A week with the current mid-size truck sales leader (April numbers are out and the Tacoma has taken a 4,000 unit lead on the Chevy Colorado) has proven one thing: It's easy to see why it is in the lead. Now I picked the X-Runner edition to test because it was the Toyota sport-truck and pretty "in-your-face" about it but a lot of what I liked about is standard in ever Tacoma.

More thought has gone into the details of this truck than other mid-sizers I?ve been around, even the newest ones. The standard composite bed, with four adjustable tie-downs, two storage compartments and an optional power plug is just a great feature that Toyota dealers can boast about to all buyers.

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The X-Runner?s go-fast bits and aerodynamic trimmings definitely hooked the showboat in me. The six-speed was smooth and easy to keep the V-6 at maximum power. The rear-end was a little hoppy and care needs to be taken in the rain as torque becomes fishtailing pretty quickly with no weight in the back. A great fair-weather truck but no so good for those in the snow-belt. Go for a 4WD or make sure you have a winter vehicle.

2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner AGEverything inside was screwed down tight and looked and worked well. Radio sound was excellent at higher speeds. Storage compartments were plenty, as well as cup holders. As mentioned on Day 2, go for the crew cab if you are going to be bringing more than two people around regularly if you still want them to be your friend. The Xtracab?s jump seats are not for long range trips.

With the six-speed and some more spirited driving I saw about 19 mpg. The EPA estimates are 16 city and 21 highway. If more effort was used to save fuel, I?m sure it?d be better.

The biggest complaint seems to be from the steering. I?ve seen 4WD reviews that complained about the lack of feedback. Even though the X-Runner adds another brace to boost steering feel, the truck still comes up short. It didn?t kill the driving experience, but would definitely made the truck feel sportier with a more point-and-turn feel in my hands.

2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner AG

For $23,769, the X-Runner is priced right where I?d imagine it should be. The Chevy Colorado optioned out the same with the sport suspension is $23,900 and the Nissan Frontier Nismo optioned out at $23,900 also. In neither case can a six-speed be chosen (only a five-speed in the Chevy) and the Nissan only allows a manual in 4x4, which takes it out of the race for those that want to row their own. The Dodge Dakota with the V-6 and the same option grouping stickers at $25,900. Of course all these prices are before incentives that would take the Chevy and Dodge under the X-Runner?s price. But no sport truck seems to offer up the over-the-top looks, good V-6 power, six-speeds and suspension tweaks all in one package under $24,000. In the X-Runner, and Tacoma in general, Toyota has an all-around good mid-sized package.

2005 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

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