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2007 Toyota Tacoma Review

Friday June 29th, 2007 at 10:66 AM
Posted by: John G.

By John G.

2007 Toyota Tacoma
Up, Down, and Sideways

Up:

-Toyota fit and finish, inside and out: flawless. Classy interior. No rattles or squeaks.
-The 4.0L V6 is a very strong motor.
-Good cockpit ergonomics, even for tall drivers. Steering wheel tilts and telescopes.
-Simple stereo and climate controls.
-Reasonably comfortable rear seats, unlike most double cab pickups.
-Real 4WD: two-speed transfer case and locking rear differential.
-Full size spare tire.

Down:

-Spongy brakes.
-Offroad package suspension feels stiff and a bit vague on the road.
-Large turning circle.

Sideways:

-Big. Not a compact pickup anymore. Not even close.

Takeaway:

-If you need a pickup with serious off-road capability, this is the civilized choice.

Driving Impressions

Urban pickups are a series of compromises. Any truck with 9.5 inches of ground clearance, a two-speed transfer case, and a locking rear differential is obviously intended to venture far beyond the pavement. However, Toyota accepts the reality that most of the Tacoma’s miles will be spent on freeways and in line for the drive-thru, and civilizes it as much as possible.

The tasteful, car-like interior and low seating position could make you believe you were in a Camry if you weren’t sitting an extra three feet off the ground, as could the lively acceleration. The illusion of driving a family sedan is only spoiled in a few places: suspension designed to swallow small boulders is harsh on freeway potholes, the brakes feel a bit mushy when they’re straining to haul two tons down to a stop, and there’s no way to disguise the body roll of a tall truck on twisty roads.

Build

I test drove a double cab 4WD TRD VVT-i V6 SR5. No, I didn’t just fall asleep on my keyboard…the letters all stand for some part of “this truck is loaded with every possible option”, including the big 4.0 liter V6 engine with variable valve timing, off-road and towing package, power windows and doors, and the highest trim level inside and out. If my calculations and Toyota’s website are correct, this comes to an MSRP of $30,230. This isn’t a compact pickup price anymore, but compact pickups don’t seat five or tow 6500 pounds. (Or require a 41 foot turning circle.)

Toyota’s reputation for quality is legendary, and the Tacoma upholds that reputation. I couldn’t find a single piece of trim out of place. The switchgear felt solid, and the doors closed with a satisfying “whump”.

All Tacomas come stock with a bedliner, movable tiedown points on tracks, and several storage cubbyholes in the bed, though unlike the Honda Ridgeline, none is lockable. A full size spare (thank you, Toyota) lurks in the usual place under the bed.

toyota tacoma toyota tacoma towing package

John has lots of headroom inside toyota tacoma back seat leg room

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

toyota tacoma center consoleAs a tall man, small import vehicles have historically squashed me like a grape, but I could have worn a top hat while driving the Tacoma. The steering wheel telescopes as well as tilts, and it allowed me a humane driving position as well as an unobstructed view of the large and clear gauges. Unlike many trucks and SUVs, the seat is close to the floor, and the driving position is much more carlike than trucklike. I could see stoplights without craning my neck forward to see out from under the roof.

The climate controls were clearly labeled and worked as expected, as did the stereo. Thank you, Toyota, for resisting the trend towards computerized consoles that require an engineering degree to change the fan setting.

Unlike any other pickup I’ve driven, the rear seats don’t violate the Geneva convention, and you can actually fit five people in the cab, even if none of them is a clown. There are heater vents for the rear passengers under the front seats.

Both the interior and exterior are riddled with little storage cubbyholes. So many, in fact, that you may forget where you stashed what.

Performance

The 4.0L V6 pushes the Tacoma up to merging speed quickly, with authority, and without drama. Once you’re there, the 5-speed automatic lets you cruise the freeway at a sedate 2000 RPM in overdrive. Passing is no problem. Engine noise is never harsh or distracting. This is a great motor, and it gets you 19 MPG city and 22 MPH highway, which is excellent for a 4WD truck that can tow 6500 pounds. (Editor’s note: observed gas mileage during our test drive was 19.5 MPG)

Unfortunately, when I reached the bottom of the offramp, I found the brake pedal to be distractingly spongy. It’s fine during normal stops, but could use more authority when hauling two tons of truck down from freeway speeds. Actual stopping distance felt reasonable.

toyota tacoma 4.0 liter v6 engine toyota tacoma

Handling

Once you leave the freeway, you’ll find that off-road performance doesn’t come without sacrifice: the suspension is a bit harsh and rubbery on bad pavement, and the road feels somewhat remote. Fortunately, though it’s easy to find the limits on a twisty road, the Tacoma doesn’t do anything unpredictable when pushed, and the double cab means there’s enough weight on the rear to keep the usual pickup oversteer under control.

If you 1) know what a locking differential is and 2) actually need one, this is about the best compromise you’ll get for a daily driver. The rest of you should probably get the Sport package instead of the Off-Road package.

Styling and Exterior

2007 Toyota Tacoma double cabThe Tacoma was once a compact pickup — but just as serving sizes and American waistlines have expanded over the years, so has the Tacoma. It didn’t look any smaller than the full-size F150 parked next to it.

Fortunately the latest redesign results in a better-looking truck as well as a larger truck. It’s more modern and less slab-sided than a Ford Ranger, but less “CyberTruck” than the Nissan Frontier. The metallic silver paint looks sharp, the exterior fit and finish are flawless, and the alloy rims will keep you out of the aftermarket catalogs for a while. It’s my favorite of this year’s mid-size pickups.

Value and Conclusion

Seeing the current crop of “small” import pickups is like going to your high-school reunion and finding out that the chess club took up bodybuilding. What used to be cute little pickups are now big-ass trucks, with cargo space and (sadly) turning circles to match.

However, Toyota has done an excellent job of hiding the fact that you are driving a big-ass truck. The disturbingly carlike interior, strong engine, and humane ergonomics let you forget about truckness for minutes at a time, and unless you get the double cab and a longbed, it isn’t so large that you can’t park it. Toyota has an excellent reputation for quality and longevity, and the fit and finish of the Tacoma suggest that it will be no different.

Translated: it’s a big-ass truck your wife won’t refuse to drive.

Rating

 

Rating

Comments

Build

4

Solid, but no “wow” factor

Interior

4

As above

Performance

3.5

Great engine, slightly mushy brakes

Handling

3.5

Sport package would rate much higher on-road

Styling

4

Clean and present, but not eye-catching

Value

3.5

You pay a few thousand extra for the quality

Overall

3.75/C+

Typical Toyota: aggressively competent, but not exciting

(My ratings are relative to similar vehicles, not all possible vehicles. For instance, a “3.5” for Performance means something different for a Chevy Corvette than for a Ford Expedition. Also, I don’t give 5′s out lightly. If a car does everything right it gets an 4…4.5 and 5 mean there is something exceptional about it. 3 or 3.5 is average, not a failing mark.

Who should buy it?

People who need (or want) a reliable, drama-free truck, but don’t want to sacrifice too many of the comforts of driving a car.

 

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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