The most famous Toyota pickup of all time was the gleaming black 4x4 with KC trail lights that Marty McFly dreamed of in the 1985 sci-fi flick, "Back to the Future." In Gen-X memories, it is nearly as cool as the DeLorean with which it co-starred. While Toyota celebrated the movie's 30th Anniversary with a BTTF concept during January's Detroit auto show, we had to settle for a Tacoma Limited Double Cab 4x4.
It's not a bad consolation prize. Tacoma Limited is dressed out like a luxury SUV with a bed. It's a serious-looking beast with muscular fenders, sculpted hood, evil barn-size grille, foglamps, and 18-inch alloys shod in off-road tires. It looks upscale with Double Cab body and tonneau cover - ready to drive over any boulder or log that rolls its way. I'd love to see Biff out there waxing it.
He should go ahead and vacuum the interior too -- keep it looking nice with spit and polish. It'll take time because the cabin is a roomy mix of future-tech industrialism, chic upholstery, and contemporary electronics. Brown waffle pattern leather heated seats, coco trim on the doors, and leather-wrapped steering wheel are stylish. But, the metal-look silver finishes, round vents, and hard plastic on the dash could be the result of roboticide. At least everything is easy to use.
The top dash layer contains the touchscreen for controlling navigation, JBL audio, and XM Satellite radio. Smartphones and MP3 players connect via USB and Bluetooth. A layer beneath are dials and buttons for the automatic climate control system. Move lower to scope auxiliary controls for lighting and stability control systems. Deep cupholders, wireless phone charger, and large console make Tacoma a utilitarian mobile office. Open the sunroof and seize your day.
Had McFly's pickup throttled our Tacoma's engine, it would have dusted the DeLorean. Bolstered with a flux capacitor or not, Doc's time machine was propelled by a 130 horsepower V6. The Tacoma comes with a 3.5-liter V6, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which delivers 278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. Four-wheel-drive helps the truck tackle virtually any terrain, but fuel economy rating 19/23-MPG city/hwy is from another time. It doesn't get much better with the available four-cylinder engine.
Should you need to tow your time machine to, say, a town square clock tower, Tacoma is ready -- and a better choice than yellow "bathtub" Packards. When equipped with the trailer prep package like our V6 4x4, Tacoma can tow 6,400 lbs. -- enough to handle two DeLoreans plus a trailer. Beyond a beefy frame and engine, the Tow Package includes a transmission cooler, engine oil cooler, power steering cooler, electrical connections, 130-amp alternator, and electronic trailer sway control.
All of the safety gear indicates we're definitely living in the future. Connection to trailers and maneuvering in tight spaces is made easier with a rear camera and sonar. Underway, blind spot warning and rear traffic assist systems keep fenders fully painted. Toyota should go one leap further and offer forward collision alert with auto stop and lane keep assist.
Toyota should just quit teasing and actually build a Tacoma BTTF with all of the movie truck's accoutrement, but until then, there's much to like in the Limited Double Cab. It's big and comfortable, offering all of the towing and hauling capacity most need. Fuel economy is horrendous and the suspension shakes over rough pavement, but that's par for the breed. It's just another part of the Tacoma that reminds us of good times past.
Prices rise from $23,300 for a base Tacoma, but came to $40,020 fully decked. Competitors include the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier, and redesigned Honda Ridgeline.
Watch Casey's video review off the Tacoma; follow him on YouTube and Twitter: @AutoCasey.
2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited
- Five-passenger, AWD pickup
- Powertrain: 278hp 3.5-liter V6, 6-spd. trans
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Leaf spring
- Wheels f/r: 18"/18" alloy
- Brakes f/r: disc/drum
- Must-have features: Style, Capability
- Fuel economy: 19/23 mpg city/hwy
- Assembly: San Antonio, TX
- Base/as-tested price: $23,300/40,020