2006 Tacoma New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Tacoma may be the best pickup in its class. And that's saying a lot, because the entire class is outstanding. The Toyota Tacoma was completely just last year, but nearly every truck in this class has been recently redesigned.
Just in the past two model years, nearly every pickup in this class has grown from a compact to a mid-size, and all have been totally re-engineered in the process. Toyota, Nissan, and Dodge redesigned their smaller pickups from the ground up, keeping little the same but their nameplates; Chevrolet and GMC launched all-new trucks with new names. The aging Ford Ranger is the only truck left from the old generation, and it competes primarily on price.
The latest generation of mid-size trucks features roomier cabs, improved ride quality and increased stability. The boast more power and increased refinement. All are available in the increasingly popular crew cab configuration, and their larger size makes this a more compelling choice. The newest crew cab models are practical alternatives to a sedan, something that wasn't really true of the previous generation. Mid-size pickups offer better maneuverability than full-size trucks, while providing serious hauling and towing utility. With so many good trucks available, this is a fine time to be shopping for one.
Tacoma steps to the front of this class with its comfortable cab, refined ride, responsive handling, proven off-road capability, and quality construction. Properly equipped V6 models are rated to tow up to 6,500 pounds. In every way, this latest Tacoma improves on all the attributes that loyal Tacoma owners have cherished in the past, while increasing interior roominess and refinement. Perhaps most important, Tacoma enjoys Toyota's reputation for quality, durability and reliability.
Tacoma was redesigned and launched as an all-new model for 2005 and there are no significant changes for 2006.
A wide choice of models is available, ranging from a $14,000 work truck to a $30,000 4x4 Double Cab. The former is among the few regular-cab pickups available today as the market has moved to extended-cab and crew cab styles. TRD PreRunner models may make you feel like Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart getting ready to win another Baja 500, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like Rod Millen preparing to blast up Pike's Peak.
Regular Cab, Access Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab) body styles are available. All come with six-foot beds; Double Cab is available with a six-foot bed or a five-foot bed.
The 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine comes with a choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions. The 4.0-liter V6 is paired with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic. With either engine you can order two-wheel drive (2WD) or part-time four-wheel drive (4WD).
The base Tacoma 2WD Regular Cab comes standard with anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, a full-size spare tire, AM/FM/CD four-speaker sound system, tachometer, coolant temperature gauge, digital clock, two powerpoints, fuel warning light, dome lamp and rear mudguards. New for '06 are a standard tire-pressure monitor and service reminder indicator. Access Cab and Double Cab models come with more standard features, including bucket seats and a center console. Double Cabs get upgraded seat fabric and power windows, mirrors and door locks. Access and Double Cab models also get upgraded audio systems, including an AM/FM radio with an in-dash six-CD changer and six speakers; Double Cabs also offer a JBL premium audio system with seven speakers, including an amplified subwoofer. Both audio upgrades feature steering wheel audio controls.
Options revolve around five packages: An Enhancement Package for the 2WD Regular Cab adds air conditioning and styled steel wheels. The Convenience Package for the 2WD Regular Cab adds cruise control; remote keyless entry; and power windows, door locks and mirrors. The SR5 Package bundles styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and chrome rear bumper, center console, intermittent wipers and upgraded interior features and trim. In Access Cab and Double Cab models, the SR5 package also adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter.