The Toyota Tacoma is the overwhelming leader of the mid-size (compact) pickup truck segment entering 2014.
Hands down, the Toyota Tacoma has been the best performing multi-purpose mid-size sport truck for several years offering excellent around town utility and aggressive off-road capability to buyers at every level.
As a result, Toyota Tacoma has been the best-selling pickup truck in the mid-size segment since 2008.
In 2013, the segment sold just over 225,000 vehicles in North America with 70 percent (160,000) being Toyota Tacoma trucks. To be fair, the mid-size segment had shrunk in 2013 to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier with General Motors pretty much closing out the last of their earlier generation Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon models.
Earlier competitors of any consequence – the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota – were already gone by 2013, but while they were still in play, the Toyota Tacoma held the major share of the segment in 2012 (54 percent) and over 40 percent in 2010 and 2011.
The segment offering will grow again in 2015 with the reintroduction by General Motors of the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and the 2015 GMC Canyon which will be arriving in dealerships late in 2014.
But, Tacoma fans should not have concerns as the word on the street is that Toyota is readying a new version of the Tacoma (expected to arrive in early 2015) in order to meet the challenge from GM – but more on that later.
For 2014, the leadership continues with Tacoma offered in Regular Cab, Access Cab and Double Cab configurations with two power plants – a 2.5L 4-cylinder or 4.0L V6 – mated to a 5 or 6-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic transmission with 2-wheel or 4x4 drive. Packages available include: TRD Off-Road, TRD Sport and Limited – all of which contribute distinctive feature and function attributes, depending on the primary use desired (family, sport or off-road), that make the Tacoma so popular.
Last undergoing a major update in 2012, the 2014 Tacoma has been tweaked a bit to offer even more capability to their mainstream sport truck customer. Some of those changes include a couple of trim package option changes, four levels of the Entune audio system and moving the backup camera display from the rear view mirror to the in-dash display screen.
Tacoma’s 2014 pricing continues very competitive ranging from a MSRP of $17,875 for the Regular Cab 4x2 4-cylinder and 5-speed manual transmission to the Double Cab 4x4 V6 with 5-speed automatic transmission at $28,285. It won the 2014 Best Compact Truck for the Money award from U.S. News and World Reports in February this year.
We recently completed a full week ride and drive test of a Super White 2014 Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 with the TRD Off-Road Package that had a base MSRP of $27,785.
Our test Tacoma was also equipped with the upgraded Entune Premium JBL Audio with Navigation and App Suite for $2,330 and their venerable TRD Off-Road Extra Value Package for $3,860.
Adding Carpet Floor Mats and Door Sill Protectors ($195), Rubber Bed Mat ($119) and a VIP-R63200 Plus Security System ($359), our 2014 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 4x4 TRD Off-Road was $35,073 – delivered.
Standard on our drive test Tacoma was the 4.0L DOHC Electronic Fuel Injected V8 engine - that produces 236 horsepower with 266 lb.-ft of torque – mated to the 5-speed Electronically Controlled (ECT) automatic transmission.
Our Tacoma was a 4WD utilizing the Toyota part-time 4x4 drive system with a 2-speed electronically controlled transfer case and automatic limited slip differential that delivers traction on demand to the wheels.
Fuel economy ratings for our test Tacoma were 16/21 mpg City/Highway and 18 mpg average.
This Tacoma weighs in at around 4,200 pounds with about 1,300 pounds of haul capacity. As is, it has a tow capacity of 3,500 pounds, but add the optional V6 Tow Prep Package and it will tow 6,500 pounds.
With the TRD Off-Road Package that included the off-road tuned suspension with Bilstein Shocks, Hill Start Assist and Downhill Assist Control, Engine Skid Plate, Front Tow Hook, 115V/400W Bed Deck Powerpoint and Fog Lamps - our Tacoma 4x4 had a ground clearance of a decent 9.1-inches with Approach of 35 degrees, Departure of 25 degrees and Breakover Angle of 20 degrees.
Inside the Tacoma continues its sporty and multi-purpose look and efficiency with simple and easy to read instruments and functional controls readily within reach for the driver. The front bucket seats are generous and comfortable with high grade fabrics and the passenger seat folds flat for work or cargo handling.
The center console has lots of storage with a very nice 6.1-inch touch screen in the center stack for managing the infotainment functions. Rear seating (60/40) is also comfortable with ample leg room that allows for total seating up to five.
The inner cargo bed of the Tacoma is made of a Fibre-reinforced Sheet-Molded Composite with steel outer panels and removable tailgate for durability and easy cleaning. It features an excellent deck rail cargo system with adjustable tie down cleats.
Looking ahead to 2015 - the new GM 2015 mid-size offerings coming to market in late 2014 will raise the bar in the segment particularly in exterior styling, interior design and materials and adding the latest in features and technology much like what is seen in the all-new 2014 GMC full-size pickup trucks.
What we are hearing is to expect Toyota to counter with a new Tacoma for 2015 that will have updated styling with improved aerodynamics along with more features and capabilities. Look for styling cues, upgraded materials and technology enhancements in the new Tacoma to come from the all-new 2014 Tundra.
The Single Cab model may well go away also as we hear that the 2015 Tacoma may be built on a new platform as well - offering some potential performance enhancements both on and off-road.
Engine improvements could include a bigger V8 power plant along with changes to the existing V6 that includes the addition of stop/start technology. We have also been told to look for the addition of a 6-speed automatic transmission.
And, with GM going to include an optional 2.8L Duramax diesel in their mid-size trucks in 2016 and Nissan having showed a possible 4-cylinder Cummins diesel in their next generation (2015) Frontier, it begs the question if Toyota will follow suit. More likely for 2016 would be my guess.
There has even been talk of aluminum components and/or body panels to reduce weight – all of which should produce some fuel economy improvement as well.
Without any doubt, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma will continue to lead the mid-size truck segment for 2014 and is apparently not intending to relinquish that leadership position in 2015 either.