We give Toyota credit where it's due. The automaker has done a very good job of keeping the new Tacoma midsize truck under wraps. We mean that literally and figuratively, as this is only the second time we've seen a test vehicle in public. And it's still well concealed under heavy camouflage.
Actually, they are well concealed. The folks over at TFLnow happened upon a fleet of Tacomas, each covered nose to tail while taking a break from testing in the mountains. With cameras rolling, we get a close view of one prototype turning around in an empty lot, showing a side-exit exhaust at the rear of the truck similar to the Toyota Tundra. The camera also zooms in on another prototype, catching a portion of the grille that bears considerable resemblance to the Tundra. However, the smaller wheel/tire combo and cab proportions scream Tacoma.
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If there's any doubt about these being Toyota vehicles, multiple commenters in the video call out the automaker's distinctive locking beep heard around the 1:13 mark. Unfortunately, other aural clues such as engine or exhaust noise are impossible to hear. A Jeep Grand Wagoneer and Chevrolet Suburban appear to be part of the fleet, and we primarily hear the Jeep's engine as the vehicles exit the lot. It's not a hasty exit, which is good for getting a clear look. The trade-off is that we don't hear what's under the hood.
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Engine options are a well-kept secret at this point. The current Tacoma offers a choice between a 2.7-liter four-cylinder making 159 horsepower (118 kilowatts) or a 278-hp (207-kW) 3.5-liter V6. It's believed a new turbocharged four-cylinder will join the fray, but it's unclear if it will join the existing mills or be the Tacoma's sole powerplant. Further complicating things is a strong rumor that the new Taco will use Toyota's TNGA-F platform. It's already in use with numerous models including the Tundra, and it's expected to underpin Toyota's global Hilux and Fortuner vehicles. An electric model could eventually arrive as well.
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The current-generation Tacoma arrived for the 2016 model year and received a facelift for 2020. With that timeframe in mind, we could see the next-gen truck debut as soon as 2023.