For the past 15 years, Toyota’s Tacoma has been the top selling midsize pickup in the country. Reason being, it offers Toyota’s fine build, high resale value, it’s offered in several configurations and it’s the right size for those who don’t need a full-size pickup.
Tacoma is offered in SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited and TRD Pro that we were privileged to test. New to these are a Trail Special Edition and Nightshade Special Edition models, with the latter getting a 5,000 limited production run.
Tacoma is also offered in Access Cab with half-size rear hinged doors and seating for four with a pair of jump seats. The tested Double Cab, with standard size doors, has a full-width bench seat offering seating for a total of five.
Upon a tall 23-inch step-in into the cockpit, Tacoma’s interior is sporty and rugged looking with cushy leather trimmed and heated front seats that have contrasting red stitching. Atop the dash is an 8-inch touchscreen complete with Entune apps, Wi-Fi connect, multi-view rearview camera, navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
On the vertical stack, HVAC controls are large and easy to use even with gloved hands. Next to them is the rotary 4WD selector for 2WD, 4Hi and 4 Lo on-demand, part-time gearing. Adding to Tacoma TRD Pro’s off-road prowess is a locking rear differential with Multi-Terrain select along with Crawl Control and Hill Start Assist.
Housed neared the bottom of the stack is a wireless phone charger and in front, the 6-speed automatic transmission gear selector.
A 4.2-inch vertical driver information display nestled between the analog tach and speedometer, offers a digital speedometer along with auxiliary operating information and alerts.
Tacoma’s back seat is roomy for two adults or three youngsters. Leg room for adults is spacious, provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward. The rear seat seatback flips forward exposing a shelf for small item storage.
Back in Tacoma’s composite bed, it includes four sliding tie-down cleats along the bed rails to secure loads. With the tailgate lowered, there’s a 32-inch lift height.
With the TRD Pro model, it gets beefy 2.5-inch Fox shocks and skid plate to protect the trucks’ vitals. Shod with Goodyear, 8-inch wide, 265/70R16 tires, Tacoma has a firm, but not punishing ride. Handling is planted in tight turns and has a 40.8-foot turn diameter. This is a bona fide work and off-road truck with a 9.4-inch ground clearance to handle nasty off-roads and deep snow depths.
Power wise, Tacoma’s are offered with two powertrain choices. The 2.4-liter inline 4 produces 159-hp and 180 lb/ft of torque for EPA mileage estimates of 19 city, 22-highway mpg with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Tacoma’s can also be had with a 6-speed manual trans, a rarity among midsize pickups. Our TRD Pro came standard a 3.5-liter V6 that generates 278-hp and 265 lb/ft of torque for EPA estimates of 18 city, 22-highway mpg with the 6-speed automatic trans. This allows a towing capacity of up to 6,400 pounds. It carries a GVWR of 5,600 pounds and a GCW of 11,360 pounds.
Tacoma TRD Pro was loaded with a host of safety features such as Toyota’s Safety Sense P Pre-Collision system w/pedestrian detection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, blind spot monitor w/rear cross traffic alert, Safety and Remote Connect w/one-year trial, and more.
Niceties include JBL audio, Sirius XM satellite radio, LED headlights, Smart Key system, tow receiver hitch, Rigid Industries fog lights and more.
For all this and no extra cost options, Tacoma TRD Pro carried a bottom line of $47,955 with delivery.
Impressive for a midsize pickup is that Tacoma garnered four overall stars in the governments five-star safety rating. It also received four stars for driver/passenger frontal crash, four for front seat side crash, five stars for rear seat side crash and four for rollover.
With competition from Chevy’s Colorado, GMCs Canyon, Jeep Gladiator, Ford’s Ranger and new Maverick, Tacoma is a proven performer and destined to remain a top seller in its class.