MOAB, Utah – The 2020 Toyota Tacoma may be a mild-sauce update of a truck whose basic design dates back to 2005, but when you look at the sales charts, it certainly doesn't seem like customers are clamoring for something all-new. The Taco is crushing its competition, recording nearly 246,000 sales last year and on its way to besting that in 2019. By contrast, the Chevy Colorado, which itself enjoyed a 16% rise last year, was still at just 168,000 units. From there, things fall off a cliff to the Nissan Frontier (about 80,000), Honda Ridgeline (about 31,000) and GMC Canyon (about 18,000), with Ford just ramping up Ranger production. However, owning the segment doesn't mean the Tacoma should get a free pass. Yes, there are a few tweaks for 2020, but this fundamentally remains the same pickup that came in fourth in our recent midsize truck comparison. The cabs, frame, engine and transmissions remain the same, and the exterior alterations consist merely of a new grille, standard LED headlights and some new wheel choices. Most of the noteworthy changes are inside. A new, 10-way power driver's seat applies a band-aid to the Tacoma's longstanding issue of a too-low seating position that forces taller folks into an uncomfortable, legs-splayed-out position. But without changes to the cab dimensions, jacking the seat up exacerbates the Tacoma's shortage of headroom versus key rivals. Otherwise, the Tacoma's smartly finished interior remains competitive, something that we noted in the midsize truck comparo. A new multimedia system happily replaces a much-derided unit, and now includes a larger 8-inch touchscreen (or 7 inches on the SR starter model) with newfound Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa connectivity. A new panoramic view monitor is standard on up-level versions, while the extra-off-road-focused TRD Pro models – with retuned, 2.5-inch, Fox internal-bypass shocks – offer a cool new Multi-Terrain Monitor (MTM) that lets occupants see the ground beneath their truck and the position of the front wheels. That's useful for negotiating off-road obstacles with less need for a human spotter. As with Land Rover's similar system, the MTM slightly delays a view from a grille-mounted camera, and stitches it together with images from side-mirror cameras, to create the onscreen view. MTM is just another reason for the Tacoma to still shine brightest off-road, including here in Moab on the Hell's Revenge trail, a slick-rock gauntlet that tested every inch of the Taco's ground clearance, approach/departure angles and 4x4 capability. For these Double Cab models in TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims, that capability includes an electronically controlled, low-range 4WD setting, a locking rear differential and Multi-Terrain Select driving modes. Toyota's Crawl Control, now with five speed settings instead of three, continues to excel at walking the Tacoma up or down perilous grades with no need to touch the throttle or brakes, allowing the driver to focus on steering and positioning. I personally prefer the DIY method, which is half the fun of off-roading, but Crawl Control is a real confidence-booster for people who'd rather let the machine do it. Following a full day on these daunting trails near the Lion's Back, our convoy of bone-stock Tacomas emerged onto Sand Flats Road, none the worse for wear. The next day brought an all-day run from Moab to equally splendorous Ouray, Colorado, via Geyser Pass Road. This rugged dirt track crosses the LaSal range at 10,528 feet, with snow still hanging on in mid-July. Through it all, the Tacoma's off-road act was exceptional, perfectly complementing the outdoor scenery. On pavement, however, its flaws and foibles are as glaring as ever. It has a jittery ride on even modestly bumpy pavement, and poorly controlled body motions. Its automatic transmission has only six gears, versus GM's eight and Ford's 10, and obtrusively hunts for those gears even on mild grades. At least you can get a manual transmission on the various TRD 4x4 models. Its engine is also lacking in refinement and power, a 3.5-liter V6 with 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. You can also get a 159-hp 2.7-liter inline-four, but unless you need to stay as close to the $26,945 base price as possible, it's best to pretend it doesn't exist. All of that, along with the still-unusual driving position and cramped Double Cab back seat, amount to a truck that just isn't as livable as its competition. As we found in our comparison, the Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger are demonstrably better in many key areas, mostly due to their vastly newer designs. They're quicker, more refined, and can tow and haul more. The Jeep Gladiator is a different sort of animal, but it too scored higher than the Tacoma in our test despite a sky-high price tag (the Tacoma tops out around $44,000 for a TRD Pro Double Cab). There are a lot of disadvantages, but there's one thing those competitors don't have: a Toyota badge. It speaks volumes to the brand's hard-earned reputation for unbeatable durability and peace-of-mind, demonstrated ably during our drive by our intrepid guides' 2008 Toyota Land Cruiser, still going strong after 140,000 hard miles of adventure in the U.S. and Mexico. The Tacoma's trade-in values have also become legendary: Check out what owners can get for, say, a 12-year-old Tacoma with 180,000 miles on the odometer, and it'll blow your mind. If I'm venturing into Moab in a 4x4 – or the gnarly off-road trails of Vermont, or the African desert – I'd choose a Toyota over a Jeep, GM, Ford, Nissan or even Land Rover. As a former Jeep Wrangler owner, I will say I loved my Jeeps, but I'd also be first to admit that they were never as reliable, overall, as Toyota FJ's or Land Cruisers. That familiar Toyota hat-tip aside, there's no overlooking that the 2020 Toyota Tacoma represents a holding pattern. Yes, the Tacoma remains popular, and truck buyers are notoriously loyal. But it's fair to ask Toyota: At what point do your own loyal customers deserve an all-new, genuinely innovative Tacoma? The latest Chevrolet Silverado shows that complacency can eventually lead to loyalty being trumped by a deluxe, innovative and creamy-riding competitor in the Ram 1500 – and that Silverado is an all-new truck. While it seems unlikely that the Tacoma is in danger of turning over its sales crown, especially with Ranger's less-than-explosive debut, there's also not enough in the 2020 refresh to further entrench its position. Toyota executives insist that they recognize the growing competitive threat, and that they're taking it seriously. Perhaps we'll see how seriously soon enough.
