2009 Tacoma New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Tacoma is arguably the best truck in a field of outstanding midsize pickups. It's certainly the most popular: The Tacoma dominates the market for mid-size pickups. It comes in a wide range of configurations to please a wide range of buyers.
For 2009, all models and trim levels of the Tacoma receive as standard equipment Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TC). An Automatic Limited-slip Differential (Auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention in place of a mechanical-type limited-slip to help reduce wheel-spin, is standard on all 2009 Tacoma models with the exception of those fitted with TRD Off-Road packages; those will have a separate locking differential. The Auto-LSD replaces the mechanical limited-slip in all applications where it was previously available. 2009 Access Cab models have a redesigned rear seat for improved comfort, as well as standard power windows and door locks. 2009 Tacoma SR5 models get new seat fabric.
The audio systems have been upgraded for 2009 and all come satellite-radio ready. The optional Premium JBL six-CD system is now Bluetooth-compatible and has an integrated satellite radio system that includes a three-month trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio. And there are numerous interior and exterior trim enhancements and changes for 2009.
For those who drive hard, there is a dealer-installed TRD Big Brake system developed by engineers with the Toyota Technical Center and Toyota Racing Development to provide effective braking performance under sustained heavy use. It improves pedal feel and substantially reduces brake fade from repeated high-speed applications.
The Tacoma offers a comfortable cab, a refined ride, and quality construction. Its on-road handing is responsive, its off-road capability is proven. The Double Cab delivers more rear-seat comfort than most of the competition, with enough room to rival a small sedan. Properly equipped V6 models can to tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Models range from a $15,000 work truck with a four-cylinder and 2WD to a loaded V6 4WD Double Cab Long Bed with all the candy. The base model is among the few regular-cab pickups still available, as the market has moved to extended-cab and crew cab styles; it excels at durability and reliability.
Tacoma PreRunner models can make you feel like Ironman Ivan Stewart practicing for the Baja 1000, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like Rod Millen preparing to blast up Pike's Peak.
Compact pickups aren't what they used to be. For one thing, they're no longer compact. Nor are they uncomfortable. They're more comfortable and more capable than ever before.
The Toyota Tacoma is available in 18 different configurations, including Regular Cab, Access Cab (extended cab) and Double Cab (crew cab) body styles. Regular and Access Cabs come with six-foot beds; Double Cab comes with the choice of a shorter five-foot bed or a standard-size six-footer.
The base engine is a 2.7-liter inline-4 mated to a five-speed manual transmission; a four-speed automatic is optional ($900). A 4.0-liter V6 is standard on Double Cabs and optional ($1,555) on 4WD Access Cabs. It is paired with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic ($880).
The Tacoma 2WD Regular Cab ($15,170) comes standard with cloth upholstery, AM/FM/CD four-speaker sound system, tachometer, digital clock, two 12-volt powerpoints, fuel warning light, tire-pressure monitor, service reminder indicator, dome lamp, rear mudguards, 15-inch steel wheels and a full-size spare tire. Air conditioning is optional.
Access Cab ($19,205) and Double Cab ($25,695) models add more standard features, including air conditioning and functional consoles for the floor and ceiling. Double Cabs come with upgraded seat fabric, plus power windows, mirrors and door locks. Access and Double Cabs also get upgraded six-speaker audio systems, and offer an in-dash six-CD changer ($200); Access Cab and Double Cab models offer a premium JBL system (that’s wrapped into other packages) with CD changer and amplified subwoofer. Both audio upgrades feature steering wheel controls.
PreRunner models are 2WD, but feature the high stance and general appearance of a 4WD truck. (Desert racers use this style of truck to scout or pre-run the course before the big race.) Regular Cab PreRunners ($16,065) must make do with four-cylinder power. The V6 is optional ($1,455) on PreRunner Access Cabs ($19,965) and of course standard on Double Cabs ($23,500). Buying a PreRunner is the only way you can get a 2WD Double Cab, as 4WD is standard on base Double Cabs. And all Double Cab PreRunners come with automatic transmission.
X-Runner ($25,585) features unique styling cues and a chassis tuned for on-road performance. Its name refers to the additional X-shaped brace added to stiffen its frame against high cornering loads. X-Runner is offered only in the Access Cab style, and only with the V6 and six-speed manual.
SR5 packages ($1,165-$2,070) bundle styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and chrome rear bumper, bucket seats with center console, and other upgraded interior features and trim.
The pavement-oriented TRD Sport Package ($2,405-$3,375) starts with SR5 Package 2 equipment and adds or substitutes P265/65R17 tires, sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, sport seats, overhead console and power point, plus a hood scoop, lots of body-color trim, and its own graphics package. TRD Sport is available on any Tacoma V6.
The TRD Offroad Package ($2,620-$3,840) starts with SR5 Package 2 equipment and adds or substitutes BF Goodrich P265/70R16 OWL tires, locking rear differential, off-road suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, engine skidplate, sport seats, overhead console with compass and outside temperature, heavy-duty front tow hook, 115v/400w deck-mounted powerpoint, and unique TRD graphics. TRD Offroad is available only on V6 models, but not on Double Cab Long Beds.
Options for the Tacoma include a tow package ($650) for V6 models that comprises a 130-amp alternator, heavy-duty battery, transmission oil cooler, and a Class IV hitch with seven-pin connector.
Safety features that come on all models include anti-lock brakes (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control with Traction Control, and the Automatic Limited-slip Differential. Models with automatic transmission also include Hill-start Assist Control, and TRD Offroad models add Downhill Assist Control. In addition, front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models.