In the three-horse compact truck race, the 2016 Toyota Tacoma aims high

Toyota Tacoma

The Chevy Colorado is flaunting the Motor Trend ‘Truck of the Year’ award right now, but competition is hot on its tail.

Automotive News reports that Toyota is planning to debut the 2016 Tacoma pickup at the Detroit Auto Show, which kicks off in January.

The Colorado and GMC Canyon have been beating the plucky Tacoma in nearly every category lately, except the one that really matters: sales. Despite General Motors’ offering being more powerful, more fuel-efficient, cheaper, arguably better looking, and a more capable hauler, the Tacoma is still the mid-sized truck king. For now.

The GM cousins weren’t released until well into 2014, so there isn’t much to go on as far as sales numbers. In the first six months of 2014, however, Toyota sold 75,146 units, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Colorado’s positive reception carries over to the quarterly report.

In the absence of a Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota in America, competition is slim. Outside of Toyota and GM, there’s a Nissan Frontier out there, but it’s quite outdated. It won’t take much for the ‘Taco’ to reach the top of awards season next year.

One way it can do that is by updating its styling, which has remained painfully unchanged since 2004.

“It has been a flat segment,” Bill Fay, General Manager of the Toyota division said. “With the new entries coming in, the market should expand.”

In anticipation of that growth, the Japanese brand is ramping up Tacoma production. The plant in Baja California, Mexico that builds the vehicle is scheduled go to three-crew, three-shift production in April.

Also, dealers are reportedly asking for increased Tacoma inventory. So perhaps the mid-sized truck segment , which has been dry and stale for years, may have some life in it yet.