2016 Toyota Tacoma
(Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

The Toyota Tacoma has been the sales king in the compact truck segment in recent years, but General Motors’ introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon for the 2015 model year has injected some new life into the small class. To keep pace, Toyota fully redesigned the Tacoma for 2016, and so far auto writers are impressed, reporting the new model has better interior build quality, enhanced off-road prowess and improved handling on pavement.

The Tacoma’s base 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine is unchanged for 2016, but the available V6’s 278 horsepower is 42 more than the outgoing model’s V6 produces. Test drivers agree the new V6 has ample power, while a few say the 2016 model feels quicker than older versions. Properly equipped, the 2016 Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds, which is 300 more than the previous model. On the road, reviewers report the new Tacoma is quieter and feels more stable through turns than older models.

On off-road trails, critics agree the available Tacoma TRD Pro model is exceptionally capable. They also appreciate the 2016 Tacoma’s newly available off-road technology such as Crawl Control, which automatically keeps the truck at a low pre-set speed so the driver can focus on navigating tricky off-road obstacles, and the Multi-Terrain Select system, which offers different drive modes optimized for various types of terrain.

2016 Toyota Tacoma
(Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

Inside, auto writers say the 2016 Tacoma has replaced the hard plastics of older models with more upscale, soft-touch materials. They note, however, that like the old Tacoma, the 2016 model’s cabin feels cramped, particularly in the back. In terms of cargo, the Tacoma’s bed is deeper than that of the outgoing model, which critics report allows for improved cargo-hauling ability. Newly available driver-assistance technologies for 2016 include rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.

While the 2016 Toyota Tacoma has a lot going for it, don’t forget to check out the competition before making a decision. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are the Tacoma’s main rivals. Both the Colorado and Canyon offer cabins with exceptional build quality for the class and spacious seating in both rows, reviewers say. Base Colorado and Canyon models also get better fuel economy than a similarly-equipped Tacoma, but test drivers say neither can match the Tacoma’s off-road capability.

2016 Toyota Tacoma
2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro (Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

If you’re interested in buying used, the 2012 Toyota Tacoma is a great choice, as it currently ranks highly among used compact trucks $20K and up. Critics liked its smooth and powerful available V6 engine, high-quality interior and easy-to-use climate and audio controls when it was new. It was also named our 2012 Best Compact Pickup Truck for the Money for its combination of quality and value.

[See Best Cars for the Money Awards]

U.S. News Best Cars rankings are based on the consensus opinion of America’s top automotive journalists. Our team gathers every published, credible review of a vehicle, and for each third-party review, we score the vehicle on three components: Performance, Interior and Critics' Rating, which is how strongly a reviewer recommends the vehicle. We combine these scores, along with reliability data from J.D. Power and Associates and safety data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, into a weighted average that is based on what car buyers say matters most to them. The result is an overall score for each new car on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best possible score. Our rankings are continually updated as more reviews of a vehicle become available, as well as when new safety and reliability data is released.

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