Since its introduction more than two decades ago, the Toyota Tacoma has been a mainstay of the compact and midsize pickup segments. Typical advantages to a new or used Tacoma include a variety of body styles, strong off-road abilities, solid build quality and a better-than-average reputation for reliability and durability.
Downsides are few. Even when modestly appointed, Toyota's compact pickup usually costs more than competing trucks from domestic manufacturers, and taller drivers might find the cabin of the first- and second-generation Tacomas to be somewhat uncomfortable. But overall, the Toyota Tacoma is a very capable pickup and is recommended for nearly all truck shoppers.
Current Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup truck available in extended-cab (Toyota calls it an Access Cab) and crew-cab (Double Cab) body styles with either short or long cargo beds.
The Tacoma can be had in six trim levels: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. The SR model is far from the stripped-down work truck you might expect. It comes with power windows and locks, a sliding rear window, a composite bed (which eliminates the need for a liner) with movable tie-down cleats, a rearview camera and Bluetooth-compatible stereo. The backseat can be deleted for true work-truck applications. The SR5 adds nicer trim, cruise control, remote keyless entry, satellite radio and foglights. The Tacoma Limited features a leather-trimmed interior, automatic climate control, a sunroof, heated seats, navigation, and push-button ignition and entry.
The three TRD models start with the TRD Sport, which comes with the SR5's equipment and adds alloy wheels, a hood scoop, an upgraded stereo system with navigation, and — for automatic-transmission-equipped trucks — keyless push-button entry and ignition. The TRD Off-Road lives up to its name with all-terrain tires, skid plates, a lockable rear differential, Bilstein shocks, an off-road traction control system with driver-selectable terrain settings and Toyota's Crawl Control system. The TRD Pro — technically the top-of-the-line Tacoma, as it costs more than the Limited — adds unique interior and exterior trim, Fox internal-bypass shocks, and a taller and wider stance, plus all of the creature comforts from the Limited trim.
Engine choices include a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque and a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. The 4x4 models are available with a manual transmission (five speeds for the four-cylinder engine, six with the V6), and a six-speed automatic is standard on 4x2 models and optional on other trims. Owners planning on frequent hauling or towing will certainly want to choose the V6; don't forget the V6 towing package (standard on TRD Pro, optional on other trims) which increases trailer capacity to between 6,400 and 6,800 pounds depending on how the truck is configured.
Our reviews have found the latest iteration of the Tacoma to be a smoother-riding truck than its predecessor, though acceleration is just average. Size and utility are beyond reproach, and we especially like the cargo management features found in the bed. The cab is reasonably roomy provided you aren't too tall, but it's a high step up into the cab and the driving position takes some getting used to. Off-road, the Tacoma really excels; all 4x4 models are very capable, but the TRD Off-Road takes advantage of Toyota's latest electronic wizardry, making it exceptionally talented.
Used Toyota Tacoma Models
Toyota introduced the third-generation Tacoma for the 2016 model year. Though the styling changed somewhat — for the better, we think — the size stayed almost exactly the same, and in profile it can be difficult to tell the second- and third-generation Tacomas apart.
Big changes included the swapping of the old 4.0-liter V6 for a new 3.5-liter Atkinson-cycle engine. Acceleration gains were modest, but the new engine delivered better fuel economy. The third-generation truck is offered only in extended- and crew-cab styles; the regular cab, which was eliminated in the last year of the second-generation truck, never returned. For 2017, Toyota introduced (or perhaps we should say reintroduced) the top-of-the-line TRD Pro model.
The second-generation Tacoma made its debut in 2005, and changed little over the next decade. It's important to note that in this first year, the Tacoma featured higher output numbers from its engine — however, this was due to a change in testing procedure, not actual horsepower. Among notable changes, stability/traction control, front-seat side airbags and side curtain airbags were optional prior to 2009, at which point they became standard. Tacomas from 2012 and up are also the most up to date in terms of in-car electronics, though Toyota never offered a leather interior on this generation of the truck. Various on- and off-road packages, such as the sporty X-Runner for the former and the rugged T/X Baja and TRD Pro for the latter, were offered throughout the years. In 2015, Toyota eliminated the regular-cab option, leaving only extended- and crew-cab models.
