A quick retrospective on the type of amazing Toyota coverage we've completed over the last 8+ years. It's a pleasure to serve our readers and supporters as the top free digital magazine for Toyota Land Cruisers, Trucks, FJ Cruisers, 4Runners, and Lexus SUVs. Here's to many more years of amazing content from TCT Magazine!
(All photos courtesy of Toyota USA)
Today Toyota announced the redesigned 200 Series Land Cruiser for 2016. While much of the mechanical system carries over from 2015, there are plenty of new features to be excited about.
To start with, the 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser features all-new styling from the a-pillar forward. The new bumper, grille, and projector-beam LED headlights frame a much more aggressive look on the luxury vehicle. The new tail lights and LED brake lights, along with plenty of chrome on the rear end finish up the muscular look.
Let us get a few things out of the way right off of the bat! The Tacoma will be built in two assembly plants, San Antonio Texas and Tecate in Baja Mexico. Toyota is NOT going to be making a supercharger for any vehicle in the near future. There is NOT going to be a TRD PRO Tacoma for the 2016 model year (but there will be a TRD Pro in 2017). 2016 Tacomas will be on a dealers lot near you on or around September 10, 2015. There will NOT be a Regular Cab on any Tacoma made in this model year. Tacoma models with Crawl Control do have a new braking system though still come with disc in the front and drums in the rear. The in-bed outlet is now upgraded to 120V/400W.
Ok, for those enthusiasts that are still reading….
Toyota invited a few of your favorite media outlets to put on about 80 miles on and 20-30 miles off-road in one day. We were paired up in teams of two, my ride partner and I took off down the highway en-route to the off-road venue where we were able to experience both freeway and twisty backroads. For what it’s worth, I do not drive automatics very often and Toyota only brought automatics to test drive (something about fairness, not really sure). So, how did it stand up to the hype?
After experiencing the 2016 Tacoma on and off-road for the day, it seemed to be very comfortable, easy to operate, and a blast to drive. The handling is much improved with the body roll and understeer under control. The ponies under the hood were a lot of fun when exiting curves and on the on-ramps. The seats were quite comfortable and the controls were straight forward and easy to acclimate to. This was my first time experiencing Crawl Control and I have to say that there are things I liked about it and some that I did not like. It is very easy to use, but there is something wrong with being able to turn a knob to let the truck do it for you. In the sand, buried to the frame, however, Crawl Control was a thing to behold. This system moves the power around to all four of the tires and walked it right out a predicament that we all bring other equipment to help get us out of. Driving with the new Atkinson engine, Toyota’s Marketing Staff challenged us to even be able to tell when it switched cycles and yes you can tell if you know what you are trying to feel for. It was only slightly noticeable at best and the thinking behind this engine may just be a game changer for Toyota. The suspension on this Tacoma may be interchangeable with the previous generation, but it is much improved for the everyday driving and I for one cannot wait to get one to drive here in Colorado.
Toyota is trying to brand and model their entire arsenal of Off-road Capable vehicles and tie them back to each other. Growing in popularity, the 4Runner and the Tundra both have their own hard-bodied stylings with fabulous on and off-road capabilities. With that said the Tacoma is that piece that ties them all together. The 3rd Gen Tacoma takes front end style notes from the 4Runner and bed styling from the Tundra. Another styling note that caught my eye, air fins placed throughout the exterior of the truck. Turns out that this is to help with MPG’s and reduce air noise. A couple of new features in the tailgate are (finally) a locking tailgate (key use only), a built in strut for lowering the tailgate, and a backup camera. I think one of the coolest optional features is a Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof! Yes, I will have gear stored up there but the ventilation will be nice and so will the view when not full of gear.
I have to admit, at first I was a little underwhelmed with the redesigned interior. That is until I started to take a closer look and asked a few questions. Yes, the dash is cleaned up a bit, the seats look nice, the instrument cluster is definitely updated, and the GoPro Mount on the windshield is a cool add-on. The seats have been designed to be more comfortable, durable, and give more leg room for passengers. The dash controls were cleaned up nicely and updated with an easy to use touch screen control center. The instrument cluster was finally modernized and includes (on MOST packages) a Multi-information-Display that includes outside temp, odometer, trip meter, and average fuel economy. On the TRD and Limited packages there are a few refinements that need to be noted; Qi-compatible wireless smart device charging, Front Dual Zone Climate Control, and Smart Key System for the drivers door with push button start (Automatic Only). The GoPro mount, though in might be a little brand specific, is an interesting idea.
