This truck once drove through the streets of the United States without even a proper name given and was just vaguely called the ‘Toyota pickup’ for almost 20 full years.
That truck is now reining the American midsize truck market, overtaking even the giants of the domestic land like Ford by huge margins.
The Tacoma, fondly referred to as ‘Taco’ by its legions of loyalists, is one of the leading series of trucks under Toyota. For those who are unaware, the word “Tacoma” is a combination of a Washington city’s name and a Salish term meaning “Go Beyond,” which comes from a Native American tribe.
Here’s the vehicle overland profile of the Toyota Tacoma that entered the arena in 1995 and is still the benchmark for midsize trucks in 2021.
|Model||Years||Engine||BHP||Torque (lb-ft)||MPG (city/hwy)|
|S-Runner||2002||3.4 Liter V6||200 @ 4600 RPM||260 @ 2800 RPM||17 / 23|
|Xtracab||2004||2.7 Liter I4||300 @ 5200 RPM||360 @ 4000 RPM||13 / 17|
|X-Runner V6||2006||4.0 Liter V6||300 @ 3100 RPM||520 @ 1800 RPM||10 / 13|
|PreRunner||2014||2.7 Liter I4||345 @ 5200 RPM||380 @ 4000 RPM||14 / 19|
|PreRunner V6||2015||4.0 Liter V6||295 @ 5200 RPM||335 @ 4000 RPM||17 / 19|
|SR5 V6||2017||3.5 Liter V6||360 @ 3200 RPM||650 @ 1600 RPM||13 / 17|
|TRD Off-Road||2020||3.5 Liter V6||332 @ 4600 RPM||367 @ 4100 RPM||21 / 22|
|TRD Pro V6||2021||3.4 Liter V6||285 @ 5300 RPM||413 @ 3900 RPM||17 / 22|
Budget is not an issue with Tacoma as Toyota has the sticker price for every budget range of yours. Tacoma’s resale price is also infamously high so that you can get a Tacoma anywhere between $8000 – $47000 – new or used, with minimal price differences.
Another point to be noted if you’re looking to buy a used one is that in November 2016, Toyota agreed to a $3.4 billion settlement in a federal class-action lawsuit by U.S. owners over excess frame rust on Tacoma model years from 2005 to 2010.
It’s always good to ensure with your seller that this has been inspected beforehand.
Does Tacoma hold the value for your money? Yes. The Taco has a steel history winning awards for being the most affordable compact truck. It has won the U.S. News’ “Best Compact Truck for the Money” in the years 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, and Kelley Blue Book’s “Best Resale Value” award. Not to mention being 2014’s Best-in-class Truck for Midsize Pickup too.
Another good thing is that the Tacoma is a very low-maintenance truck. So there aren’t many bills for you to pay except the general costs of maintaining any vehicle. Some common issues Tacoma owners constantly face are transmission and stock issues.
Tacoma’s gas mileage figures have been below average for many years compared to its rivals in the compact pickup market. Whether it’s a base I4 engine or the V6, it doesn’t really make much of a difference with its outdated, slow 6-speed transmission.
Apart from that, you won’t incur many other costs as nothing can possibly kill the Tacoma.
Moving onto “reliability,” it’s the Taco owners’ favorite standard word to define their Tacoma. No doubt that the Taco has cemented a bulletproof record of high reliability and quality, which is the main reason why it has such a cult-like following for over 2 decades.
As far as reliability is concerned, there are no questions asked, but only if you back off from specific model years. Taco has always scored a standard 5/5 or at times 4/5 from Consumer Reports – till 2016.
The recent years have seen a downhill of reliability ratings, dropping as low as 1/5 in 2018. But it did give a solid comeback from its shocking setback the following year itself and scored a 5/5 yet again.
As of now, there can be no accurate predictions of the 2021 or future models’ reliability. What I have to say here is that a 3/5 rating doesn’t necessarily mean that the vehicle is off-road incapable. It all depends on which model year works best for your priorities.
No worries about having to find replacements or spare parts as Toyota is well aware of its huge fanbase across America and Canada, and thus, it’s constantly expanding dealerships.
The parts in North America are also available from few other stores across the country. So, just in case you find dealership parts too expensive there are few options for cheaper, aftermarket replacements.
Unfortunately, as Tacoma is not a very popular vehicle in other parts of the world, finding spares for your rig out of North America is going to create some challenges.
There is the possibility to ship parts from the US to some countries, but that depends solely on the shop selling those parts and their shipping policy.
The aftermarket upgrades available for a Tacoma in the US are endless. The Tacoma has dedicated aftermarket support that enables owners to transform their already overland-ready rig into a trail-taming beast.
There are new upgrades coming up every year and therefore number of available options for aftermarket parts is growing.
In terms of cabin space and storage, Taco is not on par with its competitors. Toyota likes to keep Tacoma’s conservative and traditional style, so there hasn’t been much room for increasing its storage space throughout the years.
Tacoma X-Runner V6
|Unladen Weight||3835 lbs|
|Gross Vehicle Weight||4700 lbs|
|Unladen Weight||3810 – 3890 lbs|
|Gross Vehicle Weight||5250 lbs|
Tacoma SR5 V6
|Unladen Weight||4075 – 4550 lbs|
|Gross Vehicle Weight||5600 lbs|
Tacoma TRD Off-Road
|Unladen Weight||4245 – 4550 lbs|
|Gross Vehicle Weight||5600 lbs|
Maybe we can expect some favorable changes in the 4th Generation Tacoma, but that’s probably not going to be on the roll till 2024 as Tacoma’s generations are pretty long.
Comfort in a Tacoma lies somewhere between an average to good rating – for overlanders and off-roaders, not daily drivers. Toyota extensively focuses more on the technical aspects of the vehicle like performance, durability, etc., rather than comfort and luxury.
Thus, it does lag a bit in comparison to a Ford Ranger or a Chevrolet Colorado.
Common comfort misses include the driver seat’s height positioning, manual seat adjustment, traditional gear transmission lever, and similar. As mentioned before, Toyota has a high distinction for keeping it old-school till now. And that’s mainly the reason why it was able to build such a solid customer base over the years.
People LOVE the no-gimmicks, simplistic design of the Taco.
For that and also based on sales figures, resale values, and transaction prices, Toyota doesn’t want to upset its loyalists. So when there’s more comfort in another vehicle due to higher technological inputs, it will naturally seem like the one with lesser comfort is a little discomfort. But it can be better put as simply non-optimal comfort.
Toyota has never compromised with safety features like it does with comfort. It has incorporated the Tacoma with the latest safety inputs year after year. At the moment, the 2021 Tacoma TRD Pro boasts refined protection attributes like adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, automatic high beam headlights, etc.
Not just that, the 2020 Tacoma won the IIHS Top Safety Pick award for having the most driver-assist features than any other of its kind.
All 4 truck series of Toyota, the Tundra, Tacoma, 4Runner (technically), and Hilux (not in the U.S.) have been ruling the backroads for decades, and the Taco has been doing so even before it was named! As the slogan goes, “Built for the Endless Weekend” Tacoma is a solid choice for building an overland rig.
|Basis||X-Runner V6||PreRunner||SR5 V6||TRD Off-Road|
|Break-over Angle (°)||21||24||21||24|
|Approach Angle (°)||35||35||29||32|
|Departure Angle (°)||26||26||23.5||29|
|Min. Ground Clearance (inch)||9.4||9.4||9.4||9.3|
Acknowledging the steady rise in young adventure seekers, out of which 86% are men, Toyota’s Tacoma is now onto capturing its status among the new generation just like how it did 20 years ago.
It completely refined the 2016 and 2020 models, making it more off-road capable than ever. It introduced the TRD Pro trim level in 2017, which included lighter wheels and shocks tuned – ideal for rock crawling.
It also has a 360-degree advanced camera system (beneath the vehicle too) – which is directly aimed at attracting off-roaders and overlanders.
Toyota Tacoma Overland Build Example
- Roof Rack: KC HiLiTES M-Rack kit 50” Pro6 light bar roof rack
- Tent: Vagabond XL Rooftop Tent
- Fridge: Dometic DZ65
- Compressor: ARB On-board Twin High Performance Air Compressor
- Water Storage: Front Runner 42L water tank with mounting system
- Tires: Falken Wildpeak AT3W (265/70/16)
- Wheels: Toyota Black TRD wheels
- Suspension: ToyTec BOSS Aluma 2.5 Series coil-overs, shocks and add-a-leaf package
- Front Differential: ARB Differential Air locker RD111
- Rear Differential: ARB Differential Air locker RD129
- Front Bumper: CBI Off-road Baja Series front bumper
- Rear Bumper: High Clearance rear bumper
- Rock Slider: C4 Fabrication Tacoma rock sliders
- Recovery Boards: Maxtrax MK11 FJ
- Winch: WARN 87800 M8000-S series electric 12V winch with synthetic rope
- Jack: Hi-Lift XT-605 60” X-treme jack
- Shovel: Hi-Lift HA-500 Handle-All multipurpose tool
- Recovery Kit: ARB essential recovery kit
- Tire Deflator: Smittybilt Tacoma R.A.D. Rapid air deflator
- Tire Repair: ARB Speedy Seal series II repair kit
- Light Bar: C-series LED light bar
- Rock Lights: YotaMafia 6 rock light kit
- Reverse Lights: Xenon Depot XTR reverse lights
- Camp Lights: MICTUNING Exterior LED Utility Light
- Interior Lights: Viesyled USB Rechargeable LED Light
- Power: Goal Zero Yeti 3000X Power Station
- Solar: Boulder 200 Briefcase Solar Kit
- Battery: Battle Born LiFePO4 12V 100 AH Lithium Deep Cycle Battery
On a final note, though there have been a few ups and downs in recent years, the Tacoma will never leave you stranded under any circumstance. It is still holding its reputation high and is immutable.
As an overland vehicle, the Taco is fully reworked with a slew of stalwart upgrades to last at least 15 durable years and give you 250,000+ miles of dependability.
If you’re planning to buy a new Tacoma of the latest model year, be sure to make the call in advance because though 60 days is the ideal stock out period for any truck in the industry, the Tacoma’s is often just 10 days only!