The first Toyota Tacoma was introduced in the US market in 1995 and came as a replacement for the Hilux. Unlike the old Hilux (also known as the Toyota Pickup) the Tacoma was more refined and came with better ride quality, superior handling abilities and also a bigger payload capacity.
The Tacoma was considered for a long time one of the best pickups form the market, mostly due to its high reliability and versatility.
Unlike the American pickups, the Tacoma wasn’t only a basic, utilitarian workhorse as thanks to its comfortable cab and the decent ride quality it also coped great with non commercial applications and many used it as a lifestyle vehicle.
The Toyota Tacoma was available in both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations and came with a choice of 2.4, 2.7 and 3.4 liter engines which developed between 142 – 190 hp.
The old pickup trucks weren’t as fancy as today’s models, as the exterior design was the last thing that counted when somebody talked about utilitarian vehicles.
The Tacoma made no exception and its exterior design was build around a robust and rugged style. The flared wheel arches were combined with a set of generous wheels and a high ground clearance, betraying the all road nature of the vehicle, while the vertical front and the wide grille enhanced its purposeful look.
The headlights looked pretty good and were combined with a few smart body creases to give the vehicle a touch of sportiness.
Around the back, there was a pretty generous load bed combined with a practical rear bumper that also served as a foot step to permit you to make loading and unloading maneuvers easier.
The old Toyota Tacoma was offered in three body styles including Regular Cab, Xtracab and Double Cab. Each was available with either two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The Double cab was a compact Crew Cab fitted with four doors and a generous rear bench. To keep the same overall proportions with the Regular Cab models, the Double Cab’s bed was shortened to 61.5 inches.
The interior design is pretty rudimentary, but the plastics seem pretty solid and the materials are of high quality. The dashboard comes with a robust and rudimentary design, but it’s fairly practical and we also like the convenient center console.
Every control is placed within easy reach and we also like the top notch road visibility offered by the high driving position and the generous windscreen.
The clean instrument cluster comes with a basic design and it features a set of white faced gauges which have an intuitive layout being easy to read.
The seats are pretty comfortable for both long and short trips and also come with enough adjustments to help you get cozy behind the steering wheel. Though, they could’ve come with better side bolstering.
For its time, the steering wheel was pretty modern and had an ergonomic design offering a good grab. There were also a few adjustments available, adding a dose of common sense comfort in an otherwise pretty rudimentary cabin.
Engines and performance
The basic 2WD Toyota Tacoma is powered by a 2.4 liter four cylinder unit which delivers a maximum output of 142 hp and 160 pound-feet of torque. The next engine option is represented by a 2.7 liter unit which cranks out 142 hp with 177 pound-feet of torque and is available for both 4WD and 2WD vehicles.
The Double Cab Toyota Tacoma is fitted with a standard 3.4 liter V6 which churns out 190 hp and 220 lb-ft. Transmission choices include either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic.
All engines are pretty strong and can deal well with the utilitarian character of the truck, the four cylinder units being able to tow up to 3,500 pounds, while the V6 can deal with maximum weights of up to 5,000 pounds.
Toyota Tacoma Engines Specifications
|2.4 liter||142 @ 4000||160 @ 2200|
|2.7 liter||142 @3000||177 @ 2200|
|3.4 liter||190 @ 3500||220 @ 2200|
Ride and handling
The Toyota Tacoma drives pretty well rewarding you with a well balanced ride and being able to absorb most of the potholes without too much drama. It’s relatively compact exterior dimensions make it also pretty agile around the city. Not to mention about the turning radius, which is significantly tighter than a full sized pickup truck.
The truck feels great when it needs to deal with off road situations too and it also stays fairly well planted on its wheels.
You won’t have any significant complains about the steering either, as it comes with a sharp response and gives you a decent road feedback. Stopping power is at par with what you’ll usually find in this segment and the pedal feel inspires confidence being able to stop this four wheel mammoth in no time.
Toyota ’s pickup trucks were always appreciated for their superior build quality, reliability and toughness and the Hilux was one of the models which helped it build this reputation.
The Toyota Hilux came with a pretty spartan cabin, but the overall ergonomy was pretty good and we also liked the solid build quality.
The engines were faultless being able to deal great with all kind of commercial applications. The old Toyota Tacoma received high marks for the ride and handling department as it was one of the best pickups in its class.