- The Toyota Tacoma has been redesigned from the ground up for the first time in more than a decade.
- The Trailhunter and turbocharged powertrains might grab most of the attention, but there are other notable changes throughout.
- A clean slate gave Toyota the chance to make significant changes.
Here are the Coolest Features of the New Toyota Tacoma
The Tacoma has a handful of new changes that are worth a small deep dive
The long-anticipated next-generation 2024 Toyota Tacoma is almost here, and it's entering a much different landscape than it did with the last version debuted in 2016. While there were a handful of other midsize pickups on the market then, the rivals this time around are far more competitive. New versions of the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Ford Ranger are all hitting showrooms this calendar year, and the Nissan Frontier was completely overhauled not too long ago. Even though the Tacoma has been the best-selling model in its segment for nearly two decades, the outgoing model feels dated compared to its rivals and was in need of more than just an update.
A clean-sheet redesign gave Toyota's designers and engineers an opportunity to improve on some of the Taco's weaknesses without losing the elements that have made the truck so popular. You can read all about the 2024 Tacoma's changes and updates as well as a trim level breakdown that helps sort through which models have which features, but we wanted to focus in on some of the new Taco's details.
Wait, they're still making trucks with just two doors?
These days, the vast majority of trucks on dealer lots have four doors and two full rows of seating. In fact, some trucks like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and GMC Canyon are only available in four-door configurations. It makes sense given how frequently trucks are used as primary vehicles, especially for families, but Toyota knows there are certain customers who want to keep things simple. That's why it's offering what it's calling the XtraCab.
Now, this isn't like the extended-cab pickups of yore: There are no rear-hinged back doors and no folding rear jump seats. It was simply too difficult to make the latter setup meet modern crash standards. Instead, Toyota has tried to optimize the space behind the front seats for utility, with things like lockable storage bins and seats that have extra length on the rails to slide forward easier. Additionally, the passenger seat can fold forward and be used as a table. There are even tie-down hooks on the seatback.
The XtraCab is only available on the SR, SR5 and TRD PreRunner trims. In fact, the PreRunner is only available in the XtraCab, though the SR and SR5 are available with four doors. All other trims come standard with four doors.
What is up with those seats in the TRD Pro?
That was our question, too. Frankly, the seats are exactly what they look like in photos: a pair of seats, each with its own suspension. The seat, which Toyota has dubbed the IsoDynamic Performance Seat, uses an air-over-oil shock absorber system that allows it to move both vertically and laterally — but not forward and back. Think of it like an air seat on a bus or big rig.
The seat is suspended in a frame and moves independently of the truck's body, which in theory means you'll be tossed around less since the seat can compensate for the movement so your eyes will stay more level. We haven't had a chance to try it ourselves, but we're very interested to see if it will help on rough terrain.
They're adjustable, too. Below the pressure gauge on the seatback are small valves. You can use an air pump to adjust the shock's pressure. Through its app, Toyota will have suggested seat pressures for weight as well as on- or off-road driving, but you're free to dial in your own setting.
Additionally, all Tacomas have a slightly higher seating position than the old truck, as well as increased steering wheel adjustment range. This should be good news to those who struggled to get comfortable in the old Tacoma. The roof has been raised, too, so there's no loss in headroom.
That air dam looks awfully low to the ground
No one can escape increasingly stringent fuel economy standards. It's a big reason Toyota is powering every single new Tacoma with a turbocharged inline-four, with some models benefitting from hybrid assistance. The old V6 powertrain is gone, but it's not the only thing Toyota has changed in an effort to boost efficiency. Some trims will have a new massive front air dam in order to lower air resistance and improve fuel economy. Unfortunately, the air dam significantly reduces both the Tacoma's ground clearance and approach angle.
Toyota is far from the only automaker that uses an air dam on the front of its trucks. Heck, the old Tacoma had a small front spoiler, too. We criticized the second-generation Chevrolet Colorado for this very thing eight years ago, though there's one significant difference between the pair: The Tacoma's chin is simple to remove. Removing the air dam on the Colorado wasn't easy, with bolts and screws that were hard to see and reach. Instead, Toyota left it simple: Unscrew nine easily accessible bolts and the whole thing comes off. No disassembling the front bumper necessary. Sure, the active front spoiler from the Tundra would be nice, but it's too bulky to fit in the Tacoma, and the mechanism is expensive to replace in case it gets damaged off-road.
Is that a Bluetooth speaker in the dashboard?
Toyota has partnered with JBL for years, with most of the Japanese automaker's higher trim models offering JBL audio systems. If you opt for the JBL system in the Tacoma, it includes a removable speaker in the center of the dash. When you pull it out, it functions as a typical Bluetooth speaker that can be daisy-chained to other JBL speakers to expand the sound. Toyota says it has a six-hour battery life, and it's the first Toyota product to use a solid-state battery. When docked, the speaker recharges and functions as the audio system's center channel.
Toyota has reworked every inch of the new Tacoma, including interesting new features in the process. These include additions not seen in any other pickup.