The 2016 Tacoma will feature two new engine choices:
A 2.7-liter DOHC four-cylinder with VVT-i that will produce 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque at 4000 rpm. EPA estimated fuel economy for the 4x2 with the automatic transmission is 19/23/21, the 4x4 manual is 19/21/20, and the 4x4 automatic is 19/22/20.
For greater performance, Toyota offers a new V6 with a segment-first 3.5-liter Atkinson cycle with VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing with Intelligent Wider Intake) equipped with Toyota’s D-4S technology that features both direct and port fuel injection. With this new V6 the horsepower output is up to 278 (an increase of 42 hp over their 2015 4.0-liter) and 265 lb-ft of torque at 4600 RPM. The EPA estimated fuel economy for the 4x2 automatic is 19/24/21, 4x4 manual is 17/21/19, and 4x4 automatic is 18/23/20.
Both engines will be matched up with a new six-speed automatic transmission with electronic shift. The V6 will have a six-speed manual option, while the four-cylinder will have a five-speed manual option.
Both of these options will make the new Tacoma more powerful that previous models. When you add the V6 Tow Package, you can tow up to 6,800 lb. and 6,900 for the access cab (300 lb. more than the previous V6 model).
Tougher, more powerful, but lighter?:
When designing the frame, the engineering team at the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan had their job cut out for them. By using a high-strength steel, the team set out to lighten up the weight while strengthening key points and making it more rigid throughout the frame.
The team utilized Ultra-high strength steel and a new technology called hot stamping that when integrated into the body shell reduced even more weight while making the shell more durable.
With the development of the Atkinson Cycle Engine, Toyota has one-upped the competition and itself. Never before have we seen the likes of an engine that runs on both direct and port injection systems. The Atkinson Cycle Engine has been developed to run more efficient on the highway and still be able to give that kick in the shorts when more power is needed.
Lighter? Not really, the Tacoma line up is just a touch heavier (roughly 300 lbs) than the 2nd Gen except for the base SR line, it’s lighter by about 300 lbs.
Models & Pricing: Starting At
TRD SPORT $29,665
TRD OFF-ROAD $30,765
Keep in mind that you still have options, these are all priced at 4x2 pricing, and the extras will add up quickly!
My first choice would be a TRD Off-Road, m/t, sun roof, and that would add up to over $34,000. Still not a bad price tag for what you are getting.
All things taken into consideration, the Colorado and the Canyon really have nothing to worry about. They just won’t compete. In my humble opinion the 2016 Tacoma is smartly redesigned, adequately powered up, and ready to be unleashed on the competition! And YES, this truck, Test-Drive Event, and the people involved, all put a smile on my face that was very difficult to remove! FYI, I loved it so much, mine will be here very soon. It’s is a Super White, TRD Off-Road, M/T, with a sunroof, and Double Cab. The built product will be unveiled at SEMA this year, so watch for it here & in all of our social networks!
Texas resident Carter Beckworth rolled into Truth or Consequences, NM in a vehicle that looked ready to go on safari on another continent. He arrived to join the Ghost Divide Expedition entourage headed to Overland Expo. His Land Cruiser immediately attracted attention due to its rarity: a1983 Aussie spec HJ47 powered by a 4.0 naturally aspirated 2H diesel.
Beckworth acquired the HJ from Australia via the import services provided by AUStoUSA.com. He attempted to locate an internationally-sourced Cruiser on his own, but ran into numerous hurdles. It was on IH8MUD.com that he learned about Phil of AUStoUSA.com. Phil helped Beckworth evaluate multiple trucks before finding the right one. The importer handled everything and had it shipped to Texas in late 2013.
When the truck arrived, Beckworth had parts waiting. AUStoUSA had supplied numerous photos, giving Beckworth a good idea of what he was dealing with. He ordered parts from CCOT, e.g. door panels and body repair panels (both rear corners were rotten). He turned to Specter to obtain upholstery and non-US parts.
Next up was repacking and resealing the axles, pulling differentials and installing an Aussie rear locker. Beyond that, everything was in great shape. The engine looked like it had a lot of new parts, which was the result of some work done by the previous owner. The refreshed engine had only 15,000 KM.
For suspension, Beckworth added HFS shocks from CCOT and OME Springs (heavy rear and medium in front). He converted to a 100 amp Isuzu NPR alternator for more juice, thus allowing the truck to run a T-Max dual battery system.
