WASHINGTON — Want a pickup that’s more off-road friendly or luxurious? Either way, Toyota has a Tacoma for you.
It’s a great time to be a pickup buyer, especially if a smaller midsize truck is right for you. With increased options from Toyota and other manufacturers, the truck is a hot ticket item now.
I spent a few weeks with some double cab Tacoma pickups to see if Toyota has what it takes to stay at the head of the pack.
Toyota’s Tacoma TRD Pro is a special truck that’s ready to go anywhere. The Tacoma Limited impresses with a more luxurious version of the versatile midsize truck that’s a great seller.
Tacoma TRD Pro
This is the most expensive version, with an as-tested price of $44,814. This tough, go-anywhere Toyota truck only comes in 4WD. It looks the part, too. With a blacked-out grill and a hood with an air scoop, it screams “serious off-road machine.” You can see the skid plates and the extra ground clearance; the black wheels and large tires also say this isn’t a normal pickup. The step-up height is pretty far if you don’t have running boards.
The stuff you can’t see, like the beefed-up suspension and the Fox shocks, are what really help this Tacoma TRD Pro go where most others can’t even think of going. It made easy work of a short off-road course of mud and trails. Those special shocks pay off with a comfortable ride on the road by really smoothing out the bumps. The truck size makes it easier to drive in the city than a larger truck; it helps by not being so wide. Its fuel economy isn’t really any better than the larger full-size trucks, I managed 17 mpg for my week of driving.
Inside this hard-core, off-road vehicle, it’s anything but roughing it with leather trimmed seats and steering wheel, so be careful what mess you track in. Space is good, but the seats seem close to the high floor; taller drivers might have an odd seating angle for legs. This is a four-door, so you can fit three in the back for shorter trips with nice head and leg room. There is less shoulder room when compared to larger pickups. It lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto for easy smartphone integration.
If you want the best Tacoma for normal everyday use, the Limited trim level is the model for you. It offers a bigger dose of luxury with a more upscale interior and heated leather seats. Dual climate controls and easy-to-use buttons and knobs make for a user-friendly interior. There’s a standard power moon roof, a premium JBL audio system and integrated NAV too. This model stickers at $42,000.
From the outside, the truck looks less “off-road beast” and more refined with body-colored bumpers, wheel arch extensions and a bunch of chrome trim pieces. Large 18-inch wheels and power rear glass makes for easy ventilation without opening the side windows. In the bed there is a nifty deck rail system that allows you to easily move the tie downs back and forth in the bed. Midsize trucks in general fall a bit short in bed volume as compared to a larger full-size pickup.
The Tacoma Limited, with its V6 engine and standard automatic, is easy to live with. Power comes a bit higher in the rev range so it does more shifting especially with a loaded bed. Fuel economy is better than the TRD. I managed 19 mpg for the week of mixed driving. It seems to also be more hushed than the TRD; much is probably owed to the more street-friendly tires. The Tacoma will serve you well as an everyday driver with competent handling and strong brakes for a truck. The standard Toyota Safety Sense with radar cruise control, lane departure and assist is a nice safety package.
Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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