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Sedona Road Trip Impressions - 2016 Toyota Tacoma Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Posts: 10,059
edited April 2016 in Toyota
imageSedona Road Trip Impressions - 2016 Toyota Tacoma Long-Term Road Test

Our 2016 Toyota Tacoma took a road trip from Los Angeles to Sedona, Arizona, with Senior Editor Josh Sadlier at the helm. Here are his impressions from the drive, both on-road and off-road.

Read the full story here


Comments

  • reminderreminder Posts: 383
    Cool pics.
    Mother Nature's grandeur makes use humans look quite tiny.
  • tom_in_mntom_in_mn Posts: 61
    So is the problem the engine or the gearing? You had no similar complaints about the Highlander you had, and I have none with mine. This engine is speced at just slightly more HP and torque than the Highlander due to the direct injection and they both weight about 4400 lbs. But the transmissions are different.

    Nice pics btw
  • Any way Edmunds could test a manual transmission version? To see if the powertrain is a better match in that one?

    Sedona is a fantastic place to take a 4wd. Funny thing is the perspective of that video makes the terrain seem much tamer than I am sure it really is. I bet it was much steeper than it looks on video.
  • carguydarylcarguydaryl Posts: 27
    edited April 2016
    I know in the highlander with the 5 and 6 speed 1st gear is super short. I just don't get Toyota's move to this motor in the Tacoma. Its like Chevys decision to put the 3.6 in the Colorado instead of the excellent new 4.3 V6 in the Silverado. low-end torque wins when pushing something and usually will get better real world gas mileage.

    This is how I feel about moving from our Xterra to our Honda pilot. The 4.0 V6 was just such a torque monster that it moved along so effortlessly where you have to wind the 3.5 out in the Pilot for it to move (at least it sounds great!). Funny thing is that the Pilot really doesn't weigh but a couple hundred pounds more and aero can't be much different. Our Xterra got 19.5 mpg running around town without trying and 16 while towing our tent trailer. our Pilot is lucky to break 18 running around town and gets 12-14 towing the tent trailer. Lots of torque, keeps the RPMs and fuel consumption down!
  • SadButTrueSadButTrue Santa Monica, CAPosts: 47
    tom_in_mn said:

    So is the problem the engine or the gearing?

    It's just a mismatched pair, I think. To solve the zero roll-on acceleration problem on the highway, you could gear it for 3,200 rpm at 70 mph in 6th, but then obviously your fuel-economy ceiling drops, which is no bueno for CAFE. So you gear it to maximize MPG potential, but that means that while cruising, the engine is routinely 1,500+ rpm or two gears away from making real thrust, which we're used to in cars, perhaps, but not trucks. That's why I suggested a turbo four that's ready to haul at 2,000 rpm -- you can keep the economy-friendly gearing and have great real-world drivability, too.

    By the way, that's also why diesels are perfect for trucks, but Toyota doesn't seem to have a U.S.-viable option in that regard.

    Funny thing is the perspective of that video makes the terrain seem much tamer than I am sure it really is. I bet it was much steeper than it looks on video.

    It wasn't that steep right there, but you can see there's some significant wobble and suspension articulation as I'm driving onto that ledge. Having said that, the tourist Jeeps were going faster than I was with about 10 people sitting unprotected in the back, so also consider the likely fact that I am an off-roading wuss.

    -JS
  • As I had said in another post, the Tacoma needs the new Mazda CX-9 engine.
  • diondidiondi Posts: 71
    Just a question, but did that trail really require 4-Lo? It looks like something that I would've tackled in 4-Hi or even 2-Hi on my Ram 1500.
  • ebeaudoinebeaudoin NE IllinoisPosts: 509
    The thing is that, this being Toyota, the engine won't be addressed until probably 2022 at the earliest. Toyota is stubborn and not innovative. They make good products, but they don't like to try new things that often. The engineers decided the 3.5/6AT combo would meet most people's needs and went with it.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited April 2016
    Sounds like my minivan would do fine, especially if the grader has been through recently and the weather's been okay. (link)
  • SadButTrueSadButTrue Santa Monica, CAPosts: 47
    edited April 2016
    diondi said:

    Just a question, but did that trail really require 4-Lo? It looks like something that I would've tackled in 4-Hi or even 2-Hi on my Ram 1500.

    stever said:

    Sounds like my minivan would do fine, especially if the grader has been through recently and the weather's been okay. (link)

    Man, I'm getting less proud of myself by the second for conquering this vaunted mountain pass, er, "wide and well-maintained road" per the link from @stever. I'll just say that "well-maintained" is not a plausible description of this road in the universe I inhabit. Here, I found one I like better, also on the internet: "The road up Schnebly Hill is very rough and rocky. There are not serious obstacles that a high clearance vehicle cannot make." (https://alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/schnebly-hill-road)
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited April 2016
    You should have seen the oil pan on my last minivan. B)

    One of these days I need to cruise up to Moab.

