by Karl Furlong
The Toyota Tacoma has been long overdue for replacement, but it's ruggedness and strong reputation for reliability have kept it in contention in the mid-size pickup segment even at the end of its life. Fortunately, an all-new Tacoma has been revealed and brings with it more efficient engines, new styling, and a capable Trailhunter trim that will likely be an exceptional off-roader. Americans are being treated to an all-new Ford Ranger as well, and together with the completely redesigned Chevrolet Colorado, it's shaping up to be a heated battle in this battle of the mid-size trucks.
See trim levels and configurations:
2.4L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
The release date for the Toyota Tacoma will be later in 2023, but the models with the more powerful i-Force MAX engine will only be coming out in the USA in early 2024.
The price of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma hasn't been made public yet, but the 2023 Tacoma starts at $28,250 for the SR trim with the less practical Access Cab body style, so we expect the new one to begin at an MSRP of around $30,000. With a new hybrid powertrain, the Tacoma is likely to cost quite a bit more at the higher end of the lineup, with fully loaded models probably exceeding $55,000.
The mid-size truck segment is undergoing quite a metamorphosis, with Chevrolet releasing a new Colorado for 2023. It starts at under $30k for the Work Truck version, while the top-spec model costs upwards of $46k. But it's the 2024 Ford Ranger that will be one of the Tacoma's fiercest rivals; it has a base MSRP of $32,565.
The exterior design of the new Toyota Tacoma pickup truck was inspired by the outdoor adventures that many Toyota buyers use their trucks for, and that is reflected in the bold, powerful lines. In fact, Toyota's designers used the theme "Badass Adventure Machine" as a guide when penning the new Tacoma, which explains features like the prominent skid plates, side functional air intakes, and large fenders. Both XtraCab and Double Cab body styles will be available.
There is a hexagonal grille motif, and the newly styled headlamps are mounted high on the body. On base SR models, there are 17-inch wheels which grow to 18 inches in various designs, depending on the trim. As with most pickups, the rear aspect is less intimidating than the front, with simple rectangular taillights on either side of the tailgate.
As you work your way through the range, the Tacoma becomes even sportier to look at. The TRD Off-Road is available with 33-inch tires and black wheels, while the Limited comes with power running boards, a power tailgate, signature headlamps, and 18-inch chrome-clad wheels.
The two most capable off-road models are the TRD Pro and Trailhunter, and both are appropriately dressed for the occasion. The TRD Pro has 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires, a TOYOTA heritage grille with an integrated LED light bar, RIGID LED fog lamps, a two-tone roof, and an ARB steel rear bumper with red recovery hooks. The Trailhunter is a new trim for the 2024 Tacoma and enjoys RIGID white/amber switchable LED fog lamps, frame-mounted rock rails, a high-mount air intake, and 18-inch Bronze Trailhunter wheels.
One of the most striking colors for the Toyota Tacoma is Bronze Oxide, and a new color unique to the TRD Pro will be announced later. Other options are Supersonic Red, Blue Crush Metallic, Underground, Wind Chill Pearl, Solar Octane, Celestial Silver Metallic, Black, and Ice Cap.
Riding on the new TNGA-F platform, the dimensions of the Toyota Tacoma are likely to increase slightly. Official specs haven't been shared, but we can use the 2023 model as a gauge. The 2023 Tacoma Double Cab has a length of 212.3 inches, a width of 74.4 inches, and a height of 70.6 inches. Its wheelbase stretches to 127.4 inches, and the bed length is 60.5 inches.
With a new hybrid powertrain option, the new Tacoma will probably be a bit heavier than the current model, which starts at 4,445 pounds in SR Double Cab guise.
There has been a dramatic improvement in the powertrain department for the Tacoma. The i-Force engine is standard, and this is a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes up to 278 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque when paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. With the six-speed manual gearbox (including automatic rev-matching and anti-stall technology), this engine produces 270 hp and 310 lb-ft. Finally, the least powerful version of this 2.4-liter mill makes 228 hp and 243 lb-ft in the base SR - but it's still a vast improvement over the previous Toyota Tacoma's sluggish base engine that made only 159 hp and 180 lb-ft.
