When it comes to midsize pickups, Toyota’s Tacoma is arguably the most well-respected offering in this burgeoning segment. The nameplate has been around for ages, well, specifically since the mid-1990s. Over the course of those two and a half decades and three vehicle generations, it’s become the gold standard in small trucks.

The one thing Toyota does better than just about every other automaker is: deliver a quality product. No, its designs may not be the most exciting and it’s never the first to offer the latest technology, but the dividend paid for this conservative product-development strategy is dependability. The brand’s cars and trucks are legendary for their toughness and ability to keep functioning for decades and hundreds of thousands of miles with little more than routine maintenance.

That single-minded focus on longevity is a cornerstone of the Tacoma’s showroom success. According to Toyota, it’s been America’s best-selling midsize truck for about a decade and a half. People that want a smaller rig that lasts are smart to buy one. Even used examples seem to command hefty pricing premiums. Generally, the Tacoma holds its value extremely well, good news if you own one and are looking to sell, bad if you want to acquire a pre-owned example.

Catering to a diverse range of customers, this truck is offered in a wide range of models, from the base SR version with a four-cylinder engine to the midrange TRD Sport variant to the feature-laden Limited-trim model, there’s a Tacoma for nearly every type of buyer. Toyota claims there are more than 30 separate configurations spread across six different model grades.

This truck is offered in three body styles, including an extended-cab model with a 6-foot bed as well as a crew-cab version either a shorter 5-foot cargo box or one measuring 6-feet for extra hauling capability.

Spruced up for 2020, the Tacoma gains a new grille design as well as updated wheels. A more comfortable 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat is offered on SR5 grades and higher, plus there’s a new infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa integration. A 7-inch touchscreen is on SR models, while SR5 and higher variants feature an 8-inch display.

The Tacoma is built in two different manufacturing plants, one in San Antonio, Texas, another in Baja California, Mexico.

Toyota Tacoma Specs

Engine: 2.7-liter four-cylinder
Fuel: Regular-grade, 87-octane gasoline or better
Horsepower: 159
Torque: 180 pound-feet
Drivetrain: Standard rear-wheel drive, available four-wheel drive
Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Fuel: Regular-grade, 87-octane gasoline or better
Horsepower: 278
Torque: 265 pound-feet
Drivetrain: Standard rear-wheel drive, available four-wheel drive
Transmission: Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual

Seating Capacity: Up to five people
Long Bed Size: 73.7 inches (nominal 6 feet)
Short Bed Size: 60.5 inches (nominal 5 feet)
Four-Cylinder Maximum Towing Capacity: 3,500 pounds
V6 Maximum Towing Capacity: 6,800 pounds

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Toyota Tacoma Fuel Economy

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With a variety of engines, transmissions and body styles, the Toyota Tacoma’s fuel-economy figures are quite variable. Models fitted with the four-cylinder engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and two-wheel drive are rated at 19 miles per gallon city, 23 highway and 21 mpg combined. Grab a similar model with four-corner traction and those figures change to 19, 22 and 20, respectively.

But what about V6-powered models? Versions fitted with this engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive are rated at 19 miles per gallon city, 24 highway and 21 combined. Throw four-wheel drive into the mix and that same version should return 18, 23 and 20, respectively.

Off-road focused TRD Pro models equipped with the manual gearbox are rated at 17 city, 20 highway and 18 mpg combined. Grab one of these Tacomas fitted with an automatic transmission and those figures are a little better, 18, 22 and 20, respectively.

Regrettably, this truck’s fuel-economy ratings are pretty unimpressive. For instance, a full-size Ford F-150 with a 10-speed automatic transmission and twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter V6 engine can deliver 19 miles per gallon around town, 25 on the highway and 21 mpg combined, all with a lot more interior space and capability.

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Toyota Tacoma Safety

In an accident, the Toyota Tacoma should be quite secure. In testing performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this midsize pickup performed well, protecting passengers in a variety of strenuous crash simulations. The truck was rated “Good” in the small overlap driver’s side, moderate overlap front, side and roof tests. This is the best rating IIHS hands out. In the small overlap front passenger test, it earned an “Acceptable” score, the second-best rating. The Tacoma’s headlights and child-seat anchors were both deemed “Marginal,” the second-worst rating. Partially making up for these shortcomings, its front crash-prevention technology is “Superior,” again, the highest score offered.

The Tacoma comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P, which includes pre-collision warning and prevention systems. In testing, this arrangement successfully stopped the truck automatically at both 12 and 25 miles an hour, meaning drivers can avoid costly low-speed crashes and the steep repair fees associated with such collisions.