The HJ is outfitted with a homemade swing out tire carrier and rear bumper, which includes a telescoping floodlight. Also homemade are the rock sliders, roof rack, back-up light bracket, and a mount to haul the Hi-Lift jack he has been using since his teens. While the roof rack is sturdy, it is also quite heavy and thus is usually not on the truck. The plan is to replace it with a lighter and lower rack. For the back-up light bracket, he figured out a way to attach a single Nordic LED spotlight to a bracket that fits perfect on the factory license plate holder between the little lights for the plate.
He added an auxiliary FJ40 fuel tank from Marks Off-road, and wired it in to transfer fuel to the main tank, providing more than 500 miles of range when combined with the main tank. Beckworth’s favorite homegrown gadget is his lantern hanger made from an old hinge and some all thread. Attaches anywhere on the roof, and with the lantern filled with citronella oil, it provides pleasant light and keeps mosquitos away.
His first big trip with the HJ was in the summer of 2014: “I traveled from El Paso to Socorro, NM following the Camino Real route, finding important Parajes (camps) and locations and traces of the route of America’s early overlanders. I then cut west, exploring the Sawtooth range and areas around Magdalena and Pie Town, returning through the San Mateos and Black Range. In all, about 400 off-road miles. It was a neat solo trip and I would like to revisit it with friends. This is when the factory alternator gave up and the Isuzu alt and dual battery system came on the scene.”
The HJ performed well on the 500 mile Ghost Divide trip, which comprised of a 5-day expedition over 300 miles of off-road trails. The HJ is used monthly for camping and will be used in the future on more long-distance expeditions.
FIND US ON:
You probably saw a few photos of this very nicely built 5th Gen 4Runner from our SEMA 2014 coverage last year. Toyota was kind enough to place this truck in their outdoor featured vehicles area and it was very well covered.
Early this year, about the same time we were planning our TCT Explorer Tundra Build, Angie & I started talking about our Family Hauler, the 2007 GX 470. With its V8 engine and plenty of room, the GX served us well for the two years we had her. However every time we took her into the dirt we just weren’t sure she was a good fit. That feeling, combined with our fond memories of the TRD FJC, had us both thinking of something a little more suitable for exploration needs.
I remembered Doug (owner of Toytec Lifts) mentioning that he may sell the SEMA 4Runner in order to make room for a 2016 Tacoma when they become available in a couple of months. I told Angie I may know of a well-built 5th Gen 4Runner for sale and showed her some of our SEMA photos. The conversation lasted about 5 minutes:
Shane: Here’s Dougs 4Runner, not sure what the details are but it’s a great truck with several custom features.
Angie: I want it.
Shane: Ok, let me get in touch with Doug & see if it’s still for sale.
Angie: Great, tell him we’ll come get it next week.
Shane: I heard back from Doug, he does want to sell it, and is willing to keep the price reasonable since he knows she’ll be very well taken care of.
Angie: Can we go get it now?
Shane: No, we need to figure out financing and make arrangements.
Angie: Excellent, let me know when I can go get it.
If you haven’t met my better half yet, she’s very much as passionate about great trucks (and fast cars) as I am, so when she’s excited about a new vehicle, there’s no stopping her. That’s reason number 89 why I married her =)
Not less than 10 days later, the 4Runner joined our CrewMax Tundra in the garage. Our stable is now full and ready for the next round of adventure.
This truck has already been out & about exploring Colorado this year, as you may have seen via our social networks: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Last weekend we headed to the hills just north of
Colorado Springs to get a few shots near the red rocks. We even found a little mud :)
In a few weeks we’ll attend our 9th FJ Summit, but it will be the first without an FJ Cruiser. The truth is that the last 2 years we didn’t really use the FJ while at the Summit, so while it will be a major change, the 4Runner really is a perfect fit. We’re very excited to get her on the trails this summer!
For those wondering, here’s a rundown of how Doug & the Toytec Lifts team built this amazing truck:
Suspension, Wheels, Tires:
Toytec Boss suspension
Signature series rear full link package
Procomp 17x8 wheels with 285/70/17 Procomp Xtreme MT-2 tires
Custom color matched aluminum front and rear bumpers by Insain Fab
Bolt on rock sliders by Insain Fab
30” rigid single row light bar.
Rigid Dually Hyper spot cubes
Rigid Dually Flood cubes
HID high and low beam upgrade
Borla cat back exhaust
Weathertech floor liners
Custom carbon fiber accents on roof rack rails, mirrors, and door pillars
Aluminum skid plates
Roof rack upgrades
Yaesu FTM-400DR APRS Dual Band Ham Radio
FIND US ON:
With 286 Toyota 4x4 trucks in attendance, the 2015 Lone Star Toyota Jamboree event experienced an attendance record that practically doubled the previous record. What was the recipe for this success? Since this was the 10th anniversary of the event, the organizers increased publicity, sought out more vendors and special guests, and provided more meals and over $40,000 in prizes.