LAKE LEELANAU, Mich. — Five years ago the midsize truck segment was a one-horse race. The Toyota Tacoma reigned supreme, thanks to a sterling reputation for reliability, great residuals and a fiercely loyal fanbase. Then in 2014, the second-generation Chevrolet Colorado burst onto the scene, injecting life into the stagnant segment and racking up nearly half a million sales through 2018. This led to the reintroduction of the Ford Ranger in 2019 and the new Wrangler-based Jeep Gladiator, that brand's first truck in nearly 30 years.
Although we've driven them all extensively, it was time to see which of these midsize trucks is really the best. We gathered them for a few days in the forests of northern Michigan. Six of us — four editors and a pair of video producers — were on hand to rate the trucks and document the whole affair. The goal? To determine the strongest one overall, using our bespoke scoring formula to see how each truck measured up in critical areas. These trucks have a tougher task than their full-size brethren. They need to pack comfort and utility into a stylish form, while providing value relative to the Silverado, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.
Toyota plans to use a new truck platform to underpin the next-generation Tundra and Tacoma, according to a report from Automotive News. Unnamed sources within Toyota revealed the news, saying the platform is known internally as "F1" and will be used in those pickups on a global scale.
Of course, the Tundra is a full-size pickup, while the Tacoma is midsize. This means that Toyota's truck platform needs to have a degree of modularity, similar to the company's TNGA platform that underpins both large and small cars. Toyota sources report that the shared platform is nearing completion, and we can expect to see a truck built on it as soon as the 2021 model year. If that's true, it's almost certain we'd see the platform hit the Tundra first. That truck's roots trace all the way back to 2007, and the truck is really feeling its age against the modern domestic pickups. We've also seen spy shots of a Tundra mule running around, trying hard to conceal what's underneath.
Toyota just showed off what amounts to a mid-cycle refresh for the midsize Tacoma pickup at the Chicago Auto Show. Having been thoroughly redesigned for the 2016 model year, the 2020 Tacoma enjoys slightly different styling up front and a bevy of tech/comfort improvements. Nearly every trim level of the 2020 Tacoma will be getting a new grille and set of wheels. It's a minor change, but perhaps they're working off the old mantra, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Tacoma has been the top seller in the segment for 14 years running.
A new infotainment system sits in the center of the dash now, with functionality for Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and even Amazon Alexa. The SR trim will have a seven-inch infotainment screen, while SR5 trucks and above get the eight-inch unit. Every new Tacoma (except for manual transmission trucks) will get an upgraded JBL audio system to go along with the new screens. For your comfort, Toyota has added a power adjustable driver seat to most grades of the Tacoma — they were previously manual all around. If you opt for the TRD Sport or above, you'll get keyless entry. LED headlights come standard on the luxury-oriented Limited, while the lamps are optional on the TRD Sport trim.
Toyota on Tuesday announced it will show a new version of the Tacoma for 2020 at next month's Chicago Auto Show. The automaker released a darkened photo showing the top part of the midsize pickup truck's front end set against a mountain silhouette at dusk.
That's the extent of what Toyota is saying, and it isn't much to go on, admittedly. But it comes as the Tacoma, which was last updated for 2016, faces what figures to be stiff new competition in the midsize segment as the 2019 Ford Ranger and 2020 Jeep Gladiator try to muscle in on its turf. Toyota says that the 2020 Tacoma "storms" into the Windy City, which may or may not be some kind of clue about what's in store.
Don't let its small(er) size fool you—the 2018 Toyota Tacoma is as tough as they come in the pickup truck world. This long-running compact truck has been a favorite of shoppers who want to take their vehicle off the beaten path. Revised for the 2016 model year, the Tacoma was given a freshened cabin and exterior, along with a choice of a four-cylinder or optional V6 engine. Tacoma shoppers can opt for rear- and four-wheel drive, and there is a choice of manual or automatic transmission with either engine.
Like the Jeep Wrangler, the Tacoma caters to a client base that demands a rugged truck that plays to a spirit of adventure. The Tacoma TRD Pro, TRD Sport and TRD Off Road trim levels come with features such as beefier shocks and suspensions, skid plates, an electronic locking differential and a Terrain Select system.