1997 Toyota Tacoma Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful, rugged, and reliable.
  • Luke-warm about the revised styling. Dangerously close to full-size truck prices.
List Price Estimate
$883 - $1,873

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Toyota's sixth-generation compact pickup debuted in April, as a 1995.5 model, with an actual model name: Tacoma. It's supposed to suggest the rugged outdoors, as well as strength and adventure. Any of three potent new engines goes under the hood, and the pickup rides an all-new chassis. Toyota aimed at aggressive styling, inside and out, and Tacomas sport an excellent selection of interior fittings. Regular and extended Xtracab bodies are available, with either two- or four-wheel drive. A deep-sculpted grille/hood/fender structure imparts a sporty personality to the truck, to attract customers who select their 4x4s on non-utilitarian grounds.

Two-wheel-drive Tacomas get a 2.4-liter four-cylinder base engine, rated 142 horsepower (26 more than the prior generation). Tacoma 4x4s earn a 150-horsepower, 2.7-liter four. Toyota claims that its four-cylinder engines are comparable to V6s from competitors. But if those won't suffice, consider the latest V6 option: a dual-overhead-cam, 24-valve unit that whips out 190 horses and 220 foot-pounds of torque. With V6 power, borrowed from the bigger T100, this compact pickup can tow up to 5,000 pounds and soundly whip any factory sport truck in the stoplight dragrace. In contrast, the V6 engine available in the prior-generation pickup delivered only 150 horsepower and 180 foot-pounds.

All Tacomas have front coil springs instead of the former torsion bars, but 4x4s feature longer suspension travel than before, to improve ride/handling qualities, whether on- or off-road. Track width has been increased, too, for a more stable ride. Rack-and-pinion steering replaces the old recirculating-ball layout, for better feel and response. Manual-shift trucks feature reverse-gear synchronization, to reduce gear noise when shifting into reverse. Four-wheel antilock braking is an option, but all pickups contain an airbag for the driver. In top-of-the-line SR5 Xtracab pickups, a One-Touch Hi-4 switch is available for easy, pushbutton engagement of four-wheel-drive. By redesigning and lowering the floor by 1.6 inches, Toyota makes 4x4s easier to enter.

Tacomas are produced at the NUMMI joint-venture facility in Fremont, California, having been designed in that state. Options include cruise control, air conditioning, a sliding rear window, tilt steering wheel, and moonroof. We like the Tacoma, but question the value it represents. These new Toyota trucks don't come cheap. Guess that's the price you pay for the peace of mind a Toyota provides.

1997 Highlights

The 1997 Toyota Tacoma receives several new value packages that make optioning the truck easier. A locking rear-wheel differential is now available on all 4WD models. Bucket seats can be had on all Xtracab Tacomas this year; not just the SR5. Two-wheel-drive models have new headlamps and a new grille that make the vehicle look more like the T100.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Toyota Tacoma.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

The best of the best
Aubrey,11/02/2008
SR5 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB
I now have over 300,000 miles on this SR5 4x4 and other than regular maintenance, the only problem was the starter. Still shines like new, the ABS works great, all electrical is working and I know it will start every time I want to use it. I have hauled, towed and loaded this truck to the max and it has never let me down. This is my fifth Toyota product and I have yet to have any in the shop which is better on my wallet as well as peace of mind.
Best money ever spent!
william1969,06/30/2013
V6 2dr Extended Cab SB
I purchased my 1997 Toyota Tacoma LX V6 Extra Cab in '99 with 67,000 miles on it. Today, it has 272,000 miles. I've only replaced the radiator, O2 sensor, a ball bearing joint, and the starter, as well as, the normal required maintenance such as timing belts. It is a true work horse, and a remarkable automobile for reliability and function considering the other vehicles I've witnessed. I've been offered by three different individuals on separate occasions to buy it from me. It's not going to happen.
One word - RELIABLE
bucnasty,12/19/2006
SR5 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB
My tacoma has 190k on it and it has started and gotten me where I needed to be every day. Motor still runs like new, the only thing I have ever had to do to the truck was put brakes on, replace shocks and CV boot covers, and replace a rack and pinion mounting bushing, I've probably only spent around 500 dollars on maintenance on this truck and have owned it for 6 years, with 190+ K miles on it. I honestly think it would run forever.
97 Tacoma 4x4, 2.7L
knut,04/14/2004
2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB
This truck is a great value. It's tough, dependable, reliable, and considering these trucks are "Built to last" many years, the slightly higher price is well worth it. Very low and easy maintenance- have owned since new (currently 135K mi), mainly just change oil, add gas, and drive!!. The only repairs of concern were A/C and a new fuel injector. The 4cyl. manual is suprisingly powerful, the hauling capacity is "at least" 1/2 ton, and the 4x4 system is, from what I've heard...superior to all others. Right now for small trucks, the Tacoma is the only one I'd consider.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver2 / 5
    Passenger3 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    DriverNot Rated
    PassengerNot Rated
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1997 Toyota Tacoma

Used 1997 Toyota Tacoma Overview

The Used 1997 Toyota Tacoma is offered in the following submodels: Tacoma Regular Cab, Tacoma Extended Cab. Available styles include 2dr Extended Cab SB (2.4L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), V6 2dr Extended Cab SB (3.4L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (2.7L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), SR5 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.4L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), V6 2dr Extended Cab 4WD SB (3.4L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), 2dr Regular Cab SB (2.4L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M), V6 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (3.4L 6cyl naturally aspired 5M), and 2dr Regular Cab 4WD SB (2.7L 4cyl naturally aspired 5M). Pre-owned Toyota Tacoma models are available with a 2.4 L-liter gas engine or a 3.4 L-liter gas engine or a 2.7 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 190 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 Toyota Tacoma comes with rear wheel drive, and four wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Toyota Tacoma?

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Which used 1997 Toyota Tacomas are available in my area?

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Can't find a used 1997 Toyota Tacomas you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Toyota Tacoma for sale - 6 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $19,065.

Find a used Toyota for sale - 7 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $16,818.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota Tacoma for sale - 6 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $9,979.

Find a used certified pre-owned Toyota for sale - 3 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $20,664.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Toyota Tacoma?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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