2014 Tacoma New Car Test Drive
The Toyota Tacoma is the most popular compact pickup in the U.S. market and has been since 2005. Or call it a mid-size, as the Tacoma and its competition are hardly compact anymore; it's still Number One. Along the way the Tacoma has collected its share of awards. Moreover, New Car Test Drive considers the Toyota Tacoma the best pickup in its class and the best for rugged terrain, durability and reliability.
Tacoma offers a comfortable cab, a refined ride, and quality construction. Its on-road handing is responsive; its off-road capability is proven. The Tacoma Double Cab delivers rear-seat comfort for two additional passengers with enough room to rival a small sedan. Properly equipped Tacoma V6 models can to tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Tacoma not only owns the segment but practically is the segment. While Toyota sells more than 100,000 Tacomas a year, many manufacturers have abandoned the small pickup business in America. Nissan Frontier remains and all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models have been introduced, but Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota have exited the stage. The Honda Ridgeline, a much more expensive vehicle, offers carlike handling, strong performance and good fuel economy, but it doesn't offer the off-road capability or toughness of the Tacoma.
For 2014, the Tacoma adds Toyota's Entune as standard equipment on all four available audio systems. Entune is a media-savvy technology that links with your smart phone and allows you to access its apps through the Tacoma's audio controls. Accordingly, all Tacoma audio systems now come with a 6.1-inch touch screen, where, incidentally, the view from the optional backup camera is now also displayed, rather than in the rear-view mirror as before.
Also new for 2014 is the SR Package, which lends a sporty, monochrome look with color-keyed overfenders, door handles, bumpers, grille surround and mirrors; plus smoked headlight lenses and black-finish 16-inch Baja wheels.
Or choose the top-of-the-line Limited Package, featuring 18-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels, chrome grille trim, chrome rear bumper, SofTex-trimmed front sport seats with heat, metallic tone instrument panel trim, leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, dual sun visors with mirrors and extenders, and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with outside temperature gauge and HomeLink universal transceiver.
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma comes in a wide range of configurations to meet a wide range of needs, ranging from basic work truck with four-cylinder engine and 2WD to a loaded V6 4WD Double Cab Long Bed. The base Tacoma excels at durability and reliability and is among the few regular-cab pickups still available.
All Tacomas come with air conditioning. Audio systems begin with six-speaker AM/FM/CD display audio (four speakers on Regular Cab) with USB Port, auxiliary input, Bluetooth phone connectivity and now Entune; and range all the way up to a premium JBL GreenEdge system with navigation, Entune, and App Suite.
Also standard on all models is 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 (TRAC). 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 package; those have conventional, mechanical-locking differential.
Toyota Racing Development, or TRD, offers myriad accessories to further improve on-road performance or off-road capability, including a comprehensive Off Road Package featuring high-performance Bilstein off-road shocks, locking rear differential, advanced ATRAC traction control and other electronic off-road assists, an engine skid plate, tow hook, many luxury and convenience items and special graphics.
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma is available in 19 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 4WD and long-bed Double Cabs, and optional on some, but not all, other models.
Tacoma Regular Cab ($17,875) comes standard with cloth upholstery, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA four-speaker sound system, Entune, tachometer, digital clock, two 12-volt power points, fuel warning light, tire-pressure monitor, service reminder indicator, dome lamp, rear mudguards, 15-inch steel wheels and a full-size spare tire.
Tacoma Access Cab ($20,515) and Double Cab ($22,625) models add more standard features, including bucket seats and functional consoles for the floor and ceiling. Access Cabs have power windows and locks; Double Cabs add power mirrors. Access and Double Cabs also get six-speaker audio systems. Double Cab V6 models offer a premium JBL system ($2,330) with amplified subwoofer, Bluetooth, SiriusXM, Navigation, Entune, and App Suite. The audio upgrade includes 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 four-cylinder Access Cab with 4-speed automatic transmission ($22,125) is the entry-level PreRunner. The V6 is optional ($1435) on PreRunner Access Cabs and Double Cabs.
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.
A Convenience Package for Access Cabs ($1,005) and Double Cabs ($835) adds rear privacy glass, a sliding rear window, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, cruise control, power mirrors and remote keyless entry.
The new SR Package provides a solid, monochrome look, with bumpers, mirrors, door handles, overfenders and grille surround all painted body color. Headlight lenses are smoked, some models include fog lights, and tires are 245/75R16 on black alloy wheels. Price varies ($665-840) depending on body style (Access Cab or Double Cab), and whether you start with base or PreRunner trim. The SR replaces the road-hugging X-Runner, which is no longer available.
Various SR5 packages bundle styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and chrome rear bumper, bucket seats with lumbar support, and a long list of car-like conveniences. These packages can be added to any Access Cab or Double Cab.
The TRD Sport Package starts with SR5 equipment and adds or substitutes P265/65R17 tires, sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, water-resistant sport seats, overhead console and with compass and outside temperature, rearview camera, and turn signals integrated into the outside mirrors; plus a hood scoop, lots of body-color trim, and its own graphics package. The TRD Sport Package is available only with the V6, and only PreRunners and 4×4's with Access Cab ($3190) or Double Cab ($3055).
The TRD Off-Road Package also starts with the SR5 equipment and adds or substitutes BF Goodrich P265/70R16 tires, locking rear differential, off-road suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers, ATRAC off-road traction control, engine skidplate, sport seats, overhead console with compass and outside temperature, rearview camera, heavy-duty front tow hook, 115v/400w deck-mounted power point, and unique TRD graphics. TRD Off-Road is also available only on V6 PreRunners and on V6 model 4×4 Access and Double Cabs, but not on Double Cab Long Beds. Price varies ($3185-3585) depending on model.
A Limited Package ($7010), available only on Double Cabs with V6 and automatic transmission, adds all the luxury and convenience goodies, including SofTex-trimmed four-way adjustable front sport seats with heat, metallic tone instrument panel trim, leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls, 18-inch chrome-clad alloy wheels with P265/60R18 tires, chrome grille surround, chrome rear bumper, variable speed windshield wipers, dual sun visors with mirrors and extenders, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with outside temperature gauge and HomeLink universal transceiver; a rearview camera linked to the audio display, all the content of Convenience Package; the JBL stereo; and more.
An optional tow package ($650) for V6 models 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. 4WD models with automatic transmission and the TRD Off-Road Package add Hill Start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control. In addition, front airbags, front seat side-impact airbags, and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models.