February 21, 2013
The handling is very competent. The Tacoma is a confident performer in city driving, and corners are handled with ease. The steering is well-weighted, requiring very low effort – just don’t expect a tight turning circle.
The brakes are very effective and powerful. Outward visibility is good, especially for the front and sides. Being a truck, you expect some wind and road noise, but all in all, it was acceptable. Once on the highway, the wind noise became quite intrusive.
Although I did not have the opportunity to test its off-road capabilities, the Tacoma has a reputation for being bomb-proof and able to take a lot of abuse.
2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6. Click image to enlarge
The TRD Sport package includes a ton of things, not all related to off-roading. You obviously have the ground clearance that’s required and there’s a massive front skid-plate.
Its 4×4 modes are accessed by a rotary knob, allowing for on-the-fly shifting into two-wheel drive and high- or low-range four-wheel-drive modes. There’s also an RSCA switch, which will deactivate the curtain shield airbags, in case of a vehicle rollover. Wow.
The Tacoma comes with a key. No, not like the old-school key with remote lock and unlock buttons on it. I mean, the OLDER-school key with nothing on it. And a keychain FOB with the remote door lock buttons. Like, hanging on an actual key ring. Luckily, if you lose it, you should be able to replace this in any local antique store.
In terms of a light truck, the Tacoma is a good vehicle. The ride is decent, it handles well, it’s a good city vehicle, and a very capable off-roader.
It kind of reminds me of middle-school wrestlers. They looked moderately tough, but there was a surprising amount of substance behind their swagger. The Tacoma has a lot of substance.
But the substance won’t negate the compromises. These compromises really won’t surprise anyone who is specifically looking at trucks. And you don’t find buyers who were looking for a nice, normal car or utility vehicle, and ended up buying a truck. People who want trucks, buy trucks. People who don’t, don’t. The high step-up height, the truckish ride, the terrifying mileage – these are all trade-offs that most are willing to accept in exchange for the ability to clamber up rocks, down hills, over dirt, snow and anything else you might want to throw at this truck, and also being able to tow something down the road.
The Tacoma is well put together, well-designed and well backed-up.
In terms of an everyday vehicle, for folks who don’t need a truck, this would be a strange choice, but I’d never patronize this storied 4×4 with a pedestrian rating when nobody would buy this to simply commute with. Or nobody should be buying it for that anyway.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was very low. She didn’t particularly like the ride, nor how high the step-in height was. She did, however, enjoy the lit vanity mirrors. Women.
This particular truck does away with the niceties and luxuries, and strips things down to what Toyota deems to be the essentials.
Take it or leave it.
Pricing: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6
Base price (of specific trim): $28,615
Options: $1,550 Automatic Transmission; $5,400 TRD Sport Package; $265 Block Heater
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $37,600