Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s Website
Toyota Canada

Review and photos by Tom Sedens

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2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6

Well, a truck is a truck is a truck, as it turns out. Not much has changed there, I’m afraid.

I’ve always been a fan of the Toyota Tacoma. In the end, much of what I know and remembered about the ones I drove in the past remains true, and many of the compromises of driving a true truck remain solidly stuck in place. Maybe it turns out that I’ve been a fan of the idea of a Tacoma, rather than the ownership of one. But that’s my problem, and not yours. Nor the Tacoma’s.

Under the hood, you’ll find Toyota’s venerable V6 – over the years, its displacement has crept up to 4.0 L. When you hear it, it’s got the same rushing, roaring sound under throttle that this engine’s ancestors made 20 years ago. Some things never change.

The V6 makes 236 hp at 5,200 rpm and more importantly, a fairly accessible 266 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. This Tacoma tips the scales at 1,939 kg (4,275 lb.). Though this differs vastly from North American half-tons, it’s refreshing to drive a truck that doesn’t feel like it weighs a few tons.

The power is fed through a five-speed automatic, which didn’t impress nor offend. It just… shifted.

The Tacoma has an 80 L fuel tank, which is lovely, because it’s rated at 8.6 L/100 km on the highway and 12.9 L/100 km in the city. I averaged roughly 19 L/100 km and I wasn’t driving with a heavy foot. Yikes. That’s not me making that gurgling sound, it’s the Tacoma’s engine. Downing gas like a Scotsman does whisky on Robbie Burns Day. Gulp!

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6. Click image to enlarge

My truck, with the optional TRD Sport package had a 2,948-kg (6,500 lb.) towing capacity – nothing to sneeze at for a light truck.

Toyota has continued to refine the Tacoma over the generations, but really, the look has remained relatively static. In my opinion, that’s a good thing. The Tacoma has a great mix of size, shape and utility. The four-door looks a bit portly and slightly less handsome than the AccessCab.

The Tacoma has muscular, flared-out lower door panels and fenders. Ground clearance continues to be exemplary, and it defines this truck’s stance as well.

There’s no missing the high step-up into this truck. The ingress might be considered difficult for some, and frankly, painful for others. Hey, it’s part of having a truly capable off-roader.

Inside I found excellent head and leg room for my 5’10” frame. You’re surrounded by a sea of hard plastics. The heated, manually adjustable seats are quite comfortable and offer surprisingly decent bolstering. In front of you is a very short dash, and a couple of “Oh crap!” handles on the A-pillars.

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6. Click image to enlarge

The steering wheel is manually adjustable for reach and height, and it was a good wheel to work with. It matters when you head off road. It has controls for the stereo and phone functions. Behind the steering wheel sits an instrument cluster and a small trip meter screen.

The centre stack starts with Toyota’s touchscreen head unit at the top. It’s pretty basic, handling audio and phone functions. The stereo, feeding off AM, FM, auxiliary, USB and CD sources, sounds pretty good. Below that is an old-school “Hi, I was in Toyotas about 30 years ago” digital clock and underneath that, you’ll find a simple, manual climate control system.

The console houses some open storage, three cupholders, the gear selector and an armrest.

The rearview mirror displays some goodies, namely the outside temperature and a compass reading AND it has a small screen for the back-up camera with multi-hued distance markings. People complain bitterly about these, but in my opinion, I’d much rather have a little screen up there than none at all. You also get three HomeLink garage door opener buttons.

There are two 12V plugs and an auxiliary/USB plug on the center stack.

Getting into the rear seats is fine, other than the step up. Here you’ll find three seats, three seatbelts and three headrests. The two outboard seats are comfortable and I found the headroom and legroom to be very reasonable. What else do you get back there? Two cupholders at the back of the center console, seatback storage pockets and a sliding center rear window.

The rear headrests, which can impede the rearward vision, fold down out of the way, and the seat bottoms can flip forward out of the way. Under the seat bottoms are small but useful lidded storage bins.

Our three kids fit back there like a charm, with space to spare and you’ll find two sets of LATCH anchors for their seats.

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
2013 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 DoubleCab V6. Click image to enlarge

In terms of exterior conveniences, this Tacoma had a tow package with a hitch receiver and a seven-pin plug, and a 120V plug in the box. It seals with a spring-loaded lid, and can be switched from 100W to 400W inside the truck.

Toyota did a great job in using all the nooks and crannies to maximize storage around the cabin. You get little bins and trays all over the place, including a deep, carpeted one under the armrest.

If you run out of space in the cabin, there’s this thing called a ‘box’ that sits right behind the cabin. Toyota has added a couple of small, lidded (but not lockable) bins in the sides of the box. You get four heavy-duty tie-downs, and for great flexibility, there are rails along the sides and the front of the box, allowing you to position further tie-down points anywhere you want.

That V6 rewards you with some goodness, and that is plenty of low-end and mid-range torque. I never found myself wanting for more in everyday driving. That torque likely bodes well for off-roading as well as towing, although I tested neither of those facets.

The ride is exactly what you might expect from an off-road worthy truck. It’s firm, and a bit bouncy and it will soak up any road imperfections with ease. Speed bump? I didn’t notice any speed bump. Of course, if you encounter any kind of crack, or pothole, or other kind of Canadian road enhancement device, the truck will shudder and buck over it, and remind you that it can flex with the best of them. This isn’t a knock – every other truck does it, and until we figure out how to get rid of leaf-spring suspensions that essentially date back over 100 years, that won’t change.

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.

Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
Test Drive: 2013 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 DoubleCab V6 trucks toyota car test drives reviews
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
Freight: $1,635
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $37,600

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