Even though it's now in the seventh year of this generation, the Toyota Tacoma is arguably the best truck in a field of solid midsize pickups. It's certainly the most popular, dominating the market for midsize pickups. It comes in a wide range of configurations to please a wide range of buyers.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma gets new grilles on all models, along with a number of package changes, with air conditioning now standard on the regular cabs. However, the mechanicals are unchanged for 2011. Three manual-transmission PreRunner models have been dropped, and no less than five new four-cylinder models with automatic transmissions have been added to the 2011 Tacoma lineup.
All models and trim levels of the Tacoma receive as standard equipment 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.
The audio systems all come satellite-radio ready. The optional Premium JBL six-CD system is Bluetooth-compatible and has an integrated satellite radio system that includes a three-month trial subscription to XM Satellite Radio.
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.