By David Colman
Hypes: Prodigious Off-Roader, Stylish, Made in USA
Gripes: TRD Exhaust Noise, Annoying Cruise Control
Sometimes it takes an old school truck like this Tacoma to reaffirm that the simple virtues are best. Take the key to the Tacoma, for example. It’s small, light weight, and unpretentious looking. And you actually need to insert it into a slot on the steering column and twist it clockwise to start the Tacoma. After testing an endless stream of keyless entry vehicles with starter buttons instead of key receptacles, I found the Tacoma’s throwback system such a delight that it made me wonder why manufacturers ever gave up on it.
The rest of this Tacoma follows suit. It has a full-size spare, for example, mounted under the bed for easy access in case of emergency. Because its side windows lack the auto-up feature so common today, you can actually place that plane of glass exactly where you want it without fighting a computer system for control. It has no paddle shifts attached to the steering wheel, but the sturdy floor-console mounted shift lever features sharp detents for each gear. The front seats aren’t 14-way adjustable, but they’re still more comfortable than you would expect given their simple manual controls for backrest angle and fore/aft positioning.
This back-to-basics brand of practicality extends to the pickup bed, which features “heavy duty all weather flooring,” a $50 option. The interior sports $165 worth of “all weather mats and door sills” which look utilitarian enough to cope with the muddiest boots in sloppy weather. On the right rear wall of the truck bed is a 3-pronged 115 volt receptacle with spring actuated, self-closing cover. This nifty device allows you to plug in any electric device, affording 400 watts of output while the truck is idling, or 100 watts when underway.