Tacoma. It's supposed to suggest the rugged outdoors, as well as strength and adventure. To this end, any of three potent engines go under the hood. Toyota aimed for aggressive styling, inside and out, and Tacomas sport an excellent selection of interior fittings. Regular- and extended-cab bodies are available, with either two- or four-wheel drive.
Two-wheel-drive Tacomas get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine, rated at 142 horsepower and 160 foot-pounds of torque. Tacoma 4x4s earn a 2.7-liter four with 150 horsepower and 177 foot-pounds of torque. If those won't suffice, however, consider the V6 option: a DOHC, 24-valve unit that whips out 190 horses and 220 foot-pounds of torque. With V6 power (This is the same V6 that can be found in the larger Toyota Tundra pickup), the Tacoma can tow up to 5,000 pounds and soundly trounce most factory sport trucks in the stoplight drag race.
All Tacomas have front coil springs instead of the torsion bars, but 4x4s feature longer suspension travel to improve ride/handling qualities. Manual-shift trucks feature reverse-gear synchronization to reduce gear noise when shifting into reverse. Four-wheel antilock braking is optional on all Tacomas, and all pickups contain dual airbags with a shut-off switch for the passenger's side. In top-of-the-line Limited pickups, a one-touch 4-Hi switch is available for easy, pushbutton engagement of four-wheel drive.
The PreRunner model is set to attract truck buyers who desire, but cannot afford, a 4WD truck, 4WD truck owners who don't use their 4WD as often as they expected, and 2WD truck buyers who take their vehicle off-road. Historically, a "pre-runner" is a truck that pre-runs an off-road racecourse. Toyota's new PreRunner has benefited from considerable suspension tuning and development work with Toyota Motorsports desert racing truck program to produce a 2WD vehicle with 4WD capabilities.
Toyota hopes to attract buyers with the style and image of its Tacoma as well as a lower price tag. We like the Tacoma, but question the value it represents. Most of these Toyota trucks don't come cheap. Guess that's the price you pay for the peace of mind a Toyota provides.