2020 Toyota Tacoma
The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling mid-sized pickup truck in the U.S.A. It continues a legacy over four decades of leadership based on engineering, quality, reliability, and a loyal customer base.
But, what makes a Toyota Tacoma the choice above all mid-sized pickup trucks? To find out, we tested the top spec model in the Tacoma lineup – the rugged TRD Pro – to see how much of a lead Toyota will spot its competition.
This generation of the Tacoma has been with us since the 2016 model year. This year saw some updates on this popular truck, including new grille textures, and better headlamps. The profile remains the same, with its shorter roofline, wide accessible doors I to the cab and modern-looking box with an easy-to-use tailgate.
The TRD Pro models adds a layer of rough-and-ready additions. A specific front end with an unique grille and specific LED headlamps with new “flowing” turn signals, flows back with a set of black 17-inch alloy wheels, all-terrain tires, and TRD pro badging. Our tester was equipped with the Desert Air Intake that is mounted to the passenger side front bumper and extended beyond the A-pillar. This increases outside airflow into the air box by capturing cleaner air above the dust line. The top of the air intake was turned around for winter use.
The TRD Pro model adds badging and subtle red accents all over the cabin. Perforated black leather adorns the front and rear seats and are actually supportive and comfortable. Head room is an issue for taller drivers both front and back. Rear leg room is OK for average size adults.
The 2020 update on the Tacoma adds the latest version of Entune connected services, along with Apple CarPlay integration. The 8-inch touchscreen sits in the middle of the dashboard with a series of four-wheel-drive system switches on the upper console by the rearview mirror, along with a sport shifter down below.
Most models in the Toyota Tacoma lineup will be equipped with the 278-horsepower 3.5-liter Atkinson Cycle V6. Our tester had the available six-speed automatic transmission with a two-speed transfer case for the four-wheel-drive system, along with a limited slip differential. Overall performance is fine, except for a few maneuvers on the highway. We observed a fuel consumption average of 16.7 MPG.
Ride quality is soft on the Tacoma TRD Pro, but not exactly solid. The TRD suspension softens the blow from various surfaces, including off road tracks. Handling is also soft with a little care needed to maneuver the pickup truck around some turns. The Tacoma TRD Pro is at best off road, where the four-wheel-drive system is easy to switch on with other controls helping to perform maneuvers on the worse set of conditions. However, tight maneuvers may require some patience with the axles and transfer case, as you will feel some “bucking” from the driveline.
The brakes are good, though sometimes it may feel a bit touchy. Pedal feel is strong with solid reaction down to the wheels. Steering is handled by a large wheel, which may hinder sharp maneuvers. On-center feel is soft and will need some adjustment to keep inside the lane. The turning radius is quite large for this pickup truck.
The 2020 Toyota Tacoma lineup starts at $26,050 for a base SR trim level model with the extended Access Cab, a four-cylinder engine, and a manual transmission. Our TRD Pro tester came with a sticker price of $49,708.
The Tacoma may be the leader in its class. However, it has plenty of competition that it compares very well to. Toyota is also facing a larger number of new entries into this growing class. For example, the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator has joined the fray, alongside the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, and Nissan Frontier.
In terms of class leadership, one cannot deny what the Toyota Tacoma brings to the table. Its sturdiness, proven driveline, build quality, and an unrivaled record for reliability are among the main reasons to buy one. Rather, to play with one in the elements and away from the road.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors