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2018 Toyota Tacoma Overview
Toyota’s venerable Tacoma pickup is currently in its third generation, which was only just introduced for 2016. While it has increasingly stiff competition from the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline, the Tacoma is still the best known and best-selling pickup in this segment. For 2018, the Tacoma adds some active safety equipment to the lineup, including a reversing camera that comes standard with the truck. It can still be configured as a light hauler or as a serious off-road warrior, and the six available trim levels include SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, TRD Pro, and Limited. The 2018 Tacoma is available with two engines, two transmissions and the choice of either rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Lower-tier Tacomas come with a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that makes 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, which is pretty light duty even for a small truck. Drivers can choose between a 6-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual to accompany this engine, which is best paired with the rear-wheel drive setup. Most Tacomas, meanwhile, get the stronger 3.5-liter V-6, a familiar engine that is found in various forms across the Toyota model range. In the Tacoma, it makes 278hp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Like the four, the V-6 can be had with either 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. It is rated to tow up to 6,800 pounds with an optional V6 Tow Prep Package and has a payload of up to 1,620 pounds in the bed.
The Tacoma, like other robust trucks, is built on a ladder frame chassis. People serious about leaving the pavement will be attracted to the various TRD models in the Tacoma lineup. While the TRD Sport beefs up the base model with some stiffer suspension and limited-slip differential, the TRD Off Road really delivers on the promises of its name with a more off-road-oriented suspension setup and locking rear differential. The TRD Pro also gets the locking diff, but takes things further with special shocks and tires with stiffer sidewalls. Both the TRD Off Road and TRD Pro Tacoma also come with a system that controls throttle input, power distribution, and hill-descent control via a switch in the cockpit (for automatic transmissions only). Interestingly, the Tacoma also has traditional drum brakes on the rear. Though these brakes may not represent the latest in braking technology, their reliability and performance continue to keep drivers happy.
Tacomas with the standard Access Cab body style may be a bit tight on legroom for some in the back, but the Extended Cab accommodates storage and passengers more comfortably. Both come with a 5-foot or available 6-foot bed that is 53.4 inches wide outside the wheel wells. Base SR model Tacomas are fairly straightforward with cloth seats, power windows, a USB port, and a 6.1-inch infotainment touchscreen. The second-tier SR5 model gets a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch touchscreen, and fog lights. The TRD models are where the list of features really starts to grow, with the TRD Sport adding a leather-wrapped shifter, wireless charging compatibility, a power outlet, keyless ignition (which comes standard on manual transmission only), and exterior features like larger wheels. The TRD Off Road adds chunkier tires, while the TRD Pro includes a navigation system and power seats upholstered in leather. The Tacoma Limited is the luxury-oriented model of the range, adding interior refinements like upgraded leather, a moonroof, navigation, and a better stereo. Other options include a power rear window and tonneau cover.
In crash tests, the Tacoma has performed well for a working truck. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it a top “Good” rating overall, while in federal testing the Tacoma has achieved four out of five stars. For 2018, a reversing camera comes standard, with the option for a bundle of active safety features, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic high beam headlights.
Since 2012, Andrew Newton has been writing about cars both old and new. Andrew has been an associate editor at Sport Car Digest as well as a contributor to sites like BoldRide and JamesEdition. He was also the Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA before becoming the Auction Editor at Hagerty Classic Car Insurance. He currently splits his time behind the wheel between his NA Miata, 1994 Corvette, and Triumph TR6.
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