When many think of Toyota in regard to trucks, they think of the Tacoma. And with good reason: it's been extremely popular with lots of loyal buyers over the years.
"We've had the privilege of being number one in the segment for the last 19 years," said Sheldon Brown, Toyota's chief engineer for the Tacoma.
But after eight years for the most recent generation, it was time for a reboot. The Tacoma has been redesigned for 2024.
"This is honestly a redevelopment of the truck from the ground up," added Brown.
From engine to frame to interior, it's all new, but should still please midsize truck buyers, just as the previous generations have done. Base prices for the new Tacoma range from $31,500 to $52,100 plus delivery and options.
If you're looking for a basic work truck - yes, they still very much have one, the delightfully stark SR grade. They also have a truck that's a little more upscale, or something to tackle the roughest of terrain, such as one of the highly capable TRD models.
"These are incredibly capable trucks straight from the factory. In the new trucks we have things like stabilizer disconnect, all kinds of technology like multi-terrain control. In addition, 33 inches from the factory tires. We've got incredible suspensions. You can buy this right from the factory, straight to the off-road trail," said Toyota's Sheldon Brown.
All these changes should keep the Tacoma perpetually popular as the dominant midsize pickup.
In 2022, the most recent full sales year, the figures drive home the point. The Tacoma's four main competitors put up varying numbers, admittedly in a time when supply chain issues were sometimes hampering production.
The GMC Canyon's total sales were about 28,000. Ford sold 57,000 Ranger pickups, Nissan moved 76,000 Frontiers, and 89,000 Chevy Colorados moved off dealership lots.
But the Tacoma blew past them all, with a sales total of 216,000.
Midsize pickups, as their name implies, really do fill the gap between the new smaller trucks coming on the market and traditional full-size ones. For a lot of truck buyers, these mid-sizers, like the Tacoma, really get the job done.
Modernizing an icon like the Tacoma doesn't always sit well with some, but many things were inevitably changed for a multitude of reasons. For example, no more V6 engines, just four-cylinder turbo power in this era of emissions and fuel efficiency awareness. Good news for old-school truck people: you can still get a six-speed manual transmission in some trim levels.
And if you're turned off by touch screens, well that's too bad. Even the base SR grade gets one. Higher trim Tacomas get a larger one for infotainment, and every single trim level now comes with advanced safety tech, and things like adaptive cruise control.
Toyota has managed to find the right formula over the years to make the Tacoma the king of the midsize trucks. For 2024 and beyond, that doesn't appear likely to change.