The Tacoma made its debut in 1995 as a replacement for Toyota's long-running, and more simply named, "Pickup." This first-generation Tacoma is smaller than later models but is still very capable and a fine choice for a used truck.
All first-generation Toyota Tacoma trucks came with one of two available four-cylinder engines or a 190-hp V6. Buyers could choose two- or four-wheel drive, along with either a five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic transmission. Tacomas from the 1990s came in either regular-cab or extended-cab (Xtracab) body styles. Unlike some competing trucks of this period, Tacoma Xtracabs lacked a third door to aid in rear-seat access.
This issue was solved for the 2001 model year when Toyota came out with the crew-cab (Double Cab) body style for the Tacoma. The Double Cab had the most interior room in the Tacoma range and four standard-opening doors. In order to keep overall length reasonable for on- and off-road maneuverability, however, Toyota reduced the Double Cab's bed length. This setup proved problematic for certain Tacoma buyers, which is why Toyota added a long-bed option for the second-generation Double Cab.
The Toyota Tacoma's reputation for better-than-average reliability is certainly a big bonus in the used compact truck segment. From a buying perspective, no one year of the first-generation Tacoma stands out. Continual improvements were made throughout its run but none of them were drastic enough to limit the appeal of earlier years. From a safety standpoint, trucks built after 1997 would be preferable, as these will have a passenger-side airbag. In the first-generation truck's last model year, 2004, stability control became available as an option.
Where Did We Drive It?
Our long-term 2016 Toyota Tacoma has been in our fleet for some time now, but we're still finding it pretty useful and, therefore, using it a lot. This month, we added well over 3,000 miles to the odometer, most of which were acquired during a trip to Portland, Oregon, to pick up a motorcycle and a shorter, unladen road trip to and from San Diego.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Despite several tanks of gas being added this month, the Tacoma's needle didn't move an inch. Its lifetime average remains at 18.6 mpg. Same as last month, same as the month before that and the month before that. I think it's safe to say next month's number will be 18.6 as well. For perspective, that lifetime fuel economy average is about 1.5 mpg lower than our long-term Ridgeline's lifetime average and 0.3 mpg higher than our long-term Colorado's, which was 18.3 mpg after 20,000 miles.
Average lifetime mpg: 18.6
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (18 city/23 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.0
Best range: 455.7 miles
Current odometer: 35,243 miles
Maintenance and Upkeep
"With a motorcycle in the bed, I was hoping ride quality would improve — that there would be less bounce from the rear or less float over big highway undulations, but it just didn't happen. Same ol' unrefined Tacoma stuff going on here. The motorcycle I was transporting only weighs about 300 pounds, so it didn't get anywhere near the Tacoma's payload limit but there was definitely a difference in power availability too. Every time a hill came up, I had to tip into the throttle a bit more than I'd have liked, but that seems to be a bit characteristic for the six-speed automatic. I feel like the Ridgeline is so good that it casts a giant shadow over this truck, especially when it comes to road trips." — Travis Langness, automotive editor
"There isn't a single comfortable surface in the cabin of this truck. The area where you lean your left knee, the center console, the door panel where you lean your elbow, and, most importantly, the flat, unsophisticated seat — all of them are tough to interact with. After just a few hundred miles, my legs hurt, my back is starting to feel some radiating pain, and I'm already dreading the 1,700 miles I have left in this trip." — Travis Langness
"On the 16-hour drive from Los Angeles to Portland, the Tacoma was generally uncomfortable. Between Portland and Sacramento on day two, things were even worse. The amount of stretching, squirming, readjusting and stopping for breaks that this truck requires are deal breakers for me. I just spent 1,800 miles in our long-term Ridgeline, and it did all the comfort-related stuff better much than this truck." — Travis Langness
"While the seats in the Tacoma are OK as a driver, they were horrible as a passenger. Maybe it was just me being tired and a little too picky, but that passenger seat cushion was just too hard. I liken it to sleeping in another bed that isn't your own. You know that feeling? Like you can't sleep because it's just a little stiffer than your bed or it doesn't have that cozy, familiar spot. I just couldn't get comfortable. I kept shifting around in my seat — scooting up, slouching down, moving toward the left side, then favoring the right side — it seemed like there was no comfortable position to be had at all. I just gave up." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician
