2017 Toyota Tacoma

2017 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Review

Toyota's Tacoma is the best compact truck for those with an active outdoor lifestyle.
4.0 / 5
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Edmunds
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

Ever the sales leader in the midsize segment, the Tacoma trades heavily on Toyota's well-deserved reputation for building small trucks with superior off-highway capability and rugged dependability. Able to do much more than haul building materials from the home improvement store (which it does quite well), the Tacoma gives off an off-road lifestyle vibe that it can back up with actual performance.

You can see it in the truck's stance, its ground clearance and the cut of its front bumper. And frankly you'll also notice it when you hoist yourself up into the cab, which is handsome and functional enough but has an odd driving position born of the need for maximum underbody clearance. The story is the same whether you buy a 4x2 or a 4x4 because in 2016 all two-wheel-drive Tacomas adopted the jacked-up stance of their four-wheel-drive brethren.

We're not bowled over by the lack of response and sometimes awkward drivability of its V6 engine, but the real culprit is likely a shift program for the six-speed automatic that's designed to extract maximum fuel mileage. Still, it gets the job done, and when the road turns to dirt, the suspension, tires and traction management systems take over the lead role.

Two of the available six models are bristling with off-road gear that further extends their appeal and capability. The TRD Off-Road has knobby tires, special shocks and traction aids such as a locking rear differential, crawl control and an advanced multimode off-road traction control system. The reintroduced-for-2017 TRD Pro has all of that plus extra suspension travel, a taller and wider stance, and trick big-bore Fox internal bypass shocks, all of which allow it to soak up even more high-speed punishment while still delivering a smooth ride on the pavement.



What's new for 2017

There are some very minor changes for 2017, such as power actuation of the crew cab's sliding rear window. But there is one major change to the lineup: the range-topping TRD Pro trim level returns after a one-year absence.

We recommend

We bought a TRD Off-Road V6 4x4 for our long-term test, and we'd do it again. With strong go-anywhere credentials thanks to its all-terrain tires, Bilstein shocks, locking rear differential and crawl control, it doesn't break the bank like the admittedly impressive TRD Pro. The cab comes equipped with the 7-inch Entune touchscreen navigation system, and a single comprehensive option package can add a tilt-and-slide moonroof, heated seats, automatic climate control, rear parking sonar, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Available in the full range of bed, cab and transmission choices, too.




Trim levels & features

This year's Tacoma lineup has been expanded. The entry-level SR is the work truck of the bunch, with the value-oriented SR5 offering more equipment and more choices. Next up are the identically priced, very popular and well-equipped TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road variants. The two are identical on the inside, but hardware differences make the TRD Off-Road come across as the better deal. The more street-oriented Limited used to be the top dog, but that honor now belongs to the TRD Pro, a highly capable off-road machine that returns even better than before after a one-year absence.

Bare-bones isn't quite the right way to describe the low-dollar SR, the most modestly equipped Tacoma of the lot. Even so, it can be had with an extended cab with a 6.1-foot bed or a crew cab with a 5-foot bed, and you can choose between two-wheel drive or part-time four-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case. Its 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine with 159 horsepower can be paired with a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic, or you can get a 278-hp 3.5-liter V6 and the automatic.

The SR is most easily identified by its dark grille and 16-inch steel wheels. But even this basic Tacoma comes with a sliding rear window, a tough composite bed that needs no bedliner, a movable cleat tie-down system and a backup camera fitted in the tailgate release handle. Inside, the four-way cloth seats have driver-side lumbar adjustment, and the steering wheel tilts, telescopes, and has control buttons that work with the basic Entune stereo, which supports Bluetooth and has a USB interface. There's even a built-in GoPro camera mount at the upper edge of the windshield. Cruise control and remote keyless entry are available as a package option, and the SR is the only model where you can delete the extended cab's rear seat if all you really want is a work truck.

For most buyers, the SR5 is the most common starting point. Engine choices remain the same, but the six-speed automatic is standard. In addition to the previous configurations mentioned, you can also get a long-wheelbase version that pairs the crew cab with the 6.1-foot bed.

Outwardly, the SR5 gains a chrome rear bumper and a flash of chrome on its charcoal-colored grille. It's got foglights set into its front bumper, and the 16-inch steel wheels can be upgraded to alloys. Remote keyless entry and cruise control become standard, its steering wheel is wrapped in leather, and the sliding rear window uses privacy glass. There's a 4.2-inch information screen between the gauges, and the enhanced Entune audio system supports satellite radio, smartphone-enabled navigation via the Scout GPS app and Siri Eyes Free voice control.

Next up is the TRD Sport. It is offered in the same cab and bed configurations as the SR5, but the V6 is the only engine. All two-wheel-drive versions use the six-speed automatic, but four-wheel-drive buyers can choose between the automatic and a performance-oriented six-speed manual.

It comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, body-color fender flares and rear bumper, turn signals in the mirror housings and, everyone's favorite, a hood scoop. There's a 400-watt power outlet in the bed and the crew cab's sliding rear window is power-actuated. Automatic transmission-equipped trucks gain smart entry and pushbutton start, and all TRD Sports make the jump to full navigation via the Entune premium audio system's 7-inch touchscreen.

