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2007 Toyota Tacoma – Don't you dare call it a mini-truck

Friday June 22nd, 2007 at 5:66 PM
Posted by: Kurt Gensheimer

By Kurt Gensheimer

Blings:

  • Wider, longer and bigger
  • Toyota durability
  • More powerful 4.0 V6
  • Car-like interior
  • Extremely versatile and offroad capable

Dings:

  • Wider, longer and bigger
  • Minor interior nitpicks
  • Still drives like a truck, albeit a mannerly one

Ruling: The size may have changed, but Toyota trucks will still outlive your mortgage.

One of my favorite scenes in movie history was at the end of Back to the Future when Marty McFly woke from his dream, walked out on the front step and saw Biff holding the keys to his dream truck – a bitchin’ black 1985 Toyota SR5 Pickup complete with KC Hilites, Smittybuilt tube bumpers and a roll bar. That shiny machine was every kid’s dream ride, including mine. Too bad I was still eight years away from getting my driver’s license.

Since that time, I’ve done a lot of growing up, and so have Toyota trucks. Take for instance the 2007 Tacoma. Before Toyota redesigned the Tacoma in 2005, it was still known as Toyota’s latest iteration of their legendary mini-truck. Lightweight, versatile, and able to take more abuse than a Sherman tank, the original Tacoma kept its mini-truck street cred while gaining welcome upgrades like coil front suspension, more powerful four and six cylinder engines and a roomier interior. But starting in 2005, Toyota “phased-out” the mini-truck design and replaced it with a maxi-truck platform that’s wider, longer, smoother, stronger and…is expensiver a word?

The Tacoma we tested unfortunately wasn’t bitchin’ black, but was a screamin’ silver double cab SR-5 with the TRD Offroad package. The second we arrived at Stevens Creek Toyota to pick up the…uh…pickup, I thought for a second we were test driving an older Tundra. It filled the parking space exactly like a large pickup and took an entire lunch break to fill the gas tank like large pickup, but the real question in my mind was would its handling characteristics be lanky and off-kilter like a large pickup?

Driving Impressions

Although the Tacoma has put on nearly 700 pounds in weight and gotten wider in the hips by nearly five inches, it isn’t any less agile than its predecessor. It’s relatively quiet on the highway (67 dB at 65 MPH), has responsive and predictable steering, and its front coil suspension didn’t wander or sway in corners when faced with typical California pavement resembling the Moon. The Bilstein shocks that come with the TRD Offroad package are a tad stiff for everyday driving, but for those who take weekend wheeling trips to the Sierras and come home looking like Pigpen, they’re a must have.

The 4.0 Liter V-6 engine features Toyota’s VVTi (Intelligent Variable Valve Timing) technology to give the engine a healthy 245 horsepower and over 260 pounds of torque. Although the power is a significant gain over the previous 3.4 Liter Tacoma V-6, so is the truck’s weight. From a seat-of-the-pants perspective, the increase in power isn’t dramatically noticeable, but our SR-5 model is tow rated at 6500 pounds – more than enough to tug your boat or even your friend’s Chevy out of an Alabama boogey hole. Our test model is fitted with the five-speed automatic which shifts smoothly and predictably, but for those who have RRALFS (Restless Right Arm/Left Foot Syndrome), the Tacoma is also available in a six-speed manual.

Build

What’s most impressive about the new Tacoma are all the features and conveniences Toyota has incorporated with nearly 30 years of making 4×4 pickups. Our TRD Offroad model not only has Bilstein shocks but also an electric rear differential locker, a 115V/400W power outlet in the bed, BF Goodrich All-Terrain Tires and extremely comfortable cloth bucket seats. The bed has an über-functional sliding rail system for those runs to Home Depot and a plastic liner to keep empty beer cans from making too much noise as you blaze down your favorite fire road. The 4×4 system has evolved from the trusty old transfer case shifter to a lazy man’s electric turn dial. And for those do-it-yourselfers, changing the oil filter is no longer a knuckle-busting, curse-laden endeavor; it sits right on top of the engine next to the battery.

Interior

Once you take a seat inside the Tacoma, its like entering a warp zone – you almost forget you’re in a truck. The seats are bolstered and extremely comfortable, the four-point steering wheel is leather wrapped and feels like it belongs in a sports car, and the dashboard design is reminiscent of a Camry. The rear seats have plenty of legroom even for a six-foot clod like myself. The only gripe I had with the interior was the stereo display wasn’t backlit and extremely hard to see and the rear cupholder couldn’t contain my measly 20 ounce Gatorade, but come on, I’m really stretching to find flaws here.

