The composite bed on the 2005 Tacoma is a winner. A few years ago, General Motors made a composite bed optional on their full-size trucks only to have it killed by dealers that made more money peddling aftermarket spray-in bed liners. Toyota learned from GM's mistake and made it standard.

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The bed isn?t completely composite, just the inside where it counts. The outer fenders and tailgate (the painted parts) are still steel. The composite material made it easy for Toyota to mold in two separate covered storage compartments that could hold smaller objects like bungee cords, jumper cables: stuff like that. The only option on this Tacoma is a rubber bed mat with the Tacoma name molded on it. Keeps things from sliding around back there. Not a bad $119 option.

Also included in the X-Runner package (and optional on other versions of the Tacoma) is an 115V/400-watt power outlet so you could power tools or a frozen margarita blender, which ever is your style. The truck also adds in a deck rail system that makes a peninsula of adjustable tie downs with rails on both sides and the back of the bed. The tie downs can be loosened and moved anywhere on the rail. A nice feature that comes standard.

2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner AG

It might be the showboat in me, but I really like the X-Runner?s additional go-fast laundry (and it looks really easy to open that hood scoop and make it functional). That stuff aside, the Tacoma, of course, is all new for 2005. Larger headlights and a more aggressive grille gives the truck a bigger visual stance.

2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner AG

The little upturn of the windows on the Xtracabs gives the side of the truck a little more visual flare. It was a design feature my eyes were quickly drawn to. The X-Runner gets a side-exiting exhaust with a chrome tip and body colored door handles.

2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner AG

The 18-inch wheels fill out the wind-swept shaped wheel-wells (I happen to have a thing for the tilted wheel wells as designed by Raymond Loewy for the 1963 Studebaker Avanti I own. Loewy designed it after the reentry curve of a space capsule dropping to Earth) and the design is a clean five spoke design.

While the overall X-Runner package isn?t everyone?s cup of java, the trucks stance (and the killer blue color) is what?s turning heads. There?s a reason this truck only comes in 4x2 and a six-speed: It?s not meant for everyone. Tomorrow I?ll talk about the performance and ride characteristics, including the dreaded ?disconnected? steering feel.

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