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Toyota Tacoma: a rugged, long-lived workhorse

Photo courtesy of Toyota

For city streets and dusty trails alike, it’s a cult favorite among midsize pickups.

The Tacoma—“Taco” to its friends—has a reputation as a rugged, long-lived workhorse. Perhaps that’s why research firm IntelliChoice estimates that it’ll keep a remarkable 85 percent of its original value after five years on the road (most vehicles do well to hold half their value).

Toyota last revamped its popular pickup in 2016—but not too much. The revised styling is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. And the base 159-hp 4-cylinder engine carries over unchanged. Still, the platform is updated with higher-strength/lower-weight materials. A new 278-hp V6 gives strong if somewhat harsh-sounding performance and is tow rated for 6,800 pounds. Both engines have about the same middling EPA combined fuel-economy ratings.

On the road, there’s no forgetting that the Tacoma is a truck. Steering feel is rather dull, and though the Taco’s structure is rock solid, its ride can be jarring. Stopping power is good. The Tacoma is available in either Access (extended) cab or Double (crew) cab versions. 

Considering the two cabs, two bed lengths, plus the different drivetrains and model grades, 30 distinct Tacoma configurations are possible. Perhaps reflecting this Toyota’s popularity, the least expensive version, a 4-cylinder model with an automatic transmission, is priced right around $26,000.

Finally, since Toyota places a heavy emphasis on safety, the Tacoma comes standard with the automaker’s Safety Sense P, which includes forward-collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control.

Model years: 2016–2019
Vehicle layout: Midsize pickup, 3.5-liter V6 (278 hp), 6-speed automatic, 4WD
MSRP: $25,550 (base), $49,000 (well equipped)
MPG, city/hwy/combined: 18/22/20
Crash-test ratings: NHTSA: 4 stars overall. IIHS: good (all ratings)
Basic warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Spare tire: Full-size spare
Final assembly: United States, Mexico

For more reviews, go to a no-hassle experience when purchasing a new or used vehicle with AAA’s free Car Buying Service. Go to or call (800) 709-7222.

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