The optional i-Force MAX hybrid powertrain that will be introduced later produces 326 hp and 465 lb-ft, easily outclassing the previous Tacoma's V6. This pairs the turbo 2.4-liter with a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, the latter making 48 hp and 184 lb-ft on its own. The hybrid powertrain is only standard on the TRD Pro and Trailhunter models. Toyota has made no claims about 0-60 times but confidently says that the hybrid pickup can ascend an 8% interstate grade without needing to downshift.
The automaker says that the maximum towing capacity is 6,500 pounds for non-SR models with the eight-speed auto, which is a little down on the previous model's 6,800 lbs. i-Force MAX-equipped models can tow 6,000 lbs. Payload for the hybrid maxes out at 1,709 lbs.
As before, both 4x2 and 4x4 drivetrains will be available. An automatic limited-slip differential is equipped to rear-wheel-drive models, while 4x4s get an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case with high/low range. Upper trims have an electronic locking rear differential, while the luxurious Limited has full-time 4x4 with a center locking differential (with the i-Force MAX engine).
Toyota has gone even further to make the new Tacoma the best off-roader yet. It is available with front stabilizer bar disconnect that, when activated, will increase articulation by 10% compared to the outgoing model. For really tough off-roading routes with the manual model, there is a clutch start cancel function that allows the pickup to start off in gear which negates the need to press the clutch.
The new Trailhunter comes with Old Man Emu position-sensitive 2.5-inch forged monotube shocks with rear external piggyback style remote reservoirs, along with a two-inch front lift. For the TRD Pro, there are Fox internal bypass 2.5-inch manual modal Quick Switch 3 shocks and a new multilink rear suspension. Toyota puts maximum running ground clearance at 11 inches, with approach, breakover, and departure angles at 33.8 degrees, 23.5 degrees, and 25.7 degrees, respectively.
EPA estimates will only be published closer to the truck's on-sale date, but we can make some educated guesses. In the Tundra, the hybrid powertrain delivers 22 mpg combined, and in the lighter body of the Tacoma, those numbers should improve with the same engine. The current Tacoma's old-school V6 returns a best figure of 21 mpg combined, as does its base four-cylinder mill - we're likely to see some improvement here.
Assuming the same tank size but greater efficiency, the new Tacoma should get closer to 500 miles on a full tank in a best-case scenario.
The Toyota Tacoma was in dire need of an interior refresh, and the new model introduces a thoroughly modernized dashboard design that should answer our criticisms of the old model. We don't know for sure if space utilization has improved as these specs weren't shared, but the new Tacoma should have more second-row space than before.
A new seven-inch gauge cluster and eight-inch touchscreen interface are standard, but upper trims come with a 12.3-inch gauge cluster, while a 14-inch touchscreen is standard on the Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter trims. The latest Audio Multimedia system from the Tundra should be just as easy to use in this application, and it supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A head-up display and JBL sound system with a removable JBL FLEX portable speaker will be standard on upper trims.
There are just two seats in the Toyota Tacoma XtraCab, but it comes with a highly useful storage area behind these seats. This includes lockable storage on the floor that can accommodate toolboxes and the like, and more lockable storage on the back panel for longer items like shovels. The passenger seat can fold flat for further versatility, and the long-slide driver's seat improves access to this storage area. Specific cargo space specifications for the Toyota Tacoma are unknown, but we do know that there has been a 7% increase in bed volume. Toyota also says that gas models have three times as much storage space under the rear seat as the current Tacoma.
An especially eye-opening feature inside the Tacoma is the new IsoDynamic Performance Seats for the TRD Pro, a segment-first design. These seats have air-over-oil shock absorbers that are designed to stabilize the head and neck when traversing rough terrain. While we look forward to the comfort benefits of these seats, the exposed shocks on the front seatbacks are super cool to look at, but we do wonder how much they may eat into rear legroom. Upper trims seem to have leather or SofTex upholstery, with orange stitching on the Trailhunter and visually impactful red upholstery on the TRD Pro.
The Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 suite is standard across the range and includes full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, and lane departure alert with steering assist. Most of these functions have been enhanced in some way.
One unusual feature is a driver's side hidden side pocket with a QR code that directs customers to the Toyota website. Here, they'll find the dimensions for designing and 3D printing their own accessories - we think this is a pretty cool feature.
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