Pickup trucks started out as humble workhorses used by farms and businesses for cargo-hauling. But in more recent years, America’s love affair with these things has transformed them into toys for the big boys. That’s why Toyota USA brands the new Tacoma as the “ultimate adventure machine.” This midsize pickup (yes, it’s not even the biggest model) was built upon Toyota’s TNGA-F platform like the Tundra and the Sequoia.
It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with the output depending on the variant, of which there are several. There’s the SR, the SR5, the TRD PreRunner, the TRD Sport, the TRD Off-Road, the Limited, the TRD Pro, and the Trailhunter. Whew!
The entry-level SR pumps out 228hp and 330Nm, while the rest have 278hp and 430Nm, and 270hp and 310Nm for the ones with manual transmissions. There’s also a hybrid powertrain for the TRD and Trailhunter variants with a total output of 326hp and 630.4Nm.
The top-of-the-line variants are the Trailhunter and the TRD Pro. The former is purpose-built for overlanding with features such as Old Man Emu shocks and 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires. Also, a 2,400W AC inverter provides power to the cabin and the rear deck, perfect for going off the grid.
The Baja-inspired TRD Pro, on the other hand, is for speed freaks who love to hit the trail. It has adjustable Fox Quick Switch 3 shocks and multilink rear suspension with Fox internal floating piston for the gnarliest terrain.
While the TRD Pro also has 33-inch Goodyear Territory tires like the Trailhunter, exclusive to the former is the IsoDynamic Performance Seat, which features an air-over-oil shock absorber system to help keep the driver and the front passenger in place when out on the trail.
The new Tacoma has a seven-inch or 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster. The infotainment system is the same as last year’s Tundra; it comes with an eight-inch or 14-inch screen, and supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Charging can be done via a wireless charging pad or USB-C ports.
All Tacoma variants are equipped with a Smart Key system where you can use your phone or a Smart Card key. The Digital Key can be shared with multiple smartphones so different people can access the car. But you’ll have to subscribe to a service to make use of this tech.
In addition to the mind-boggling number of variants, the new Tacoma also gets two configurations, both available with either a 5ft (1.524m) or 6ft (1.83m) bed. In addition to the four-door double-cab, there’s also the two-door XtraCab for the SR, SR5, and TRD PreRunner variants. This forgoes the rear seats for maximum storage space.
All variants come with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0, which you’re going to need with a truck this massive. To compensate for the low visibility, there’s a pre-collision system that’s supposed to detect pedestrians, cyclists, and now motorcyclists as well.
New to Toyota Safety Sense is the Proactive Driving Assist where the car gently brakes or steers itself, so you don’t end up tailgating other road users. There’s even an Emergency Driving Stop System to bring the car to a halt in case the driver is inattentive or non-responsive.
The new Toyota Tacoma will go on sale in North America later this year, while the hybrid variants will arrive early next year. No prices have been announced.