The best-selling mid-size truck has upped the ante to continue sitting on the throne

Toyota launched the 2020 Tacoma model at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show. Although its sibling, the Sequoia TRD Pro, stole its thunder at the, one cannot sideline the Tacoma. After all, it is the best-selling mid-size pickup truck currently on the market. The 2020 Toyota Tacoma does not bring a lot of changes to the table; mechanically or cosmetically. Do you think there is enough to differentiate it from the 2019 model and keep up with the rising competition?

Background

2016 Toyota Tacoma High Resolution Exterior
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Toyota Tacoma has been around for almost 24 years now. The Tacoma replaced the fifth-generation Hilux, also known as Toyota Pickup in the U.S., back in 1995, and was touted as a successor to the Hilux in almost every aspect. Despite the competition, the Tacoma has managed to hold on to the crown for 14 years straight.

In fact, in 2018, Toyota sold more than 200,000 Tacomas in a single year for the first time since its inception - 245,659 examples, to be precise.

This was an increase of 24-percent over the 2017 sales figures. Toyota’s biggest rival is the phenom from the GM stable, the Chevy Colorado. Chevy sold a combined 168,334 exmaples of the GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado. Basically, Toyota sold almost 75,000 units more than GM could both of its midsized trucks combined, thus showing the dominance it enjoys in the mid-size pickup truck market.

Exterior

  • New headlight and grille
  • Chrome highlights in taillight housing
  • Sequential LED headlights
  • New LED fog lamps and bed lamp
  • New Army Green shade on TRD Pro trim
2020 Toyota Tacoma
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The 2020 Toyota Tacoma looks fresh, but there’s no hiding the fact that it went under the knife to look younger. Other than changes to the front grille and headlights, there is nothing much to talk about; but these changes are enough to trigger brand recall each time you are out truck-shopping in this crowded market. It is offered in six trims in total - SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-road, Limited, and TRD Pro - and each of them has something new to offer.

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma is available in extended-cab and crew-cab configurations.

Extended cabs feature a six-foot-seven bed, whereas the crew cab can be had with either the six-foot-seven bed or a five-foot-five bed.

Upfront, the entry-level SR and SR5 trims remain the same. The Tacoma’s huge grille dominates the front and has chrome bits surrounding it. All the other trims receive a new grille that is the same size but boasts a different design. It’s flanked by headlights that sweep back into the fenders. The Limited trim is offered with new LED headlights, whereas the TRD Sport comes with new LED fog lamps. The TRD Pro is offered with new sequential LED headlights and daytime running lights.

2020 Toyota Tacoma
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The profile is where the Tacoma looks like a beast. The Tacoma is a typical pickup truck with a bed that hangs well past the rear wheels. The Tacoma comes with painted flared wheel arches on some trims, while the others have been left as it is to accentuate the rugged look of the Tacoma. The abrupt raise at the end of the Tacoma’s window sill at the rear is a trademark Toyota-touch and is seen on other models as well.

All trim levels have changed in the rear to some degree. The entry level trims come with new, darker taillight housings.

I personally feel this is more in sync with the overall aura of the Tacoma, and it certainly adds to the styling and rugged-feel of the truck. The TRD Sport comes with chrome taillight inserts and a new LED bed lamp. The TRD Pro, on the other hand, receives black inserts in the taillamps. Sounds like a tedious job, but it helps distinguish the models from each other. The Tacoma TRD Pro, just like other vehicles in the TRD Pro lineup, can be availed in a new, exclusive, Army Green shade. This completes the color palette that already includes shades like the Super White, Midnight Black Metallic, and Magnetic Grey Metallic.

Interior

  • 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat
  • Supports Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa
  • Toyota Safety Sense P standard on all trims
  • Keyless ignition system
  • Surround-view camera system
2020 Toyota Tacoma
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Be it the driving position, or the tech-friendliness, neither of the two aspects have been the Tacoma’s strong suits. However, the Japanese automaker has decided to address both these issues on the 2020 model. The truck used to come with four-way manually adjustable seats up to the 2019 model, which limited drivers from a finding a perfect driving position. But this time, Toyota has offered a 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat as standard equipment from the SR5 trim on up. The subpar seating was a major turn-off for prospective buyers, and it is good to see the automaker rectify it.

Some trims also feature new cloth seats. The seats are comfortable, and there is no dearth of space in the front or rear.

Coming to the second ’flaw,’ Toyota has finally realized that not offering simple stuff like Apple CarPlay on its lineup will turn away prospective buyers. So, for the 2020 model, Toyota has offered the Tacoma with a bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports both, Android Auto as well as Apple CarPlay. In fact, the automaker has gone the extra mile and is even offering Amazon Alexa on the 2020 model! The Tacoma comes with a keyless ignition system. As mentioned earlier, an LED bed lamp has also been added to the options list for increased nighttime visibility while loading and unloading cargo. The TRD Sport, TRD Pro, and Limited trims benefit from a surround-view camera system. The TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro feature a camera that points under the vehicle to help the driver keep tabs on off-road obstacles. Neat!

