The Toyota Tacoma is a pick-up truck manufactured by Toyota since 1995. It was built to fill the gap in Toyota’s catalog as a compact pick-up truck. However, after two decades of improvements and refinements, it grew much bigger and became a mid-size truck. 

This truck’s name comes from the Salish Indian word for the mountain that provided water to their tribe, which later changed to Mount Rainier. Toyota wanted the name to suggest nature’s power, but it suggests Tacoma, the city in the State of Washington, more in current times.

The Toyota Tacoma was a compact pickup truck first produced in February 1995 at the Toyota plant in Freemont, California. It was introduced to replace the Toyota Hilux offered worldwide, which in America was simply called Toyota Pickup.

With the Tacoma, the manufacturer paid more attention to ride quality, handling, comfort, and safety, as well as robustness and payload.  This vehicle was designed with a strong focus on the needs of the American and Canadian pickup markets in which the compact and medium-sized models, in particular, were often used as passenger vehicles and not just exclusively for commercial and agricultural purposes.

The Japanese pickup came out with good options for its time and it was already equipped with great driver aids such as daytime running lights, ABS, and stability / traction control as standard. The pickup truck was offered with two and four-wheel drive as well as with automatic and manual transmission.

Toyota Tacoma’s first generation came out with 3 engine options. The smallest option was 2.4 liter four-cylinder with 106 kW/142 hp and a torque of 217 Nm. 2.7 liter four-cylinder with 112 kW/150 hp and a torque of 240 Nm and 3.4 liter V6 with 142 kW/190 hp and a torque of 298 Nm was the rest of the options.

In 1998 various versions of Toyota Racing Development (TRD) came onto the market. In conjunction with the V6 engine, these were equipped with a limited-slip differential at the rear. In the same year, the manufacturer also brought out the Prerunner models. These featured the same suspension, frame, styling, and engines as the Tacoma 4×4 in that model year.

Also, the Prerunner could be specified with the TRD Off-Road package, which also included a limited-slip rear differential and some other chassis changes, like the Tacoma 4×4 if the car had the V6 installed.

The first generation Tacoma underwent a total of two cosmetic facelifts: the first took place in 1998 and the second in 2001. The facelifts mainly affected the headlights, grille, and tailgate. Mechanical changes included contactless ignition and lengthened rear leaf springs. More safety features such as a passenger airbag have also been added.

In addition, all 4×4 models were equipped with Toyota's Automatic Differential Disconnect System. And finally, a four-door double cab model was added, which reduced its bed from 2 meters long (on the extended version) to 1.7 meters.

In addition to the 2001 facelift, a new S-Runner equipment package followed, which included the installation of the V6 engine. These included 16″ alloy wheels, a manual five-speed gearbox, and Tokico gas pressure shock absorbers.

The Toyota Tacoma was crowned with success from the beginning and gained more and more popularity over time. In 2004, it even outperformed the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota but still trailed, albeit just slightly, the Ford Ranger. Finally, in 2005, a second edition of the Toyota Tacoma pickup superseded the first generation.

The second edition of the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck was larger, more powerful and was presented for the first time at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show. While the Hilux genes were still clearly recognizable in the first generation, the second edition of the Tacoma developed into a genuine American truck.

Development of the second generation Toyota Tacoma began back in 2000 under chief engineer Chikuo Kubota. The first prototypes were built later in 2003, development did not end until the second quarter of 2004.

The new Tacoma grew by almost half a meter on the outside, which also put it firmly in the middle-class segment. The pickup was also available in 18 different configurations, including three cab variants, four transmission variants, two engine variants, and two platform lengths.

When it came to engines, the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck was supported by either a 4.0 liter V6 engine with 176 kW/236 hp and a torque of 361 Nm or a  2.7-liter R4 engine with 119 kW/159 hp and a torque of 244 Nm. There have been some improvements in the V6 models over the past few years, such as a trailer load of 2.95 tons and a payload of 750 kg.

The Toyota Tacoma II had an extensive safety package as standard, which was constantly being expanded. For example, brake assist (BAS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD), rollover sensor, side airbags/curtain airbags, active headrests (rear), and traction control (TRAC) were on board ex-works.

With the X-Runner equipment, the manufacturer replaced the poorly selling S-Runner equipment of the predecessor. Thus, the Tacoma X-Runner was equipped with the 4.0-liter V6, paired with a 6-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, a suspension lowered by 50 mm, and an X-Brace suspension package.

If that wasn't enough for you, you could also order the Tacoma with the optional Toyota Racing Development (TRD) off-road package. The pickup also had a downhill (DAC) and a hill-start assistant (HAC). There were also optional fully or partially lockable differentials for the off-roader.

In general, the Toyota X-Runner was a limited special model, which was available in four exterior colors. The main differences from the other trim levels concerned the chassis, and the stiffened frame due to X-beams in the rear part plus two crossbeams. In addition, this pickup could be equipped with larger brakes (BBK) from TRD, which brought 332 mm brake discs and brake calipers with four calipers.

All Toyota Tacoma pickup models had four mounting rails (for loads of up to 100 kg), lashing hooks, loading boxes, and those with the TRD package even had a socket on the loading area.

From the 2006 model year, various optional equipment details were offered as standard. In 2009, Toyota brought more safety details, but the partially mechanically lockable differential was no longer available. Only the TRD models continued to have a fully lockable differential. Toyota produced the second generation Tacoma pickup until 2015 when it was finally superseded by the third generation.

Twenty years after the first Toyota Tacoma was designed and built in America, the third generation of the Japanese pickup truck was officially introduced in January 2015 at the Detroit Auto Show in the USA. This was followed by the marketing itself in the autumn.

The Tacoma pickup truck became the class favorite, so to speak, and the benchmark by which all midsize pickups are measured. Not only is it extremely reliable and durable, but it also enjoys an excellent resale value. In addition to its good looks, the vehicle also has reasonable towing and payload values ​​and decent off-road mobility.

In the USA, the compact Toyota Tacoma has been the best-selling midsize truck for many years. Over 7 million units have been sold to date, of which around 75 percent are still on the road today. This circumstance only too clearly reflects its legendary characteristics of quality, durability, and reliability.

The third edition of the popular Tacoma pickup is offered with two cab versions - extended cab (Toyota calls it Access Cab) and double cab (Double Cab). It also came with with two engine options- a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine and 3.5-liter V6. Short or long beds were still an option and so was the option of rear and all-wheel-drive.

In addition, the third generation shines inside and out with numerous improvements in almost every aspect - including design, robustness, performance, fuel efficiency, powertrain, chassis tuning, and off-road technologies.