Vital Stats

Engine:
4.0L V6
Power:
236 HP / 266 LB-FT
Transmission:
5-Speed Auto
Drivetrain:
Four-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,070 LBS
Seating:
2+2
MPG:
16 CITY / 21 HWY
Base Price:
$26,685
As Tested Price:
$32,791
"Oh yeah, Toyota still makes the Tacoma." Admit it, that's what you just said to yourself. It's a perfectly natural reaction, but the Tacoma has been quietly anchoring its segment for years, outselling every other compact pickup without making too much of a fuss. Toyota hasn't neglected the Tacoma – it was updated in 2012 with a revised nose and interior as the most noteable changes.

In a world awash with high-value fullsize pickups all vying for your attention, the Tacoma still charms more than a few buyers out of their cash. I hooked a Tacoma for a week to see whether it still has enough to recommend it.

Driving Notes
  • The size of the Tacoma is nice. While fullsize trucks can feel a bit like the automotive equivalent of relaxed-fit jeans, the Tacoma does the Goldilocks "just right" thing for my purposes.
  • Yet the cozy cockpit of the Access Cab I drove can become uncomfortably tight if you've got adults using the jumpseats regularly. If you travel in a pack, get the Double Cab. That goes double if you've got kids still in child seats, it's the better choice.
  • You have to be really committed to buying a compact pickup to ignore the extra value that goes along with the usually useful size available in the hyper-competitive fullsize class. The Tacoma starts at $21,260 with a four-cylinder engine, but the one I drove was a V6 4x4 with an automatic and the $4,035 TRD Sport Extra Value Package, not to mention a few other options to drive the price up to $32,791.
  • You do get a pretty heavily loaded Tacoma for your money, though. To compare, a Ford F-150 STX SuperCab 4x4 rings in at $32,145, but doesn't come with the navigation, hitch, cargo-management features in the bed, running boards and TRD Sport package goodies like foglights, hood scoop, TRD graphics, alloy wheels and specially tuned suspension of the similarly priced Tacoma.
  • Still, the 4.0-liter V6 and five-speed automatic combo is just as thirsty here as a larger truck would be, returning only 18 mpg in my hands.
  • Despite its big V6, the Tacoma feels sluggish, too. The 4.0 V6 in the Nissan Frontier feels a lot more eager.
  • The interior was updated for 2012 too, getting water-resistant seat fabric with the TRD Sport package, along with black center console and door trim. It's hard plastic and shows scuffs easily, but it otherwise looks nice, and it's not like the rest of the class is any better.
  • The classic Toyota small-pickup traits remain. You sit low to the floor with your legs splayed out a bit, just like you always have, and the steering is tight and direct. Keep your boot out of it, and the V6 and five-speed auto are smooth operators, too.


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