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2018 Toyota Tacoma Review

The Mid-Sized Truck with the Full-Size Heritage

At a Glance - Succeeding a legend like the rugged Hilux (a.k.a. Toyota Pickup in the United States) is never easy, but Tacoma has been on – and off – the roads for over two decades now. With six trim levels ranging from the workman-like SR to the Baja-bred TRD Pro, Tacoma is meant to not only be a fully-capable mid-sized truck, but one that’s refined enough for drivers to enjoy on a daily basis. That’s a big reason why, according to Edmunds, over 75 percent of all Tacoma’s traded in are traded in for another Tacoma.

New for 2018 - Tacoma adds a trio of new colors to its 2018 lineup (Cavalry Blue, Cement and Midnight Black Metallic), but the big news is the addition of the Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P) suite of advanced driver safety systems. Now standard on every Tacoma, TSS-P gives drivers an extra sense of safety, with its Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Alert and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

The Bottom Line - Tacoma remains a leader in its class for good reason. Dozens of different models available — each now boasting the advanced safety measures of Toyota Safety Sense™ P — ensures there’s no shortage of choice, regardless of a shopper’s needs. Whether it’s an inexpensive work truck, a comfortable daily driver or a dirt-blasting adventure-mobile, Tacoma is uniquely positioned as a popular choice with tremendous heritage in the mid-sized truck segment.



Key Features

  • TSS-P suite of advanced safety technologies
  • Backup camera with integrated display
  • Entune™ Audio with 6.1-in. touch-screen display and 6 speakers

SR may be the least expensive of all Tacoma’s, but its bountiful features mask its workmanlike purpose, with a six-speaker sound system, backup camera and a host of advanced safety technologies not found on many trucks at much higher prices.


Key Features

  • Entune™ Audio Plus with Connected Navigation App
  • Leather-trimmed steering wheel
  • 4.2-in. color Multi-Information Display

Step up to SR5, and Tacoma picks up modern conveniences like navigation that pairs with a smart phone, a 4.2-in. color Multi-Information Display mounted in the instrument panel, and a leather-trimmed steering wheel.

TRD Sport

Key Features

  • Sporty trim, including hood scoop and color-keyed mirrors and door handles
  • Available power sliding moon roof
  • Power sliding rear window with privacy glass (Double Cab)

TRD Sport stands out from the crowd, providing an upscale visual experience — starting in front with its distinguishing hood scoop — while offering luxuries to go with it, including a power sliding rear window with privacy glass and an available power sliding moon roof.

TRD Off-Road

Key Features

  • Rear locking differential
  • Crawl Control and Multi-terrain Select
  • Available Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

With a rear locking differential for added traction in precisely the environment from which TRD Off-Road takes its name, plus advanced driver aids like Crawl Control and Multi-terrain Select to help maintain control in treacherous conditions, TRD Off-Road is where the fun really starts./p>


Key Features

  • Leather-trimmed seats
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Entune™ Premium Audio with JBL®

Tacoma’s top-of-the-line Limited trim brings full-sized luxury features to the midsized truck, with leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control, premium JBL® audio, and items like a power moon roof as standard equipment.


Key Features

  • Fox 2.5 Internal Bypass off-road shocks
  • Quarter-inch aluminum TRD skid plate
  • TRD Pro “cat-back” exhaust

TRD Pro brings professional-caliber off-roading capabilities to the table. Built for blasting across the open desert, its heavy-duty suspension and beefed-up skid plate to protect its underside provide both the confidence and durability to maximize Tacoma’s fun factor.

Competitive Comparison

A Truckload of Value
Many features come standard on Tacoma that, on the competition, are only available at an additional cost — if they’re even available at all. From standard TSS-P across all trim levels to Tacoma Limited’s leather-trimmed seats, Tacoma boasts more items that don’t run up the price tag than the competition. It’s value you can see, touch, and enjoy without seeing dollar signs every time you do so.

Keeping You Even More Safe
Regardless of trim level, Tacoma wins big in the safety department. Tacoma is the only body-on-frame mid-sized truck with the advanced safety functionality afforded by TSS-P, and that’s just the beginning. Front knee airbags — standard on Tacoma — aren’t available on some of the trucks in its class, and the same can be said about Brake Assist (which is part of the STAR Safety System™).

Convenient, Isn’t It?
Tacoma offers a Smart Key System that rivals Colorado and Frontier don’t match, meaning you never even have to press a button to unlock the door. Every V6 model now comes with the V6 towing package as standard equipment, which includes easy-to-use 4- and 7-pin connectors and Trailer-Sway Control. The also-standard Tire Pressure Monitoring System sends an alert if a tire is low, and available rear parking assist sonar adds even more big-time convenience to this mid-sized truck.

Model Review

2018 Chevrolet Colorado

What is it? Colorado, Chevrolet’s longtime Tacoma competitor in the mid-size truck segment, entered the fray in 2004 as a direct replacement for the venerable S-10, which had carried the mantle for Chevrolet in the compact truck category since the early 1980s. Colorado entered its second generation in 2012 under GM’s Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand, and came to the United States a couple years later.

What's the latest? 2017 saw the introduction of the off-road-oriented ZR2 model, which features a high-end suspension with components more commonly seen on supercars and race cars, as callout callout-sm as front and rear electronic locking differentials – the only truck in the segment to come with such equipment. Beneath the ZR2, Colorado offers no shortage of special editions, with the Centennial Edition leading the way and marking the 100th year of Chevrolet trucks. Colorado comes with either 2WD or 4WD, and offers three engines that include the base 2.5-liter gasoline engine, a 308-hp V6 and a four-cylinder diesel that produces 369 lb.-ft. of torque.

