I bought my first, brand new Toyota Pick-Up truck in 1987. Back then, it didn't have a model name. It was just a Toyota pick-up. It lasted me 16 years and 316,000 miles. The engine was still strong, but it started costing me too much on maintenance for other things that were wearing down. I was so happy with my old truck, I honestly didn't want to get rid of it, but it was dying a slow death and beginning to leave me stranded everywhere. In 2003, I wanted nothing else but another Toyota truck. So I bought a 2003 Toyota Tacoma. 15 years and 197,000 miles later, this truck is running like a champ with no signs of quitting on me. Everything is running strong, I've had no mechanical problems, I keep up on all regular maintenance, and I absolutely LOVE this truck. I'm only sad that this will be the last manual truck I'll ever own since manual vehicles are becoming obsolete. But I LOVE manual trucks. I've already decided that my next truck, which will be no time soon, will be a Toyota Pre-Runner because I don't see myself in anything else but Toyota trucks.
I get amazing gas mileage for a truck. I adore this truck. It's cute and incredibly reliable. The only problems I have ever had have been normal car maintenance problems (battery, tires, brakes, etc.) I also threw it out of alignment jumping train tracks at 16. Other than that, I'm pretty sure it's powered by a 40 watt lightbulb. Absolutely zero get up and go. ZERO. Clocked it at 0 - 60 in 27 seconds. I am NOT exaggerating. The cab is very cramped. I did not know my husband when I chose the truck and didn't realize I would one day marry a 6' 4" 300 pound guy. It's awful and painful to sleep in this truck. Storage space is zero. Overall, this is a wonderful truck. Particularly as a 2nd car.
The gas mileage is great. It drives fairly smoothly. Maintenance is practically zero. I've had no real problems that weren't self inflicted. The prerunner handles very well. Very high up.
The cab is SO small. I love this truck, but a little more leg room would be great. The extended cab was too expensive. Long distances are not a lot of fun. The tire changing equipment that came with the truck looks like thrift store junk. The jack is way too short. Not good when stranded.
Just trying to help all that are looking into purchasing a Tacoma. This truck is good over all, yes it does have its minor flaws in the design and seems to have common problems with all us owners. It works good for me since I am single and do quite a bit of hauling and driving. The gas mileage is good on highways but poor in town, the rattles that everyone is having, I too have up around the dash. The outside noise comes from the way the wind wraps around the side of the cab and not the rear wall. I still love this truck because it is reliable and is worth almost what I paid for it. One thing I hate is when I am braking and hit a bump, the anti-lock kicks in and causes me to slide a bit.
4x4, good traction, easy to use (nothing is hidden) and is an all around good truck. Extremely bright headlights.
Since the truck has been redesigned, theres not much point in elaborating on improvements, however the clock location is bad on this truck.