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Video: The ups and downs of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma

We took the Tacoma to its limits of hill climbing and descent to prove its claims.


Manufacturers at product media events make some outlandish claims. At a recent event, Toyota claimed that the Tacoma has top-of-class approach and departure angles and can climb up and down extreme terrain as well as, or better than, any mid-size pickup truck on the market. Unlike other media events, Toyota then marched each of us out to a row of Tacomas to prove it.

The 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD off-road V6 with tow package has an approach angle of 32 degrees. The course we ran demonstrated that perfectly. At the start of the hill, which looked to be straight up, the front air dam would just miss the ground as the Tacoma startup up. Then, as the Tacoma continued, the trailer hitch would drag just a bit as the vehicle finished its approach. The departure angle being 23.5 degrees.

I was paired up in the Tacoma with Clifford Atiyeh of Car and Driver, who is no stranger to danger in off-road events. Still, when one points the Tacoma up at a 30-degree angle, it gets a little bit unsettling when all that is visible in the windshield is the sky from the Simpsons. At the top of the hill, the Tacoma demonstrated its best-in-class break over angle. Cliff drove off the cliff and the Tacoma used all of its class-leading 21 degrees of break over angle capability. At the bottom, the 32-degree approach angle was again challenged.

The current Canyon and Colorado can’t match the Tacoma in maneuvers like this. The Nissan Frontier Pro-4X has similar numbers and capabilities. What the competition does not have is Toyota’s full crawl control that made the approach, climb, and descent smooth and easy. And adjustable. The crawl control can be sped up or slowed down with a twist of the cabin-ceiling-mounted knob. One can also stop the Tacoma and hold it at a 33-degree angle (as the still image above shows). Then, releasing the brake re-initiates the crawl control to resume the descent smoothly and effectively.