2020 Toyota Tacoma
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All trims now come with the Toyota Safety Sense P, which includes -

  • Pre-Collision Warning
  • Pedestrian Detection
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Automatic High-Beams
  • Radar Cruise Control

Drivetrian

  • 2.7-liter, naturally-aspirated engine
  • 3.5-liter, V-6 unit
  • Packs 278 horses and 265 pound-feet of torque
  • Six-speed manual available
  • Towing capacity up to 6,800 pounds
  • New 16-inch alloys
  • Re-tuned shocks and rear springs
2020 Toyota Tacoma
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The 2020 Toyota Tacoma does not receive any changes under the hood. It still drives on the same 2.7-liter, naturally aspirated, four-cylinder that packs 159 horses and 180 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a the 3.5-liter, V-6 unit that churns out 278 horses and 265 pound-feet of torque. In my opinion, Toyota should have bumped up those power figures to stay in line with the competition. The Colorado and the Ranger offer up to 369 pound-feet and 310 pound-feet of torque, respectively. These things matter a lot when you are driving on non-tarmac surfaces. Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission as standard, but the larger V-6 mill can be mated to a six-speed manual as well. So, there is something for the purists!

Most of the 2020 Toyota Tacoma trims come standard with rear-wheel drive, and offer a part-time four-wheel-drive system.

The TRD Sport exclusively sends power to the rear wheels, while the TRD Pro comes only with a four-wheel-drive system.

The V-6 Tacomas come standard with a tow kit that includes a hitch, an engine oil cooler, a power steering cooler, an automatic transmission fluid cooler, and a 130-amp alternator.

The towing capacity remains unchanged as the Toyota Tacoma can still tow up to 6,800 pounds.

The Tacoma TRD Pro, however, comes with a set of changes of its own. It now rides on a set of new 16-inch rollers that are about 4 pounds lighter than the last set. The Fox shocks and rear springs have been re-tuned by Toyota Racing Development to accommodate the lighter wheels. They are 2.5-inch internal bypass shocks that improve ride comfort and off-road performance. This needs a mention because any change to the tuning could make a big difference to the pickup truck.

2020 Toyota Tacoma
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Although there is no official word yet, the TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro trims will carry over the full suite of the all-wheel-drive system:

  • Push-Button Locking Rear Differential
  • Crawl Control System
  • Hill-Descent Control
  • Five Off-Road Traction Control Modes

2020 Toyota Tacoma specifications

Engine 2.7-liter, naturally-aspirated four-cylinder 3.5-liter, V-6
Horsepower 159 horsepower 278 horsepower
Torque 180 pound feet 265 pound feet
Transmission Six-Speed automatic Six-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox
Fuel economy 21/20 19
Towing Capacity 6,800 pounds 6,800 pounds

Pricing

2020 Toyota Tacoma
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There is no word pricing for the 2020 Toyota Tacoma, but the 2019 models started at $25,500. Going by the new features and specifications, there should not be a significant change. So, we speculate the prices to begin around $26,000.

Competition

Chevrolet Colorado

2015 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
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The Chevrolet Colorado has been a consistent performer for the bow-tie ever since its inception. The Colorado enjoyed a duopoly alongside the Tacoma, and the two steamrolled the competition for a very long time. However, the Colorado never got the upper hand because of its ’Jack of all, master of none’ traits. The truck looks decent, has a rich feature-list, an array of engines in its arsenal, but it never struck a chord with consumers. It looks curvy and butch at the same time and manages to put across its ’urban commuter’ and ’off-road beast’ alter egos quite well.

On the inside, the base trims come with nothing but basic features like Air Conditioning, Power Windows, and a Power Steering Wheel. As expected, the space on the inside is slim. While the front seats offer decent space, the rear is cramped even on the crew cab models. Overall cabin quality is decent, and it does not feel like Chevrolet has cut corners anywhere. Move up the ladder and the features bucket will keep filling, and by the time you reach the top-trim, you will see the Colorado with stuff like:

  • 8-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System with Navigation
  • Cruise Control
  • Heated Leather Seats
  • Bose Audio System
  • Moonroof

The Colorado comes with three engine options, serving customers with varied needs. A 2.5-liter, four-cylinder, a 3.6-liter, six-cylinder, and a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine. All the engines are quite potent and do their duties well. Colorado’s alter ego - the ZR2 - is a monster off the road. It comes with features like front and rear locking differentials, an uprated suspension, and a wider track. To make sure rivals don’t catch up with it, GM has worked on the already-capable ZR2 and launched the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. So, whether you’re looking for a daily driver or an adventurous pickup, the Colorado has you covered.

