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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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 116 Comments
      TailGunner
      • 2 Years Ago
      I find it a bit strange that Toyota hasn't given the Tacoma the updated 4.0L V6 from the FJ Cruiser and 4Runner that has been available for the past two years. Dual VVT-i would have bumped up the horsepower by 30 without hurting the torque figure.
        wilkegm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TailGunner
        Even the Tundra, built in the same plant as the Tacoma, gets the dual VVTi engine. Makes very little sense
      Joe
      • 2 Years Ago
      I think the full size truck makers are winning the marketing war against the compact trucks. They flash their advertisements with 25 mpg and 11,000 pounds towing and don't mention that you can't get both max towing and high fuel efficiency at the same time. When you look at the Ram 1500 with the pentastar v-6, max towing is only 6500 pounds. That's only 100 pounds more than the Tacoma v-6. To tow more you jump to a v-8 and fuel economy drops to 20 mpg. It's reasonable to compare full size to compact. There are lots of tradeoffs to be made. In the end, with the cost of a modestly configured truck costing as much as a luxury car my 13 year old Jeep looks pretty sexy.
      chrismcfreely
      • 2 Years Ago
      They could put their 276hp 3.5L, and it would drive just fine. Acting like trucks and cars need different engines is silly and pointless. They need to do what chrysler did, pick one engine, and put it in everything.
        jtav2002
        • 2 Years Ago
        @chrismcfreely
        That isn't the issue as much as the fact they use that 4.0 in the Tacoma and a slightly different version with 270+hp in the FJ and 4Runner. Only problem with using the 3.5 in current form is you'd lose a decent chunk of torque which is more important in truck application.
      T228
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't care what people think about this and other Toyota trucks. I've owned MANY different makes and models of pickups,but I keep going back to Toyota because they're honest trucks. My 2012 f150 is a fantastic truck, but it's overrated in so many ways. Everyone talks about how great the interior is, but it's full of cheap, squeaky plastic just like every other truck. I see nothing great about it. My F150's sticker says 15 city / 21 highway mpg, but it's more 15 on average. My '06 Taco is rated about the same by the EPA, but my mpg is consistently 2-4 mpg better with the exact same driver (ME). My Taco has been 100% problem free. My F150 is too new to say how well it's made, but time will tell. I've owned many reliable trucks from all brands, but I always seen Toyota as the most consistent at making solid trucks.
        zizzlezzz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @T228
        I don't know about the Toyota, but I agree with you about the Ford. My F-150 gets about 16 mpg in mixed driving with the Ecoboost, far short of the advertised mileage. I do like the truck, but it's not perfect.
        Kevin Molinar
        • 1 Year Ago
        @T228
        i totally agree,i have a 2009 tacoma 4x4 with 55,000 miles and no issues,but i keep getting hit by other cars.im starting to think red for a truck is bad luck or something.im glad i got the step rails and skid plate with bars to protect the front end and hitch bar for the rear.it saved my truck from more damage.
      AngeloD
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Tacoma is a solid truck no doubt, but isn't much of a value considering it costs as much as a full size, and gets worse MPG than several full sized options like the F150 ecoboost, Ram 1500 pentastar, etc.
        Brewman15
        • 2 Years Ago
        @AngeloD
        Well, what do you expect when the compact truck market goes much, much longer before refreshes and new technology. I\'m not surprised the full-size trucks with the new engine, transmission, and aerodynamic technology get better mileage than the ancient Tacoma, Frontier, and Colorado/Canyon. I bet if a brand new Ranger or Dakota were available with the same ecoboost or pentastar w/ 8 speed auto they would get much better mileage than their full-size counterparts.
        wilkegm
        • 2 Years Ago
        @AngeloD
        The value in the Tacoma comes when you get rid of it- it is absolutely stupifying how well they keep their resale value.
      Mark Theobald
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bought a used 2000Toyota Tacoma sr5 Prerunner in 2004 ,HAD 40,000 MILES on it ,,changed oil ,,,,trans oil,& filter,it never gave me 1 problem,i sold it in 2012,with 230,000 MILES ON IT ,,, One thing I did not like ,,,full or empty 18 mpg
      jr
      • 8 Months Ago

      DO NOT buy this truck! Toyota makes a lot of good vehicles but this is not one of them!! it makes no sense at all!!!

      Mark Theobald
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bought a used 2000Toyota Tacoma sr5 Prerunner in 2004 ,HAD 40,000 MILES on it ,,changed oil ,,,,trans oil,& filter,it never gave me 1 problem,i sold it in 2012,with 230,000 MILES ON IT ,,, One thing I did not like ,,,full or empty 18 mpg
      canuckcharlie
      • 2 Years Ago
      So it cost as much or close to full size pickups, has less payload/tow capacity, makes less power and gets no better fuel economy...really makes no sense to buy this over a full size pickup
        Frisky_Dingo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @canuckcharlie
        Not necessarily. It's much easier to maneuver and park, and get in/out of, which a lot of people put emphasis on. Plus, it has unbelievable resale value, and tested, proven record of reliability and durability.
        Brewman15
        • 2 Years Ago
        @canuckcharlie
        It does if you don\'t want the hassle of driving a full-size truck on a daily basis. It\'s hilarious to me how many pick-up drivers have to make a 3 or 5-point turn just to get into a parking spot that I can just easily get my Volvo wagon in with no problems. Most people at my work back their trucks into parking spots, which I guess is easier but still seems like a hassle to me.
          The Wasp
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Brewman15
          I'm not sure it's fair to compare your station wagon to full-size trucks -- either way, it seems maybe the drivers you see aren't very experienced or maybe they are parking in tight confines.
      Vimicus
      • 2 Years Ago
      Great car. Terrible mileage.
      wayoflife73
      • 2 Years Ago
      Boring looking machine IMO. Each to their own but I would look else where and besides toyotas aren't as good as they used to be. Owned a LC200 series and motor blew after 45000kms and replaced under warranty and blew another at 30000kms and even dealer said this wasn't uncommon. Drive a Holden commodore SSv now and problem free and a hoot to drive
      JC914
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tacomas/Hiluxes are the best trucks in the world. My 2006 has been trouble free and does everything i ask it to do.
        clquake
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JC914
        Tacos aren't exactly Hiluxes. I believe the Hiluxes have fully boxed frames.
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