This past weekend we went up to BlackHawk Farms Raceway in upper Illinois with my buddies 92 Saturn SC. So coming up from Ohio and through Chicago, the Tow vehicle tapped out multiple times. Once right in the middle of Chicago traffic.... So to fix the situation and save the weekend we rented a 2018 Tacoma to finish the trip. It was a sigh of relief as we put the trailer on the Taco and limped our 98 GMC Savana up to the track.
With all that I figured to do a short review of the truck. The Tacoma was a TRD Off-road 4X4 optioned out fairly well (Barcelona Red Metallic if you care). Cloth seats but had all the bells, Radar cruise, terrain selection (mud to rock climbing), Navi, locking diff, lane keep assist, the coffee cup thing thats supposed to tell you to take a break, and wireless charging. Man was it such a huge step up from the 98 Conversion van.
Before I begin and to give you an idea where I’m coming from I DD a K1500 and I have driven and tested multiple other trucks before including a 08 Taco.
The truck was sharp from the outside and in my opinion Toyota’s best looking truck/SUV currently. (especially the Pro) Very aggressive compared to its midsize counter parts. The rims look tiny as i think they were 16's but are that size for offroading.
The Interior is were Toyota has been lacking for awhile now as it continues with the Tacoma. While it didnt feel like a Fisher-Price toy, it was closer to the first gen big Xbox controller plastic feel. Though I didnt think i would need them but the 3 1/2 cup holders were nice, especially for the key fob. Seems to be a good carry over from the previous gen Taco.
The Dash and steering wheel is well laid out and if anyone has driven a toyota truck in the past 15 years the wheel is very familiar and easy figure out. The seats though were really stiff and not supportive in the right places. I dont normally complain about the seats but after 7 hours in the truck my back was hurting. My 96 K1500 has better seats and they are 22 years old.
And while I like that infotainment wasn’t a tablet dash it was hard to change the radio as we went in and out of local city radio stations. It was a far reach and touch only, no buttons other than volume. Maybe there is a steering wheel control for it, but all I could find is preset change.
Getting to the truck stuff. The truck with out a trailer was great to tool around in. You could get 4 people comfortably in the cab. Five might be a little bit of a squeeze but not to the point where you’re on top of people. The truck was responsive and easy to pop around town as it soaked up Illinois pot holes.
The power was good but even without a trailer it felt like it needed more. And looking at the specs (278 hp at 6,000 rpm and 265 lb-ft at 4,600 rpm) it makes sense as it definitely wanted to rev out to get its power. Which to me felt weird as you normal expect trucks to have that low end grunt. With the trailer on it felt dog-ish from a stand still unless I let it rev out. Once i got it up there, it didnt have a problem. I could weave in and out of traffic as is standard in Chicago. But I had to do this every time I need to pass, were talking 5k to 6k.
Cruising at 65-70 was fine with the trailer but anything above it wanted to kick down as soon as it saw any obstacle. Small hill, kick, Wind, kick, bump up cruise control, kick. That was semi annoying but it wasn’t jolting like other trucks. I don’t expect it to be a torque or hp monster but it did get annoying. Brakes were fairly firm and grippy, definitely enough even with the trailer. And with Chicago traffic, I didn’t notice any fade in the petal.
And with all the troubles of the weekend we made it back to Ohio in one piece.
In conclusion I am impressed by the truck, it had good manners and was obedient when asked to do anything. Would I buy one? Maybe, I know I was hard in my review but this is a very good truck. And there is a reason why they are #1 in the mid size. The Colorado might be more powerful and have a nicer interior but unless its a ZR2 give me the Tacoma.
The reason I said maybe is because full size pickups. Investment wise its best to get a Taco but if you want to move furniture you’re going to need a trailer. We had 6 foot tent polls sticking at least a foot out. And while towing a trailer and a 2300 lb race car was a do able task, anything more and I would be worried.
Pros: very easy to drive, decent gas mileage with a trailer (18mpg), Absurd resale value, good to do “Truck Stuff”, Best design in class
Cons: little lowend torque, plastic instruments, seat comfort, small bed.