Road Test: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

When you think of trucks that last forever and retain their value incredibly well, do you think the Toyota Tacoma? You should, because both of those characteristics have been two of many reasons why truck buyers keep going back to the Tacoma pickup truck.

The compact truck market is not as big as it used to be, putting the Tacoma among three other potential contenders: Colorado/Canyon, Ridgeline, and Frontier. We spent nearly two weeks with a Tacoma TRD Sport in Access Cab form and walked away quite impressed with the features, capability, and utility of this truck.

Tacoma’s Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 utilizes Toyota’s D-4S injection system which incorporates both direct injection and port fuel injection. Generating 278 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft. of peak torque, we love how Toyota offers the V6 with the 6-speed manual. It made us feel more connected and in control, that same connection achieved with a performance-oriented car.  Driver’s who aren’t into the joy of shifting can opt for a 6-speed automatic.

The EPA rates the Tacoma at 17 city, 21 highway, 18 combined. We averaged 20 mpg across nearly two weeks of mixed driving in some very cold weather.

Toyota says that when Tacoma is equipped with the Tow Package, the Tacoma can pull up to 6,800 lbs. per the SAE J2807 tow standard.

This Tonka looking truck was developed by designers in California and Michigan, giving this generation Tacoma an athletic and stylish identity that retains everyday functionality and ruggedness. The truck’s high-lift image reflects its go-anywhere capability. The Go-Pro mount on the inside of the windshield reinforces this.

Our Quicksand colored Tacoma’s chiseled face is anchored by a bold, hexagonal grille and a tall, muscular hood. Its slim, projection beam headlights illuminate brightly at night, with excellent intensity and distribution. The tailgate has an easy lowering feature, which allows it to slowly extend, preventing it from slamming down.

The Tacoma’s inner bed is made from a sheet-molded composite (SMC) deck and tough, durable walls that are 10-percent lighter than steel. The bed deck features two-tier loading and an integrated deck-rail utility system with four standard adjustable tie-down cleats. A 120V outlet with heavy duty sealing is also in the bed.

The part-time 4WD system has an electronically controlled transfer case and Automatic Limited Slip Differential (Auto LSD). Auto LSD is an electronic, brake actuated system that functions like a mechanical limited slip differential when activated a low speeds. After two weeks of some pretty treacherous weather, we have to admit the 4WD system and meaty tires did an admirable job.

The TRD Sport trim isn’t just cosmetics–it comes equipped with sport-tuned shocks that improve on-road handling.

Additional off-road technology includes Locking Rear Differential, Hill Start Assist Control (HAC), clutch Start Cancel, Active Traction Control, and Crawl Control. The Crawl Control system takes over the acceleration and braking.

Tacoma’s tough exterior is complemented by an interior that’s simultaneously comfortable and functional. The high-quality look and feel is underscored by an array of features including Qi wireless charging which worked incredibly well at juicing up our iPhone. Smart key w/ push-button start isn’t available with a manual transmission, but is with an automatic. Leather seats, a power moonroof, dual zone climate control, upgraded Entune audio system, and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic alert are all offered. RCTA is a boon for parking lot situations.

In addition to offering premium features, the Tacoma is quiet (unless equipped with the TRD exhaust like ours) thanks to enhanced door seals, a multi-layer acoustic windshield, sound-absorbing headliner, and a floor silencer pad. Interior storage space is maximized with fold-up rear seats and under-seat storage.

On the safety end, Toyota announced that the 2018 Tacoma will come with their full suite of accident prevention technologies that will bring the truck to the modern era of active safety features other than the standard stability and traction control systems.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 8
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 9
Noise 8
Headlights 9
Interior Fit and Finish 9
Seating 9
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 7
Crash-Avoidance 6
Total Score  86

Make: Toyota
Model: Tacoma
Trim Level: TRD Sport 4×4 Acces Cab
Engine: 3.5L V6
Transmission: 6-Speed Manual
Options: Premium, Tech, V6 Tow Packages, TRD Accessories, Side Steps

Base Price: $32,390
As-Tested Price: $38,031

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