2017 Toyota Tacoma: Mid-Size pick-up is loaded for work and play

By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Toyota Tacoma was launched in America in 1995, and was classified as a compact pick-up through 2004. The second generation was classified as mid-size, and following a full redesign for 2016, the third-generation 2017 Toyota Tacoma remains the No.5-selling truck in America so far, this year – a position it has held for several years.

Mostly standing pat after last year’s revise, the most significant changes for Tacoma in 2017 involve the new TRD Pro Off-Road model with a specialized off-road suspension including Fox internal bypass shocks, special 16-inch TRD black alloy wheels, a TRD Pro front skid plate, and Rigid Industries LED fog lights, and generous TRD Pro badging throughout. Elsewhere along the line-up, SR5 models get a new appearance package, standard on V-6 models and optional on four-cylinder models.

My test Tacoma, in Limited trim, came loaded with such standard items as a deck rail system, color-keyed bumper, overfenders and chrome-accented door handles, front dual automatic climate control, leather-trimmed seats and leather shift lever and tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 18-inch polished alloy wheels, power tilt/slide moonroof, power sliding rear window and power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators. Also standard on Limited, are cruise control, Smart key system with push button start, rear sonar parking assist, blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, Entube™ Premium JBL Audio with Integrated Navigation and App Suite, Qi-Compatible Smartphone charging, and lots more.

While the Tacoma does not offer a regular cab, it does come in Access Cab (an extended cab with rear-hinged rear doors) and Double Cab (crew cab with conventional rear doors configurations. Tacoma Access Cab and Double Cab models are built on a 127.4-inch wheelbase with a 60.3-inch bed, or a 73.7-inch bed on a 140.6-inch wheelbase. My test Tacoma was the base 4x4 with an Access Cab, and it measured 212.3 inches long, 74.4 inches wide and 70.6 inches high with 9.4 inches of ground clearance. My test truck weighed in at 4305 lbs. and had a tow rating of 3500 lbs. (an optional tow package is rated at 6,500 lbs.).

Tacoma offers brawn or economy with two engine options. The more economical engine is the 2.7-liter inline 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valve cast iron block system with aluminum alloy head and VVT-i. With the 2WD 5-speed manual, it is EPA rated at 19mg/city and 23mpg/highway, and the 4WD manual is estimated at 19/21 (the 6-speed automatic gets an 19/23 estimate). The inline-4 provides 159 hp and 180 lbs-ft of torque.

My test Tacoma 4x4 automatic was powered by the larger aluminum block 3.5-liter Direct and Port Injection, Atkinson Cycle V-6 engine with Variable Valve Timing-Intelligent Wider Intake and Variable Valve Timing-Intelligent Exhaust. EPA rated at 18/23 for 4WD automatic, I averaged 19.9mpg in mixed-use driving. The electronic fuel-injected system is good for 278 hp and 265 lbs-ft of torque. I found the Tacoma willing to transport heavy loads and it was quick-for-niche on the highway and the track, with a dash from zero to 60mph in 8 seconds-flat and a quarter-mile accomplished in 16.3.

Tacoma’s coil spring independent double wishbone front suspension with leaf spring rear suspension with staggered outboard mounted gas shocks were firm on the road and capable for soft off-road adventures. Rack-and-pinion power steering is better at slow speeds than high-speeds and can be non-intuitive at times.

With seating capacity for two up front and two in the Access Cab, Tacoma provides 39.7 inches of headroom in row one and 34.9 in the Cab, 42.9 inches of first row legroom, and a very tight 24.6 inches in the row two. Shoulder room measures 58.8 inches on front with 56.5 for the rear passengers. The Double Cab provides 32.6 inches of second row legroom.

The well-equipped Tacoma features standard air conditioning; power windows and door locks; center console; digital clock; two instrument panel power points with a lighter; a high-resolution 3.3-inch display; temperature gauge; vanity lamps on the sun visors; dome lamp; a full-size spare tire and Entune™ Audio.

Side-impact door beams in all doors starts Tacoma’s attention to safety, augmented by Toyota’s Star Safety System™, which includes Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, an Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, and Smart Stop brake override technology. Every Tacoma has standard front seat-mounted side airbags, roll-sensing side curtain airbags (including a cutoff switch), and a front advanced dual-stage airbag system.

Toyota offers a mind-blowing 31 different 2017 Tacoma trim setups in 4x4, TRD, SR5, SR and Limited in Access Cab, Double Cab and Sport Double Cab configurations. The base Tacoma SR with Access Cab starts at $24,575; SR5 starts at $29,155; TRD Sport at $32,195; TRD Off-Road at $32,195 and TRD Pro at $41,215. My test Tacoma in Limited trim started at $39,250 with the 3.5-liter engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, a Double Cab and Short bed.

My test Tacoma in Black with a Hickory Leather interior added Black, 5-9nch oval tube steps (running board) for $469; all-weather floor liners and door sill protectors added $209; a bed mat was $120; a very useful BedStep for easy access to the inside of the bed added $300; and delivery and processing added $995, for a price-as-tested of $41,993.

> Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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