After taking the new 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD off-road truck up and down a man-made, 20-foot long steep gravel hill, Kyle Thacker, a demonstration driver, wanted to show the power of the Crawl control.
At the base of the hill, Thacker pushed the Crawl control button that was just above his head on the ceiling inside the truck. The truck began slowly backing up the steep hill even though Thacker’s foot was not on the gas or the brake.
“It is an automated system that is basically like a really smart traction control,” Thacker said. “It is only good for an off-road experience. You are not going to use it on the road ever. It only goes up to 5 miles per hour.”
For outdoor enthusiasts, Toyota wants everybody to know the 2016 Tacoma TRD off-road truck is the way to go.
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In the Midwest, Toyota held four days of demonstrations at Bass Pro Shops in four separate locations, Sept. 24-27. One of the spots was the Bass Pro Shops at 18001Bass Pro Drive in Independence. The other locations were in Springfield, and in Altoona and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“We believe in it strongly. Mid-size trucks are the fastest-growing segment in the industry. It is up 53 percent,” said Zachary Emahiser, regional sales training manager. “The truck is designed for the person who embraces the outdoor lifestyle.”
When Toyota redesigned the Tacoma, it had people who do off-the-road activities in mind.
For instance, Emahiser said, the instrument cluster location is similar to that of an ATV, snowmobile and other recreational vehicles.
“It mimics that so the customer is very familiar with the controls and where to look naturally and not having to relearn the vehicle,” Emahiser said.
An obstacle course was set up in the parking lot at the Independence Bass Pro Shops to simulate the conditions of an off-road area.
Besides the 20-foot hill, there was an area of “logs” that the truck went over, a sand pit and a side hill that put the truck on two wheels. Each area was built to demonstrate how the 2016 Tacoma TRD could get through it without a problem.
It took two days for Ron Herman, from Minnesota, and his son to build the course. He was impressed how the truck was able to get through the obstacles without any problems.
“I thought the truck was amazing,” Herman said. “I can’t believe the truck did as well as it did. It went right up the hill no problem. You can’t walk up that hill. I challenge you to walk up that hill. It is that steep.”
The demonstration that Herman thought was the most impressive of all was when the 2016 Tacoma TRD off-road was purposely stuck in a sand pit. Normally, a tow truck would be needed to pull it out. Herman was certain a tow truck would be needed.
While the person doing the demonstration told the crowd of people that this didn’t mean a 2016 Tacoma would never get stuck, the demonstration proved in that situation it could get out of the sand by using the Crawl control.
“With the technology, it is using the throttle and braking system to find where the vehicle has traction, and it is constantly telling the vehicle where to send the power to so it can find a way to pull itself out,” Emahiser said.
The demonstration drivers were very thorough in showing potential customers the different aspects of the 2016 Tacoma. They even used a camera underneath the truck to send images to a computer tablet, showing just how the wheels operate when going through the obstacle course.
It was likely a lot of shoppers at the Bass Pro Shops in Independence got a taste of the Tacoma last weekend. Music was playing in the air, and a Toyota representative was on a public address system, encouraging shoppers to take a few minutes to experience the 2016 Tacoma.
William England, who is from Sedalia, decided to go through the demonstration last Friday afternoon with his four children.
“It was the first time I have seen a course that simulates off-road conditions and takes people through it to show the capabilities of the truck,” England said. “It was a unique opportunity. I’ve done some off-roading before. They have simulated the conditions.”
England’s 12-year-old son, Nathan, said the experience of going up the 20-foot hill and back down was like a roller coaster.
“I thought it was really cool, especially the part when you went up on the side,” Nathan said. “I thought it was fun.”
The demonstration drivers like Thacker and Natosha Keefer took plenty of time to explain all the new features on the 2016 Tacoma TRD.
“Basically, what they have done is revamped the entire interior of the truck,” Keefer said. “It has high quality steel and the quality of the steel allows it to (be) more flexible, more relaxed and now you feel comfortable when you are off road.”
For people who might only do off-road activities once or twice a year, Emahiser said the 2016 Tacoma TRD is easy to operate.
“It takes a novice off-road person and makes them very comfortable in their minds to do what they need to do, Emahiser said.
He added that the idea behind this technology is for all of it to work together to provide an enhanced ride quality.
“The Crawl control gives me full confidence,” Keefer said. “It takes over the power, the braking, the gas, everything. All the coils and systems are working together and telling me where I need to go. All I have to do as a driver is make sure I am steering. I don’t have to worry about anything else as I am going over this ridge.
“There are a lot of great places in Missouri and Kansas, and a lot of the locals like to go to Colorado and do the same thing. This would work great.”