Intro: The 2011 Toyota Tacoma is the latest in a long line of compact pickup trucks that's served as one of the main pillars of support for Toyota's stellar reputation. With four-wheel drive, a spacious crew cab and a chassis tuned by Toyota's TRD high performance division, there's nothing small about the Tacoma's capability.
Available in several configurations, the Tacoma is right-sized for many buyers seeking utility and proven reliability without the bulk or thirst of a larger pickup. Tacomas range from two-door, two-wheel drive standard bed affairs up to burly four-by-fours with extended or crew cab passenger accommodations and long bed. For 2011, the Tacoma sports a redesigned grille and the standard four-cylinder engine is available across a wider range of configurations.
Features: Tacomas are ready for hard work from the get-go. A composite inner bed resists scuffs and doesn't rust, and towing capacity is at least 3500 pounds. We sampled a Tacoma fitted with popular TRD upgrades including rugged skid plates, upgraded tires for surefooted off-road running, fog lamps and a slick rear-view camera in the tailgate handle.
Flared fenders and alloy wheels lend a confident stance to the TRD Tacoma, and nice touches like a 110-volt outlet in the bed and sliding rear window are also part of the TRD package. Inside, there's high-quality cloth upholstery and the TRD package adds controls for locking the rear differential and the A-TRAC active traction control.
The audio system has redundant controls on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the six-speaker system also sports an auxiliary jack and Windows Media and MP3 capability. Downhill Descent Control is also part of the Tacoma's off-road arsenal, and the TRD package rides atop a sport suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers for extra capability.
Performance: The standard engine in the Tacoma is a 2.7 liter inline-4, good for 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Our TRD four-by-four carried the 4.0 liter V6, with a strong 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. The four cylinder is standard with a five-speed manual transmission, and a four-speed automatic is also available. The V6 can be backed by a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The choice of two or four-wheel drive further lets buyers tailor the Tacoma to their needs.
Fuel Economy: Here are the highest and lowest EPA estimates for fuel economy:
Safety: Vehicle stability control is standard on the 2011 Toyota Tacoma, and front, side and side-curtain airbags put up a protective shield in the event of an accident. Other safety equipment includes electronic brake-force distribution and seatbelt pretensioners.
Pricing/Warranty: Base MSRP for the 2011 Toyota Tacoma 2WD regular cab with four cylinders is $16,365. A 4WD Tacoma with V6 with the double cab, long bed and automatic transmission begins at $27,525. The Tacoma carries a 5 year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Closing: Toyota's skill with durable compact pickups has helped to raise the automaker to its current position atop the industry. The latest edition of the Tacoma is tough, utilitarian and available in a wide array of versatile configurations; that's what makes it the compact pickup truck to beat.