Full 2014 Toyota Tacoma Review
What's New for 2014
The sporty X-Runner model has been discontinued for the 2014 Toyota Tacoma, but there's a new SR appearance package that adds a little visual interest. Also, the touchscreen infotainment offerings have been enhanced, and the available rearview camera now broadcasts to the touchscreen display on all eligible models (the Access Cab previously used a small screen on the rearview mirror).
You wouldn't know it from the commercials on TV, but not all pickup trucks these days are thundering beasts built to tow your house off its foundation. There's also a "midsize" class of trucks, and the 2014 Toyota Tacoma is arguably its most distinguished member. For nearly a decade now, the current Tacoma has been meeting the needs of truck shoppers who value efficiency and manageable dimensions. And although the 2014 model is largely the same truck that debuted way back in 2005, the past few years have brought new technology features that keep the Tacoma feeling fresh.
The big news two years ago was the introduction of Toyota's touchscreen interface with "Entune" mobile apps and navigation, but availability was limited to the pricey Double Cab V6. Last year, a basic 6.1-inch touchscreen (sans mobile apps and navigation) became standard on all Tacoma models, even the stripped-down 4x2 Regular Cab. For 2014, the standard touchscreen is joined by an optional enhanced version for both Access and Double Cabs, and these models also offer mobile apps and navigation. The only bummer is that the Regular Cab's touchscreen can't be upgraded from the standard, no-frills specification.
Whether you care about that stuff or not, chances are you'll like the Tacoma's versatile skill set. If you just need a simple light-duty work truck, the base four-cylinder Regular Cab promises years of reliable service, and you can even get it with four-wheel drive in colder climates. If you're looking for a backseat as well, the extended Access Cab and four-door Double Cab should fit the bill, and they bring the powerful V6 engine into play. There are also two bed lengths, multiple trim packages and various dealer-installed accessories to choose from. In short, there's a Tacoma for pretty much everyone, unless you really do require the massive capabilities of a full-size truck.
If you're looking for Tacoma alternatives, there aren't many these days, though the new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is waiting in the wings. For the 2014 model year, its only direct rival is the 2014 Nissan Frontier, which is similarly well-rounded but more basic inside -- and no longer offered in regular-cab form. The other truck on the Tacoma's radar is the 2014 Honda Ridgeline, a cleverly designed crew-cab rig with relatively limited capabilities due to its car-based underpinnings.
Overall, the Toyota remains a can't-miss choice in this sensible segment. You probably couldn't tow a space shuttle behind it, but for most real-world jobs, the Tacoma's got you covered.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup truck offered in three cab configurations: Regular Cab, Access Cab (an extended cab with small rear-hinged doors) and Double Cab (crew cab). Regular and Access Cabs feature a standard 6-foot, 1-inch bed, while Double Cab models offer either a 5-foot short bed or the standard bed.
Standard features on the rear-drive (2WD) Tacoma Regular Cab include 15-inch steel wheels, a limited-slip rear differential, air-conditioning, a composite bedliner, a bed utility rail system, a cloth bench seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch touchscreen display and a four-speaker CD audio system with iPod/USB connectivity and an auxiliary audio jack. A sliding rear window is optional.
The 2WD Access Cab adds upgraded cloth upholstery, full carpeting, power locks and windows, front bucket seats, a center console, an overhead console, fold-up rear seats with under-seat storage, and dual rear cupholders.
The 2WD Double Cab adds black fenders, power mirrors, adjustable driver lumbar, a 60/40-split rear bench seat with adjustable headrests, rear bulkhead storage and rear climate vents.
Specifying four-wheel drive on any base Tacoma brings an increased ride height, 16-inch steel wheels, black fenders (already standard on Double Cab), an engine skid plate and front mud guards.
The PreRunner, offered in both Access and Double Cab configurations, is a rear-wheel-drive Tacoma that otherwise shares the standard features found on the 4WD Tacoma.
All Access and Double Cab models are eligible for two packages. The Convenience package adds power mirrors (Access Cab only), keyless entry, cruise control, a tinted sliding rear window and steering-wheel audio controls. The SR5 package includes those items plus chrome grille and rear bumper trim, color-keyed front bumper and fenders, fog lights (V6 only), adjustable driver lumbar support (already standard on Double Cab), unique seat fabric, variable intermittent wipers, metallic-look instrument panel trim, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and (automatic-only) shift knob, dual sun visors with mirrors and extenders, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a rearview camera.
The SR package (PreRunner, 4WD Access Cab and 4WD Double Cab only) adds extended color-keyed exterior trim, exclusive black 16-inch alloy wheels, mirror-mounted turn signals, smoked headlights and (on V6 models) fog lights. The TRD TX Baja package adds some off-road flair with a more aggressive look, all-terrain tires, unique black alloy wheels, Bilstein shocks, a cat-back exhaust, an increased front ride height and side graphics.
