My Toyota Tacoma Road Test

I am a small car person. I love my little subcompact. But certain other individuals in the household must have something a little bigger. And I can see the benefit of having something that can carry a little more than a loaf of bread. We had a great older Toyota Pickup. It drove well, stayed on the road, and met our needs. Until the day it died.

We considered a few different vehicles, but ended up right back at the Toyota dealer. We drove the Tundra, a full size pickup truck and the Tacoma, a smaller pickup truck. We drove both, and had a very hard time deciding. So we drove each one again. Both had many positive attributes. The Tundra had a killer incentive going on and that made it extremely attractive. But in the end we went with the Tacoma. The main deciding factor was the increased fuel economy of the smaller truck. We drive a lot, so the extra 3-5 mpg adds up to significant cost savings.

The Tacoma performed well on every level. Since we had a similar, but older truck to compare it to, it was easy to see how it could fit into our everyday life. We live in an area that has a lot of back country roads and snow. We need a four wheel drive vehicle that can handle the most adverse weather conditions and still get us out and about. There were only a few trucks available in our region with the configuration we wanted, four wheel drive and the TRD package. Luckily we had a vehicle to drive, so weren’t in a huge hurry to replace the truck. We looked around for a good deal on a used truck, but found that the Tacoma held its value so well (in our area) that it was worth it to buy new.

We waited until a rainy day to do our test drive. Snow is not a regular occurrence, so we decided that the rain would provide adequate testing conditions to determine if the Tacoma held the road as well as our old Toyota Pickup. We were able to test out the four wheel drive system pretty well in the rain. We couldn’t make the truck slip or slide, despite a little bit of recklessness in an empty parking lot. The rain proved to be a good test. The Tacoma handles well in the snow and holds the road in the rain. As an added bonus, the heater keeps the cab warm without getting overly hot. When the windows fog, the defroster almost instantly clears the view.

The truck was smooth and quiet on the freeway and cruised easily at 65 mph during the test drive, and has remained the same since. The seats were comfortable for both an average size woman and a tallish man. They are not “too big” for my legs and my feet can reach all the way to the ground. Another full size truck we tested was just “too big” for this mama bear. There are several adjustments for the seats to make them even more comfortable. The truck we tested was the Access Cab, which has a smaller back seat than the Double Cab. We considered the Double Cab briefly, but wanted the full 6′ bed without a longer wheelbase.

We have been driving the truck almost two years without a single problem. It is able to haul everything we “average homeowners” need to haul. At times we wish we had a little more back seat room. The Access cab is not meant for adults, or even older children. We haven’t tried to put a car seat back there, but I envision that space would be tight. The truck has performed just as we expected – steady and reliable. Since our older Toyota Pickup has 350,000 miles and counting (we had the engine rebuilt and keep it as a backup), we expect that the Tacoma will be with our family for many years to come.

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