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The vehicle

Toyota has taken the better part of a decade to remake its midsize Tacoma pickup and frankly it is about time. Yes, the Tacoma is a segment leader in resale values and, yes, third-party research says the Tacoma is super reliable. However, the outgoing truck looked at home in the late 2000s, but not in 2015. Most of all, General Motors has shaken up the segment with its reinvented twins – the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon. Look for Toyota to lean into the twins with an ad campaign that suggests the Tacoma rivals are more like cars, while the new Tacoma is a macho truck.

In photos: Tacoma challenges off-road course

Signature feature

The time came long, long ago to replace the ancient 4.0-litre V-6 in the 2015 truck with a modern engine. The new V-6 is a modern, lightweight mill that maximizes fuel economy with clever ways to manage intake and exhaust. Power is way up over the old 4.0-litre (to 278 horsepower/265 lb.-ft. Torque) and the preferred six-speed automatic transmission is lighter, more durable and more efficient, claim Toyota engineers. Toyota also has a new six-speed manual. The carryover four-cylinder is as under-powered as ever.

What else is new

The stronger body and frame improves bush-whacking and towing/hauling capabilities. You can dial up off-road settings, use Crawl Control to dig out of sand that's axle-deep, and Hill-start Assist will get you up grades of 37 degrees or more. That's steep. The exterior look is bolder, the cabin takes its styling cues from the latest Corolla and Camry, but the muscular wheel flares are nothing you'd find on a family runabout. Too bad the hood scoop is strictly cosmetic; it does not allow air to flow into the engine bay. Toyota is pushing authenticity, yet has a fake hood scoop front and centre. Shame.

Under the hood

We would not recommend the 2.7-litre four to anyone but the most undemanding, budget-conscious buyer, but the new V-6 is smooth and Toyota says it will be stunningly fuel efficient, though the final numbers won't be available for weeks. The automatic gearbox finds its way to the correct gear without any issues.

When can we buy it, and for how much

Look for the new Tacoma in dealerships by mid-October at prices that will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

Cool quotient

4 stars (out of 5).

We're talking about a brazen design, serious capabilities and enough size for almost any pickup truck task. Poseurs should look elsewhere.

The new Toyota Tacoma uses Crawl Control to dig out of axle-deep sand. Jeremy Cato reports the truck has some serious off-road ability http://tgam.ca/ELGQ

Posted by Globe Drive on Monday, August 17, 2015

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