    I owned a CJ-5 for a few years back in '74 and soon learned that having 4WD just means you get stuck further off the pavement. There's no substitute for local knowledge on roads like these.
  • brenrobrenro Posts: 38
    Schnebly Rd. is just a bumpy and rather annoying dirt road you could take the family sedan on if you were careful but it's definitely not "well maintained". Great scenery though. Broken Arrow or Soldiers Pass would have been a lot more fun.
  • 5vzfe5vzfe Posts: 161
    ebeaudoin said:

    The thing is that, this being Toyota, the engine won't be addressed until probably 2022 at the earliest. Toyota is stubborn and not innovative. They make good products, but they don't like to try new things that often. The engineers decided the 3.5/6AT combo would meet most people's needs and went with it.

    I wouldn't say that Toyota is not innovative, they're just extremely conservative. Back when Lexus was launched, Cadillac took the new LS400 (newly engineered from the ground up, platform and all) and concluded that they could not build a car to the standards that Toyota had for the LS with their (then) current methods. That's coming from one of the largest manufacturing companies on the planet, to a humbler company from Japan. This was from a book I had to read a few chapters of a few years ago in an engineering class that offered a general overview of manufacturing processes and philosophies, and it cites Toyota as one of the companies that began a trend of taking a single product, and through a long process of gradual, slight improvements were able to curate extremely refined results with excellent durability, which correlated to extensive sales. And it shows, as the Corolla is the number one selling vehicle on the planet, even though it's largely similar to the previous few generations, and other cars like the Camry and Tacoma are top sellers in their classes despite their minimal changes. You also see this in companies like Apple, who is almost infuriatingly slow to update in this rapidly changing world, but still sells more phones than every competitor combined. Their iPhones keep their body styles for two years, compared to new body styles every year from Samsung, and iOS software is pretty much the same interface as it was back in 2007. So there is a reason for their actions (or lack of).
    I'd venture to guess Toyota made switch to the 3.5 from the 4.0 help lower fleet emissions levels, though I'm not sure where to find any data to support a cleaner burning engine theory.
  • bobinsepabobinsepa Posts: 12
    brenro said:

    Schnebly Rd. is just a bumpy and rather annoying dirt road you could take the family sedan on if you were careful but it's definitely not "well maintained". Great scenery though. Broken Arrow or Soldiers Pass would have been a lot more fun.

    The last time I was in Sedona the locals referred to it as "Rental Car Road" for obvious reasons.
  • longtimelurkerlongtimelurker Posts: 455
    edited April 2016
    5vzfe said:

    ebeaudoin said:

    The thing is that, this being Toyota, the engine won't be addressed until probably 2022 at the earliest. Toyota is stubborn and not innovative. They make good products, but they don't like to try new things that often. The engineers decided the 3.5/6AT combo would meet most people's needs and went with it.

    I wouldn't say that Toyota is not innovative, they're just extremely conservative. Back when Lexus was launched, Cadillac took the new LS400 (newly engineered from the ground up, platform and all) and concluded that they could not build a car to the standards that Toyota had for the LS with their (then) current methods. That's coming from one of the largest manufacturing companies on the planet, to a humbler company from Japan. This was from a book I had to read a few chapters of a few years ago in an engineering class that offered a general overview of manufacturing processes and philosophies, and it cites Toyota as one of the companies that began a trend of taking a single product, and through a long process of gradual, slight improvements were able to curate extremely refined results with excellent durability, which correlated to extensive sales. And it shows, as the Corolla is the number one selling vehicle on the planet, even though it's largely similar to the previous few generations, and other cars like the Camry and Tacoma are top sellers in their classes despite their minimal changes. You also see this in companies like Apple, who is almost infuriatingly slow to update in this rapidly changing world, but still sells more phones than every competitor combined. Their iPhones keep their body styles for two years, compared to new body styles every year from Samsung, and iOS software is pretty much the same interface as it was back in 2007. So there is a reason for their actions (or lack of).
    I'd venture to guess Toyota made switch to the 3.5 from the 4.0 help lower fleet emissions levels, though I'm not sure where to find any data to support a cleaner burning engine theory.
    I think another headscratcher is that most manufacturers add direct injection to their 3.5-3.7 liter V6s, they get another 40-50 hp out of them. Even Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, gets 305 hp on their version of the Toyota 268 hp engine. Toyota adds its own version of DI...and horsepower goes from 268 to...278. What? I could understand if they said, "oh, it's for a truck, so we tuned it for torque," but it doesn't seem to have gotten them much torque.
  • diondidiondi Posts: 71

