Toyota Tacoma Research

The Car Connection Toyota Tacoma Overview

The Toyota Tacoma is the latest of a long-running line of pickup trucks that date back to the Hilux and the simply named Toyota Pickup.

The Tacoma is a mid-size pickup, the smaller of the brand's two truck offerings. Although the segment has been ignored by many automakers for some years, mid-size offerings now include the completely new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins, as well as the Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. In the past, rivals have included the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, among several others.

MORE: Read our 2017 Toyota Tacoma review

For 2017, Toyota's mid-size truck sees the addition of a new TRD Pro trim level aimed at off roaders. With advanced Fox shocks, a small suspension lift, and beefier skid plates, it delivers many of the features commonly added on the aftermarket by truck owners.

The new Toyota Tacoma

Toyota introduced a heavily updated Tacoma for the 2016 model year. Along with the usual styling and feature updates, the 2016 truck received a new Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V-6 with direct and port injection, which improves fuel economy. The V-6 is available with either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the base 4-cylinder carries over and goes autobox-only. Toyota also made changes to the Tacoma's frame, adding strength and rigidity while also upping the amount of high-strength steel used. Finally, a newly styled interior offers more luxury features, more connectivity, and an updated Entune infotainment interface.

The Tacoma is offered extended and crew cab body styles and a choice of short and long composite beds. Both 4-cylinder and V-6 engines are available and most models offer a choice between automatic and manual transmissions.

Toyota Tacoma history

Ever since the introduction of the original Tacoma for 1995, the model has maintained a loyal set of owners by offering different body styles, powertrains, and, especially, a few special editions targeted at off-roaders.

In its first generation, which ran from 1995 to 2004, the Tacoma got power from 2.4-liter and 2.7-liter 4-cylinders as well as a 3.4-liter V-6; output ranged from 142 hp to 190 hp. It always offered a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, in either regular or extended cabs, with two different bed lengths. In the 10 years it was on sale, the first Tacoma received some aesthetic updates as well as several special edition packages.

The current Tacoma arrived in the 2005 model year, and it was carried through to 2015 with remarkably few major changes. It came a wide variety of configurations: Regular Cab, Access Cab, Double Cab and X-Runner models. All three were available with either short or long beds, and two- or four-wheel drive, in a range of trims and equipment levels. The two engines are a 159-hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine, and a 236-hp 4.0-liter V-6. Since its launch, towing capacity has risen from 5,000 pounds to today 6,500 pounds in the suitably equipped V-6 model. 

The base regular cab truck came with minimal features, but offered a choice of 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual transmissions. The popular, work-ready 4x2 "low boy" model was discontinued after 2015. Models equipped with the V-6 were available with either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto. Above the standard trim was the PreRunner specification, which adds several off-road-friendly features, including overfenders, skid plates, mudguards, and upgraded wheels and tires. Inside, the trucks see upgrades correlated to cab sizes, with the larger models adding more luxurious seating, more folding-seat arrangements, and more power accessories. The range-topping Double Cab models add rear-seat amenities including cupholders, heating ducts, and a 60/40 split-folding rear bench seat. 

The X-Runner is a special high-performance version of the Tacoma, offering stiffer suspension, larger alloy wheels and summer tires for better on-road performance, as well as a body treatment to match.

In recent model years, Toyota has added more off-road-oriented options with T|X and T|X Pro packages in addition to the PreRunner, X-Runner, and TRD Off-Road Package. Also, for the 2012 model year, Toyota expanded the number of 4-cylinder Tacoma models and gave these trucks a light refresh, with a somewhat different grille, and less brightwork inside. The orange interior lighting was replaced with blue, and a new standard sound system included six speakers, Bluetooth hands-free capability, and a USB/iPod port.

Also added for 2012 were an available navigation system with real-time traffic and weather, accompanied by a new premium system with HD Radio and Bluetooth audio streaming.

No changes were made to the Tacoma for the 2013 model year; Toyota discontinued Tacoma Regular Cab models after 2014.

For 2015, Toyota offered a TRD Pro package for the Tacoma, as well as the 4Runner and Tundra. On the smaller truck, it includes an off-road-ready wheel-and-tire package, a new exhaust, upgraded suspension components, and a unique front end, with a different grille and a hood with a scoop. The TRD Pro is aimed at more serious off-roading and trail running.

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July 23, 2017
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab 5' Bed V6 4x4 AT (Natl)

2016/2017 Tacomas shift erratically I traded mine in after 5 months couldn't stand it.

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2017 trucks had transmission problems acknowledged by Toyota dealers yet Toyota Co. insists the trucks are running as designed. The shifting will drive you crazy on hills and in stop n go traffic. Do not buy
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April 14, 2017
2017 Toyota Tacoma SR5 Double Cab 5' Bed V6 4x2 AT (GS)

Not What I expected from Toyota

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I bought my 2017 SR5 V6 November 1st 2016 with 8 miles on it, Fell in love with this truck as soon as I saw it. Drove it, loved it and bought it! Worse thing I ever did! Sounds like a diesel most of the time... + More »
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March 27, 2017
2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport Access Cab 6' Bed V6 4x4 MT (GS)

Truck gets an A minus (so far).

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I'm pretty sure this is the best mid-size pickup available, and it does everything Toyota claims it will do. The style is fine, although nobody should confuse "TRD" with real racing DNA--this vehicle is a... + More »
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