performance has always been a key factor in the Tacoma’s appeal.
It’s always been a favorite in the desert and works quite well on
mountain trails. All of the improvements to the new model work exceptionally
well together. We took a TRD-equipped Access Cab up a ski hill and through
a manufactured obstacle course with no problem. We preferred the 6-speed
so didn’t get to try out the trick dynamic chassis systems available
with the automatic, but Toyota’s expertise in off-road setup is
quite apparent with any excursion off pavement.
forget the owner who needs a work truck. The Tacoma is the first small
truck with a composite inner bed that includes integrated storage compartments.
This liner is dent resistant and 10 percent lighter than a steel bed.
The cargo box also includes protective rail caps, 2-tier loading, removable
tailgate, four adjustable tie-downs and two rear mounted tie-downs. Optional
is a 115-volt, 400-watt grounded outlet for power tools. Numerous accessories
such as dividers, storage boxes, bike racks and cargo cross bars are available
at the dealer. Payload ratings range from 1405 pounds on 2WD regular cab
to 1615 pounds on a Pre-Runner Access Cab.
the new Tacoma, Toyota designers reinforced the traditional truck grille
with rigid bars and developed a 1-piece plastic bumper. The sides received
stronger character lines and the rear got a curved tailgate and more integration
of the bumper/combination taillamp. PreRunner and 4x4 models have bold
The extra interior
room is enhanced with a new 3-ring instrument cluster that features all-LED
illumination and a new tilt/telescope steering wheel. The seats are larger
and come with more comfort features. There are four seating choices but
our favorite, as usual, is the Sport with its extra support for off-roading
and spirited driving. Toyota also offers plenty of rear under-seat storage
in the Access Cab and Double Cab models.
Standard audio equipment
includes a CD player, 160-watt amp and six speakers (four in the regular
cab). Optional in the Double Cab is a JBL 6-CD changer, 270-watt amp and
8-inch subwoofer with its own 65-watt amp.
Overall first impressions
are quite positive with the new Tacoma. I drove five different models
on short trips during the press introduction. Toyota’s attention
to detail on fit and finish is impeccable. Noise levels were reduced and
conversations were much easier to conduct, even with rear-seat passengers.
While the X-Runner showed off some ground-hugging potential, I’m
still impressed with the off-road prowess of the Tacoma. Expect more coverage
of all the different models, especially the Double Cab, as test vehicles
become available for full road evaluations.