Toyota eschewed bland, utilitarian styling for the 2009 Tacoma, awarding design duties to its Japanese heavy-duty truck division, Hino. The emphasis seems to be on big and bold, with strong lines, prominent fender arches, large wheel cutouts, and aggressive circular headlights glaring out behind upswept plastic covers. This helps Toyota’s little guy do battle with the traditionally splashier Americans trucks; Kelley Blue Book feels that the Tacoma’s styling “succeeds by blending classic Toyota truck styling with design features of some larger domestic models.”
Comparing the Tacoma to its previous-gen forebear, Motor Trend comments that it no longer resembles a small truck, “thanks to a wider stance, large fender bulges surrounding upsized wheels and tires, sweeping headlamps, and a larger windshield.” Car and Driver remarks that Hino’s styling handiwork “[turned] up the Tacoma’s testosterone with square shoulders, fender arches, and a Kenworth-compatible grille.”
Car and Driver asserts that the Tacoma’s cabin contains “straightforward controls situated right where fingers are trained to find them.” Deeply recessed gauges, each with its own tunnel, alongside a rather avant-garde silver center stack, are a far cry from the generic, boxy truck interiors of yore. Said silver treatment might be a bit polarizing (Car and Driver: “it may seem dated when the industry finally tires of plastic painted like naked aluminum”), but this is mitigated by Toyota’s first-rate ergonomics, simple and sizable dials for HVAC, and high-quality switchgear throughout the cabin.