As vehicle manufacturers decide whether mid-size or compact pickup trucks dilute their full-size truck sales, companies like Toyota and Nissan enjoy some exclusivity in this segment. Both of these companies — especially Toyota — are filling this market niche very effectively with trucks that are both road and off-road worthy. It can expect future competition from GM’s recently announced 2015 Colorado, I’m sure, but it is always tougher to unseat a proven leader.
How successful is the Tacoma? This truck is slated to GMC for fourth place in the truck sales derby for 2012, on track to sell about 136,000 units. That is more than the Tundra, and almost double that of the Nissan Frontier. It also means that the Tacoma will be in line behind the F-150, Silverado and RAM 1500. That is incredibly impressive for the San Antonio-built truck and is a jump of about 25% over 2011 sales.
The Tacoma was refreshed for 2012 with interior and infotainment upgrades, and I had a chance to put it through its paces on a recent week-long drive throughout Central Texas. I was not disappointed. As driven, the Tacoma — in Spruce Mica (reminiscent of Jeep’s sporty green) had a double cab with 4.0L 236 hp V6 engine, matched to a 5-speed ECT-i automatic transmission. We had four-wheel on-demand gear box with 2-speed electronically-controlled transfer case and automatic limited slip differential. This truck was equipped with a tow package that increased capacity from 3,500 to a respectable 6,500lbs.
The base price of $27,335 includes a scad of Toyota standard features — The Star Safety System with vehicle stability and traction control, electronic brake force distribution, brake assist and Smart Stop technology. The robust yet refined grille is black — an excellent match for this vehicle — and the bed of the dual cab has rail caps, removable tailgate and deck rail cargo system with four adjustable tie-down cleats.
The one downside that I find with the Tacoma is that fuel efficiency isn’t the greatest at 16/21 for the V6 and up to 21/25 for other configurations. There are full-size trucks that are achieving better that, and with all the know-how that Toyota has show with so many of its automobiles, I would love to see some attention given to truck mileage.
Tacoma, as driven
The price of this truck we drove, with a lot of sport options was $32,240. It included the TRD sport extra value package, $3,760 including tailgate mounted back up camera; sport suspension with Bilstein Shocks; 17″ alloy wheels and corresponding tires; hood scoop; body color-keyed bumpers, handles and outside mirrors with turn signal indicators; sliding rear window; 115v/400w power outlet in the bed; fog lamps; remote keyless entry and overhead console.
On the inside the dual cab TRD 4×4 had power locks and windows, air conditioning cloth bucket seats, 60/.40 rear bench seat and adjustable rear and front headrests. The tilt/telescopic steering wheel and two 12v auxiliary power outlets make for a comfortable and functional interior.
Both my driving/writing partner and I were very pleased with the storage capability in Toyota’s dual and crew cab. Seat bottoms lift up to access storage under the rear seats. There are convenient storage spaces molded into the back wall of the cab and, when you fold the rear seat backs down flat, there is a nice-sized cargo deck.
Other options on the 2012Tacoma 4×4 double cab we drove (priced at $34,240 delivered)made this a very luxurious, cost-effective offering. The other optional features included:
$1,930 Display Audio with navigation and Entone, Toyota’s signature infotainment system –6.1″ touch screen with integrated backup camera display, AM/FM/C player with MP3/WMA playback capability, seven JBL GreenEdge speakers with subwoofer and amplifier, SIRIUS XM satellite radio with three-month free trial, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, auxiliary audio jack, USB port with iPod connectivity and control and hands-free phone capability, phone book access, advanced recognition and music streaming via Bluetooth wireless.
$650 tow package including a Class-IV towing receiver hitch, supplemental oil coolers for the transmission, heavy duty alternator and battery, 7-pin connector with converter and trailer sway control
Coming for 2013
While I don’t expect earth-shattering changes for the next model year Tacoma. It will continue to have a wide range of configurations and options to meet most mid-size truck owners needs and wishes.
MSRP prices for 2013 models have been announced at: $17,525 for regular cab; $20,315 for the access cabe; $22,425 for the double cab ; and $26,725 for the X-Runner.
Two wheel drive and four-wheel drive drive trains are available. Two engines will be offered — a 2.7L dual overhead cam (DOHC), 4-cylinder (159hp with 180 lb.-ft. of torque) and a 4.0L DOHC V6 (236hp/266 lb.-ft. torque). The V6 is available with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission, while the 4-cylinder buyer can opt for a five-speed manual or a four speed automatic transmission.
Regular cab trucks have the usual two doors, access cab models have rear doors that open to 80-degrees. Both are matched with a 73.5″-long bed. Double Cab four-door models offer a choice of a 60.3″ short bed or the longer bed. All are compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories, including cargo bed cross bars, fork-mounted bike rack and diamondplate storage boxes.
There will be a new Limited luxury package for the new model including everything we had on the optioned-out vehicle we drove, plus a HomeLink universal transceiver, 18″ chrome clad wheels with 265/60OR187 tires, chrome grille surround, rear bumper, outside mirrors with integrated turn indicators, door handles; and fog lamps.
For the hard-core Tacoma Sport fan
I have driven the 4×4 Tacoma off-road a number of times and it rocked. For 2013, the T/X and T/X Pro packages are available for the TRD Off-Road V6 Access Cab and Double Cab PreRunner and 4×4 models.
High on power: the available TRD Supercharger kit for all Tacoma V6 models, including the T/X and T/X Pro, boosts engine output to 304hp and 334 lb.-ft. of Torque.
Both packages focus on off-road performance and handling with chassis modifications that include an electronic locking rear differential, progressive-rate front springs, specially-tuned Bilstein shocks, a 28-mm front stabilizer bar and fog lamps, as well as TRD 16″ black-alloy bead-lock wheels and 265/70OR 16 BFG Rugged Trail tires, black tube side steps, a stainless steel exhaust tip and special exterior graphics. The T/X Pro is more performance oriented with the TRD cat-black performance exhaust system with a throatier sound and a bit more power. There is an X-Runner packages that take everything a big step further and I will be writing about it in the near future.