Toyota Tacoma’s Full Review: Price, Capacity and More
The name Tacoma hails from the Salish Indian word given to the mountain that provided water to their tribe, now known as Mount Rainier in modern-day Washington state in the Pacific Northwest. Toyota chose the name for its most popular pickup, as it conveys images of strength and power.
Much like its name suggests, it delivers a driving experience that's powerful and exhilarating. The Toyota Tacoma stands out from competitors like the Chevy Colorado, the Ford Ranger, the Honda Ridgeline, and the Nissan Frontier, thanks to its ruggedness, off-road capabilities, and a plethora of customization options.
When choosing a trim level and features for a Toyota Tacoma, it can be exciting to imagine the possibilities. However, like any significant purchase, making decisions from the finer details to the bigger picture can turn out to be quite daunting. On top of the vast array of choices, the Tacoma comes in ten different colors, with the ability to add other cosmetic details and truly make the pickup yours.
That said, customizing a Tacoma can feel much like one of those "choose your own adventure" youth novels you perhaps enjoyed when you were a kid. The end of each chapter would bring you to a crossroads, where the text would instruct you to make a crucial decision. Do you want to enter the cave and look for the buried treasure? Turn to page 86. Or do you want to turn around and go back home? Turn to page 156.
Whether the experience is as enjoyable as the seemingly countless adventures found in those pages depends on you.
Here, we go through a complete overview of the Toyota Tacoma. We'll highlight the truck's performance, different trim levels, choices in bed and cab length, what kind of tech to expect, and cost, too.
How does the Toyota Tacoma perform?
The Tacoma is highly customizable, with many options for purchasers to choose from, such as engine size, cab size, bed size, and drivetrain. It’s also one of the only midsize trucks left to offer the option of a manual transmission. If you choose to go with the manual transmission, you’re going to get a slightly smoother ride, albeit you sacrifice the ability to add certain features or tack on the larger bed size.
Equipped with the 2.7-liter, four-cylinder engine, you can expect the Tacoma to achieve a fuel efficiency of 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway and a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. This engine size would better suit someone who needs a truck for lighter-duty work and occasional recreation.
Alternatively, the larger, 3.5-liter, V6 engine offers a fuel efficiency of 17 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway, with the towing capacity jumping to 6,890. If you desire more power behind the pedal or need a truck for heavy-duty tasks and recreation, this is the engine size for you.
The Tacoma, in addition to its towing capacity, achieves a payload of 1,620 pounds.
Which Toyota Tacoma trim level is best for me?
With a vast amount of choices to mix and match, you may be here because you’re wondering which one is the best combination for you. The answer is dependent on your lifestyle.
The SR base model is a practical option for those looking for a no-frills, recreational workhorse. This model still comes loaded with Toyota’s standard list of driver-assistive tech, a seven-inch infotainment system, and a four-speaker sound system, among other features. Still, you’re not paying for features you might deem unnecessary if it’s not your primary vehicle or you’re function-focused. The SR5 is a gradual step up that includes some of the tech from higher trim levels.
The Limited and TRD Sport models are ideal for city driving, and the TRD Off-road and TRD Pro for rugged backroads and trails, TRD being an abbreviation of “Toyota Racing Development.” The Tacoma is known for its off-road capabilities, and while it isn’t massive like its sibling, the Tundra, it’s more likely to fit in your garage, and you can take it just about anywhere.
How much space does the Toyota Tacoma offer?
How much space your Tacoma offers depends on the bed and cab options you choose, which ultimately determines the pickup’s dimensions. However, if your Tacoma comes with a manual transmission, the bed will be five feet by default. If it comes with an automatic transmission, the choice is between five or six feet. Either option is 19.1 inches in height with 41.5 inches between the wheel wells.
Both cab options give the driver 39.7 inches of headroom and 42.9 inches of legroom. The difference between the access cab and double cab is only noticeable in the backseat. While the access cab can seat back passengers, it only affords 34.9 inches of headroom and 24.6 inches of legroom, which may be better suited for a small child or a place for your pet. If you want to travel with adult passengers, the double cab is considerably roomier with 38.3 inches of headroom and 32.6 inches of legroom.
While either cab option isn’t notably spacious, the Tacoma offers plenty of room in the bed for all your gear with the opportunity to add a hard or soft tonneau cover, heavyweight bed mat, cargo divider, and remote tailgate lock.
What kind of tech does the Toyota Tacoma offer?
The Tacoma’s base model starts with a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and moves up to eight inches in the following trim level. The base model also offers a four-speaker sound system that graduates to a premium six-speaker sound system in any trim level. Each model is capable of hands-free phone calls and music streaming via Bluetooth.
Toyota also included some driver-assistive tech that comes standard in every Tacoma, such as forward collision warning, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert, and automatic high beams. As you move up in trim level, the Tacoma offers more assistive features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking assist.
How much does the Toyota Tacoma cost?
The minimalist but still semi-loaded base model Tacoma starts at $26,400. While there isn’t a wild jump in price from one to the next, the TRD Pro starts at $44,325. If you’re looking for something in the middle, the TRD Sport starts at $33,310.
One of the more popular Toyotas in terms of reliability, used Tacomas go for as little as $17,100. With many options available, you’ll likely find a suitable match within your budget. For those who get easily fatigued by decision-making, it’s the better option as you only decide which one meets your needs instead of making a vast number of small yet meaningful decisions you would face when building it.
The choice is yours
With the Toyota Tacoma, adventure is around every corner. This sturdy, mid-size truck can suit almost any lifestyle or driving condition. If you love Toyota and you’re looking for another vehicle type, check out these reviews for the Toyota Prius and the Toyota 4Runner.
No matter which Toyota, or other make and model you choose, Shift offers best-in-class service contracts at a fair price without having to step into a dealership. You get the price and value of a used vehicle and the bumper-to-bumper protection of a new one.
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
August 30, 2021
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.