Toyota promised us two new world premier vehicles would be shown at the Chicago Auto Show on Tuesday. After a brief introduction by Irv Miller, Group Vice President of Corporate Communications, the floor was taken by Don Esmond, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A.
The first vehicle shown was the new Toyota Solara convertible designed by Toyota Chief Engineer Mr. Shigeki Terashi. It was a striking vehicle and was well received by the press at the conference, but that doesn't concern us here.
Following on the heels of the full-size FTX concept vehicle shown at NAIAS 2004 last month in Detroit, today Toyota announced the latest edition to the Tacoma line. From the Hilux to the Toyota pickup, and then to the SR5, Tacoma, Double Cab, and S-Runner, the latest addition was described by Mr. Esmond as a "peek into the future" of the Tacoma, the "heart-and-soul" of Toyota's pickup truck lineup. Ladies and gentleman, the 2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner.
The Tacoma X-Runner sits low to the ground (one full inch lower than the standard 2WD Tacoma frame) and features ground effects body paneling around the entire vehicle to give it a low and wide look. In fact, the X-Runner's frame is 4 inches wider and 5 inches longer than the standard frame. This increases the interior dimensions (translation: more than four extra inches of shoulder room) as well as giving the vehicle a more aggressive stance.
Toyota's Scion division, with its low priced xA and xB vehicles and youth-targeted tC, helps Toyota target the youngest and the most "urban" of American vehicle consumers. This leaves room for Toyota's sporty pickups to target the next age demographic up, still young, urban, and close to their peers, but more mainstream and affluent than the entry level shoppers. Toyota has modeled the Tacoma X-Runner to target this market.
Sitting 18-inch 45-series V-rated radials on alloy wheels, the X-Runner is pushed by a four-liter, 240 horsepower V6 engine with 275 pounds of torque - compare this to the 190 horsepower 3.4 liter engine in the 2003 4WD Tacoma and S-Runner. The optional TRD supercharger (currently a $3000 TRD part for 2003 Tacomas) raises this to around 300 horsepower. This Tacoma is built for speed and power. And the numbers prove it: zero to 60 acceleration is 7.0 seconds - six seconds with the supercharger. Handling, according to Mr. Esmond, was up to 0.9g's of lateral acceleration, and on par with the X-Runner's testing companion, the Nissan 350Z.
Finally, Mr. Esmond introduced "the person most responsible for the development of the radical new X-Runner", Mr. Yichiro Obu. Mr. Obu, the chief engineer of the first-generation Solara, was the chief engineer on the X-Runner and will be responsible for engineering on the entire lineup of next generation Tacomas. Let's hope that some of the X-Runner's cues trickle down to the entire Tacoma lineup.
After Mr. Esmond's talk we spoke briefly with Mike Michels of Toyota Motor Sales. Mr. Michels told us that Toyota hopes to sell around 2,500 X-Runners during a full model year (2005 will be a short year). This is a little less than 2% of around 174,000 Tacomas sold during the year. Pricing on the X-Runner hasn't been determined yet but will be announced this fall when the X-Runner comes to dealers. With record unit sales in 2003 and expectations of record unit sales in 2004, Toyota foresees the Tacoma remaining a critical part of their entire vehicle lineup.
Look for the X-Runner at your local Toyota dealership around September of 2004.
2005 Toyota X-Runner Preliminary Specifications
- 4.0-liter V6 24-valve DOHC with VVT-i
- Horsepower: 240
- Torque: 275 lb.-ft.
- Expected EPA Emissions Rating: Ultra Low Emission (ULEV)
- Six-speed close-ratio manual
Exterior Dimensions (inches)
- Wheelbase: 127.4
- Overall Length: 207
- Overall Width: 71.8
- Overall Height: 63.8
Bed Dimensions (inches)
- Bed Length: 74.5
- Bed Width at top rail: 58.6
- Wheel Well Width: 44.3
- Bed Depth: 17
Click here to view the 2005 Toyota Tacoma Photo Gallery.