2011 Tacoma New Car Test Drive
Even though it's now in the seventh year of this generation, the Toyota Tacoma is arguably the best truck in a field of solid midsize pickups. It's certainly the most popular, dominating the market for midsize pickups. It comes in a wide range of configurations to please a wide range of buyers.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma gets new grilles on all models, along with a number of package changes, with air conditioning now standard on the regular cabs. However, the mechanicals are unchanged for 2011. Three manual-transmission PreRunner models have been dropped, and no less than five new four-cylinder models with automatic transmissions have been added to the 2011 Tacoma lineup.
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 Tacoma models with the exception of those fitted with TRD Off-Road packages, like our test model; those will have a separate locking differential.
The audio systems all come satellite-radio ready. The optional Premium JBL six-CD system is Bluetooth-compatible and has an integrated satellite radio system that includes a three-month trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio.
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 basic work truck with a four-cylinder engine and 2WD to a loaded V6 4WD Double Cab Long Bed. 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. Our test model was a 4WD V6 Access Cab with the TRD package.
Tacoma PreRunner models can make you feel like you're practicing for the Baja 1000, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like you're preparing to take it sports car racing.
Compact pickups aren't what they once were. For one thing, they have not been compact for many years, they're midsize. Nor are they uncomfortable. They're more comfortable and more capable than ever before.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma is available in 20 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 four-cylinder 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 ($1,435) on 4WD Access Cabs. It is paired with a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.
Tacoma Regular Cab ($16,365) 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. And now air conditioning, which was previously optional.
Tacoma Access Cab ($19,655) and Double Cab ($21,865) L4 models add more standard features, including 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 satellite-ready six-speaker audio systems, and offer an in-dash six-CD changer; 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.
Tacoma 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.) The Regular Cab PreRunner was discontinued, so now the four-cylinder Access Cab with 4-speed automatic transmission ($21,315) is the entry-level PreRunner. The V6 is optional ($1,455) on PreRunner Access Cabs and standard on Double Cabs ($23,950).
Four-wheel-drive is available throughout the line, in Regular, Access and Double Cabs. Four-cylinder and V6 engines, along with manual and automatic transmissions are available, including a 5-speed manual and 6-speed manual, or 4-speed automatic and 5-speed automatic.
Tacoma X-Runner ($25,735) 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 6-speed manual.
Tacoma SR5 packages 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 TRD Sport Package 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. The TRD Sport is available on any Tacoma V6.
The TRD Offroad Package starts with the 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.