The Tacoma is the best product left in a segment other automakers have chosen to either abandon or neglect. Although Toyota hasn’t redesigned the Tacoma since 2005, it stays committed with timely tweaks. Last year, for instance, Toyota added some swagger with new T|X and T|X Pro packages. Based on a SEMA show concept and available only on V-6 models with the TRD off-road package, the T|X adds black bead-lock wheels wearing off-road tires, an aggressive new grille, and unique graphics. The Pro tops all that off with a performance exhaust. At the other end of the spectrum, the Tacoma offers a 159-hp four-cylinder engine. The 4.0-liter V-6 would likely be a better choice for most buyers, as it enables up to 6500 pounds of towing. Altogether, there are about two dozen body and trim combinations, but the basic lineup consists of the regular cab; the Access Cab, which boasts rear-hinged doors; and the Double Cab, which has full-size rear doors, flexible rear seatbacks, and a storage unit behind the second row. The coolest Tacoma is still the X-Runner, which has a lowered suspension and eighteen-inch wheels, as well as a standard six-speed manual transmission. The Tacoma has long faced competition from cheap full-size trucks, but its smaller size offers agility that those trucks can’t match. Piloting a Tacoma around a crowded city is a refreshing reminder that not all pickups have to be monstrously oversized and difficult to park.

Drive: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel

Trim levels: 4×2, PreRunner, 4×4, X-Runner

Body style: Pickup, 3-to-5-passenger

Engines: 2.7L I-4, 159 hp, 180 lb-ft
4.0L V-6, 236 hp, 266 lb-ft

Transmissions: 5- or 6-speed manual,
4- or 5-speed automatic

Passenger volume: N/A

Capacities: Towing 3500-6500 lb; payload
910-1570 lb

The Tacoma gets a minor interior and exterior refresh for 2012. The primary changes are a reworked hood and front fascia, a new steering wheel, new center console trim, and different gauge faces. Top-level Tacomas also get Toyota’s new infotainment system, called Entune.

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; traction and stability control; trailer-sway control; and a tire-pressure monitoring system are standard. Backup sensors are optional.

All: 14-20 mpg city/19-26 mpg highway

  • Perfect size for the urban cowboy
  • X-Runner reaches 60 mph in seven seconds
  • I-4 could use more power
  • Interior still looks dated

All the truck you need.

  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • GMC Canyon
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Suzuki Equator

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