Chevrolet Colorado specifications

Engine 2.5-liter, four cylinder 3.6-liter, six cylinder 2.8-liter, four cylinder turbodiesel
Power 200 hp 308 hp 181 hp
Torque 191 lb-ft 275 lb-ft 369 lb-ft
Transmission Six-speed Eight-speed Six-speed gearbox
Fuel Economy (Combined) 23 mpg 21 mpg 24 mpg
Towing Capacity 7,000 7,700 7,700
Price $21,300 onwards

Read our full review on the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado

Ford Ranger

2019 Ford Ranger Exterior
- image 761492

The ’Ranger’ has been a vital moniker for the Blue Oval for ages now. It has been used on three different models to date, originating in 1958. The Ford Ranger pickup truck was launched in 1983, succeeding the 10-year old model called the Ford Courier. The pickup truck did quite well for almost 20 years before disappearing from the States in 2011. However, realizing the potential of the truck, Ford decided to revive the moniker in 2018, and it has its eyes set on the Tacoma, the Colarado, and the Gladiator. Ford has released a swarm of Rangers on the market, catering right from a budget customer to a buyer with loaded pockets.

The Ranger is not a very good-looking truck per se, but it dresses smart. The thick, black cladding adds to the character of the Ranger. It gels well with the crowd, but if you’re looking for something flashy, look elsewhere. The Ranger has a deep cut into the lower doors that adds to the overall charisma of the truck. Extended-cab versions come with a six-foot bed, while crew cabs feature a five-foot bed and front-hinged rear doors.

In terms of space and comfort, the Ranger supersedes its rivals by a big margin. The seats are comfortable and cushiony, and there are enough legroom and shoulderroom even at the rear. With that said, the Ranger’s cabin quality is something Ford should work on. The center console, door panels, and the dash have hard plastics and do feel inferior to the likes of the Colorado and the Tacoma. As is the case with any Ford, there is a palette of top-class features to choose from, but most of them are optional. I dare say that the Ranger comes in barebones form in the lower trims. However, if you are ready to splurge extra moolah, Ford will pamper you with features like -

  • 8-inch touchscreen Infotainment System with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Leather-wrapped Steering Wheel
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Keyless Entry
  • Heated Front Seats
  • Leather Upholstery
  • Satellite Radio

Unlike its rivals, the Ranger comes with just one engine option - a 2.3-liter, four-cylinder EcoBoost that packs 270 horses and 310 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an excellent 10-speed automatic transmission that covers up for the lack of engine options in the lineup. The Ranger can be availed with all-wheel drive as well. This engine is quite versatile and has enough punch in it for any of your activities. It comes with a locking rear differential and independent suspension in the front and rear. However, the Ranger is not an off-roader by any means. You can opt for the FX4 package, but we would say the Colorado ZR2 Bison performs much better in this department, followed by the Tacoma TRD Pro.

Ford Ranger specifications

Engine 2.3-liter, four-cylinder, EcoBoost unit
Power 270 horsepower
Torque 310 pound-feet
Transmission 10-speed automatic gearbox
Fuel Economy (Combined) 23 mpg
Towing Capacity 7,500 pounds
Price $24,300 onwards

Read our full review on the 2019 Ford Ranger

Final Thoughts

2020 Toyota Tacoma
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The Tacoma is an important product for the Japanese giant in the U.S. market. Although the Tacoma was ruling the segment until now, it is facing real heat from the competition lately. The Colorado has been closing in on the gap steadily, and there are other automakers that have also decided to take a share of the pie that Toyota has been enjoying for over a decade now. The first threat would be the resurrected, home-grown, Ford Ranger. Then there is also Jeep with its boy-wonder, the Gladiator. With both these brands trying to find their feet in this highly competitive segment, expect them to go berserk with their offering and even slash prices moving forward. So, unless Toyota decides to spice up things and provide better bang for the buck, it could very well lose its crown to any of its three potential rivals. What are your thoughts on the refreshed 2020 Toyota Tacoma? Share them with us in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • Both the engines are a letdown in tougher, adventurous situations
    • Toyota should have made the 2020 model more exciting; all updates are very minor
    • Lack of optional packages

Further reading

2020 Toyota Tacoma Arrives At Chicago With New Features And Mild Visual Updates
- image 820503

2020 Toyota Tacoma Arrives At Chicago With New Features And Mild Visual Updates

2016 Toyota Tacoma High Resolution Exterior
- image 609397

Read our full review on the 2018 Toyota Tacoma.

Toyota Ups the Ante With 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro
- image 766128

Read our full review of the 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

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