2019 Toyota Tacoma Review

2019 Toyota Tacoma - The 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport Double Cab V-6 is plenty rugged


Price: $36,465

Pros-Muscular look. Shines off pavement. Potent V-6. Rugged overall. Easy controls. Part-time four-wheel drive. Sit high. Safety features. Good reputation.

Cons-Tall step-up. Tight rear seat. Very firm ride. Heavy steering. Wide turning circle.  

Bottom Line- Tough go-anywhere truck.

One glance at Toyota's 2019 Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 Double Cab pickup shows it means business. It has a raised body, big tires on 17-inch machined alloy wheels and a hood scoop. The "TRD" (Toyota Racing Division) bodyside labeling enhances the effect.

The mid-size four-door Tacoma long has been a hot seller and comes in enough configurations to satisfy just about everyone, with Limited, SR, SR5, TRD Off Road and TRD Sport versions and different cab and bed sizes. Prices are all over the place, ranging from $25,700 to $45,515.

I tested one of the top-line models-the TRD Sport Double Cab V-6 with part-time four-wheel drive with a two-speed electronically controlled transfer case and an automatic limited-slip differential. Its list price was $36,465, but extra items such as a $2,890 TRD Premium Sport Package and $1,045 delivery and processing charge upped the bottom line to $42,825.  

Powering my test Tacoma was a 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 with 265 pound-feet of torque and an engine oil cooler. It worked with a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual-shift feature. The transmission sometimes seemed a tad slow because of economy shift programming, but mostly was responsive and had a manual-shift feature. Incidentally, you can a Tacoma with a six-speed manual transmission with the base  2.7-liter 159-horsepower four-cylinder. The manual  is said to shift smoothly.

Acceleration was strong, and Toyota says the truck has a 6,800-pound towing capacity and can haul a 1,276-pound payload. The composite bed has a 120-volt power outlet. And the tailgate is lockable and removable.

The Tacoma could use wider running boards for those with larger-size shoes because getting in calls for a tall step up into the 70.6-inch high vehicle. Once inside, though, visibility is quite good, although the extra-large power outside rearview mirrors with turn signal indicators partly blocked my vision during turns in town. The color-keyed hood scoop, however, looked sexy from the driver's seat.

The purposeful looking, generally quiet interior has lots of hard plastic, but doesn't look cheap. However the rear seat will be comfortable only for shorter folks. There's a push-button start and digital speedometer to go with the large, clearly marked speedometer and tachometer. The tach only registers about 2,000 r.p.m. at 70 m.p.h. and only reads about 1,800 r.pm. at 65 m.p.h.

Estimated fuel economy is 18 miles per gallon the city and 22 on highways, although a dash gauge of my test Tacoma registered a few more miles per gallon during steady 65-70 m.p.h. Only 87-octane fuel is called for, although Toyota says higher grade fuel can be used. Fuel tank capacity is 21.1 gallons.

But fuel economy isn't a major consideration for Tacoma buyers. They want a rugged go-anywhere truck that has a proven reputation of shining during off-pavement driving. Under the raised body of my Test Tacoma was a coil-spring double-wishbone front suspension and leaf spring rear suspension with sport-tuned shock absorbers.

One penalty for the tough suspension, though, was a ride that caused even moderate bumps to be felt. The ride wasn't punishing, but it's just firm enough to make a long-distance drive only moderately comfortable-at least for those accustomed to a car-like ride. A dial near the steering wheel makes it easy to switch from rear- to 4WD.

Helping make my test Tacoma feel user-friendly, though, were such features as a push-button start, leather-trimmed thick steering wheel with audio controls, handy dashboard control buttons ( especially large ones for for climate control), AM/FM CD, USB media port, many storage areas, easily used 7-inch touchscreen and several charging ports. There are power windows and door locks, and also a power horizontal rear window with privacy glass.

My test Tacoma had the $2,890 Premium Sport Package, which contained heated leather-trimmed supportive front seats, automatic climate control, premium audio system and a moonroof.

The power steering, which has a cooler, is precise, with no on-center slop. But it's heavy and has little road feel. Also, the turning circle is quite wide, which can make the 225-inch-long (long-bed) Tacomaversion awkward to maneuver in some areas.. Handling is very good for such a fairly large, tall pickup. I found that sweeping through freeway on- and off-ramps at extra-legal speeds was no problem. The brakes bite early and surely without an overly sensitive pedal.

The many useful safety items include a pre-collision system with pedestrian protection, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with a sway warning system, rear backup camera, advanced air bag system, side curtain air bags.

The Toyota Tacoma has been a top-seller but now has competition from such new midsize pickups as the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford Ranger and GMC Canyon. But what the others don't have is the Tacoma's long-proven track record.

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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