Finally purchased my toy last summer, after humming and hawing for years. I've researched the pro's and cons between the Nissan Frontier and the Tacoma, and the biggest issues outstanding for each is the transmission trouble with the Taco, but the differential troubles with the Frontiers. After thinking about the cost (frontier cheaper) the size (frontier smaller) and reputation, I felt that I could live with the random gear changes of the taco, and it wouldn't cost anything in repairs, or pay less for a Nissan, then replace the differential in a year, have less cabin room, less box room, and less "look cool factor". I've been driving in every terrain with only once stuck in a ditch! Love it!
The exterior look is tough, but looks like a fun ride, and it is! I have the SR5 model, so no fake hood scoop. Sleek design in black with chrome stands out on the road. The interior is super comfortable, and I love the fold down seats with storage area in the double cab! Roomy and robust!
Both SR5 and TRS models should have the 6 post trailer light hook up. The towing capacity isn't that different when it comes to your usual trailers to tow.
Bought my 2006 Black, 4WD, Short-bed TRD, used in June of 2007. It had 20K miles on it, and it is sitting at just over 60K miles now (April 2010). Wanted a smaller truck that was 4WD with four doors and I was willing to sacrifice power, fun, and space. So far, the space is the only sacrifice. The bed is pretty small when hauling things, but I knew that going into the deal. For the trucks size and weight, the power is outstanding. I pulled a Chevy 1500 out of a ditch with ease of course, I was still on asphalt and had good traction. Regardless, this was my first Toyota truck and I will own it until the wheels fall off! Great little truck, and still get compliments all the time.
The TRD package is great when playing off-road. The highway drive and handling is so-so but it's a TRUCK, people! I have not put it in the mud, but have played in the dirt and sand quite a bit with all original/stock suspension and tires. Too much fun!
Would have liked to see a sturdier bed with more tie downs. MP3 Disc, or Aux jack would have been nice. I'm 6' tall and weigh 190, the front seats are a little narrow, but still comfortable for normal use. I do have to make frequent stops when driving more than a couple of hours, though.
I have the 4wd 2.7L 4 cyl std trans. The truck is economical (22-26 mpg), comfortable and dependable. The interior is comfortable and utilitarian. Mine is a work truck and hauls my tools, firewood and bike with ease. It is comfortable on long trips, has a great stereo with disc player. My only gripe is that the speedometer reads high (about 8- 10%) with stock tires. Although it isn't that important to me I also like the styling.
2006 Toyota Tacoma 4dr Access Cab SB (2.7L 4cyl 4A)
Overall, this Tacoma has been very good and useful for us. However, that being said, if you have the means and are looking for an AUTO trans Taco, I would suggest getting the V6 instead. I currently own an '07 Double-cab long bed Prerunner and average about 21mpg (our local gas is a 10% ethanol blend). With the inline 4, I was only averaging about 22mpg so the fuel economy savings with the 4 is very slim. The V6 also idles softer/smoother (as is the case with most V6's vs larger displacement 4's). Also, occasionally during cold starts the inline 4 seemed to idle quite high and noisily for about half a minute before settling down (others have posted reviews about this as well).
Excellent fit and finish. No squeaks or rattles whatsoever. Excellent reliability. Tailgate is much lighter than Frontier's tailgate, which makes our frequent bed use a little easier. Under-seat storage is very useful.
Address the inline 4 engine's "high idle". Give the 4 cylinder Tacoma's a 5-speed auto vs the 4-speed to help with fuel economy. It's a very minor inconvenience, but an oil filter location similar to the Tacoma V6's would be nice.
I bought my 2006 Tacoma pre-runner V6 brand new, have had nothing but issues. First, breaks, if you try to break on any uneven surface they lock and you slide took it to my dealership they said "that's how abs works". On top of that my motor mount just happened to break (I looked into this&tons of people with tacomas 05-07 motor mounts have mysteriously broke).
The power and towing capabilities
breaks need to be fixed, motormounts, and the auto-trans. Shift for no reasons at all, shifts into gears it shouldn't be in.