2014 Toyota Tacoma
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Review of: 2014 Toyota Tacoma 4WD Double Cab V6 Auto
2014 Toyota Tacoma: Time for an update
By Jil McIntosh
May. 16, 2014
If you like big trucks, you’ve got it made: there are numerous offerings, and most are being regularly updated to stay competitive. But if you prefer a smaller truck, your choices are far more limited.
General Motors will release all-new versions of its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon later this year, but for now, the compact/midsize segment is limited to the Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and my tester, the Toyota Tacoma.
The Tacoma comes in two configurations, starting with the Access Cab, the only model to offer two-wheel drive. Also available in 4×4, and with a four-cylinder or V6, the Access Cab ranges from $22,450 to $34,525. (A two-door, regular-cab model sold in the U.S. isn’t available in Canada.)
The Double Cab comes strictly with the V6 and four-wheel drive, and is priced from $29,920 to $39,195. My tester with automatic transmission starts at $31,470 and was optioned with a $2,375 SR5 Power Package, adding such items as alloy wheels, upgraded upholstery, folding front passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, garage door opener, variable intermittent wipers, and heavier-duty components that increase the towing capacity from 1,588 to 2,903 kg (3,500 to 6,400 lbs), for a total of $33,845 before freight and taxes.
Pros & Cons
- + Ease of pickup bed access
- + Throttle response
- + Off-road performance
- - Driving position
- - Turning circle
- - Steering feel
The Tacoma’s a rugged-looking little truck, and the SR5 package improves its looks with colour-keyed fender flares and front bumper, chrome grille and rear bumper, and 16-inch alloy wheels.
All models have a six-foot bed except for the Double Cab with manual transmission which, oddly enough, gets a five-foot box. The bed is composite material and includes movable tie-down cleats, along with two small storage compartments behind the wheel wells. The sliding rear window is standard equipment on all Double Cab models, and on the V6-equipped Access Cab.
I’d like to give the interior a higher score, because even though the dash is dated, the controls are simple, functional, and easy to use. And while base trucks used to be little more than seats and a steering wheel, all Tacoma models include air conditioning, touch-screen stereo, power locks and windows, and tilt and telescopic wheel.
The rear seat also hides covered bins under its cushions, and large cubbies behind its seatbacks. Those rear seats fold flat, with plastic backing for easy clean-up, although it’s a multi-step process of removing the head restraints, flipping the cushions, and then folding down the seatbacks.
But the Tacoma loses major points on its interior with me because it’s awfully uncomfortable. Ground clearance and headroom are achieved by combining a high floor with a low seating position. Not only is it awkward to crawl into the Tacoma, but once you’re behind the wheel, your right leg is stretched almost straight to reach the throttle.
With barely a bend in my knee, my leg and foot start cramping up very quickly. I’ve heard taller colleagues complain equally about the seating position and sore legs. Beyond that, the low seat makes it tough for shorter drivers to see over the hood.
While not packed with highest-tech stuff, the Tacoma still comes relatively well-equipped across the board. Every trim level gets a 6.1-inch touch-screen stereo with voice recognition, six speakers, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB port, and auxiliary jack, and all 4×4 models come with satellite radio.
The stereo is easy to use, too, with dials for volume and tuning, and hard buttons to toggle between the functions.
A 4.0-litre V6 powers all of the 4×4 trim levels, making 236 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. The default transmission is a six-speed manual, while my tester came with the available five-speed automatic.
It’s a strong engine and a high point on the truck, with good passing power and linear acceleration. But an issue with the compact/midsize trucks is that you seldom get proportionately-lower fuel consumption compared to many of the full-size offerings, which are increasingly packed with fuel- and weight-saving technologies. The Tacoma is rated at 13.1 L/100 km in the city and 9.8 on the highway, while I averaged 12.7 in combined driving.
The ride is bouncy—some of which can be attributed to the tall tires—with sloppy response to steering wheel input, and a relatively wide turning circle. The Tacoma’s an older design, and it drives like it.
Another issue these smaller trucks face is that, at the mid- to upper-level range of their pricing, they can overlap some of the full-size trucks, especially if the bigger trucks have incentives piled on. They can be a harder sell for buyers who figure if they’re in this far, they might as well add a little more and move up to a full-size.
The Nissan Frontier’s price range is slightly less than that of the Tacoma, ranging between $20,998 and $37,598. It also has a conventional seating position that makes it far more comfortable. The Honda Ridgeline beats both of them with its seats and interior storage, but it has a front-biased all-wheel system to the true, part-time 4×4 configurations on the Toyota and Nissan, and it’s also pricier, at $36,863 to $44,324.
All of the current contenders in this segment have been around for a while, without any major upgrades, and GM’s upcoming Canyon and Colorado have the potential to shake things up, especially in 2016 when they’ll be available with a four-cylinder diesel. The Tacoma’s been a popular truck for some time, but the bottom line is that it’s due for a major makeover if it’s going to stay on top.