And in terms of design, it won't be as polarizing as the all-new Tundra.
The Tacoma and 4Runner are the oldest Toyotas currently on offer in the States. Yet, both have a loyal following and continue to sell well. The Tacoma remains the best-seller in its segment, and it's not hard to see why. We recently spent a week in the company of a Taco Trail Edition, and it was extremely charming.
Still, we can't ignore the fact that newer, more modern rivals will be hitting our shores shortly. The new Colorado appears to be a sensational pickup truck, and the all-new Ranger looks even better. Don't even get us started on the go-faster Ranger Raptor and its sweet twin-turbo V6.
When asked when we can expect the new Tacoma and 4Runner, Sweers did not provide a clear answer. Instead, he told us that he recently received an e-mail from a Tacoma customer with suggestions for the next model. In short, current owners don't want Toyota to deviate from what makes a Tacoma a Tacoma, except in one department. More on that later.
"Where Tacoma goes, the rest of our trucks go. We have very passionate customers. Our customers have more active lifestyles: they hunt, fish, mountain bike, and camp. They make their vehicles unique to our own needs," said Sweers.
The number one request from current owners is to improve fuel consumption. Sweers and his team are working on it via the development of the powertrain, body development, and reducing weight. Somehow, Toyota will have to decrease fuel consumption while retaining all of the mechanical bits that make the Tacoma and 4Runner so good off-road.
Sweers made one exciting comment about Toyota's upcoming trucks, which relates to the all-new Land Cruiser. Toyota's iconic full-size SUV is no longer sold in the States, but, according to Sweers, it still impacts the local market.
All new Toyota trucks are built to the Land Cruiser's standard, or QDR, as Sweers calls it. The acronym stands for quality, durability, and reliability. Owners buy Toyota's trucks knowing they're built to a very high standard and will last. "Our customers have 300,000, 400,000, and 500,000-mile owners' clubs," said Sweers.
The second reason for its success is the low cost of ownership and the residual values. "Customers can drive a new Tacoma off the dealer lot knowing it does not immediately lose 50% of its value."
Thanks to globally shared components, the next-generation Tacoma will have access to features it never had before. Some stuff will filter down from the Tundra.
Tacoma has to appeal to the existing audience, so it can't be polarizing. "We spend a lot of time talking to our customers. We go to truck jamborees and participate in events with them," said Sweers. "We want them to tell us the good, bad and ugly about the truck."
The Tacoma will still have North American flavor and won't be a global product like the Ford Ranger. Across the rest of the globe, the Ranger competes directly with the famous Toyota Hilux. Toyota will not share parts to that degree purely based on styling. The Hilux is a commercial vehicle, while the Tacoma is a more upmarket truck.
We may not know when the new Tacoma is coming, but Toyota is asking all the right questions to the right people. It's safe to say that if you love the current Tacoma, you'll love the next one even more.