Engine: 3.5-Liter Atkinson-Cycle with Dual VVT-I
Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic
Horsepower: 278 • Torque: 265 lb.-ft.
EPA Ratings: 18/City • 22/Highway • 20/Combined
Base Price: $36,465 • As Tested: $41,820
Overview: Once upon a time the Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup had just one competitor — Nissan’s rugged Frontier. Now there’s rivals from Ford, GMC, Chevy and a wannabe from Honda — but the Tacoma, with its off-road capability, safety technology and resale value — still rules the roost.
The Toyota Tacoma lineup features seven models — the SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. Our test driver was the TRD Off-Road Crew Cab, and this review will focus on only that.
The Tacoma is rated to tow up to 6,800 pounds when properly equipped — good for a mid-size pickup.
Walkaround: The Tacoma stands out in a crowd of competing, look-alike mid-size trucks, with its tall front end and wide stance. With headlights swooping back into wide fenders and aggressively flared body-colored wheelwells, along with the name stamped in the tailgate, the Tacoma is hard to confuse with anything else.
Interior: The no-nonsense styling carries over into the all-business cabin that features car-like instrumentation. A touchscreen sits high, over climate control knobs and a row of switches. The interior is functional and sturdy, featuring attractive textures, colors and contrasting stitching. However, the seats are stationary, with no up or down adjustments.
The crew cab has four doors and a real back seat — but it’s upright with limited legroom.
Behind The Wheel: The Tacoma delivers a firm ride thanks to being built on a ladder frame with a solid rear axle, leaf springs, and an independent front suspension. It handles just as you expect it would.
The available four-wheel-drive system works using a simple knob. It includes a locking rear differential, a crawl control system that carries the truck along at walking speeds, hill-descent control, and five off-road traction control modes.
The 6-speed automatic is smooth, and upshifts enthusiastically for better fuel economy.
Bottom Line: It’s difficult to find any truck with as many off-pavement bona fides as the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road. It earns major kudos for them, making it easy to look past the rough ride and tall price tag. However, people making fun of that ridiculous-looking snorkel mounted on the right side gets old pretty quickly.