Editor’s note: With the test mule spied recently, we decided to rehash our list.
The launch of the newly styled Toyota Tundra has got fans of its little brother excited to finally see some changes. Even though there probably won’t be too many exterior changes, we think the interior is ripe for a complete make over. Here is our list of our changes that we could see, we would like to see and probably won’t see.
New Engine Options - The Tacoma engine has been a stalworth for a long, long time. However, it is dated and doesn’t seem like Toyota can really improve on it a whole heck of a lot. How about offering some new engines? We think it is time and you can expect to see some changes in this area.
Illuminated Knobs – One of the most requested items we heard back from our Facebook fans and forum questions is the need for illuminated knobs. This seems like a simple thing that could be added easily. With Toyota utilizing more focus groups, it seems likely someone would mention the need for this.
Luxury Trim Package – Like it or not, the luxury trim packages are huge profit generators for truck makers. We could see Toyota come out with a luxury trim package that would include multiple-way power-adjustable seats, leather trim, heated seats/steering wheel and custom styling in the interior. Plus, this package could come with trim details on the exterior and color choices. It would also likely include more chrome throughout.
Modified Exterior – Odds are high that like the Tundra, the Tacoma will be sent to a wind tunnel. This results in a more streamlined truck with modifications to the exterior panels to reduce drag. We will probably also see the Aero Fins that the Tundra has. There will also be a lot of time spent on reducing the gaps on the body panels to reduce drag. Finally, could we see the stamped tailgate that the Tundra has? Probably so.
6-Speed Automatic Transmission – While we don’t have this confirmed by any means, it is very, very likely that Toyota will offer more speeds on the transmission. Why? CAFE regulations start taking effect in 2016 which means the Tacoma simply MUST get better gas mileage. What is an easy way to get there? More speeds in the gearbox resulting in lower RPMs which results in better MPGs. Pretty simple actually.
Sliding Rear Window – Come on the Crew Max Tundra has the really cool sliding rear window, why doesn’t the Tacoma? That would be a cool feature.
Heated Mirrors – This is a really nice feature for about 1/2 of the country. It could be an option – that’s all we are asking for.
Larger Cup Holders – The reality is that cups are getting larger, why are the cup holders so small?
Payload Increased – This is probably going to happen with the on-going towing wars of the truck makers. Everybody is working on improving the towing and payload ability of all trucks and we think the Tacoma will see some improvement as well. Will it be a lot? Nope, but it will be a minor increase.
Changes We Won’t See
Larger Bed Options – It seems most Toyota truck owners want more bed options like larger ones in the crew cab models. While this would help a lot, we just don’t see it happening thanks to a combination of CAFE requirements based on square feet as well as production issues with offering it. The truth is that the owners who want a longer bed are really still in the minority and the increased cost to produce them doesn’t add up.
Increased Manual Transmission Options – The manual transmission has a lot of fans out there, however, it doesn’t have a lot of fans among truck makers it seems. Every year, we see less and less manual transmissions offered. This is really due to the improved abilities of the automatic transmission closing the gap on any advantage of the manual transmission. Plus, the majority of truck buyers aren’t buying the manual. There will still be some trim lines offering them, but they will become fewer and fewer.
Diesel Engine Choices - Many owners are hoping the new Tacoma will come with a diesel or a diesel-electric hybrid option, it remains to be seen. The reality is that the Ram 1500 will be the first truck offered in a diesel in years. If it sells really well, you can expect Toyota to seriously consider offering one. If it doesn’t, then that just adds to the automakers case on why they don’t offer them. The jury is out as they say and we will need to see some sales figures before we can speculate any further.
New Interior and Dash - the new Tundra has it, why not the Tacoma? We would like to see the deep gauge cluster to disappear and be replaced with a more open display. While the clusters have done well, it is time for the Tacoma to join the rest of the crowd and create a more market competitive instrument display panel.
Larger/Smaller Size – Most truck makers are trying to figure out how to take market share away from the Tacoma – the perennial sales leader in the compact or mid-size truck market. There is a lot of talk about coming out with a new size category actually and really splitting the segment into the compact (think 80′s Tacoma) and mid-size (current Tacoma). The argument revolves around CAFE regulations of fuel economy, consumer demand for trucks that get 30+ mpg while getting back to an “urban” truck that you can park anywhere. One of the criticisms of the truck market is that all the models have grown to big. Will all that said, we don’t expect Toyota to mess with the Tacoma. However, the timing is getting better for a new truck to hit the market as truly a compact option.
What do you think? Is there something we missed?