Friday, August 15, 2008

The New Taco Shop

The Bonus Added Features of the NEW New Truck
So yeah, we ended up paying a little more for the new new truck. But it has a slew of new features. The ones that were the deal-breakers as far as the 2008 model being returned were a rear diff lock, VSC, A-TRAC (not to be confused with 8-Track), and a couple of features directly tied to those features, those being DAC & HAC.

Well in my mind, those were the deal-breakers. Turns out though, there were other features that until I played with them, I had no idea they were actually the deal-breakers. One in particular, though. Rear Backup Camera. Oh. My. God. I cussed when I played with it. We went to test drive the truck this time before we signed the paperwork (good idea!), and the first thing we did was pop it in reverse and try out the rear backup camera. I was curious where the hell the monitor was, as the dash radio was not one of those DVD-navigation thingies that I figured would be responsible. Any guesses? I am looking over the dash, trying to figure out where the monitor’s going to be, and I glance up (out of habit) and lo-and-behold, the monitor for the backup camera… is in the rearview mirror. It was too cool for me to restrain myself, and the next thing I know I’m laying down an explicative-laced hoorah that seemed to make everyone giddy with laughter.

But it was cool to me! It was
that cool. Still is. It’s so amazing, because I’ve owned a pickup before and I know that it’s hard as hell to judge where your butt actually is. When you’re trying to back up as much as possible (parallel parking, anyone?), it’s awesome in that it gives you the confidence you otherwise couldn’t have without constantly getting out to check first-person.

How cool is it? Here, I took pictures. This first one, shows the rearview before I put it in reverse. Just your average rearview mirror (click for large):

IMG_1248 copy

But wait! Put that thing into “R,” and now we’re flying all cool-like and sh!t (click for large):

IMG_1249 copy

You’re jealous. And I don’t blame you. :-)

The Sought-After New Features of the NEW New Truck
So about those alphabet-soups above. They have meaning. Shall we? Let’s.

DAC, or Downhill Assist Control, is pretty much just awesome. What it does is to take control of your throttle & braking and do what you can’t do with your pedals. It assists your descent down steep slopes by activating the ABS on each wheel, independently to keep your rig facing the right direction. That direction being face-down, because if you’re sideways on a steep decline, you’re probably about 5 seconds from rolling. It’s a little thing I like to call physics. So. You activate it, you take your foot of the pedals, and just steer. It handles the braking & everything for you, at each wheel, independently. It’s freaking awesome.

HAC, or Hill-Start Assist Control, is a feature by which you don’t have to worry about rolling backwards when you start uphill from a dead-stop. You know how in your car, when you release the brake you start sliding backwards? Yeah, well. Not me. Not anymore. My truck will automagically keep the brake engaged until the gas is actually applied. Think of it as power braking, but without the effort.

A-TRAC, or Active Traction Control, is a system only available in 4x4 Lo mode that uses the braking system similar to the DAC function, but in order to give you power where you need it. See typically, your tires will spin when they hit no resistance, and the drivetrain sort of (quite against intuition) sends the power to those wheels. And the real problem is that the ones that are spinning free are the ones that you want spinning least. Well A-TRAC uses the braking system like DAC, applying the brakes to the wheels that are spinning free, diverting the power instead to the wheels that are still in contact with the ground, propelling you forward instead. It’s also – like DAC – freaking awesome.

Remember back at the beginning of the year? When the 4Runner (without any such assistance or even a rear diff lock –something else the Taco has that I wanted)
got stuck in a rut by the side of the road? With one wheel spinning free, in 4WD? Had I had the Tacoma, probably would’ve been able to make it out without the tow.

VSC uses the same principles of A-TRAC & DAC, but during normal driving instead. It’s there to compensate for out-of-control maneuvers, such as during emergency swerves & such. It also uses the brakes and it’s “brain” to calculate what wheels need to be braked in order to point the car in the direction you’re really pointing it. It’s kind of cool after reading about it and how it works, as well as watching a video or two about it. I was on the fence originally, but now I’m sold.

Last Word
So. Yeah. That’s the truck in a nutshell. I look forward to taking it out for a spin in the rough, but that won’t be for a couple of weeks. We have a camper shell on order, and the dogs aren’t allowed in the bed until that’s on properly. I’m not going to have doggy splattered all over some road somewhere. Well, at least mine.

And since we don’t go out anywhere without them, well, the 4Runner will still be gainfully employed for at least that long.

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