2005 Toyota Tacoma Review

2005 Toyota Tacoma - Toyota tough.


Compact pickup trucks were all the rage among young drivers several decades ago because they were inexpensive to buy, run and insure. They also were cheap to modify, with such things as custom wheels and special sound systems.

Toyota has been playing the compact pickup truck game for a surprisingly long time -- since 1964, when it introduced a pickup called the "Stout'' in America. In recent years, Toyota's compact Tacoma pickup has been one of the automaker's best-selling vehicles, accounting for 10 percent of its U.S. sales, and Toyota intends to keep it that way in 2005.

The deftly redesigned eighth-generation Tacoma is larger, roomier, smoother and more refined, with extra power and additional safety items such as optional curtain side air bags.

Anti-lock brakes are standard, and you can get an optional Vehicle Skid Control system on all models except the racy new $23,110 X-Runner model aimed at young males. It has a specially lowered and tuned chassis, frame-stiffening X brace for better handling and such things as a hood scoop and extra-wide tires on 18-inch wheels. It comes only with a six-speed manual transmission.

The $13,415-$25,250 Tacoma shares the frame of the mid-size Toyota Prado, a rugged sport-utility sold in foreign markets; it helps provide a ride without creaks and body shivers. The new Tacoma also gets liberal doses of sound-absorbing material.

The new Tacoma has essentially become a mid-size truck, rather than a compact pickup; the Double Cab -- or "crew cab'' -- is virtually as long as a large Chevrolet Avalanche crew cab model at 221.3 inches. Potential buyers should check the length of their garage, although the Tacoma Regular Cab two-door is only 190.4 inches long.

Tacoma buyers should have no problem finding a model that suits them because there are no less than 18 versions of this truck.

Toyota anticipates that the Double Cab version will be especially popular because it has a comfortable carlike back seat and large rear doors that help allow easy entry and exit.

I tested the $22,175 PreRunner Double Cab with the Tacoma's potent new V-6, rear-wheel drive and a long bed. It had quick steering, a comfortable ride on most roads, good handling and strong braking.

The PreRunner stands tall to give it the look of a four-wheel drive Tacoma for those who don't want that drive system but like the more rugged look of such a vehicle.

The Tacoma has good off-road abilities with four-wheel drive, but such a system adds weight and complexity. Performance and fuel economy thus suffer.

Access and Double Cab models have two front bucket seats and a three-person rear seat, although the only comfortable, spacious rear seat is in the Double Cab.

All pickup trucks need cargo beds, so Tacomas with Regular and Access cabs have a 73.5-inch-long bed. The Double Cab is offered for the first time with a choice between a 60.3-inch bed and the 73.5-inch bed. While short by pickup standards, my test Tacoma's cargo bed seemed large enough to haul a good number of objects.

The Tacoma's new composite non-rusting and non-denting inner bed has a new sheet-molded compound deck and walls that are said to be 10 percent lighter than steel, yet tougher and more durable.

Interior storage has been increased in Access Cab and Double Cab models via tumble-flat rear seats with underseat storage and, on Double Cab models, additional storage behind the rear seatback. On Double Cab and models with bucket seats (except ones with special sport seats), the front passenger seat folds flat.

The interior is functional but carlike, with easily read gauges and large, smooth controls within convenient reach. PreRunner occupants sit high, as in a full-size rig.

The Tacoma comes with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with 164 horsepower or a smoother 4-liter V-6 that kicks out a hearty 245 horsepower and more torque than the four-cylinder. Maximum towing capacity with the V-6 and a towing package jumps 1,500 pounds to 6,500 pounds

My test Tacoma had the V-6, which replaces a smaller V-6 with 190 horsepower. The new V-6 provides fast acceleration (0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds) and works with an exceptionally responsive five-speed automatic transmission.

Other Tacoma transmissions are a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic for the four-cylinder engine and a six-speed manual for the V-6, which works so well with the five-speed automatic that only manual-shift fans should opt for the manual gearbox.

The four-cylinder engine with rear-drive and the five-speed manual delivers 22 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. The V-6 with its automatic provides 18 and 22 -- or 17 and 21 with four-wheel drive.

Toyota has come a long way with pickups since its 1964 Stout, and the new Tacoma makes its predecessor seem very dated.



Deftly redesigned. Carlike. Refined. Versatile. Roomy. Fast with V-6.

High step-in. Rather short cargo bed. Bewildering variety of models.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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