V6-powered PreRunners and 4WD Tacomas are additionally eligible for the TRD Off-Road package, which includes the SR5 package plus a heavy-duty suspension with Bilstein shocks, a locking rear differential, Hill-Start Assist and Downhill Assist (4WD automatic models only), 16-inch alloy wheels, TRD graphics, a 115-volt power point in the bed and sport seats. Alternatively, these models can be equipped with the TRD Sport package, which features a sport-tuned suspension (also with Bilsteins), 17-inch alloy wheels, a hood scoop, extended color-keyed exterior trim, the bed-mounted power outlet and essentially the same interior features at the TRD Off-Road package.
Finally, the Limited package (V6 Double Cabs only) includes the SR5 package's items plus 18-inch chrome wheels, extended chrome exterior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with an outside temperature gauge and Homelink, heated front seats, synthetic leather upholstery and a higher-resolution touchscreen with HD radio, satellite radio, a navigation system and the Entune mobile-app suite.
V6 Double Cabs can also be equipped with a premium JBL audio system that includes a subwoofer. The upgraded touchscreen is available separately on both Access and Double Cabs, with or without navigation and Entune mobile apps.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma is available with rear- or four-wheel drive and a choice of two engines: a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or 4.0-liter V6.
All Tacomas except 4WD Double Cab models come standard with the four-cylinder engine, which is rated at 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on Regular and Access Cab models, while the rear-drive-only PreRunner Access and Double Cabs get a standard four-speed automatic that's optional on the others.
A Tacoma with the four-cylinder and five-speed manual returns an EPA-estimated 23 mpg combined (21 city/25 highway) with rear-wheel drive, dropping to 21 mpg combined (19/24) with the automatic. Adding four-wheel drive yields 19 mpg combined (18/21) with either transmission.
The V6 is rated at 236 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. It isn't offered on Regular Cab models, but it comes standard with the 4WD Double Cab, and it's optional on the 4WD Access Cab and both PreRunner configurations (Access and Double Cab). The PreRunner V6 models come only with a five-speed automatic transmission, but the V6-powered 4WD Access Cab and Double Cab come standard with a six-speed manual (the five-speed automatic is optional).
The V6/automatic team yields 19 mpg combined (17/21) with rear-wheel drive and 18 mpg combined (16/21) with four-wheel drive. The V6/manual tandem (a 4WD-only proposition now that the X-Runner is gone) returns 17 mpg combined (16/19).
In Edmunds performance testing, a 4WD Tacoma Double Cab V6 with the automatic covered zero to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds -- suitably quick for a midsize truck. Properly equipped, a Tacoma V6 can tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Standard safety equipment on the 2014 Toyota Tacoma includes antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum) with brake assist, stability control, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active head restraints. A rearview camera is optional.
In Edmunds brake testing, the aforementioned Double Cab 4WD V6 stopped from 60 mph in a commendable 126 feet. A Double Cab Tacoma with the TRD TX Baja package took 143 feet to stop, a considerably longer distance but not unexpected with the all-terrain tires equipped.
In government crash testing, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma received an overall rating of four stars out of five. Double Cab models received three out of five stars for frontal crash impact protection, and all other Tacomas received four stars. Access and Double Cab Tacomas received five stars for side crash protection, while the Regular Cab scored four stars.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tacoma its top rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal offset and side crash tests, but its second-to-worst rating of "Marginal" in the roof strength test. Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma has a straightforward dashboard layout that puts practicality first, including simple three-dial climate knobs that are easily turned by gloved hands. Most panels are made of hard plastic, but build quality is perennially strong. Feature content is generally impressive, headlined by the standard touchscreen display with iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity, which makes the Regular Cab's crank windows and manual locks seem highly incongruous.
The front bucket seats offer firm support, though some drivers may find that their low mounting points relative to the floor hampers comfort. While the Access Cab's rear jump seats are only fit for small children or cargo, the Double Cab's backseat is surprisingly adult-friendly, especially compared with the cramped crew-cab Nissan Frontier. In both cases, the rear seats flip up or fold down to provide an enclosed storage space.
The Tacoma's utility is enhanced by the standard composite bedliner, which guards against the dents and dings that typically accumulate in a truck bed. The optional bed-mounted 115-volt power outlet can be a real asset when you're on the job, and it'll also win you friends and admirers when camping or tailgating.
The four-cylinder Tacoma can seem overly noisy and its performance certainly isn't going to blow anyone's doors off, but thanks to a healthy 180 pound-feet of torque, it actually packs a decent punch. This isn't a transplanted Camry engine or anything like that; it was designed specifically for truck duty, and its respectable fuel economy makes it a smart choice for small-business contractors. The V6 engine is considerably brawnier, of course, and it's a no-brainer if you plan to do any serious towing.
On paved surfaces, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma rides firmly, particularly with one of the TRD suspension setups. It's not objectionable, but it certainly lacks the Ridgeline's carlike smoothness. The soft brake pedal fails to inspire confidence, even though its measured performance is fine. Off-road, however, the Tacoma 4WD is a star, providing serious capability in an unassuming package. The comprehensive TRD Off-Road package is tempting, yet the four-cylinder 4WD Regular Cab is one of the best go-anywhere bargains you'll find.