The 2016-2021 Toyota Tacoma got its own version of the corporate 3.5 liter V6, replacing the old 4.0 liter unit which has been a staple of this truck for some time. While it shares its size with cars like the Toyota Camry, make no mistake it’s quite different.
The engine in fact shares more in common with that which you find under hood of many Lexus models like the rear-wheel drive IS and GS sedans. For truck duty it’s tuned at 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque and comes with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Making this all happen is Toyota’s D4-S fuel injection system which offers both port and direct fuel injection. It also has a wide-band variable valve timing system that can run the engine both a fuel saving Atkinson Cycle or the Otto Cycle for more power when needed.
Following the air flow, the intake charge comes in through a large filter box on the passenger side, that looks easy to replace with an aftermarket unit. From there it heads into a composite plastic intake manifold and into the engine.
The fuel system isn’t that easy to see as most of it is hidden under the intake manifold. But on the valve covers you can see generous sound deadening material, a tell tale sign that it’s equipped with high pressure direct-injectors which tend to be noisy.
The engine has unique heads which have an integrated exhaust manifold, allowing the downpipe and catalytic converter to bolt directly to the head. This makes for better thermal efficiency but also makes it harder to steal the converter since it’s up under the hood.
Looking back up front you can see the cooling fan is still mounted to the engine in old school fashion with a clutch. The accessory drive still turns a power steering pump here too as the Tacoma still has hydraulic power steering.
For do it yourself maintenance, all the major service points are in plain sight even though it is a somewhat tight engine compartment. The oil dipstick and filler neck are found up front and top of the engine as expected.
The battery is up front on the driver side, followed by the fuse panel and then the brake fluid reservoir. Underneath it is the ABS brake controller which does a lot of duty here in the Tacoma TRD Off-Road with all of its terrain and crawl features.
Coolant and windshield washer fluid is right up front on the passenger side as is the filler cap for the power steering fluid. The air filter box is there as well with plenty of room around it for easy access and filter replacement.