What's New for 2002
A moonroof is available now on PreRunners and S-Runners have color-keyed side badging.
Tacoma. Toyota says it's supposed to suggest the rugged outdoors, as well as strength and adventure, but a friend of ours once quipped, "Obviously, nobody from Toyota has actually been to Tacoma."
There are three body styles from which to choose: Regular Cab, Xtracab and Double Cab. Each is available with two-wheel or four-wheel drive. Toyota also offers Tacomas with a "PreRunner" designation. PreRunners are 2WD trucks that have the looks and heavy-duty suspension of 4WD models.
Toyota expanded the Tacoma lineup last year with the Double Cab. This compact crew cab offers four full-size doors and a longer passenger compartment in the hopes of appealing to people who want a pickup and an SUV but can't afford both. In order to keep overall length reasonable for on- and off-road maneuverability, the Double Cab's bed length is shortened to 61.5 inches.
For all Tacomas, any of three engines go under the hood. Two-wheel-drive Tacomas get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine, rated at 142 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque. Tacoma 4WDs and 2WD PreRunners earn a 2.7-liter four with 150 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. Standard on Double Cab and optional on Xtracab models is a 3.4-liter V6 that whips out 190 horses and 220 lb-ft of torque. Toyota also offers a special 2WD S-Runner Xtracab sport truck equipped with the V6, a five-speed manual transmission and a sport-tuned suspension. A supercharger is also available from Toyota Racing Development (TRD) for the V6, boosting output to 260 horsepower. Ask your dealer for details.
Interiors are industrial in design, failing to appear modern, but are constructed of high-quality materials. Switchgear is logically placed and easy to use. Larger drivers might find the front seats to be uncomfortable, but the cabin in general is pretty roomy, especially in the Double Cab. Standard features are few and far between, however. Items like air conditioning, cruise control, bucket seats and power windows and locks are all optional. Toyota does offer two optional packages -- SR5 and Limited -- that bundle the most desired features. A TRD off-road package is also available that includes an upgraded suspension, 16-inch tires and a locking rear differential.
In terms of safety equipment, all pickups contain dual front airbags with a shut-off switch for the passenger side. Four-wheel antilock brakes are optional. In government crash tests, the Tacoma has not faired as well as other compact pickups.
Driving a Tacoma is easy enough thanks to its compact dimensions. Both four-cylinder engines offer adequate acceleration, though you'll want the V6 if you plan on towing. Ride quality can suffer if the TRD off-road package is ordered, but the payoff in terms of enhanced off-road ability is well worth it.
Toyota hopes to attract buyers with the handsome styling and rugged image of its Tacoma as well as its reputation for quality and reliability. Generally, 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.