Here’s what we officially know about the 2016 Toyota Tacoma: Nothing. Toyota isn’t going to release any information about the new midsize pickup until Monday, when the truck will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
However, Toyota did let us take a look at the next-generation pickup early, and here are a few pictures. The Tacoma is sweet from nearly every angle, though you can be the judge about how different it looks. To me, it looks newer and prettier, but not particularly different. There’s a big air dam below the front bumper to help fuel efficiency, there are some nice creases in the hood for additional ripples, and those big 20-inch wheels always look great. But the big changes are going to have happen inside the cabin, as well as with performance. It’s fairly easy to speculate that there will be a number of improvements, because it has been nearly a decade since the Tacoma was seriously updated. From what we’ve gathered, there won’t be any changes in models, and the trims will be the same with the base, a Limited, and the TRD off-road package. There will be two cab configurations: the extended cab, which Toyota calls Access Cab, and the bigger crew cab, which Toyota calls a Double Cab. Additionally, we suspect Toyota will go with two bed configurations: a regular and a long bed. A good guess is that Toyota will dump the 4.0-liter V-6 and opt for a much feistier 3.5-liter V-6 that produces at least 270 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque, out-muscling the 4.0 by 34 ponies. The Tacoma might be stuck with the 2.7-liter four-cylinder for a few more years. We have not heard anything about a potential diesel in the Tacoma’s future, but would certainly welcome one, and Toyota has plenty to choose from overseas. We’d also venture a guess that a six-speed transmission will come with the new Tacoma, leaving the four- and five-speed trannies in the dust. That change is long overdue.While Tacoma currently owns the midsize pickup segment, it’s going to have a fight on its hands with the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon coming online. In 2014, Toyota had 64 percent of the midsize pickup market of 240,000 vehicles. The next closest was the Nissan Frontier, which had 31 percent. GM captured 4.6 percent. Those numbers are going to dramatically change in 2015. It will be even more interesting to see if GM steals Tacoma or Frontier sales. The midsize truck segment grew 6 percent in 2014 and our gut says that it will grow by 10 percent this year, bringing in new buyers to the market. For people who want a small pickup with good capability, 2015 will be the best year in a long time to buy one.