Wheelbases and overall body lengths were stretched out almost six inches across the line while front and rear tracks were widened by nearly four inches. This opened up passenger room and increased stability. The next-generation Tacoma is derived from Toyota’s Prado platform, which is the basis for the Lexus GX470 and Toyota 4Runner SUVs. The frame is fully boxed up front while the middle is rolled-lip C-channel and the rear is open C-channel.
The basic suspension is double-wishbone with coil-over shocks up front and leaf spring/live axle in the rear. But there are variations at each end to meet specific needs. Four-wheel-drive and PreRunner models have the upper A-arm pivots mounted higher than 2WD and X-Runners. On 4x4s, the rear leaf springs are arched and mounted over the axle while 2WD leaf springs are flatter and mounted under the axle. Dedicated packages such as the X-Runner and TRD Off-Road or Sport get even more detailed with different bushings, shock absorbers and anti-roll bars in addition to tires meant for respective uses.
The Tacoma has a standard towing capacity 3500 pounds using the step bumper. Add the V6 engine and a receiver hitch, the limit goes up to 5000 pounds. Up to 6500 pounds can be pulled with the tow package that includes an automatic transmission cooler, engine oil cooler, upgraded battery and 130-amp alternator.
With 245 horsepower and peak torque of 282 lb-ft, the Toyota V6 is one of the top-rated engines of any compact/midsize truck. Nissan recently announced its 4.0-liter V6 will be rated at 265 horsepower and 284 lb-ft. Chevy/GMC offers an inline-5 engine rated at 220 horsepower and 225 lb-ft for the Colorado/Canyon siblings. The Dodge Dakota has a base V6 engine 210 horsepower and a base 4.7-liter V8 rated at 230 horsepower (a special High-Output edition is rated at more than 250 horsepower).
We’ve seen the Toyota V6 engine in the 4Runner, and it’s available in the 2005 Tundra. Accompanying this engine are new 6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic transmissions. The manual was engineered from the beginning to be a 6-speed; it’s not a carryover 5-speed with an extra gear tacked on the end. It has a stump-pulling 4.17:1 First Gear ratio and a 0.848:1 overdrive 6th Gear. The automatic was designed just for the 4.0-liter engine. This electronically controlled 5-speed features flexible logic for torque-converter lockup and is designed to provide more engine braking during off-road driving. Toyota also built a new transfer-case for 4WD models that has a 2.566:1 reduction and is electrically actuated.
Toyota offers many of its innovative chassis systems to the Tacoma for safety and performance. Anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution is standard as is brake assist. The former balances brake force at each wheel while the latter increases brake force during panic stops. Vehicle Stability Control w/ Traction Control (VSC+TRAC) is available on all except X-Runner. This system detects front- and rear-wheel slide while cornering and assists the driver regain control with either throttle intervention or braking individual wheels. VSC uses an automatic limited-slip differential, which uses brake intervention instead of an internal mechanical device to reduce tire slippage. VSC+TRAC includes Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) that controls the brakes to prevent the Tacoma from rolling backward or slipping sideways while climbing from a stopped position on an upgrade. When ordered on a 4x4 V6 with the TRD Off-Road Package, Downhill Assist Control (DAC) is included. This system uses engine braking and independent control each wheel brake to regulate downhill speed.