The 2008 Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup was available in several body configurations, including a four-door Double Cab and extended Access Cab, plus a sporty X-Runner variant.
Engines choices were a V-6 or four-cylinder, with manual or automatic transmission, and you could get it with 2WD or 4WD. This generation of the Tacoma was available in at least 18 different configurations, according to Toyota.
The V-6 engine, which displaced 4.0 litres and developed 236 horsepower, was the most popular powerplant. It featured a pair of overhead camshafts, and came with an oil cooler and up-rated alternator. You could also order the optional TRD (Toyota Racing Development) sport package, which was a factory options group that also included a limited slip differential, larger 17-inch wheels and tires, transmission cooler and CD player.
According to Natural Resources Canada, the V-6 with a five-speed automatic returned 13.4 litres/100 km in town, and 10.1 on the highway. By way of comparison, a Toyota Tundra V-8 returned 16.0 city/12.3 highway and a Dodge Dakota 4x4 with a V-6 was good for 15.6 city/11.3 highway.
Four-wheel-drive was delivered via a part-time system that featured a two-speed transfer case accessed via a dash-mounted rotary knob. All Tacomas had an undercover engine shield as standard equipment, and the 4WD models were about as good as these things get when it came to going off-road. This was thanks in part to a relatively light vehicle weight and high ground clearance. Towing capacity was rated at up to 2,948 kilograms, which was enough to handle most moderately sized pleasure boats or utility trailers.
All things considered, the Tacoma was a weekend toy more than a down-and-dirty work truck, with the emphasis on performance rather than cargo capacity or work-related features. Entry and exit was not the best, but once you had scrambled into it, you found yourself piloting one of the more refined trucks on the market. The shifter was floor-mounted.
As you might expect from Toyota, the Tacoma had sensible ergonomics and plenty of conveniences. Both cab variations accommodated five adults and, depending upon the trim level, things like air conditioning, a 60/40-folding rear seat, one-touch-down driver's-side power window, power door locks, power outside mirrors and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel could be ordered. Options included a six-disc CD player, cruise control and a sliding rear window.
This generation of the Tacoma was one of the Toyota products affected by the sticky gas pedal/wonky floor mat imbroglio. By now, this problem should have been dealt with pretty thoroughly, but dealers will reconfigure the shape of the gas pedal or the floor mat beneath it gratis. This recall affects all Tacomas built from 2005 to the present.
Other than that, this iteration of the Tacoma is only affected by a few labelling safety recalls, and one tire monitoring sensor irregularity for those trucks fitted with larger wheels and tires.
Six technical service bulletins are on file with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One involves some automatic transmissions that may have shifting issues between Park and Neutral and Reverse, while some other models may have "howling" noises emanating from the rear differential during highway driving and, of course, there's the troublesome floor mats.
Consumer Reports gives the 2008 Tacoma its "Best Bet" seal of approval and it garners top marks right across the board. Every area of this vehicle gets the highest grades the magazine can bestow, with the possible exception of "squeaks and rattles." Some comments from owners: "Four-cylinder engine weak and noisy," "transmission downshifts slow" and "strong V-6". Better-than-expected fuel economy is also a common praise.
Pretty good marks from market research firm J.D. Power as well. There seem to be some minor issues with powertrain quality, style and instrumentation, but the '08 Tacoma gets high praise from this organization, and receives its "Most Dependable Mid-size Pickup" award.
No surprise then that it's held its value well. Prices range from the low teens to the mid- to high-$20,000 neighbourhood, depending upon drivetrain, body configuration, trim level and accessories.
2008 Toyota Tacoma
Original Base Price: $22,760; Black Book: $18,825-$28,900; Red Book: $13,175-$23,525
Engine: 2.7-litre, four-cylinder/4.0-litre V-6
Horsepower/Torque: 159 hp/180 lb-ft for four; 236 hp/266 lb-ft for V-6
Transmission: Five- and six-speed manual/four- and five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 13.4 city/10.1 hwy (V6 with five-speed automatic), regular gas
Alternatives: Dodge Dakota, Ford Ranger, Honda Ridgeline, Mazda B4000, Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Colorado