The TRD Off-Road offers the same configuration and engine options as the TRD Sport, and its truck bed and interior and audio trimmings are identical. Visual differences include a chrome rear bumper, textured black fender flares and the absence of the Sport's hood scoop. Off-road performance changes loom large in this trim, and these include knobby all-terrain tires on 16-inch alloy wheels, the deletion of the front air dam, extra skid plates, a lockable rear differential, Bilstein monotube shocks, and an advanced off-road traction control system with multiple terrain settings and crawl control.

Both the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road can be upgraded with an option package that includes a sunroof, automatic climate control, heated seats and a blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Another version of this package also includes a JBL speaker upgrade and a subwoofer.

The Limited is the most civilized version of the Tacoma. It is only offered as a V6-powered crew cab with the short bed in either two- or four-wheel drive. It has body-color flares and rear bumper, and it rolls on 18-inch wheels with lower-profile tires. It lacks the TRD Off-Road's specialized off-road upgrades and is instead upgraded with leather-trimmed seats and all the equipment found in the JBL version of the TRD Sport and Off-Road upgrade package.

The TRD Pro is sold only as a crew cab with a short bed, and it comes only in four-wheel drive. The V6 engine is standard, but you can choose between the manual and the automatic transmission. It sets itself apart with a black throwback grille with "Toyota" spelled out in capital letters, black head- and taillight bezels, black textured fender flares and LED foglights. It rides on the same 16-inch knobby tires as the TRD Off Road, but the Pro's unique black wheels and vastly more capable 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks give it a tougher stance that's an inch broader and an inch taller. After that it's a mix of all of the others: the hood scoop from the Sport, traction management features from the TRD Off-Road, and luxury interior appointments and safety systems from the Limited. In fact, its heated leather seats go the Limited's one better because of their textured pattern, contrasting red stitching and logo-emblazoned headrests. There's a unique TRD shift knob and exhaust tip, too.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Crew Cab 4x4 (3.5L V6; 6-speed automatic).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Toyota Tacoma has received some very minor equipment revisions, such as the power actuation of the sliding rear window. The TRD Pro is all new, but it is a low-volume model that is not part of this evaluation. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Toyota Tacoma.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5

Driving

3.5 / 5

Acceleration3.0 / 5
Braking3.0 / 5
Steering4.5 / 5
Handling4.0 / 5
Drivability3.0 / 5

Comfort

3.5 / 5

Seat comfort3.0 / 5
Ride comfort3.5 / 5
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5
Climate control4.5 / 5

Interior

4.0 / 5

Ease of use4.5 / 5
Getting in/getting out3.0 / 5
Driving position3.0 / 5
Roominess3.5 / 5
Visibility4.5 / 5
Quality4.0 / 5

Utility

4.0 / 5

Small-item storage4.0 / 5
Cargo space4.5 / 5

Technology

3.5 / 5

Audio & navigation4.0 / 5
Smartphone integration3.0 / 5
Driver aids3.0 / 5
Voice control4.5 / 5

Driving3.5

The Tacoma steers and handles with quiet confidence on the road, but the V6 engine and its automatic transmission don't always respond quickly to inputs. All Tacoma 4x4s benefit from Toyota's off-road design emphasis, but the TRD Off-Road is particularly capable when the pavement ends.

Acceleration3.0

The new 3.5-liter V6 makes 42 horsepower more than the old 4.0-liter V6, but acceleration is no better because of fuel efficiency priorities. Our test truck accelerated to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is adequate for its intended mission, but not class-leading.

Braking3.0

Dependable stops are straight and true. In a panic the Tacoma will stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, which is good considering the soft off-road tires. But in normal driving the brakes tend toward touchy and overeager, making it hard to execute smooth stops.

Steering4.5

Our Tacoma's steering always comes across as predictable and reassuring, with smooth and progressive effort as you guide it through corners. And it feels steady and connected when cruising straight, too. The chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel feels solid in your hands.

Handling4.0

Body roll is gradual and restrained, and the Tacoma imparts a good sense of overall competence and coordination on the sorts of winding roads you inevitably need to traverse on the way to the campground, ski lodge or trailhead. It feels equally secure and sure-footed out on the trail, too.

Drivability3.0

The new six-speed automatic shifts smoothly, but fuel efficiency-biased programming makes it reluctant to downshift. There is an ECT Power button that alters the shift points for more immediate response, but it must be reselected every time you restart the truck. A six-speed manual is available.

Off-road5.0

All 4x4 versions of the Tacoma do very well, but the TRD Off-Road has the suspension, tires and abundant clearance to go places other pickups, including other volume-selling midsize truck models, cannot. The locking differential, terrain select and crawl control systems are real advantages.

Comfort3.5

This new Tacoma rides smoother and quieter than the one it replaces. The climate control system is refreshingly simple and effective. The seats are accommodating, but the high floor tends to make tall drivers wish for more adjustability.

