2010 Toyota Tacoma Review

Toyota’s Tacoma compact pickup is the segment leader for a very long list of reasons

2010 Toyota Tacoma Review

Silted soil and loose gravel fill a narrow trail cut into mile-high slopes of the Wasatch Range in Utah’s Rocky Mountains. The daunting path, lumpy in washboard ripples as it zigzags up the steep grade, shows off the excellent off-road manners of Toyota’s compact-class Tacoma pickup.


1. Tacoma models start from just $16,365 with top models priced at a $10,000 premium.

2. Two engines are offered, a 2.7L 4-cylinder with 159-hp and 180 ft-lbs of torque, or a 4.0L V6 with 236-hp and 266 ft-lbs of torque.

3. Regular Cab and the Access Cab models get a 73.5-inch bed, while Double Cab models bring a choice in box lengths with the 73.5-inch bed or a chopped 60.3-inch bed.

4. The standard tow rating is 3,500 lbs., with V6 models sporting the optional tow package capable of hauling up to 6,500 lbs.


For 2010 the Toyota Tacoma is available in three cab sizes, two powertrain choices and 18 different models with options for rear-wheel-drive (RWD) and four-wheel-drive (4WD) traction.

The Tacoma we’re pointing up the Wasatch trail, outfitted with a muscular six-pack of power and sure-footed traction promised from the 4WD mechanism, piles on sophisticated electronic devices for precise vehicle control and also carries a TRD (Toyota Racing Development) off-road package with locking rear differential, tuned Bilstein shocks and 265/70/16 BFGoodrich tires mounted on 16-inch alloy wheels. Those electronic controls link Tacoma’s 4WD device to the anti-lock brake system and active traction (A-TRAC) and vehicle skid control (VSC) tools, plus an automatic limited-slip differential (A-LSD), hill-start assist control (HAC) and downhill assist control (DAC) systems, making for a capable machine on most any terrain.

With so many onboard systems designed to keep this truck’s tires moving steadily and safely up a rough and steep slope, it makes the challenge an easy task for Tacoma’s driver.

At one point a fallen boulder blocks the hillside trail, prompting us to veer around the barricade in a maneuver that pitches the truck precariously at a canted angle, left wheels hiking high on the hill and right ones in a rut between slope and stone. Despite the slippery grade and a dicey maneuver, our Tacoma trudges forward without tipping, rolling or foundering in what becomes a keen demonstration of its 4WD ability.


The Tacoma, in any trim, looks tough with an elevated hood, double-bar bumper and massive front grille flanked by big multi-lens headlamp clusters on front corners. Sculpted fenders set off big wheel wells that are rimmed by thick body-colored cladding that dips to form protective sills beneath side doors.

The 18 different configurations for the Tacoma are based on three different cabin designs — the two-door Regular Cab and extended-length Access Cab with dual rear-hinged access doors behind front doors plus flip-flat rear jump seats. Finally there’s a Double Cab with four conventional front-hinged doors and a back seat fit for three.

Tacoma Regular Cab and the Access Cab carry a truck box in back that extends 73.5-inches, while Double Cab models bring a choice in box lengths with the 73.5-inch bed or a chopped 60.3-inch bed.

Deck and walls of the bed contain composite sheet-molded compound (SMC) that’s lighter than steel yet stronger and more durable. The box has a built-in system for two-tier loading of cargo with rails for adjustable tie-down cleats and optional 115-volt powerpoint. And bed rails were designed for compatibility with Toyota accessories, such as cargo bed cross bars, a fork-mount bike rack or diamond-plate storage box.

The structure underpinning Tacoma is based on a ladder-type frame reinforced by seven cross braces with boxed sections to deliver extra strength and control energy forces unleashed from a frontal or off-set frontal collision.

Mated to that frame are suspension elements that include an independent double wishbone arrangement up front with coil springs and gas-filled shocks, and leaf springs in back mounted beneath the axle for RWD and above the axle for 4WD in order to increase the ground clearance. All 4×2 models are rated at 8.1-inches of ground clearance, while 4x4’s get a 9.3-inch rating.

Overall, the setup does an excellent job of delivering off-road capability and yet is perfectly at home on the road.


The Tacoma comes motivated by one of two powertrain options, beginning with the entry-issue engine, a dual-cam 2.7-liter four-cylinder plant consisting of a cast iron block with aluminum alloy heads and Toyota’s intelligent variable valve timing (VVT-i). It generates 159-hp at 5200 rpm with torque of 180 ft-lbs at 3800 rpm. A five-speed manual transmission is standard with the four-cylinder engine, although a somewhat outdated four-speed automatic is available.

Toyota’s dual-cam 4.0-liter aluminum V6 is also on tap for the Tacoma, pumping a modest 236-hp at 5200 rpm and 266 ft-lbs of torque at 3800 rpm. Transmissions for the V6 upgrade to a six-speed manual or five-speed auto-box.

Neither setup is overly impressive, but when compared to the competition Toyota really doesn’t have to try to hard.

Compared to the Ford Ranger the Tacoma does make more power, but at the expense of fuel economy, with 4-cylinder models getting 19/25-mpg in 2×4 form and 17/22-mpg for 4WD versions. The larger 4.0-liter V6 then delivers 17/21-mpg for 4×2 and 16/20-mpg in 4×4 layout.

Tow ratings for the small truck are quite impressive with a 3,500 lb standard rating that increases all the way to 6,500 lbs with the V6 and a tow prep package. Payload isn’t as impressive with most models sitting in the 1,300 to 1,500 lb range.

Standard electronic vehicle controls are extensive on every Tacoma trim, with ABS and electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) plus electronic brake assist (EBA), traction control (TRAC) and the VSC system. Frontal air bags go to all models, and curtain-style side air bags tuck into headliners above outboard seats.


The Tacoma shows up in several trim grades (base, SR5 and TRD Sport), but also in special editions like PreRunner and the X-Runner. The PreRunner with RWD traction appears like a customized 4WD truck with hiked stance and flared fenders. It comes in all three cab sizes and the four-cylinder or V6 engine.

Low-to-the-ground X-Runner, a swoopy performance truck with ground effects and hood scoop added and the look of customized drop job, draws its name from x-brace frame reinforcements designed to increase torsional rigidity for handling a twisty set of road curves. The X-Runner strictly conforms to the Access Cab with V6 power and the six-speed manual transmission.

The SR5 package installs color-keyed overfenders, chrome on the front grille and back bumper, bucket seats in the cockpit with a floor-mounted center console.

A TRD Sport Package for any Tacoma V6 adds a sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, cabin enhancements such as sport bucket seats and bodywork including a hood scoop and body-color trim.


Toyota’s price chart for the 2010 Tacoma starts around $16,365 for a base edition (RWD Regular Cab with four-cylinder engine and a five-speed manual) and climbs to $27,250 for the top truck (4WD Double Cab V6 automatic). All come with an excellent warranty and a solid track record regarding resale value.

All things considered, it’s no surprise that the Tacoma continually outsells its rivals by a significant margin.


2010 Ford Ranger Review

2009 Suzuki Equator RMZ-4

2010 Toyota Tundra 4×4 Double Cab 4.6L Review

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked