2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Offroad 4X4 Double Cab

Note: A reader wanted to know how the ride was in the Tacoma. As I didn't address it in the article I'll add it here - it really wasn't bad for a truck. You know you're in a truck but it wasn't choppy or harsh. 

Remember when Toyota (and others) built compact pickups? (In fact before the Tacoma, which is Toyota's smaller truck, the Toyota truck was named simple "Pickup".) I remember those trucks fondly. Now a Tacoma is a mid-size pickup, and mid-size is what full-size used to be. Compare the current Tacoma with the 1995 small Tacoma and Ford F-150:

So I'll just jump right in with some comparison measurements:
Length Wheelbase Width Height Weight (lbs)
2018 Tacoma 213.3" 127.4" 74.4" 70.6" 4,445
1995 Tacoma 199" 121.9" 66.5" 66.3" 3,340
1995 Ford F-150 197.1-235.3" 116.8-155" 79" 71-74" 3386-4316

It's pretty obvious that the Tacoma is no longer a compact truck. It fits perfectly in the range of the '95 Ford.

I'm fine with Toyota (and others) building full-size trucks; I just miss small trucks. But as "they" say, it is what it is, and it is my job to give my opinion of what is set before me. So let me do that.

I cannot say I am a fan of the Tacoma's styling. It just doesn't appeal to me. Obviously I'm in the minority because in the first four months of 2018 Toyota has sold about 73,000 Tacomas. Judging from what I see on the road a fair number of those are sold to fleets but I see enough 4X4s to know that regular folk are buying them too.

In typical Toyota fashion fit and finish is excellent. I can't fault Toyota on that. I did end up scratching my head over the room between the steering wheel and seat bottom though. Once I was situated behind the wheel it was fine but getting in and out, well it just didn't feel right. I know I'm a hefty guy but my legs aren't overly large. I don't understand how a cabin that is so large can feel claustrophobic - the seat bottom is almost on the floor and the roof is high enough yet I felt like I was driving a chopped hot rod.

I never used the 4-wheel-drive. Let's face it most owners never do. I have a friend who lives in Tahoe and he had an older Toyota 4X4 because, you know, it snows in Tahoe. Strangely enough fuel economy doesn't really suffer with 4X4 - the test Tacoma is EPA rated at 18-mpg city and 22-mpg highway, while a 2WD is rated 19-mpg city and 24-mpg highway. That difference is negligible and driving styles could equalize them.

I loved the 3.5-liter V6. What a sweet engine. It is kind of docile until you put your foot in it and when you do it makes such great sounds. When you awaken every one of those 278 horses it feels like it should be in a race car. No complaint from me with the 6-speed automatic transmission either. (A 6-speed manual transmission is available with the V6 and 4WD.)

It seems like whenever I get a pickup I never have a need for one. At least with the Tacoma I needed to pickup a sheet of Sheetrock - one whole sheet. It fit in the bed just fine although loading it would have be easier if the Tacoma had been a 2WD. Width at the tailgate opening is 53.4" and between the wheelwells it is 41.5".

The fact that the test Tacoma was a Double Cab made it more passenger friendly, the kind of truck you would want if you have a family and can only afford one vehicle. It will seat five relatively comfortably.

Pricewise the Tacoma starts at $25,400 with a 2.7-liter, 4-cylinder and goes up to $43,720 for a TRD Pro 4X4. The test Tacoma TRD Offroad 4X4 Double Cab started at $36,115, added $3,658 in options (the costliest option is the TRD Premium Off Road Package) and delivery processing and handling fee of $995 for a total of $41,267.

I have no problem recommending any Toyota. The '18 Tacoma just isn't for me. Now if I could slip the '18's engine into a '95 with a manual transmission I'd be one happy camper.


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