"The Tacoma's stereo has way too many volume adjustments. It goes from 1 all the way up to 62. Since the volume knob is thin and made with smooth, slick plastic, it's hard to grab, so I find myself resorting to the steering-wheel buttons, which take forever to change the volume during a song." — Travis Langness
"I understand that this is aimed toward an off-road-focused audience, but would it hurt to add some soft-touch surfaces to the dash? When I touch a majority of the surfaces in this Tacoma's cabin, I feel like I'm at a Tupperware party." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres
"The Tacoma's bed is just barely long enough to hold a motorcycle with the tailgate open. For some extra security, I attached a ramp/tailgate extender and the bike's rear tire bumped right up against the back. Tie-downs are abundant and it was easy to get this thing strapped down, but if it were any shorter, I'd have had a problem. This is definitely the sweet spot if you're hauling a motorcycle around a lot." — Travis Langness
"I believe Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds stated this in May, but this truck really likes to whistle while it works. While driving around in San Diego this weekend, we experienced some crosswinds while driving up to Point Loma Nazarene University. I thought it was a fluke at first, but the more that we drove on this windy day, the more that I heard it. It's a very subtle 'whooooop' sound. It's not severely annoying, but it is noticeable." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres
"I wrote a lot of negative comments in the Tacoma's log this month. That will happen on a 2,000-mile road trip in three days. I don't want to come off like I have the opinion that the Taco is useless or hateful. It's not; it's just a stark contrast to the Ridgeline, which I enjoy so much. Seat comfort, powertrain refinement, interior materials, highway ride, hell even payload, the Ridgeline wins all of those battles. The Tacoma is certainly no daily driver, especially not in a city like Los Angeles." — Travis Langness
Leather Seats,Sun/Moonroof,CAST ALUMINUM RUNNING BOARDS,Navigation System,HARD TRI-FOLD TONNEAU COVER,TOW PACKAGE,ALL WEATHER LINERS & DOOR SILL PROTECTORS,Four Wheel Drive,50 STATE EMISSIONS,HICKORY; LEATHER SEAT TRIM,MAGNETIC GRAY METALLIC
How about this great vehicle! Comfortable and safe in any road condition! Top features include front dual zone air conditioning, a blind spot monitoring system, a tonneau cover, and remote keyless entry. A 3.5 liter V-6 engine pairs with a sophisticated 6 speed automatic transmission, and for added security, dynamic Stability Control supplements the drivetrain. Four wheel drive allows you to go places you've only imagined. We know that you have high expectations, and we enjoy the challenge of meeting and exceeding them! Please don't hesitate to give us a call.
$2,725 off MSRP! Factory MSRP: $41,773 4WD. Reviews: * Efficient V6 engine can tow up to 6,800 pounds; more off-road-capable than any other midsize pickup; interior is simple to use; useful cargo management features in the bed; top-level engine can be paired with a manual transmission. Source: Edmunds 2017 Toyota Tacoma Limited At Jim Coleman Toyota, we offer new Toyota cars in Bethesda, along with used cars, trucks and SUVs by top manufacturers. Our sales staff will help you find that new or used car you have been searching for. For years, our financial staff at Jim Coleman Toyota has offered expert advice for those seeking a great Toyota car loan or lease. Our service doesn't stop there. Bethesda customers can come in and take advantage of our knowledgeable Toyota car repair technicians and a fully-stocked inventory of Toyota car parts. You can reach Jim Coleman Toyota any time by filling out our contact form, by calling us or simply visiting our Bethesda Toyota dealership. Price includes: $500 - TMS Truck Month Bonus Cash - CAT. Exp. 10/31/2017
You won't want to miss this excellent value! Feature-packed and decked out! Toyota infused the interior with top shelf amenities, such as: leather upholstery, a rear step bumper, and much more. Smooth gearshifts are achieved thanks to the refined 6 cylinder engine, and for added security, dynamic Stability Control supplements the drivetrain. Four wheel drive allows you to go places you've only imagined. Our experienced sales staff is eager to share its knowledge and enthusiasm with you. We'd be happy to answer any questions that you may have. We are here to help you.
You may qualify for other college graduate or military rebates. Prices exclude tax, tags, and $200 processing charge. We try to confirm the accuracy of each listing. However, please call to confirm vehicle availability, equipment and price. *DARCARS is not responsible for errors in listings.