For the past decade, the Toyota Tacoma has been the most popular compact/mid-size pickup truck in the United States. It remains so today.
For the most part, Tacoma appeals to the young, adventurous middle-agers and, perhaps a few senior citizens who go off-roading in their retirement years. Tacoma is virtually synonymous with off-roading.
According to internal company studies, forty-five percent of Tacoma customers go off-road. That is a remarkable percentage as industry studies show that no more than five- to 10-percent of owners take their "off-road" vehicles off-roading.
One reason for Tacoma's high percentage in the off-roading department is its buyers. The majority are active young males and this market is targeted by Toyota.
A 2019 off-road 4x4 $36,615 Tacoma TRD Sport model was tested recently. It was equipped with Bilstein shocks, locking rear differential and crawl control. Push the crawl button on an overhead control panel and let the truck's electronics take over. The driver does not touch brake or gas pedal. Those mechanicals are controlled by the truck's computerized electronics. The driver simply steers. Crawl mode has settings for slow, slower and slowest. At the fastest setting, it is still a plodding and slow crawl. The crawl system works in sand, snow, mud and, obviously, climbing hills if not portions of mountains that have no more than a 40-degree angle.
Wide and knobby Firestone Destination P265 tires were mounted on machined alloy 17-inch wheels. The tires had optional mudguards ($40 to $80 option).
The brake system continues with discs in front and drums in the rear. Discs can get gummed-up with off-road grit and have to be cleaned and that could be a laborious process. The drums enclose braking mechanisms to keep out the grit.
Tacoma is designed to combat wind resistance. Lines are straight and vertical. Wind supposedly does not flow around and behind to slow down a Tacoma but clips right by. Gaps have been closed. For example, the bed of the truck rubs right up to the cab.
High-strength steel replaces ordinary steel which keeps weight down as well as making the truck more rigid. Due to the threat of corrosion, aluminum has not been incorporated into the body stamping process. A damper on the lockable and removable tailgate now makes the opening and closing process lighter to the touch. The rear bumper has an instep for access to the bed. Tacoma comes with a composite protecting the bed's sides and bottom. Floor protection also includes a thick rubber mat.
A recessed storage box is built into one side of the bed near the tailgate adjacent to a 400-watt, 120-volt outlet. There are rigid tiedowns as well as moveable tiedown cleats.
TRD models (Sport, Pro, Off-road) get front skid plates and LED fog lights.
Prices for the six Tacoma models start at $25,700 for a base SR and top out at $42,810 for a TRD Pro. There are two cab choices and both reflect two rows of seating. They are access or double (crew) cabs. Box lengths are five to six feet. The two engine choices are a 2.7-liter, 159-horsepower four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter, 278-horsepower V6. A six speed automatic transmission mates to either engine. The direct injection engines are self-cleaning.
Tacoma is not a frugal truck. Whether a four- or six-cylinder, fuel usage averages about 20 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. During the test week with minimal off-roading, it was 19.4 mpg. One person was aboard in most of the driving.
Vehicle: TRD Sport crew cab model of 2019 Toyota Tacoma
Type: four-wheel drive, four-door, five-passenger midsize off-road pickup truck
Engine: 3.5-liter, 278-horsepower, double overhead cam V6
Transmission: six-speed automatic
Towing: 6,400 pounds
Payload: 1,175 pounds
Fuel: unleaded regular
Fuel tank: 21.1 gallons
Weight: 4,425 pounds
Leg room: 42.9 inches front, 32.6 inches rear
Truck bed length: five feet, five inches
Ground clearance: 9.4 inches
Wheelbase, length, width, height in inches: 127.4, 212.3, 75.2, 70.6
Tires (P265), wheels (machined alloy): 17 inches, full-size spare
Turning curb-to-curb: 40.6 feet
Suspension: leaf springs and tuned shock absorbers rear, coil springs and double wishbones front
three years or 36,000 miles, roadside assistance two years or 25,000
miles, powertrain five years or 60,000 miles, free scheduled maintenance
two years or 25,000 miles
Tacoma appeals to youthful adventurers