Mid-size trucks are once again a hot topic with pickup shoppers. The latest generation is more capable than ever, and boast unique powertrains, features, and equipment. Updated just last year, Toyota’s trusty and dependable Tacoma continues to be a popular choice, but it faces plenty of competition with GM’s just-updated Colorado and Canyon twins, plus the new-for-2017 Honda Ridgeline.
The Tacoma is available as an Access Cab (extended cab) or a Double Cab (crew cab) with either a six-foot bed or, on certain Double Cab models, a five-foot (short) bed. Tacomas feature a double-walled plastic composite bed rather than a metal bed, so no bed liner is required. In addition, all V6-powered models come with an integrated 120-volt power outlet built into the bed.
The standard engine on the Tacoma is a 2.7-litre four-cylinder with variable valve timing that produces 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. On the base 4x2 model, it comes standard with a six-speed automatic; on the base 4x4 model, a six-speed manual is standard. Most Tacomas, however, come with a 3.5-litre V6 engine that has both direct and port fuel injection. It produces 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, and comes paired to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for the Tacoma ranges between 12.0 – 12.7 L/100 km city and 10.0 – 11.4 L/100 km highway for the four-cylinder, and 13.1 – 13.8 L/100 km city and 10.5 – 11.7 L/100 km highway for the V6.
Trim levels for the Tacoma span from basic to luxurious. SR+ and SR5 trim levels cover the basics plus a couple of unexpected features such as a standard reverse camera, USB and Bluetooth, and a GoPro camera windshield mount. Toyota's in-house tuning division, TRD, offers the TRD Off-Road trim level, which packs a locking differential, skid plates, and Bilstein shock absorbers. There’s also the TRD Sport package, which gets a street-ready look with body-colour bumpers and grille, a road-tuned suspension, and sporty bucket seats. At the top of the heap is the Limited trim, which features leather upholstery, blind-spot monitoring, a power moonroof, and even wireless device charging.
New for 2017, the Tacoma gains a heavy-duty off-road package called the TRD Pro. Not to be confused with the TRD Off-Road, the Pro contains an impressive array of factory-installed components that make it the most off-road capable midsize truck on the market. Think of it as a smaller, more affordable F-150 Raptor, and you won't be too far off the mark.
Following in the footsteps of the Tundra TRD Pro, which was launched just last year, the Tacoma TRD Pro gets Fox Racing Shocks with external reservoirs, upgraded coil springs with an extra inch of suspension lift, progressive-rate rear leaf springs, an electronic limited-slip differential, and even a custom traction control system for vehicles equipped with the manual transmission. TRD Pro trucks get a unique matte-black grille and hood scoop, plus smaller 16-inch wheels wrapped in aggressive Goodyear tires with Kevlar sidewalls. The TRD Pro is available exclusively with the V6 engine in Crew Cab form. The only choices available are colour - white, red, and Cement (grey) - and transmission.
Four-cylinder Tacomas can tow up to 1,590 kg (3,500 lbs), with V6 models rated to tow up to 2,950 kg (6,500 lbs). Payload ranges from a low of 430 kg (950 lbs) for Double Cab V6 models to 680 kg (1,500 lbs) for the most basic Access Cab four-cylinder.
Pricing for the Tacoma starts at $29,650, with the new TRD Pro trim level pushing the truck to the $50,000 threshold when equipped with the manual transmission.