Highlights: The rear-wheel drive, American built, midsized Tacoma is currently the best-selling vehicle in the segment. The current bodystyle has been around since 2005.

Test vehicle’s MSRP: $32,768 (Base Model Double Cab starts at $23,585)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features: airbags (driver, front passenger, seat mounted, front and rear side airbags); driver side emergency retractor; Daytime Reading Lights; automatic emergency locking retractor; side-impact door beam in all doors; vehicle stability control; traction control; ABS; electric brake-force distribution; a tire pressure monitoring system; and brake assist

Standard Equipment: 15-inch tires; 4×2; a manual transmission; 60/40split rear bench seat with adjustable headrests and under seat storage; dual 12V auxiliary power outlets; fabric trimmed bucket seats; rear bulkhead storage; rear seat heater vents; sun visors with passenger-side vanity mirrors; a manual tilt/telescopic steering wheel; two fixed cargo bed tie-down points; a deck rail system with four adjustable tie-down cleats; full-size spare tire; power outside mirrors and rear mudguards

Suspension System:

Front: Coil-spring double wishbone suspension and stabilizer bar

Rear: Leaf spring suspension with staggered outboard-mounted gas shock absorbers stabilizer bar

Standard Audio: AM/FM/CD Player

Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles

Bluetooth Compatibility: Available

MP3 Compatibility: Yes

Standard Engine/Horsepower):
2.7-liter, 4-cylinder/159-horsepower (4×2)
4.0-liter, 6-cylinder/236-horsepower (4×4)

Recommended Fuel: Regular

Standard Fuel Mileage: 19-city/24-hwy (depends upon engine and other factors)

Payload:
1175 (4×2)
1330 (4×4)

Towing Capabilities:
3400 (4×2)
6400 (4×4)

Trim Levels:
Regular Cab 4×4 and 4×2
Access Cab 4×4 and 4×2
Double Cab 4×2
TRD (Toyota Racing Development) package

What’s New: While the second-generation midsized truck is basically a carryover, a new SR package is available for the 2014 model year.

Pros: The Toyota Tacoma is available with a choice of three cabs, four transmissions, two engines and two beds. The Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4×4 we reviewed was equipped with a standard 6-cylinder 236-horsepower engine coupled with a 5-speed automatic transmission.

Our Tacoma 4×4 was also outfitted with standard 16-inch wheels and the standard size bed. A longer 5-foot bed is available. Moreover, the midsized Tacoma was outfitted with over $5,000 in options. Those add-on features included a 6-speaker audio system with satellite radio and HD, Toyota’s touchscreen infotainment system known as Entune, a navigation system and a rear back-up system.

Moreover, our truck was accessorized with an extra value package, which included a remote keyless entry system, a cruise control system, fog lamps, a sliding rear window with a privacy glass, bucket front seats, upgraded SR5 fabric, a leather trimmed steering wheel and duplicate audio steering wheel controls. Furthermore, our Tacoma also included a towing package, which included a class 4 hitch, a transmission and supplement oil coolers, 130A alternator, and a heavy duty battery.

Furthermore, while our truck lacked the $7,000 Limited package, buyers can enhance both the price tag and the overall appearance of the Tacoma, adding on this package. With luxury package, buyers can expect pseudo leather seats, 18-inch wheels, chrome power outside mirrors with the European turn signal indicators, an auto dimming exterior mirror, an outside temperature gauge and a home link universal system.

Cons: GM will reenter the segment soon with two highly advanced midsized trucks, which will give Toyota a run for the money. GM has plans on adding a diesel to the mix, which will surely increase the mpg. With that said, we hear Nissan is considering adding a diesel to the Frontier. Toyota is going to be forced to step up their game, seeing that the only other player in this segment has been the Nissan Frontier. Ford exited the segment several years ago. Unlike GM, who also walked away from the segment, as of now, we don’t think Ford has plans to reenter. Pricing for the Tacoma, which lacked an available power speed sensitive door locks and an automatic headlight system, could send buyers running to the fullsize truck segment, especially when loaded up pricing can tip over the $40,000 mark. A number of today’s fullsize trucks not only offer more fuel-efficient engines, but more car-like features, horsepower, and towing and hauling capabilities. With the fullsize truck segment offering steep discounts, besides the sheer size, it’s hard to make a case on why one should buy a midsize truck.

Lastly, the 4×4 system in the Toyota literally made this vehicle ride like a truck. There was no mistake that this truck was designed with both off-road and on-road capabilities in mine.

The Verdict: Unlike a number of fullsize trucks, midsize trucks like the Tacoma are capable of fitting in most home garages and commercial parking spaces. Midsize trucks are easier to navigate on the road, too. With only two players in the segment, the Tacoma has been leading the segment in new truck sales since both Ford and GM pulled out of the segment. However, with GM reentering the segment this fall, competition in this segment is about to heat up again, which is always great for consumers.

And, although the Tacoma has been around since 1995 and it has been tried and tested in the market place, Toyota is going to be forced to step-up its game, offering more car-like features, fuel efficient engines and high-tech safety features like a lane departure system, just as they have done with their fullsize Tundra, to keep its loyal customer base from drifting over to GM.

Competition: Nissan Frontier Crew Cab


 

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to JeffCars.com. Follow him Twitter/JeffCars.

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