Wednesday, June 3, 2009
The 2009 Toyota Tacoma is the best selling small pickup truck in America in spite of not having seen significant change in its looks since the 2005 model year. Surprisingly, given the time since the last change, it's still one of the best looking small trucks on the road. Minor upgrades for this year include changes to the grille, taillights and tailgate handle. Competitors include the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Dodge Dakota and Ford Ranger in the USA. Foreign competition includes the Mitsubishi Raider, Nissan Frontier, Mazda Truck and Suzuki Equator.
The Tacoma comes in three cab styles: Regular, Access (small rear doors) and Double (full rear doors). Regular and Access cabs have a long bed, while the Double cab comes with either a long or short bed. Each cab size comes in either four-wheel or rear-wheel drive. The engine also depends largely on the pickup style. Regular cab and some versions of the Access cab come with the 2.7 liter, 157 horsepower gasoline powered I4 engine, which can be matched with either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission with overdrive. The rest of the Access cabs and all of the Double cabs come with the 4.0 liter, 236 horsepower gasoline powered V6 engine with either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission with overdrive. Maximum towing weight for the Tacoma is 6500 pounds. Maximum payload is 1570 pounds. The payload is excellent for class, while the towing weight is fair. The four-cylinder engine is somewhat underpowered, making the power to weight ratio a little weak, especially on the Access cab models. Front legroom is also a little tight. The Tacoma is very safe for a small pickup. NHTSA ratings are five-star everywhere except rollover, which is either three- or four-star, depending on the cab style. The lower rollover rating for a small pickup is not uncommon. IIHS gives G's straight across. Safety features include child safety locks on the Double cabs, an anti-theft system, antilock brakes with electronic braking assistance, traction control and vehicle stability control, limited slip/locking differential, electronic parking aid and seat belts everywhere. It does not have a locking tailgate. The base price for the 2009 Toyota Tacoma is a mere $15,170. That's almost $10,000 below class average. The fact is, as the sales numbers attest, if you want a small pickup and willing to give up the room, horsepower and hauling capacity of the bigger trucks, the Tacoma is hard to beat. If, for instance, you want an inexpensive vehicle to drive to work and do some light hauling now and then - and it seems a lot of us want just that.