It’s clear from Toyota’s vehicle lineup that the brand is serious about off-roading, with nameplates like 4Runner and Land Cruiser leading the charge into the dirt.
It is with the Tacoma, Toyota’s small pickup, where the brand proves it still cares for its enthusiast base, as the truck received an all-new six-speed manual transmission when it redesigned for 2016, an option that has almost entirely disappeared from the pickup truck landscape.
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How Does it Work?
As the name implies, this small button fitted to the dash to the left of the steering wheel allows the truck to be started without the clutch pedal depressed. Usually, the vehicle will lock out the starter if the clutch isn’t depressed, as starting a vehicle in gear will result in a lurch forwards or back. In the Tacoma, that’s exactly the desired effect.
The idea behind the feature is to get a perfect start every time, with no wheel spin and no rolling backward. It allows you to put the truck into first gear and start it, essentially using the starter motor to initiate the motion of the truck.
What Does it Do?
To understand when this would be useful, imagine this scenario. While driving up a muddy hill, you begin to lose traction and slip backward. Eventually, you come to a complete stop, just one inch away from a massive boulder behind the truck.
In a normal manual, you would have to gently release the clutch, looking to move forward without spinning the wheels and without moving backward at all. The odds of nailing all of those different factors are slim.
This is when clutch start cancel can be a lifesaver. Because it’s putting an even amount of power to each wheel on takeoff, the odds of getting a nice smoother start are much greater, plus, the truck will not roll back at all. Not even a little bit. In some situations, this could be a big deal.
Opting for the manual gearbox in the Tacoma TRD Off-Road or TRD Pro does forgo two of Toyota’s proprietary off-road technologies, Crawl Control and Multi-Terrain Select, but for the manual lover, this an excellent gear box that makes the trade off worth it. And best of all, rowing through the gears doesn’t feel like pushing a stick through bucket of rocks. It has nice notchy gates, and some excellent tactile feedback that makes shifting through these six ratios a pleasure.
Clutch start cancel may be a seldom used feature on the Tacoma, but for the true off-roaders who plan on tackling the hairiest of situations, this little button could make a big difference.