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Toyota Tacoma Features

Tacomas fitted with the optional 3.5-liter V6 engine com standard with a tow package. This bundles useful goodies like a Class IV hitch; automatic-transmission, engine-oil and power-steering coolers; a 130-amp alternator; trailer sway control; plus both four- and seven-pin trailer connectors all into one neat little package. Appropriately equipped, this midsize truck is rated to drag up to 6,800 pounds, per the SAE J2807 standard.

For 2020, entry-level SR models gain useful features like intermittent windshield wipers, revised taillight housings, an available LED bed lamp and more.
Also, new SR5 variants feature 16-inch dark-finished wheels, darkened tail-light housings, and updated interior fabrics. They’re also available with an LED bed lamp and a special headlight option.

Stepping further up the trim ladder, TRD Sport versions get a fresh grille design, new 17-inch wheels, passenger smart key entry and LED fog lights. A panoramic-view monitor is offered on Sport variants as well.

The TRD Off-Road model also benefits from a new grille design and many of the upgrades found on lesser models. More substantively, they also feature TRD-tuned Bilstein shock absorbers, a locking rear differential, Multi-Terrain Select and Craw Control.

Toyota’s highfalutin’ Limited version of the Tacoma is further set apart from the crowd thanks to a new front-end treatment. They also ride on redesigned 18-inch wheels. LED headlight and daytime running lamps are standard, as are chrome-trimmed taillights.

But of course, the ultimate off-roader of the Tacoma range, the TRD-Pro model, has not been forgotten for 2020. This model gains blacked-out taillight housings, Rigid Industries LED fog lights and rolls along, or, rather, climbs mountains on a fresh set of 16-inch wheels. Fox 2.5-inch internal-bypass shock absorbers keep the truck on an even keel while Kevlar-reinforced Goodyear Wrangler All-Terrain tires ensure there’s no shortage of traction.

Tacoma TRD-Pros are offered in a limited number of exterior colors. Army Green is an exclusive hue for the latest model year. The truck is also available with three other paint jobs: Super White, Midnight Black Metallic and Magnetic Gray Metallic.

Of course, every 2020 Toyota Tacoma comes standard with Toyota Safety Sense P. This suite of driver-assistance features includes things like a pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. These features should dramatically improve overall vehicle safety and reduce the likelihood of a crash.

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Toyota Tacoma Pricing

Base price for an entry-level SR-grade Tacoma with the four-cylinder engine, standard extended-cab body and rear-wheel drive is right around $25,000. Opt instead for a midrange TRD Off-Road variant in the crew-cab configuration with a V6 engine and six-foot bed and you’ll be spending around $38,500. Grab a TRD-Pro Tacoma, the steepest-priced version of the bunch, and load it up with options and you’ll have no trouble spending around $48,000 for one of these off-road-focused midsize pickups. Please note, all estimated prices listed above include destination fees, which are $1,095 for the Tacoma.

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Toyota Tacoma Warranty

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Aside from the Tacoma’s legendary quality and dependability, owners are protected from mechanical maladies by a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. For added peace of mind, the powertrain is covered by a 5-year/60,000-mile guarantee. This midsize pickup’s bodywork has a 5-year/unlimited-mile warranty against corrosion damage. Additionally, ToyotaCare is standard. This covers factory-scheduled vehicle maintenance and provides 24-hour roadside assistance for 2 years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Toyota Tacoma Competitors

The Toyota Tacoma competes with other midsize trucks. This field includes the Chevrolet Colorado and its corporate sibling, the GMC Terrain. Honda’s car-based Ridgeline is a rival as well, even if it’s better kept on paved roads than dirt. The antiquated-but-rugged Nissan Frontier is another prime competitor, as is the segment’s newest offering, well, new to North America at least, the Ford Ranger.

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Toyota Tacoma Future Plans

Toyota’s Tacoma is incredibly popular, and the automaker sells as many as it can build in the two manufacturing plants it’s sourced from. The truck does well in part to its legendary long-term reliability, ruggedness and off-road capability.

Despite its continued showroom success, the Tacoma is no spring chicken. It has more than a few gray hairs on its head. The current generation of this truck has been around for years and in many ways feels pretty antiquated, though nowhere near as outdated as the Nissan Frontier, which is positively ancient. Toyota should be hard at work on an all-new Tacoma, a model we expect to debut in the next couple years.

Detailed Specs

Engine: / 2.7L inline-four, 3.5L V6
Horsepower / 159,278
Torque / 180, 265
Transmission / Six-speed automatic, six-speed manual
Towing capability / 3,500 - 6,800

Our Final Verdict

The Toyota Tacoma is a solid mid-size truck that can be relied upon for many years. The best part of the Tacoma is the various TRD models, and the fact that it has such a strong resale value.

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