    diondi said:

    Just a question, but did that trail really require 4-Lo? It looks like something that I would've tackled in 4-Hi or even 2-Hi on my Ram 1500.

    stever said:

    Sounds like my minivan would do fine, especially if the grader has been through recently and the weather's been okay. (link)

    Man, I'm getting less proud of myself by the second for conquering this vaunted mountain pass, er, "wide and well-maintained road" per the link from @stever. I'll just say that "well-maintained" is not a plausible description of this road in the universe I inhabit. Here, I found one I like better, also on the internet: "The road up Schnebly Hill is very rough and rocky. There are not serious obstacles that a high clearance vehicle cannot make." (https://alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/schnebly-hill-road)
    I just asked because it reminds me of the access to some local fishing holes around me, which I have taken in 2WD when it was nice and dry out with no problems, and 4Hi when it was a bit more slick, but I have never ever needed 4Lo even with the terrible stock tires that the Ram comes with.
  • aspadeaspade Posts: 42
    "I think another headscratcher is that most manufacturers add direct injection to their 3.5-3.7 liter V6s, they get another 40-50 hp out of them. "

    Direct injection isn't worth anything like 50 horsepower. Those big paper gains are primarily a result of the direct injected version going in explicitly sporty or semi premium products where they raise the red line (and use 89 octane besides) for marketing's sake. They can and do pull the same trick with MPFI.

    100 bucks of higher specced materials to bump red line to 6500 and put 310 hp on the brochure wouldn't be worth a damn when the problem is gutlessness under 4000 and a transmission programmed to keep you there.
  • carboy21carboy21 Posts: 760
    diondi said:

    diondi said:

    Just a question, but did that trail really require 4-Lo? It looks like something that I would've tackled in 4-Hi or even 2-Hi on my Ram 1500.

    stever said:

    Sounds like my minivan would do fine, especially if the grader has been through recently and the weather's been okay. (link)

    Man, I'm getting less proud of myself by the second for conquering this vaunted mountain pass, er, "wide and well-maintained road" per the link from @stever. I'll just say that "well-maintained" is not a plausible description of this road in the universe I inhabit. Here, I found one I like better, also on the internet: "The road up Schnebly Hill is very rough and rocky. There are not serious obstacles that a high clearance vehicle cannot make." (https://alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/schnebly-hill-road)
    I just asked because it reminds me of the access to some local fishing holes around me, which I have taken in 2WD when it was nice and dry out with no problems, and 4Hi when it was a bit more slick, but I have never ever needed 4Lo even with the terrible stock tires that the Ram comes with.
    Agree with you. I have a 3rd Gen 4runner which never needed 4Lo unless boulder crawling or stuck in deep mud.
  • diondidiondi Posts: 71
    carboy21 said:

    diondi said:

    diondi said:

    Just a question, but did that trail really require 4-Lo? It looks like something that I would've tackled in 4-Hi or even 2-Hi on my Ram 1500.

    stever said:

    Sounds like my minivan would do fine, especially if the grader has been through recently and the weather's been okay. (link)

    Man, I'm getting less proud of myself by the second for conquering this vaunted mountain pass, er, "wide and well-maintained road" per the link from @stever. I'll just say that "well-maintained" is not a plausible description of this road in the universe I inhabit. Here, I found one I like better, also on the internet: "The road up Schnebly Hill is very rough and rocky. There are not serious obstacles that a high clearance vehicle cannot make." (https://alltrails.com/trail/us/arizona/schnebly-hill-road)
    I just asked because it reminds me of the access to some local fishing holes around me, which I have taken in 2WD when it was nice and dry out with no problems, and 4Hi when it was a bit more slick, but I have never ever needed 4Lo even with the terrible stock tires that the Ram comes with.
    Agree with you. I have a 3rd Gen 4runner which never needed 4Lo unless boulder crawling or stuck in deep mud.
    Actually after watching the video again it reminds me of the road I take to go mountain biking... but smoother. :D
  • 5vzfe5vzfe Posts: 161

    5vzfe said:

    ebeaudoin said:

    The thing is that, this being Toyota, the engine won't be addressed until probably 2022 at the earliest. Toyota is stubborn and not innovative. They make good products, but they don't like to try new things that often. The engineers decided the 3.5/6AT combo would meet most people's needs and went with it.

