There's no mistaking this Tacoma for anything but a truck, especially with the TRD off-road package. The ride is jouncy and the brakes engage at a very high point and can be hard modulate around town, but I imagine this thing handles very well in off-road situations.
Thanks to the fact that it's a mid-size truck, the Tacoma is easy to maneuver in traffic and, best of all, fits in my garage, even the Double Cab. That might not seem like a big deal at this time of year, but in January, when the snow is flying, being able to park in the garage is a big plus.
The interior design is generic Toyota, with decent but not great plastics and lots of storage space, with a very deep center bin and an array of cupholders for both the front and the rear passengers. The upholstery is a mesh material that looks as if would wear quite well, but as the owner of a dog that sheds like crazy, I can't help but think about how pet hair would wind itself around the mesh and be impossible to vacuum away.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
I like the off-road package. It gives this smaller truck a look of confidence. I was particularly impressed with the bed -- great liner with the addition of a second durable mat. The standard 120-volt power plug is a nice addition in the sidewall. I seriously doubt that I could get my motorcycle in the bed, however well built and useful it may be; I'd need a tailgate extender of some kind. For the price of this truck, however, that is something I'd overlook, and this Toyota would move to the top of my list.
Kelly Murphy, Creative Director
Is this a De Lorean? It sure feels like a time machine. Old switchgear teamed with a trucky ride and a workmanlike powertrain to instantly transport me back a decade or so. But I'm not complaining. Back then, small pickups were more popular, and I find this Tacoma to be a very desirable package -- capable of hauling the family, towing a smallish trailer, but getting slightly better fuel mileage, costing a bit less, and taking up less space in my garage than a full-size truck.
This Tacoma is good-looking, too; it even caught the eye of my Chevy-loving brother-in-law. The seats felt a bit flat to me, but the little Toyota became more and more cozy, familiar, and desirable over a weekend, during which I used it to haul pavers and uproot a couple hedges from my yard. Long live the small pickup! (I hope Eric Tingwall is wrong about the demise of this segment, although I can't really argue with his logic.)
This is my new favorite Toyota-badged product, by the way. It wouldn't really work for me, though, because you can't get a Double Cab Tacoma with a stick shift. What I'd really love, then, is a four-wheel-drive, stick-shift, V-6 Nissan Frontier SV crew cab, which I just built on Nissan's website for less than $29,000.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor