The all-new Toyota Tacoma was revealed earlier this summer, with the numerous trim levels that befit any pickup truck. I finally got to drive most of them here in California but not the much-anticipated hybrids. Those won’t be introduced for several months yet.
This is the fourth generation of Toyota’s popular mid-sized pickup truck, and it’s been at least eight years since any major revisions were made. This time around, for all Canadian models, the new truck has rear coil spring suspension instead of the old leaf springs, with standard rear disc brakes. It’s also turbocharged with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, replacing the 3.5-litre V6 the Tacoma was known for.
There will be eight grades of the nonhybrid truck, ranging from the SR5 that has a starting price of $46,950 to the TRD Off-Road Premium at $58,350. That’s a sizable bump from the least expensive current Tacoma, which has a starting price of $41,350. All these trucks will have additional costs of about $3,284 to cover Freight, predelivery inspection and “dealer fees,” among others, before tax.
(The hybrid trucks will presumably be more expensive. Their i-ForceMax engines will be the most powerful of all the mid-sized truck competition.)
The new Tacoma makes the same power as the old Tacoma it’s replacing, at 278 horsepower (or 270 horsepower for the manual transmission), but the engine’s torque is increased significantly. It now creates 317 lb-ft for the automatic, compared to 265 for the older truck.
I began my day in the basic SR5 Tacoma and spent time driving four other grades. With each truck, I was impressed by the usefulness of the cabin, though these were pre-production units and their plastic trim was often unfinished and shiny.
All the new Tacomas come with standard double cabs – there’s no longer a smaller access cab offered – and all of them are all-wheel drive. Larger cabs may be offered later, but Toyota’s not talking much about those. They’re all built on the new TNGA-F platform, with its body-on-frame multi-link rear suspension, and they’re slightly larger than before: the wheelbase is increased by 115 millimetres and the cab height is raised by 30 millimetres.
2024 Toyota Tacoma
- Base price: $46,950 – $58,350, plus $3,284.50 in fees, plus taxes
- Engine: 2.4-litre turbocharged inline-four
- Transmission/Drive: 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual / All-wheel drive
- Fuel economy (litres per 100 kilometres): 11.2 combined
- Alternatives: Ford Ranger, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier
There’s no mistaking the new Tacoma for its older generation. It has a shallower front grille and generally wider stance with LED headlights high against the hood. Toyota likes to call it a “badass adventure machine” and while it’s hardly Mad Max, it certainly looks like it can handle most anything. The large plastic spoiler at the front is there to reduce fuel consumption; it seems as if it’ll crack as soon as it hits a rock, but fortunately, it removes fairly easily.
The cabin is comfortable and practical, and was a pleasant place to be out of the cold California rain. The front seats are heated as standard in all grades, and there are enough grab handles for everyone’s security when the truck goes off road. The basic SR5 has a small seven-inch central display screen, but a large 14-inch horizontal screen is either an option or standard in the more expensive trims. The clever JBL audio system with its removable central speaker is an option, and it will even compensate for the altered sound in the cabin when that speaker is inevitably lost.
On the road, the Tacoma was sure-footed in the California canyons, but like any body-on-frame truck, it’s not a vehicle to throw too confidently around the tight curves – just drive sensibly and there’ll be no surprises. I didn’t try towing anything, but the Tacoma is rated for a capacity of 6,500 pounds (2,948 kilograms) and a maximum payload of more than 1,700 pounds (771 kilograms), though not for all the grades. Tow hitch and backing-up assistance is available through the central display screen.
Off the road, the Tacoma excelled before Toyota closed the muddy course for being too slippery in the rain. I was just as happy – some of the hill trails dropped far down into the valleys. The TRD truck handled steep slopes and huge holes easily, owing to updated Bilstein shocks and the ability to disconnect the sway bar with the press of a button, for much greater wheel articulation. The front approach angle is a tall 34.4 degrees with departure angles of 26.1 degrees, though you’ll need to remove that plastic spoiler first.
I drove the automatic as well as the manual shifting transmission and found both rewarding and easy to use off road. The manual uses a clever “clutch-start cancel” system to override the clutch pedal in low gear ratios. If you prefer a stick shift, you’ll love the Tacoma’s transmission.
The Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 system is much more advanced than the TSS-P system on the previous generation. It works well and is instinctive to use. It includes all the assistance you’ll find in other new Toyotas (and Lexuses), such as full-speed-range dynamic radar cruise control, and curve speed management if you’re a little hot going into a corner, with over-the-air updates. There’s also a backup camera that now detects pedestrians, for safer driving in the mall parking lot.
There’s not a lot of space in the second row of the double cab, but the seats fold to create a flat surface. There’s also three times as much storage space under the rear seats as before. The truck bed is available in either five-foot or six-foot lengths, and Toyota says it has 8-per-cent greater capacity than before.
The Tacoma has an excellent reputation for reliability and practicality, and as such, it will hold its value for years. This new generation has taken nothing away and only improved on the truck and that reputation will easily remain intact.
The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.