    I wouldn't say that Toyota is not innovative, they're just extremely conservative. Back when Lexus was launched, Cadillac took the new LS400 (newly engineered from the ground up, platform and all) and concluded that they could not build a car to the standards that Toyota had for the LS with their (then) current methods. That's coming from one of the largest manufacturing companies on the planet, to a humbler company from Japan. This was from a book I had to read a few chapters of a few years ago in an engineering class that offered a general overview of manufacturing processes and philosophies, and it cites Toyota as one of the companies that began a trend of taking a single product, and through a long process of gradual, slight improvements were able to curate extremely refined results with excellent durability, which correlated to extensive sales. And it shows, as the Corolla is the number one selling vehicle on the planet, even though it's largely similar to the previous few generations, and other cars like the Camry and Tacoma are top sellers in their classes despite their minimal changes. You also see this in companies like Apple, who is almost infuriatingly slow to update in this rapidly changing world, but still sells more phones than every competitor combined. Their iPhones keep their body styles for two years, compared to new body styles every year from Samsung, and iOS software is pretty much the same interface as it was back in 2007. So there is a reason for their actions (or lack of).
    I'd venture to guess Toyota made switch to the 3.5 from the 4.0 help lower fleet emissions levels, though I'm not sure where to find any data to support a cleaner burning engine theory.
    I think another headscratcher is that most manufacturers add direct injection to their 3.5-3.7 liter V6s, they get another 40-50 hp out of them. Even Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, gets 305 hp on their version of the Toyota 268 hp engine. Toyota adds its own version of DI...and horsepower goes from 268 to...278. What? I could understand if they said, "oh, it's for a truck, so we tuned it for torque," but it doesn't seem to have gotten them much torque.
    Yeah I think it actually lost 1ft/lb compared to the old 4.0 haha. I'm wondering why it's slower - torque is essentially the same and horsepower is higher yet its not as quick as the last taco. As far as the hp boost, I would assume air intakes and exhausts are also tweaked for better performance on higher priced/performing cars. Someone else mentioned changing redlines and octanes, and according to edmunds info, the Lexus ES 350 makes less hp (268) than the GS 350 (311) but the GS requires premium and the ES does not. There's probably a lot more going on than just intakes, exhaust and gasoline octanes but I don't know for sure. Interestingly the GS only loses about 2mpg across the board than the ES...
  • aspade said:

    "I think another headscratcher is that most manufacturers add direct injection to their 3.5-3.7 liter V6s, they get another 40-50 hp out of them. "

    Direct injection isn't worth anything like 50 horsepower. Those big paper gains are primarily a result of the direct injected version going in explicitly sporty or semi premium products where they raise the red line (and use 89 octane besides) for marketing's sake. They can and do pull the same trick with MPFI.

    100 bucks of higher specced materials to bump red line to 6500 and put 310 hp on the brochure wouldn't be worth a damn when the problem is gutlessness under 4000 and a transmission programmed to keep you there.

    Cadillac used the LY7 3.6L V6 in the CTS from 2004-2007. It was SAE-certified to make 255 hp at 6200 rpm on 87 octane, with a 10.2:1 compression ratio, then from 2008-2009 it made 263 hp at the same rpm. The LLT 3.6L V6 became available in the 2008-2011 CTS, With the addition of direct injection and an increase to an 11.3:1 compression ratio (that's what you do with DI...that's why you use DI), it was SAE-certified to produce 302 hp at 6300 rpm (STS) or 304 hp at 6400 rpm (CTS), again on 87 octane gas. Depending on how you count it, that's a 39 to 49 hp gain.

    Now, do all of these size engines make those gains, going to DI? No, and I probably should have said it was more like 30-35 hp, but...only 278 hp and 265 lb/ft, at a high 4600 rpm? While they got more torque than in other 3.5L Toyota engines, they didn't lower the torque peak rpm, which I agree is what they needed to do.
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