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Toyota Tacoma

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.

COMPETITORS

Honda Ridgeline

Nissan Frontier

Suzuki Equator

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.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

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.

MPG

CITY 15–21

HWY 19–25

PRO

Big enough to do real work

Small enough to park anywhere

X-Runner reaches 60 mph in seven seconds

CON

In-line four could use more power

Interior looks dated, even after 2012 refresh

Base Price Range: $18,365–$28,935

SPECIFICATIONS

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

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