Seat comfort3.0

The seats feel comfortable and supportive even though their adjustments are quite simple. Very tall drivers may wish for more thigh support because of the unusual driving position. Heated seats are optional on the TRD Off-Road and TRD Sport but standard on higher trims.

Ride comfort3.5

The ride is notably smoother and less busy than in past years. Bilstein shocks and tall sidewalls of the 16-inch TRD Off-Road tires are adept at filtering out small road flaws, better in some circumstances than the Limited's 18-inch tires. Still, any blindfolded passenger will know this is a pickup.

Noise & vibration3.0

The new cabin feels fairly tight, with lower levels of wind and road noise compared to past years. Mechanical engine noise is nicely muted, too, and there's less exhaust drone than the old 4.0-liter V6 produced. Not hushed like a sedan, but nevertheless a pleasant place to pass the miles.

Climate control4.5

The standard system is very straightforward and easy to operate, with prominent controls that need no explanation. Airflow is good through the nice-sized vents. An optional automatic climate control system is available.

Interior4.0

Attractive interior is nicely laid out, with easily understood and effective controls. The cabin has plenty of space up front, but tall folks may disagree. Biggest shortcomings are the relatively tall step up to the cab and an odd driving posture, both side effects of the need for ground clearance.

Ease of use4.5

All switchgear is exceptionally easy to reach, understand and use, and that includes the automatic climate control, the 4x4 selector switch, the crawl control system and the multiterrain selector, which are all operated via knobs.

Getting in/getting out3.0

The Tacoma has a high cabin floor that is an outgrowth of its off-road design philosophy, which demands generous ground clearance. This makes step-in notably higher than in trucks such as the Colorado, and the legs-out seating position reduces step-out leverage somewhat.

Driving position3.0

The Tacoma's high floor produces a legs-out driving posture that is more carlike than you might expect. Taller drivers tend to notice this because the telescoping steering wheel doesn't have enough adjustment range, forcing them to scoot closer with knees bent more than they would otherwise.

Roominess3.5

There's plenty of personal space in the Tacoma, but the front seat headroom isn't generous. You've got to be taller than average to notice, and if that is the case you may want to think twice about that sunroof. The crew-cab backseat is tighter than the Chevy Colorado's but has more toe space.

Visibility4.5

There's a clear view out in all directions, and the high seating position makes it easy to spot the front corners. The crew cab's rear windows are large, and the mirrors are good-sized. The standard backup camera is a further plus.

Quality4.0

Fully redesigned in 2016, the attractive new interior features a higher grade of materials than in past years, and they generally look less like hard plastic than the competition. Numerous trips off-road failed to reveal any squeaks or rattles.

Utility4.0

The Tacoma's composite bed has lots of smart cargo management features, and there's a decent amount of places for items in and around the cab. Its tow rating isn't quite class-leading, but it isn't far off the mark. Child seat fitment in the crew cab favors forward-facing seats and boosters.

Small-item storage4.0

Four cupholders reside between the front seats, and they can also hold small items. The shelf ahead of them is meant for phones, and in some trims it's a wireless charging pad. Glovebox, center console box and door pockets are decent-sized. The rear seatbacks fold forward to reveal concealed bins.

Cargo space4.5

Crew cab's rear seats fold to create a flat platform that can hold more cargo than a Colorado. Standard composite bed needs no bedliner, has rails with movable tie-down cleats, a 400-watt power outlet, LED lighting and storage bins. Removable tailgate is damped so it won't slam when dropped open.

Child safety seat accommodation3.0

The crew cab has two pairs of LATCH lower anchors and a trio of upper tethers. The former are recessed between the cushions, and the latter must be accessed by folding the rear seatback forward, which is a bit of a pain. Bulky rear-facing seats force the corresponding front seat to be slid forward.

Towing4.0

A 4x2 V6 Tacoma can tow as much as 6,800 pounds. Our TRD Off-Road 4x4 can tow 6,400 pounds. Both are solid numbers for a midsize truck. Tow package includes hitch, wiring, extra cooling, a bigger alternator and trailer sway control.

Technology3.5

We generally like the touchscreen audio system because it has large virtual buttons and employs knobs for volume and tuning chores. Supports smartphones with a proprietary Entune app instead of the more universal Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Lags behind Honda Ridgeline in advanced driver aids.

Audio & navigation4.0

The touchscreen audio and navigation system is easier to use than many competing systems because it has simple volume and tune knobs (though they could be larger). Graphics are clear, and there isn't much glare. Sound quality isn't top-notch, but we didn't purchase the available JBL speaker upgrade.

Smartphone integration3.0

Bluetooth pairing is simple, but the USB-based smartphone interface requires you to install the Entune app on your phone to take advantage of some features. But the app is clunky to use and locks the phone for other purposes — even if it's the passenger's phone. Cabin contains just one USB jack.

Driver aids3.0

A blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert system is available on the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road, and it's standard above that. Rear parking sensors are part of the bargain. Other systems are not available.

Voice control4.5

Touchscreen audio system-equipped models such as our TRD Off-Road include navigation, phone and audio voice controls that do a reasonable job. Those with a paired Apple iPhone can press and hold the voice button longer to engage certain commands using the much more sophisticated Siri interface.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.