If you go with one of the more basic four-cylinder Tacoma models, you'll end up with quite different performance than one with the V-6. The four-cylinder models are slow, certainly, but provided you're not trying to move too quickly—or pull or haul much of a load—the base 159-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder will manage well enough.
With 236 horsepower and an even more noteworthy 266 pound-feet of torque, the 4.0-liter V-6 provides a completely different personality--with enough torque to move the Tacoma quickly even when you have a heavy load. The five-speed manual transmission in either model shifts smoothly but has long throws; both the four-speed automatic that's optional with the four-cylinder and the five-speed automatic that's standard on V-6 models is responsive, but as you can imagine, four-cylinder models aren't helped by widely spaced gears.
Ride and handling tend to be low points for the Tacoma, which tends to be thrown off course by bumpy surfaces more than other trucks its size. You typically do trade off some ride comfort and nimbleness for heavy-hauling ability, but the ride can be jarring here, and maneuverability isn't much better than that of a full-size truck. But the steering is a positive; it's good and communicative.
Perhaps the best way to judge the Tacoma's performance, since it's not very impressive, is by towing and payload. 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.