Vastly updated inside and out for the latest model year, the Toyota Tacoma is one of the most popular models in the compact truck segment. There's a reason for that: the Taco is durable, adept at towing and hauling, and available in numerous powertrain, cab style and bed length combinations. It's a strong choice for those willing to trade a bit of the capability of a full-size pickup for something that's more wieldy and fuel-efficient.
Like nearly all other pickups on the market, the Tacoma features a tough body-on-frame platform with a durable live axle at the rear. Two different cab styles are available: the Access Cab, which adds two small rear-hinged rear doors and a small backseat; and the Double Cab, which features four normal-sized doors and a full-size backseat. The Access Cabs come with a 73.7-inch-long bed, while the Double Cab also offers the option of a 60.5-inch bed.
The base motor is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder that produces 159 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 180 lb-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission comes standard, while a four-speed automatic is optional. Those looking for more power can opt for a 3.5-liter V6 that pumps out 278 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 265 lb-ft of torque at 4,600 rpm. Transmission choices for the V6 include a six-speed manual and a six-speed automatic.
For both engines, rear-wheel-drive is standard with four-wheel-drive available as an option. When properly equipped, the V6 model can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Fuel economy for all the various powertrain configurations are as follows: 19/21 city/highway mpg for the four-wheel drive four-cylinder manual, 19/23 for the two-wheel drive four-cylinder automatic, 19/22 for the four-wheel drive four-cylinder automatic, 19/24 for the rear-wheel drive six-cylinder automatic, 17/21 for the four-wheel drive six-cylinder manual and, finally, 18/23 for the four-wheel drive automatic six-cylinder.
Much more comprehensive than the average mid-cycle update, the recent refresh added styling that's influenced by the larger Tundra. The Tacoma's grille, hood lines and front bumper all draw directly from the bigger truck. The tailgate shares a pronounced indentation with the Tundra, and the two trucks also sport a similar rear bumper design. Like its bigger brother, the Tacoma has its name stamped into the rear of the truck.
On the tech side, features an Entune audio system with available features like Bluetooth connectivity, streaming audio, satellite radio, USB connectivity and access to apps such as Pandora Radio and Open Table.
Citing safety and privacy concerns, Toyota refuses to offer Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Instead, the company relies on a small company called Telenav for a brought-in infotainment system called GPS Scout Link. Scout Link users can split the screen in two, making it possible to view, for example, the navigation and the entertainment menus at the same time.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Tacoma is available in five trim levels called SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road and Limited, respectively.
SR models come standard with daytime running lights, a dark gray grille with a black surround, a lockable tail gate, four tie-down points, 16-inch steel wheels, a sliding rear window, a body-colored tailgate spoiler, an analog instrument cluster with a 2.2-inch LCD screen, A/C, cloth-upholstered seats, four-way adjustable front seats, power windows and locks, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel and an industry-first GoPro mount on the windshield.
Stepping up to the SR5 trim level brings fog lights, a charcoal grille with a chromed surround, a tinted rear window, a 4.2-inch display in the instrument cluster, a leather-upholstered steering wheel and a more high-tech infotainment system.
TRD Sport models bring LED daytime running lights, a gray grille with a smoked finish and a chrome surround, a 120-volt power outlet, 17-inch alloy wheels, a wireless phone charger, one-touch up/down windows up front, a leather-upholstered shift lever, keyless entry, keyless start (automatic models only), an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with a compass and a better infotainment system.
TRD Off Road trims add 16-inch alloys. Trucks fitted with a manual transmission gain Active Traction Control, while automatic models are fitted with an electronically controlled locking rear differential and Toyota's Crawl Control technology.
Finally, range-topping Limited models up the ante with chromed bezels for the fog lights, a charcoal grille with a polished finish and a chrome surround, a power tilt/slide moonroof, leather-upholstered seats, a universal HomeLink transceiver, rear parking sensors, an upgraded JBL sound system with six speakers and a subwoofer.
The list of standalone options includes mud flaps, a tri-fold tonneau cover and 16-inch alloy wheels for SR models. Buyers can also choose from a nearly endless list of option packages.
All Tacoma models come standard with dual front, front side, full-length side curtain airbags and knee airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Limited models get a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert.
With the demise of the Ford Ranger and the Dodge Dakota, the Tacoma's rivals are limited to the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins and the aging Nissan Frontier.