Each year, the Dallas-based Toyota Trail Riders club reserves the Barnwell Mountain OHV Park for the 4-day event. Located in East Texas near the town of Gilmer, the 1,850 acre park features long and challenging trails at all difficulty levels. The presence of the easier trails allows TTR to promote the event as ideal for folks new to off-roading. TTR fulfills this feature by offering an off-roading 101 class, followed by guided runs specifically for beginners and stock vehicles.
Special guest Ivan “Ironman” Stewart discussed his racing career, signed autographs, posed for photos, and rode along on trail runs. Toyota made a surprise visit offering tacos for lunch while displaying the 2016 TRD Off-road Tacoma. A Toyota engineer was on-hand during Taco Time to discuss the new Tacoma.
The event is always well-organized, and this year was no exception. Vendor presence was quite massive as compared to previous years. The designated vendor area was located just outside of the main pavilion. As people lined up for meals, they were routed through the vendor area for maximum exposure.
The park trails were more challenging due to the amount of rain leading up to the event, resulting in increased levels of truck damage and extractions. The first section of the ever popular Clyde’s Ravine trail was transformed into a massive mud pit and was thus closed off. Night runs are always a highlight at Jamboree, but this year, the runs were far more interesting with the added fun of soaked trails.
Despite the increased carnage, fun was had by all. Each day, stories, videos, and photos of the multiple trials and tribulations were shared with laughter and smiling faces.
If you missed out, there is always next year. Jamboree usually falls on the first weekend of May, so mark your calendar now. Updates will appear on the Facebook page, as well as the website:
FIND US ON:
Traveling through New Mexico and Arizona typically involves pounding pavement across I-40, or further south on I-10. These two interstates are like the chocolate sections of an Oreo cookie. While those routes offer scenic views, they are not as tasty as the creamy middle. Jake Quiñones wants you to experience the territories that exist between these two interstates by following in his tire tracks on roads less traveled and void of pavement. Jake operates a 4WD guide service called New Mexico Backroads (NMBR), offering a variety of overland/expedition-based trips each season. While New Mexico is his home and the namesake of his business, his trips are inclusive of the surrounding states. Jake is an expert guide with an immense amount of knowledge about the areas he covers.
I followed Jake on his Ghost Divide Expedition through the Oreo filling sections of New Mexico and Arizona en route to Overland Expo West. Each year, Jake offers trips to and from Overland Expo via 300+ miles of backroads through scenic wilderness. The historical value of New Mexico is easy to take for granted unless you have someone in your midst who can reveal details of what occurred where. I feel privileged to have gained exposure to significant pieces of American Native history while traveling with Jake. What details exactly? Revealing the answer in literary form simply won’t do it justice. I recommend taking an expedition with Jake so you can truly experience the answer.
The five day expedition took us through the Gila National Forest where the southern Rocky Mountains end and the northern Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico begin. We brushed up against the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts, as well as the Colorado Plateau, and we followed the Mogollon Rim into Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Our elevation spanned from 5,351 ft to 9,563 ft. The four evenings of camping all occurred above 7,000 ft, ensuring chilly conditions.
Once we left our starting point, the first 178 miles did not take us by any trendy coffee shops, fast food outlets, or fuel sources. Social media apps stalled as our phones lost connectivity, which is why Jake carries a satellite communications mechanism, as well as a host of other equipment, for emergencies. Yes, we really were in the remote backcountry.
Pulling a trailer over rugged, high altitude hilly terrain with a 4,000 ft elevation climb while my truck’s air filter collected dust nearly every mile meant my 21 gallon tank was not going to get me to the fuel source in Reserve, NM. I brought an extra 13 gallons, five of which I actually used. I also packed in extra food and water. If only I had packed an extra blanket, I could have better endured the few nights where temperatures dipped well below freezing.
These preparations were not a surprise. Jake advised us in advance with detailed emails communicating what provisions were necessary. Yes, he mentioned cold temperatures. I underestimated the warmth abilities of my mummy bag and rooftop tent. Or maybe I’ve reached that tier in the aging process where tolerance for cold is on the decline. From the multiple emails, it was clear that Jake is organized, thorough, and speaking from year of experience.
I took to heart the information I gleaned from his emails. Privacy tent…check. Camping toilet and human waste bags…check. Shower system…check. Tools and spare vehicle parts…check. Vehicle inspection…check. This last one was costly. My mechanic found my UCAs were not installed correctly, my inner tie-rods were worn, and my exhaust was coming apart. The UCA fix and inner tie-rod replacements cured the steering wheel vibration feedback—something that never registered with me as a symptom of underlying issues.
