The best mid-size truck.
Much like the 4Runner SUV, the Tacoma is the best product left in a segment other automakers have chosen to abandon or neglect. It’s also pretty darn cool, especially in X-Runner guise, which has a lowered suspension and eighteen-inch wheels, as well as a standard six-speed manual transmission. For shoppers with more premium predilections, Toyota now offers a Limited Package with heated front seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, leatherette seating surfaces, a backup camera, and eighteen-inch wheels. At the other end of the spectrum, the Tacoma can be had as a basic work truck with a modest 159-hp four-cylinder engine paired with a five-speed manual. The 4.0-liter V-6 would likely be the best choice for most buyers, as it enables up to 6500 pounds of towing. Altogether, there are about two dozen body and trim combinations, but the basic lineup consists of the regular cab; the Access Cab, which has rear-hinged doors; and the Double Cab, with full-size rear doors, flexible rear seatbacks, and a storage unit behind the second row. The Tacoma has long faced competition from cheap full-size trucks, but its smaller size offers agility that those trucks can’t match. Piloting a Tacoma around a crowded city is a refreshing reminder that not all pickups have to be monstrously oversized and difficult to park.
new for 2013
A new Limited Package, available only on certain trim levels, adds niceties such as heated leatherette seats, eighteen-inch wheels, and a backup camera. All Tacomas now come with a 6.1-inch color touch screen.
Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; trailer-sway control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. Backup sensors are optional.
Big enough to do real work
Small enough to park anywhere
X-Runner reaches 60 mph in seven seconds
In-line four could use more power
Interior looks dated, even after 2012 refresh
Base Price Range: $18,365–$28,935
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: 4x2, PreRunner, 4x4, X-Runner
BODY STYLE: Pickup, 3- to 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.7L I-4, 159 hp, 180 lb-ft
4.0L V-6, 236 hp, 266 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 4- or 5-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: N/A
CAPACITIES: Towing 3500–6500 lb; payload 910–1570 lb