Toyota Tacoma, 2005-2013
2013 Toyota Tacoma*
2013 Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma, 2005–2013. Click image to enlarge

Review by Justin Pritchard

Vehicle Type: Pickup

History/Description: It’s hard to deny the wholesome sensibility of owning a little Japanese pickup truck – and few of these are more popular than the Toyota Tacoma. Sized to tackle a wide range of jobs without big-truck gas bills, parking issues and driving clumsiness, Tacoma has a proven reputation for being capable, thrifty, reliable, and even a bit on the sporty side.

Toyota’s got two decades into their Tacoma model lineup, four decades in the small truck business, and 70 years of truck building in general. That’s a lot of years and a lot of trucks – and the brand has grown a fiercely loyal following of North American owners along the way.

Your writer has experienced this following first hand in several ways. Most notable among them? Years of living with the Toyota Tacoma’s biggest fan: my little brother.

A mud-in-his-veins nutcase, he joins other Toyota truck owners on most weekends with his 2006 Tacoma to participate in unspeakable activities involving mud, dirt and rocks.

Proven residual value is key to long-term confidence, and noteworthy here. Unlike some of its lower-priced competitors, industry authorities have recognized that the Tacoma will hold its value well into its life as a used vehicle – meaning it offers owners an excellent long-term deal, and used-Tacoma shoppers a price premium.

Engines: The Tacoma you see in dealer lots now launched for model-year 2005 bigger and more powerful than the unit it replaced. Look for a plethora of combinations in the used market – including no fewer than three body styles, two engines, two drivelines and a range of options, packages and trim grades.

A TRD Off-Road package fit factory-kit goodies for shoppers planning to toss turf with their Tacomas, and a hot-rod X-Runner variant could be specified with two-wheel drive and a lowered suspension for a street-smart package.

Tacoma’s engine selection consists of a 2.7L four-cylinder engine with dual camshafts and 16 valves for 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. A 4.0L V6 can be fitted, delivering 236 horses. Both engines can be mated to manual or automatic transmissions, depending on the driver’s tastes. Towing capacity maxes out at 6,500 pounds, and Tacoma can be fitted with a limited slip differential, differential lock and heavy duty shocks to help tackle tougher jobs. Two or four wheel drive is available.

2013 Toyota Tacoma2013 Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma, 2005–2013. Click image to enlarge

What Owners Like: Typical Tacoma owners report a comfortable ride, a truck that feels safe and solid, all-weather confidence with 4×4 models, a “ready for anything” attitude and plenty of flexibility. Both fuel mileage and performance are typically rated well, a rarity in a pickup. Most owners also note that the Tacoma handles rough roads nicely, and is sized “just right” for a variety of tasks. Do-it-yourself mechanic types also note that it’s easy to perform their own oil changes.

2013 Toyota Tacoma
2013 Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma, 2005–2013. Click image to enlarge

What Owners Dislike: Complaints may include poor performance from the four-cylinder engine, the shallow cargo box, a noisy highway ride in terms of wind noise, and interior materials that are easily scratched and damaged. Some owners report uncomfortable seats, so be sure you’re able to get nice and comfy in yours before setting off on a test-drive.

Here are some owner reviews from

The Test Drive: This generation of Tacoma has earned a largely-solid reputation for reliability – though a few checks should be carried out in the test-drive process to ensure the model you’re considering is sound.
If opting for a 2009 or later model, confirm full functionality of the stereo system, including volume control. Numerous owners have reported wonky stereo head-units that fail to respond to volume adjustments, won’t power on, or turn themselves off right in the middle of your favourite Eagles tune. Here’s some reading.

Elsewhere on board, confirm proper operation of the air conditioner system – as a bad condenser may render the AC system useless. The air conditioner should start pumping icy-cold air into the cabin a few moments after it’s activated. If not, have the system inspected by a mechanic and call the defect into pricing negotiations. Note that when the AC is engaged, there should be no blinking light on the AC button, and no squealing sound from under the hood. These could indicate a seized component or other trouble. More information here.

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