Styling

Toyota has always been known for its understated yet tasteful styling, and they’ve kept the theme with the new Tacoma. By giving the truck boxy shoulders, a Peterbilt-type grille and lines that mix curves with right angles, the new Tacoma looks as manly as it drives. And the flashy TRD stickers constantly make pimple-faced teenagers with a penchant for Beavis and Butthead humor to cackle at your truck for hours on end.

Value

There is no hemming, hawing or debating on this one. It’s a Toyota, okay? Outstanding value is assumed. No you don’t get a 10 year warranty. No, you won’t get a ridiculous rebate or financing. You probably won’t even get a fruit basket from the salesman. But what you will get is a rock solid reliable vehicle that doesn’t need a 10 year warranty, ridiculous rebate or a silly fruit basket in order to convince buyers. My 1985 4Runner has 230,000 miles on the original engine. Like I said, it’s a Toyota.

Who should buy it?

Obviously, if you’re looking at purchasing a pickup truck, you’re not overly concerned with car-like mannerisms and qualities. Despite its car-like interior, the Tacoma still drives like a truck; albeit a very well-behaved and mannerly truck. But if you have to have only one vehicle that can carry you to work, a night on the town, on a backwoods camping trip or across the country towing a moderately heavy trailer, the Tacoma should most definitely be on your short list of vehicles to test. Pickups don’t get much more versatile than this.

Conclusion

Despite Toyota’s decision to “supersize it”, the Tacoma is still a nimble, manageable truck that now has even more room, power and capacity to match the growing size of the average American. Although the Toyota mini-truck is gone forever, the new Tacoma takes all of the features that made its predecessor so legendary and enhances it for those who want a truck that can do it all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go cue up the end of Back to the Future on my Betamax.

 

Build

Interior

Performance

Handling

Styling

Value

Overall

Rating

5

4.5

4.5

4

4

5

4.67/A-

 

Editor’s Note: Cars similar in class with the Tacoma are the Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado.

>> See all of the Toyota Tacoma photos in our photo gallery

>> Read more Toyota Tacoma reviews submitted by the CarREVIEW.com community

>> 2007 Toyota Tacoma specs

>> Toyota Tacoma videos

>> Links to more Toyota Tacoma reviews on other sites

An appreciative thank-you goes to Stevens Creek Toyota for graciously providing the Tacoma demo truck. This review would not have been possible without their unconditional support and help.

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9 Responses to 2007 Toyota Tacoma – Don't you dare call it a mini-truck

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  5. Jeff P says:

    I’ve had my 2007 Tacoma for 3.5 years. I absolutely love my truck. I have the regular cab w/5 spd manual transmission. So far I’ve put about 55,000 miles on the truck and I have no complaints. The only thing I’ve replaced were the tires at about 45,000 miles and a burnt out tail light. I regularly get in the 25-27 mpg range and this last weekend while on a long roatrip got closer to 30 mpg. I added a Leer camper shell not long after I purchased the truck which I think helps increase my mpg. Cons – Wish the regular cab came with bucket and not the bench seat. It can get a little uncomfortable on long trips. Intermittent wipers would also be a nice feature.

  6. Munki says:

    2007 Tacoma, nothing special, after having used 2002 Ford Ranger XLT bought only 2 years ago – nothing to compare – it is such a great pick-up truck!

    Ranger bought used had 42K miles and gave nothing but headache, end up upgrading AAA status just to be able to tow to shops for repair. First it was manual – clutch failed and unbelievably, then pedal broke, battery died, clutch and shift issue…one after another. After spending time, money and efforts – driven only 20K and less – it was only worth almost nothing for trade in – why? WON’T START! NEW battery! Then, I got this used 2007 Tacoma last month with 37,000 miles on it. So far so good – no headache. Great miles am getting!

    Things I don’t like is the seat! I am a almost 10 inches shorter than my son and when I drive… passenger seats – tight. Oh well – better than visiting repair shops.

    Life is too short to worry, but to enjoy!

  7. taylor says:

    this truck is awsome i getting it for 16th birthday

  8. RICHARD says:

    OTHEER THAN THAT I LOVE THE TRUCK

  9. RICHARD says:

    i HAVE A 2007 TACOMA AND THE TACH IS ON THE LEFT AND HIDDEN BEHIND MY LEFT ARM WHEN I SHIFT WITH MY RIGHT. THE TACH NEEDS TO BE MOUNTED ON THE RIGHT, NOT THE LEFT. ALSO IT HAS THE LOW GEARED REAR AXLE AND I WAS NOT AWARE OF THAT WHENI BOUGHT IT AS IT IS PART OF THE TOWING PACKAGE I THINK…





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