Once upon a time, there were big trucks and little trucks and everything in between. Times changed and bigger was better with trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado and Ford Ranger becoming a distant memory. The Colorado is back, the Ranger is just a dream, but the Tacoma has stuck it out for over 20 years. The “Taco” is much loved and with good reason.
Trucks can set you back a lot of cash, partly due to their capability, but also partly due to a seemingly endless number of options and upgrades. Some of them sport enough leather and embellishment to make a Mercedes look dull, but not the Tacoma. This is a small truck that gets the job done without needing all that other stuff.
The first benefit to its smaller size and less flashy style is that it’s incredibly affordable. The base Tacoma can be yours for $20,965 with trims and options eventually taking it up to around $40,000 if you’re so inclined. My test truck was the Tacoma 4×4 Access Cab V6 which falls toward the higher end of the line.
It came with the TRD Sport Extra Value Package, a $3,555 option. This added a long list of extras that included sports suspension with Bilstein shocks, 17″ alloy wheels, a hood scoop, integrated backup camera, leather-trimmed steering wheel with audio controls and a sliding rear window. There’s also a little pretty added in with TRD Sport graphics, color-keyed grille, and metallic-tone instrument panel trim.
You can add whatever you like, but unless you’re adding things to make it even more of an off-roader, you’re wasting your time. This isn’t the truck for the construction guy that hauls huge loads nor is it for the guy who is out on the back 40 checking fences. This is the truck for the guy who wants to go out and drive around in the mud on the weekend, maybe cart an ORV up to the cabin, or haul a snowmobile up to the mountains. It can tow 3500 pounds or 6500 with the optional V6 Tow Package and has a 1360 pound payload capacity.
The drawback to this is that it’s really not a lovely ride on the highway. It’s a bit bumpy and even harsh with every last pothole and frost heave in the road rattling up through your spine. As a daily commuter, this truck would not be your best friend, but you would fall in love with it all over again on the weekend.
Drifts of snow several feet deep are no problem for the Tacoma with its 4×4 capability. Winter can do its darndest and the Tacoma will laugh as it plows through the snow. Think of it as a little puppy dog let loose in the backyard after the first big winter storm, having all kinds of fun.
The Access Cab provides seating for 4 with two doors that open from the front to access the folding rear seats. It’s a snug fit with narrow access, so don’t plan on putting anyone back there for too long. They do get cup holders of their own, so that should tide them over for at least a little while.
Power comes from a 4-liter, V6 engine with 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque hooked up to a 5-speed automatic transmission that moves the truck capably along the highway although not without its drawbacks. Downshifts are sometimes rough when decelerating, something that can be only be solved with a manual and that’s only found on the high end TRD Pro trim.
The infotainment system includes a 6.1″ touchscreen, AM/FM/CD, and 6 speakers as well as USB and aux jack. There’s also handsfree capability and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel. The system works just fine, but is minimal and looks dated compared to much of what is on the market currently.
The Toyota Tacoma is not your fancy, luxury car done up in the guise of a truck. It’s a truck, pure and simple. If you’re looking to get muddy and have a little fun when the weekend comes, then the Tacoma will happily do the job.
2015 Toyota Tacoma Access Cab 4×4 V6
Base Price: $27,035
Price As Tested: $31,920 (not including destination charge)
- Off-Road Capability
- Smaller Size
- Fuel Economy
- Rough Ride
- Sloppy Handling