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2WD Reg Cab I4 MTRegular Unleaded I-4, 2.7 L
Rear Wheel Drive
|$ 17,162||$ 18,125|
2WD Reg Cab I4 ATRegular Unleaded I-4, 2.7 L
Rear Wheel Drive
|$ 18,014||$ 19,025|
2WD Access Cab I4 MTRegular Unleaded I-4, 2.7 L
Rear Wheel Drive
|$ 19,326||$ 20,615|
2WD Access Cab I4 ATRegular Unleaded I-4, 2.7 L
Rear Wheel Drive
|$ 20,170||$ 21,515|
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma--along with its perennial competitor, the Nissan Frontier--is about to be joined in the mid-size pickup truck segment by two new competitors: the new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. But these days, while mid-size trucks have their fans, you might think of them as not-quite-full-size pickups, with less cargo and towing capability but more maneuverable dimensions in tight quarters. Meanwhile Ford dispensed with its much smaller Ranger a few years back, and it won't be making a return to North America any time soon.
The mid-size Tacoma has a reputation as a workhorse, with almost unrivaled reliability, that appeals to those who don't need a full-size pickup. It offers much of the carrying capacity and cargo volume of the bigger trucks--and for many buyers, it's a perfectly fine weekend hauler. It should do everything you need, unless you're one of the few people who really does tow 8,500 pounds often enough that you'll buy a truck to do it.
Toyota moved Tacoma production into the same Texas assembly plant that builds it full-size Tundra pickup a few years back. Perhaps something of that big truck's brawn will rub off on the next Tacoma--because the current model hasn't changed much in the 10 years since it was last redesigned in 2005, and it's beginning to show its age.
Today, the grille is a little more pronounced, the headlights more angular, but it remains all business. From the windshield back, its lines are generic pickup truck--and less distinctive than the more overtly styled Nissan Frontier. Inside, though, the quality of the plastics has been improved, and in that respect we'd take the Tacoma over the Frontier for perceived quality.
The base 159-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder can manage basic chores well enough, so long as you're riding solo and not towing or hauling much. We'd choose the five-speed manual, and leave off the hefty four-wheel-drive system; the four-speed automatic's gears are too widely spaced for quick acceleration or good fuel economy. The 4.0-liter V-6 on the preferred versions of the Tacoma has a completely different personality: it makes 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, which is more than enough to hustle the Tacoma around quickly, even when you have a heavy load, though things get a little breathless past 75 mph or so on the interstate. The five-speed automatic that's standard on V-6 models is a responsive gearbox, too.
Setting aside the off-road-ready versions, the entry-level Tacomas aren't very refined. It's the truck's road manners that disappoint the most. Even among pickups, which typically trade off some ride comfort for heavy-hauling ability, the Tacoma feels numb and lifeless in urban environs. The ride is hard and choppy; on pockmarked city surfaces the tires simply lose contact with the road. Maneuverability in the Tacoma doesn't seem any better than that of a full-size truck.
The best way to judge the Tacoma's performance, since its street handling not very impressive, is by towing and payload and off-road capability. The Tacoma's payload is well into the 3/4-ton category, depending on the model, and its tow rating goes up to 6,500 pounds. The Tacoma's a beloved canvas for the off-road community, with everything from a basic four-wheel-drive system and a locking differential to skid plates, huge knobby tires, and off-road suspensions available from Toyota as a model or as an accessory.
Regular Cab, Access Cab, and Double Cab editions of the Tacoma are offered, with standard or long-bed (LB) lengths, with four- or six-cylinder engines, and they all have the same styling, albeit with different levels of stretch for the cab and bed. As for interior comfort, it's all relative. Compared with full-size trucks, the Tacoma disappoints for interior roominess and seating comfort, but compared with other mid-sizers like the Nissan Frontier it's competitive. That said, even though Double Cab versions have the space for four adults (two kids in back for Access Cabs, which have smaller back doors and seating), the rather skimpy, short and flat seats in front won't win you over for longer trips
In recent years, the Tacoma received some much-needed audio-system improvements, with the standard system incorporating built-in Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, plus a USB/iPod port. The base system now has six speakers, and even that is satellite-radio capable. It also offers the Entune system, which packages navigation functions, text-to-voice capability, voice commands, HD Radio, Bluetooth audio streaming, and real-time traffic and weather, among other features.
Outside of these changes, the Tacoma's model line largely carries over, offering a basic pickup package for those looking at the cheapest model, ranging all the way up to two specialized models, the terrain-focused PreRunner and the street-smart X-Runner. The PreRunner adds a higher-riding suspension, locking rear differential, and other appearance cues. The X-Runner gets wider wheels and tires; a lowered, sport-tuned suspension; and an X-braced frame (hence the name), along with extra interior conveniences. Also available is a TRD Off-Road Package that brings special badging, plus an off-road suspension with Bilstein dampers, fog lamps, and a transfer-case skid plate.
- Inexpensive base models
- Four-cylinder engine still available
- Cockpit is laid out well
- Tends to hold its value
- Durability is well-documented
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Ride quality is poor
- On-pavement handling is poor
- Expensive in its most specialized versions
- Uncomfortable cabin and seats