Not so long ago, the company that I worked for decided to start buying Toyota Tacomas instead of Ford Rangers. As a result of this, I have driven a Toyota Tacoma for about a year, or about 30,000 miles. I spent the majority of my workday inside the vehicle.
I worked for a tree transplanting company, and the driving conditions that I subjected this vehicle to were harsh at times. For example, I had to drive up over a curb and up a dirt slope twice a week, then drive the truck backwards down the slope and off the curb. I did this for about six months of the time that I drove the truck. I also did a fair amount of off-road driving, including driving through ditches. I did not always drive it slowly through the hilly and bumpy off-road areas.
All of this driving was done while the truck was carrying several hundred pounds of various stuff in the back, and occurred in Arizona, where in the summertime, temperatures of over 110 degrees are not uncommon.
First things first- I’d like to say that if you’re looking to buy a small pickup truck, the Tacoma is worth considering. It’s durable and fairly fuel efficient as far as trucks go, averaging around 25 miles per gallon. It was very reliable during the 30,000 miles that I drove it, and It handled off road situations pretty well.
The design of this truck shows ingenuity all around. The interior no longer looks generic like the older Toyota trucks did. A CD player comes standard, and a CD that explains the truck’s features is included with the truck. The interior of the truck is spacious, and looks thoroughly modern. The seats remain comfortable even after extended periods of sitting, and the steering wheel is fully adjustable.
Mechanically, the vehicle is well designed, too. The emergency brakes actually have some bite to them, and will lock up your back tires if you are driving on dirt. The gas pedal is not connected to the engine by a wire like older models- it is connected to an electronic sensor, which tells the truck’s computer how much acceleration you’re asking for.
The 2.7 liter, four cylinder engine is more than sufficient to get the vehicle moving. When accelerating from a complete stop, the truck seemed to hesitate for a moment, but after that, getting up to speed was not a problem, even when entering freeways using an uphill on-ramp. There are more powerful engines available for this truck, but for light duty, they should not be necessary.
Braking is very good on this vehicle, but the anti-lock brakes seem to kick in a little sooner than I’d like. Despite that, the vehicle stops sufficiently under emergency braking conditions.
Now that we’ve gotten the positive points out of the way, we come to my criticisms of the truck. I’d like to say that even considering my criticisms of the redesigned Tacoma, this model has seen a world of improvement when compared to the previous generation of Tacomas.
One issue I had with this truck was that the armrests on the doors are HARD. You may not notice this at first, but after driving it for a few months, you may notice that your elbow is sore. There is little padding on the armrest- just a layer of cloth and maybe a centimeter thick layer of foam are separating your elbow from the tough plastic that lies beneath. I’m guessing that since this was a company vehicle, that this is the base model. There may be some interior options that include armrest upgrades.
You can forget about sleeping in this truck, unless you are VERY tired. There is a raised area in between the seats, and parts the seatbelt stick up and poke you in the back. The truck is not wide enough to really let a full grown person of average height stretch their legs out. I’m 5’9″, and I had a hard time sleeping in this truck. Combine that with the hardness of the armrests, and you’ll probably have a hard time sleeping in this truck.
The air conditioning is sufficient, but not perfect. If you’re parked and idling for a while with the A/C on, you may need to set it to recirculate to maintain cold temperatures. This is in Arizona, mind you. If it wasn’t 110 degrees out, this probably wouldn’t be a problem. Another issue I had with the ventilation system was that the vents didn’t do a very good job of actually directing the air.
The tires that came with the truck only lasted 25,000 miles. This probably had a bit to do with driving conditions, but I imagine that the tires wouldn’t last a whole lot longer if the truck was just used to commute.
This concludes my criticism of the Tacoma. As you can see, these are mostly trivial criticisms, hence my recommendation to buy a Tacoma if a small pickup happens to suit your particular needs. Overall , this is an excellent truck, with little room for improvement.