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Toyota’s compact pickups are easy to take for granted. Owners seem to think they can carry absurd loads and continue running without regular maintenance so they load them up like semis and drive them until the crankcase oil turns to taffy. Toyota dealers seem to look upon them as an annuity, regularly selling well with minimal promotion and zero effort. And since they haven’t changed much since the introduction of the latest generation and its Tacoma name in 1995, there’s rarely much news for the press to get excited about.
For 2001 however, there’s something new in Tacomaville, with updating throughout the line, and the addition of four-door Double Cab and S-Runner street performance models.
Next year we’ll be back ignoring the Tacoma again, no doubt.
Aggression seems to sell in the compact truck market, so Toyota has given all Tacomas a new higher nose for 2001 that, they say, "capitalizes on the Tacoma 4x4’s strong image." The new grille’s slightly trapezoidal shape and thick vertical bars may well evoke that heritage, but it also looks sort of like the grille on the ‘53 Buick Special. The Buick, however, didn’t have new multi-reflector headlamps and could only dare dream of "jeweled" taillamps like the Tacoma.
Also updated is the Tacoma’s interior, which gets rotary ventilation controls in place of the archaic sliders that had been used, new door trim and upholstery and a new four-spoke steering wheel. And mainstream SR5 and upmarket Limited models now get white-faced gauges with orange illumination.
Nothing earth-shattering – nothing like the ‘53 Buick – but a definite improvement over 2000.
Regular cab Tacomas continue to ride on a 103.3-inch wheelbase while the extended XtraCab models put 121.9 inches between their axles. Both have a 74.5-inch long bed that’s 57.9 inches wide when it’s fleet-sided and 49.6 inches across when done up as the new-in-2000 StepSide. Whether 4x2 or 4x4, the front suspension is double wishbones with coil springs, the rear suspension a solid axle on leaf springs and the steering rack-and-pinion. ABS remains optional across the line on the front disc and rear drum brakes.