The 2012 Toyota Tacoma arrives with a new look inside and out, new and more sophisticated audio choices, and the same basic mechanical underpinnings that have made it a favorite in its class for almost a decade.
Tacoma owns the compact pickup market. Toyota sold more than 106,000 Tacomas in 2010, which is nearly twice as many trucks as the Tacoma's nearest competitor.
The Tacoma was named "Most Dependable Midsize Pickup" in the J.D. Power & Associates 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study, and Intellichoice called it a "2011 Best Overall Value" in the compact pickup segment.
Like any serious pickup, the Tacoma comes in a wide range of configurations to please a wide range of buyers. But every 2012 Tacoma will greet the world with a new grille, engine hood, front fenders, and front bumper. The new look is at once both fresh and familiar. You'll know it's the new Tacoma the moment you see it.
Inside, the instrument cluster, center stack, and steering wheel are all new or significantly changed as well. The audio systems begin with four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input, and range all the way up to a seven-speaker JBL GreenEdge system with Bluetooth, navigation, and Toyota Entune.
All Tacomas come with air conditioning and, more importantly, Toyota's Star Safety System, which includes anti-lock brakes (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TC). An Automatic Limited-Slip Differential (Auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention in place of a mechanical-type limited-slip to help reduce wheel-spin, is standard on all Tacoma models with the exception of those fitted with TRD Off-Road packages, like our test model; those will have a separate locking differential.
For those who drive hard, there is a dealer-installed TRD Big Brake system developed by engineers with the Toyota Technical Center and Toyota Racing Development to provide effective braking performance under sustained heavy use. It improves pedal feel and substantially reduces brake fade from repeated high-speed applications.
The Tacoma offers a comfortable cab, a refined ride, and quality construction. Its on-road handing is responsive; its off-road capability is proven. The Double Cab delivers more rear-seat comfort than most of the competition, with enough room to rival a small sedan. Properly equipped V6 models can to tow up to 6,500 pounds.
Models range from a basic work truck with a four-cylinder engine and 2WD to a loaded V6 4WD Double Cab Long Bed. The base model is among the few regular-cab pickups still available, as the market has moved to extended-cab and crew cab styles; it excels at durability and reliability. Our test model was a 4WD V6 Access Cab with the TRD package.
Tacoma PreRunner models can make you feel like you're practicing for the Baja 1000, while the sporty X-Runner may make you feel like you're preparing to take it sports car racing.
Compact pickups aren't what they once were. For one thing, they have not been compact for many years, they're midsize. Nor are they uncomfortable. They're more comfortable and more capable than ever before.