers exited the market following the recession. However, General Motors Co. re-entered the segment last year with by resurrecting new models of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups. Carter, Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. senior vice president of automotive operations, told The Detroit News in December that consumers should keep three things in mind when thinking about the truck. “Tacoma is more important than the sum of its sales,” he said. “It has very dominant imagery: rugged, tough, youthful. Executives say the decline is largely due to supply constraints, which the company is rectifying by adding a third shift to its Tacoma plant in Mexico. The taillights look like the units on the current Nissan Titan, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, except they’re accented with chrome and a clear lens.

These “Altezza”-style taillights were outdated when they were used on the 2005 Mitsubishi Raider pickup; they have no place in a modern piece like the Tacoma. Its combination of decent fuel economy for the time, a low price of entry, and Baja 1000-tested Toyota DNA have made it one of the most popular small pickups of all time, so consider us excited for the new one.

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