How does it stack up? Colorado’s base model starts at $20,200 MSRP for an extended cab, long box model, but while that price is considerably lower than Tacoma’s lowest MSRP, it rises quickly as various configurations, trim levels and options are selected. The top-of-the-line ZR2 model tops at over $50,000, though Tacoma does not offer a comparable substitute for its exotic suspension components, and the availability of diesel power is similarly unchallenged by Toyota.

2018 GMC Canyon

What is it? Canyon is Colorado’s nearly-identical twin, with heritage running parallel to the Chevrolet dating back to their predecessors, the Chevrolet S-10 and GMC Sonoma. Like Colorado, Canyon, now in its second generation, was introduced in the American market in 2014.

What's the latest? Unlike Canyon’s Chevrolet-badged sibling, there is no high-performance off-road-oriented Canyon model; instead, Canyon gets GMC’s luxury Denali treatment at the top of its lineup, with heated and ventilated leather seating, contrast stitching and advanced safety features like forward collision alert and lane departure warning as standard. Canyon receives the same drivetrain as Colorado, so it can be had with either 2WD or 4WD, and offers three engines that include the base 2.5-liter gasoline engine, a 308-hp V6 and a four-cylinder diesel that produces 369 lb.-ft. of torque.

How does it stack up? Canyon’s base price of $20,885 MSRP, while slightly higher than Colorado, is considerably lower than Tacoma, though it quickly passes Tacoma’s price point when Crew Cab is selected. Tacoma’s TSS-P safety system offers greater functionality than Canyon’s extra-cost lane departure warning and forward collision alert, though Canyon offers higher-end comfort items, like ventilated seating, that are unavailable in Tacoma.

2018 Honda Ridgeline

What is it? Honda rewrote the rulebook in a drastic and controversial fashion when it first debuted the mid-sized Ridgeline pickup for the 2006 model year. In a segment as bound to tradition as any, Honda made two bold decisions that continue to split opinions about the truck. Ridgeline is built with a crossover-like unibody construction instead of the conventional body-on-frame design, and it features a front-wheel-drive layout (AWD is available). Both features are radical departures from long-held truck norms, but it hasn’t deterred Honda or its targeted buyers: Ridgeline entered its second generation in 2017 with an all-new (and still unibody) platform.

What's the latest? Ridgeline now offers Honda Sensing’s suite of advanced safety systems, albeit as an extra-cost option. Unique among mid-sized trucks, it also comes with a trunk mounted inside the bed itself, for added storage that’s protected from the elements. Inside, available heating elements in the front seats and steering wheel – as callout callout-sm as Smart Entry and a reconfigurable rear seat – help Ridgeline further distinguish itself from the competition.

How does it stack up? With a revised 3.5-liter V6 under the hood that puts out 280 hp, Ridgeline is more powerful, albeit barely, than Tacoma. Its 5,000-lb. towing capacity, however, lags behind the V6 Tacoma’s 6,500-lb. rating. Ridgeline's base MSRP of $29,630 is considerably higher than Tacoma, and the base (Sport) AWD model starts at $35,070 MSRP. That trend continues to the top of the range, where Ridgeline AWD Black Edition tops out at $43,120 MSRP.

2018 Nissan Frontier

What is it? Nissan’s mid-sized truck is sold outside the United States under the Navara nameplate, though in America it has been Frontier since its debut in 1998. In a fashion similar to Tacoma, which traces its heritage to the legendary Hilux pickup, Frontier’s debut supplanted the venerable Nissan Truck, which began life under the Datsun brand, and evolved over several generations between 1956 and its demise in the late 1990s when Frontier and Navara took Nissan’s mid-sized truck baton. Stateside, Frontier is at the tail-end of its second generation, which has been on the market since 2005. In other parts of the world, however, the third generation Navara has been on sale for a couple of years and shares a chassis with the upcoming Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup.

What's the latest? While the second-generation Frontier is ancient by automotive standards, it remains a contender in the segment, with a competitive 261 hp V6 and five basic trims – S, SV, SL, Desert Runner and PRO-4X – that can be applied across an assortment of cab and bed sizes. Frontier adds a Midnight Edition for 2018 that includes black aluminum wheels and exterior accents, but mechanically, the truck soldiers on unchanged as its second generation nears the end of its run.

How does it stack up? Frontier’s base MSRP of $18,990 is markedly lower than Tacoma’s point of entry, though it includes very few features – even the locks and windows are manual at that price. Upgrading to the SV package immediately brings Frontier closer to Tacoma in price – $23,210 MSRP – though it still doesn’t offer safety features that compare to TSS-P. Its maximum towing capacity in V6 configuration is a virtual match for Tacoma, as is the pricing for Frontier SL Crew Cab, which at $36,150 MSRP is just $25 less expensive than Tacoma Limited.


Best-selling compact pickup in America.

America’s best-selling midsize pickup for the last ten years.

2017 Toyota Tacoma – Best Resale Value: Mid-Size Pickup Truck

2017 Toyota Tacoma – Best Resale Value: Top 10

2017 Tacoma was named a Best Overall Value of the year winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Access Cab was named a Lowest Ownership Costs winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Access Cab was named a Lowest Maintenance Costs winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Access Cab was named a Lowest Repair Costs winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Double Cab was named an Excellent Value winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Double Cab was named a Lowest Ownership Costs winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Double Cab was named a Lowest Repair Costs winner by IntelliChoice.

2017 Tacoma Double Cab was named a Highest Retained Value winner by IntelliChoice.