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While full-size trucks were the cash cows
the Nineties, compact truck development went fallow. The Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma were crude, the
Ford Ranger ancient, Mazda and Isuzu had retreated to selling slightly disguised
versions of their domestic partners’ products, and Mitsubishi left the game
That has all changed. This year GM replaced the S-10 and Sonoma with the Colorado and Canyon, and for 2005 Dodge is launching a new Dakota, Nissan has what promises to be a vastly better Frontier on the way, and Toyota’s new Tacoma is the subject here.
Who knows which of these new trucks will end up setting the standard for the class? But one thing is for sure: the doddering Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series look more decrepit and sclerotic with every passing introduction.
As I’ve made plain before using The Car Connection’s bandwidth (and I’ve been dissedfor it), I’m hardly thrilled that Toyota’s planning to swell my nearly full-size Tundra to beyond full-size proportions when their new Texas assembly plant comes on line in the next few years. But the inevitable growth of the Tundra meant that there was room for the smaller
2005 Toyota TacomaEnlarge Photo
In fact thisTacoma is more closely related to the Prado platform that underpins the current 4Runnerand Lexus GX470SUVs than it is to the Hi-Lux pickup Toyota sells to the rest of the world. Hey, the rest of the world likes theirpuny pickups… with their miserly diesel engines and hose-it-out plastic interiors… but here in North America pickups are (or at least can be) luxury items and we demand more comfort and power than that.
As on the outside, the new inside is much more stylish than before with
the instrumentation buried into circular tunnels and the sound and ventilation
system controls placed in a new center stack with a metallic look (but it’s
plastic). Previous Tacomas had plenty of ergonomic challenges, but all the
switches are easy to find and use in this one. Plus the seats are well contoured
for a truck. The cab is much roomier than the old
All Tacomas get a composite plastic bed inside the steel rear fenders.
While there will obviously be a market for every type of 2005
The new X-Runner will come only as an extended “Access Cab” 4x2 powered by Toyota’s 245-horsepower, 4.0-liter, DOHC, 24-valve,VVT-i V-6 (which replaces the 3.4-liter V-6 used previously) and backed by a new six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic will be available in other Tacoma V-6s, but the X-Runner is strictly shift-it-yourself.
2005 Toyota TacomaEnlarge Photo
An “X-brace” between the frame rails gives the X-Runner its name, and the
X-Runner’s suspension is an inch lower than that of other
The V-6 has a nice, throaty exhaust sound outside, but from inside that can’t be heard at all (though the engine itself makes a bit of a racket). Considering the V-6’s relatively large displacement the solid low-end torque production is no shock, but this isn’t the kind of engine that zings eagerly to its easygoing (and none too high) 5500 rpm redline. Hey, it’s a truck after all, and the six-speed shifts well — there’s fun to be had here and accumulating speed is no problem.
The lowered and stiffer suspension succeeds results in flat cornering on the X-Runner and a few harsh jounces going over relatively small pavement divots. The steering feels fine and turn in is immediate, but it could be a little quicker in this high performance context.
Bound To Impress
Considering Toyota’s hard-earned reputation for quality, this new truck’s expansive appeal, and the likelihood that prices won’t move upward much from the 2004 model, the California-built (one factory in Fremont, California and one more in Tijuana, Baja California) Tacoma is the sort of truck I’d recommend to my sister. If it were available with the V-8, I might even tell my brother to buy one.
Base Price: $23,000 (est.)
Engine: 4.0-liter V-6, 245 hp
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 208.1 x 74.0 x 65.2 in
Wheelbase: 127.2 in
Curb weight: 3690 lb
EPA City/Hwy: N/A
Safety equipment: Front airbags, anti-lock brakes
Major standard equipment: 18-inch wheels and tires, composite bed, bucket seats, AM/FM/CD stereo, hood scoop
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles basic; five years/60,000 miles powertrain