Originally Posted by Vermilye
I don't think you can compare the new 2016 Tacoma to any of the previous models. The engine (a 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine) in the 2016 Tacoma is new. Slightly less torque, but more horsepower (2015 = 4.0L, 236HP, 266 lb-ft of torque) vs (2016 = 3.5L, 278HP, 265 lb-ft of torque).
I doubt one lb-ft will make any difference, particularly with the 2016 having a 6 speed vs 5 speed transmission...
I expect it will be nearly interchangeable with the previous version in many ways. The new engine is actually from the same family (the GR series) and an update of the 2GR-FSE used in various Lexus models; the biggest difference will likely be the speed it needs to run to deliver a given amount of power:
Originally Posted by Brian B-P
- 236 hp (176 kW) @ 5200 rpm
- 266 lb·ft (361 N·m) of torque @ 4000 rpm
- 278 hp (207 kW) @ 6,000 rpm
- 265 lb·ft (360 N·m) of torque@ 4,600 rpm
It would be interesting to see how much power the 2016 engine can produce at the earlier engine's speed for peak power (5200 rpm), or how much torque the 2016 engine can produce at the earlier engine's speed for peak torque (4000 rpm). Who knows - maybe the new one is just like the old one plus more power for a bonus at higher speeds.
For more technical detail on the GR engines, this is an interesting article: From FSE to FKS: the evolution of Toyota's 2GR 3.5-liter V6 - Kaizen Factor
One more gear in the manual transmission will be useful, but I doubt it will make much difference while towing - it depends on whether it is a closer-ratio box or a 5-speed plus one more higher gear.
The rest of the mechanical design hasn't changed much, because like almost every light pickup it still has double A-arms for the front suspension and a beam axle with leaf springs for the rear... it's hard to make much meaningful improvement without real change. Most of the update is presumably fancier electronics.