Our group met in Truth or Consequences, NM on Sunday at high noon. From there, ten 4x4 trucks, outfitted for expedition travel, followed Jake’s well-built AEV equipped Jeep JKUR. Among the trucks were a 1983 Toyota HJ47 diesel and a 1984 Land Rover Defender 90 diesel. Both right-hand drive trucks were imported. Also on the trip was a modified Ford Raptor driven all the way from Canada and a Dodge Ram with a Four Wheel Camper. The remaining five rigs were Jeep JKs. Three of us were pulling trailers. Two of the trailers were built by modern manufacturers of outdoor trailers: a Turtleback and my XVenture XV-1. The other trailer was rather interesting: a former military cargo trailer made of aluminum and equipped with multiple access points. This was a hydraulic tool and repair trailer based on an M-101 chassis. Pat turned it into an ideal expedition trailer.
Each evening, we arrived at our campsites with plenty of time to set up, cook supper, and socialize. My fellow adventurers hailed from Chicago, Florida, French-speaking Canada, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. The personalities of the various participants blended well and comradery was achieved quickly. By the end of the trip, there were numerous running jokes, frequent sarcasm, and lots of laughter. Never a dull moment with this group.
After five days of driving across diverse terrain, rarely seeing other vehicles, and limited exposure to civilization, I can say there is something existential, yet therapeutic, about taking in what nature has to offer in the great Southwest. When we rolled into Overland Expo, I was excited about seeing the various rigs and meeting the vendors. Yet, I was still clinging to that wonderful adventurous high that had carried me for the past 5 days. I was unwilling to accept that our trip had concluded. The Ghost Divide Expedition had affected me. The longing to return to the natural beauty off the beaten path is why I am certain this will not be my last trip with New Mexico Backroads. Hopefully you can join me on one of Jake’s trips in the future.
About New Mexico Backroads
Jake Quiñones is founder and owner of New Mexico Backroads. NMBR provides professional backcountry guiding, scouting, skills training and photography services to a host of individuals, companies and government agencies. In the time leading up to the NMBR’s guided 4WD based adventures, participants will be provided with helpful information on how to prepare and what to expect. An extensive list of essential and recommended supplies/equipment/gear is provided accompanied with advice, tips, and tricks. The self sufficient aspect of NMBR guided 4WD based adventures challenges and prepares participants for their future 4WD based endeavors—to go boldly, prepared, and with confidence. Visit the NMBR website to learn more about upcoming 4WD based adventures.
FIND US ON:
Jim & Shane had the opportunity to chat with Toyota Engineers today as the Ever-Better Expedition made a stop in Colorado Springs, CO. Bill Stahelin and the team from Larry H. Miller Toyota of Colorado Springs hosted the event that brought engineers and loyal Toyota customers together for a chat.
Shane was interviewed by one of the engineers while Jim met several people from Toyota Corporate as well as the Denver region.
The top three things we mentioned to the engineer were:
1) Please bring a diesel engine to the USA for Tacoma & Tundra trucks
2) Consider a solid axle option for trucks
3) If Toyota brings the 70-series to the USA, we will ALL buy one
Also, The TCT Explorer Tundra was very well recieved (of course) =)
Our comments were well recieved and the entire Ever-Better team was happy to visit our little slice of paradise.
The Toyota & Land Cruiser community never ceases to amaze me. Last weekend, during the 5th Annual 100's in the Hills event in the Ouray/Telluride area, members of that event were instrumental in effecting the rescue of a couple that rolled their RZR UTV on Black Bear Pass.
Frank Ledwell, Publisher of OutdoorX4 recounted the entire event in a recent post on their site. I encourage you to read all the details there. Due to the sellfless and well executed actions of a few community members (including Stan Wright from OutdoorX4/Toyota Trails, our own Jonathan Harris, and Andrea Ledwell among others), the couple was rescued in a much more efficient manner.
I certainly hope that reports of the local Sheriff threatening to close one of the most epic passes in Colorado is nothing more than talk. It's clear that the off-road community can handle the very rare accident.
We actually make installing this bumper & winch look pretty easy :)
For this mod, we added the Rock Slide Engineering & COMEUP Winch to our 2015 Toyota Tundra CrewMax TCTExplorer.
This truck from Larry H. Miller Toyota of Colorado Springs is a beast, and the new hardware & recovery gear make sure it's ready to tackle anything.