2016 Mid-Size Truck Shootout – Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier

Mar. 16, 2016 By Josh Burns and Scott Rousseau, Photos by Josh Burns, Video by Jay McNally

Time for posture
Time for placement
Gonna do it right
I know what matters
Yeah I'll take it
Right now!
I'll take credit

“If Credit’s What Matters I’ll Take Credit” – Hot Snakes

Forty percent. 40%. 40 percent. Forty %. No matter how you phrase it, 40 percent is a crucial figure for mid-size trucks, as it’s the percentage of sales increase from 2014 to 2015 in the segment (253,826 to 357,406*). Who deserves the credit for this increase is up for debate.

On one hand, GM can certainly claim its share of the credit by introducing a new truck platform shared on the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado, the latter of which won our 2015 Mid-Size Truck Shootout. Then again, Nissan and Toyota deserve their share of praise for keeping the segment afloat after most manufacturers left it for dead.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why mid-size truck sales, like the automotive industry as a whole, were up last year. A rebounding economy helped, as did lower fuel prices. And it appears GM’s re-entry didn’t hurt anything other than Nissan’s market share a little bit. The head-scratcher was really Toyota, with a 10-year-old product, having its best sales month for Tacoma ever – and that was prior to the new 2016 model being launched.

This growth means good things for you, the truck buyer, for one simple reason: competition breeds innovation. This year’s 2016 Mid-Size Truck Shootout is evidence of that, as we have one all-new truck in the Tacoma and a first-ever diesel engine for the U.S. in the GMC.

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Truck Lineup
If you think that you're strong
Wanna fight?
Well come on, and line up
“Line Up” - Aerosmith

The segment leader Toyota has unveiled its all-new Tacoma this year, sporting a newly designed exterior, interior, and a host of new off-road features for the TRD Off-Road version of the truck we are testing.

One of the most noteworthy changes to this year’s truck is the replacement of the 4.0L engine with a new 3.5L Atkinson Cycle V6 that provides a 42-horsepower increase over the previous engine. Toyota also ditched the five-speed transmission in favor of a new six-speed. The 2016 truck also boasts improved city and highway fuel economy ratings.

GM is making big news in the segment for the second year in a row by introducing the first-ever diesel engine for a mid-size truck in the U.S. market. The new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel is available in both the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon for 2016.

The new engine is rated to produce 181 horsepower and a class-leading 369 lb.-ft. of torque, and what’s more the Duramax-equipped Colorado and Canyon boast the best fuel economy of any pickup truck at 31 mpg in 2WD form. We, however, will be testing a 4x4 version, though it still promises an impressive 29-mpg highway rating. For 2016, we’ve included the GMC Canyon in our test, which is the same platform as the Colorado but is essentially more handsomely equipped inside.

Nissan’s motto in 2016: Why change a good thing? That’s the approach with the Frontier this year, as no major changes are found on our PRO-4X off-road version of the truck except for a new Forged Copper paintjob.

The Frontier offers great value with its added features, affordable price tag, and its proven tried-and-true 4.0L V6 engine that is still very much competitive in the field.

Mid-Size Truck Shootout Shortcuts
Jump to: Engine Performance, Speed

Jump to: Suspension & Handling, Towing

Jump to: Ergonomics & Features

Jump to: Scorecard, Results

*Thanks to GoodCarBadCar.net for the sales figures

Next Page... Mid-Size Truck Shootout

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