Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tacoma is tops in tale of three sizable Toyotas

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

Sacramento, California ­ This is a tale of three Toyotas … sizable ones.

In a recent string of deliveries, I had time behind the wheel of a 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser sport-utility vehicle with four-wheel drive, a 2016 Toyota Tundra 4X4 Platinum CrewMax pickup and a 2016 Toyota Tacoma Limited 4X4 Double Cab (pictured).

That’s a great big bunch of Toyota hardware, but let’s begin with the Land Cruiser.

The tested SUV could be the poster child for gigantic SUV extremes.  It takes some loot to land this luxury liner: the bottom line on the tester’s sticker was $84,820.

Standing next to it made me feel small…no easy thing as I stand 6-4.  Inside, the Land Cruiser was stuffed with dozens of luxury, comfort and convenience features.  It’s a rolling five-store hotel.  It also has plenty of driving/safety-enhancement perks.

Naturally, you need a big engine for this transportation, and I had it with a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 381 horsepower and 401 foot-pounds of torque.  This power plant moved the big brute around nicely.  And for all its size and power, the Land Cruiser was remarkably smooth and quiet on the open road.

Alas, fuel mileage came in at just 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 mpg on the highway.

For those who want lots of luxury and space and have no fear of writing a big check, this reworked-for-2016 Land Cruiser is for you.

As large as the Land Cruiser was, it was trumped by the tested Tundra.  Ideal for a ranch, a work site or a sprawling farm, the tested Tundra made me feel inadequate in my daily suburban-city commutes.  I felt like I was in the wheelhouse of a giant oil tanker.

The tested Tundra was priced at a relatively practical $50,275.  A blizzard of interior comforts and wide open spaces reinforced the fact that pickup trucks have a come a long way since the boxy rides I remember on my grandpa’s farm.

Fuel mileage on the Tundra was a similarly tepid 13 miles per gallon in the city and 17 mpg on the highway.  But I will say this: The steering and suspension on the Tundra were so finely engineered that I quickly became comfortable behind the wheel of a truck big enough to have its own ZIP code.

The Tacoma was my “Goldilocks” ride among the three tested Toyotas … just right. Less gigantic and certainly nimble for a pickup, I could envision the Tacoma doing double duty as an urban commuter and a suburban workhorse.  The highly-respected truck gets better this model year with numerous refinements for 2016.

The Tacoma’s 3.5-liter V-6 was rated at 278 horsepower, which handled most conditions quite adequately.  However, when I needed quick acceleration to put myself out of harm’s way, I found that I really had to bury my right foot deep on the accelerator.

Fuel mileage was slightly better than the other two tested giants.  The Tacoma was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 23 mpg on highway.   The tester was priced at $40,020.  Not bad at all in this compact pickup segment.

If I had to choose one of the three based on my household budget and personal transportation needs, I’d opt for the Tacoma.  But all three have sizable appeal.

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