Growing Gains: Benchmark Compacts Go Big, Get Better – The Kiinote

#hashtags: #Toyota #Honda #Southern California #Xtra Cab 4 #VTEC #Civic Si #Xtra Cab

When I finally got the chance to drive the all-new Toyota Tacoma and Honda Civic—both Of the Year finalists—I figured the experiences would take me back 20-plus years to my first two cars, to the days when I romped along Southern California fire roads in an indestructible 1990 Toyota SR5 V6 Xtra Cab 4×4 truck and fell in love with the song and surge of Honda’s now-legendary VTEC engine technology in a 1992 Civic Si. The new generations would feel and drive similarly to their forebears, at least a little, right? I figured wrong. Damn you, nostalgia. Turns out the Tacoma did remind me of a Toyota, and the Civic did get me thinking of a Honda, but neither shares its name with the compact car and truck I once gazed at in my garage. No, the upsized Taco took me back to the first-gen Tundra, and the fully matured Civic rekindled feelings I had for the original Acura TSX. As Vince Vaughn would say, “Our little baby’s all growns up.” The combined output of my ’90 SR5 and ’92 Si was 275 horsepower, or 3 horses shy of what the Tacoma’s new port- and direct-injection, Atkinson-cycle, 3.5-liter V-6 doles out. More impressive, the Taco’s V-6 produces 33 more horsepower than the Lexus LS-derived DOHC, 4.7-liter V-8 that had us oohing and aahing in October 1999 when we drove the game-changing 2000 Tundra. Back then the Tundra was quick—0 to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds at 84.2 mph for a 4×2 SR5 V8 Access Cab, outgunning competitors from Dodge, Ford, and GM—and its dimensions placed it squarely in the full-size category. Looking at the specs of the new Tacoma reveals that this “compact” offering isn’t much smaller than that old full-size Tundra, all the while being a whole lot quicker. Measuring 212.3 by 74.4 by 70.6 inches (LxWxH), our 4×2 Tacoma Double Cab SR5 is 5.2 inches tidier bumper to bumper, 0.8 inch narrower, and 0.1 inch taller yet proved 1.4 and 1.1 seconds speedier to 60 and the quarter, respectively, than the V-8-powered Tundra. It’s interesting that a mere 98 pounds separate both trucks (4,276 for the Tundra, 4,178 for the Tacoma), each shares the same tire size (265/70R16), and the Taco’s max towing is down only 500 pounds to the Tundra’s 7,200-pound capacity. The original 2004 TSX, armed with a 200-horse, 166-lb-ft, 2.4-liter I-4 and a six-speed manual, pushed its 3,241 pounds from 0 to 60 in 8.0 seconds and past the quarter in 16.0 flat at 88.8 mph. If you had to guess which is quicker between the TSX and Civic, would you pick the Civic? You should. The Civic’s first turbocharged engine, a tiny VTEC-less 1.5-liter I-4 with 16.5 psi of boost, develops 174 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque, enough gusto to shove the 2,925-pound Touring from 0 to 60 in 7.2 seconds and through the quarter in 15.5 at 92.4 mph. The last Si we tested (2014 Coupe) rocked the quarter in 15 even at 93.5 mph. Keep in mind that the Touring is a CVT-equipped sedan. Beyond the similar, albeit quicker, performance stats, the Civic feels and behaves like the TSX, from the smooth, precise steering and high-quality action of the controls to the stylish, upscale cabin and quiet highway cruising. Further, the Civic is but an inch shorter in length yet 1.4 inches broader in width. So if you’re a fan of the old TSX, try the new Civic on for size. Twists and Turns Down Memory Lane I Drove: 2016 Honda Civic Nostalgic Miss: My 1992 Honda Civic Si Nostalgic Hit: 2004 Acura TSX I Drove: 2016 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab SR5 Nostalgic Miss: My 1990 Toyota Xtra Cab SR5 Nostalgic Hit: 2000 Toyota Tundra More Kiinote columns: 5 for ’15: A Handful of Great Rides from 2015 Downsizing Hits an Upswing: Smaller Turbo Engines Are Going Big A Tale of Two Top Tens: Japan and U.S. Make, Buy Very Different Vehicles The Heart of Godzilla: Examining the Surgical Precision of Takumi