For years, the Toyota Tacoma has earned subpar reviews compared with its compact pickup rivals. Toyota hasn’t given this model a full redesign in many years, leaving it less luxurious than most other trucks. Though it excels in off-roading, its underpowered base engine forces consumers to spend more money on higher trims. But even as the Tacoma remains mostly unchanged for the 2021 model year, sales are climbing.
In fact, almost 91,000 units have already sold this year, GoodCarBadCar reports. So what makes the 2021 Toyota Tacoma worth buying?
The Toyota Tacoma’s 2021 sales figures
The Toyota Tacoma saw a strong start in January when it sold 18,878 units. So far, it had its strongest month in March when it sold 26,993 units. If the Taco continues to sell over 20,000 units each month, it’ll crush its previous years’ records.
Other global markets have also experienced increased Tacoma sales. Canada saw 1,884 units sell last month, a huge jump from the 613 units sold in May 2020. So far this year, 4,359 units have sold in Canada, putting the Tacoma on track to surpass 2020 sales in that country.
U.S. sales in previous years
The Toyota Tacoma sold 248,801 units in 2019, making that its most successful year in the States. However, save for February, the Tacoma has already broken all of its sales records for 2019 during the past four months. Sales are also up compared to 2018, another successful year for the Toyota Tacoma.
Despite lackluster reviews, the Tacoma has always sold more units than rivals such as the Honda Ridgeline and Chevy Colorado, GoodCarBadCar shows. However, the Colorado is playing catchup, too. So far, it has sold 24,084 units for 2021, more than a quarter of its total units sold last year.
Who should buy a Toyota Tacoma?
The 2021 Toyota Tacoma comes standard with a relatively weak 2.7-liter four-cylinder producing 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. According to Consumer Reports, it lacks the quickness of trucks with V6 or diesel engines. Fortunately, buyers can choose an optional V6 on all trims for a little less than $2,300.
The V6 makes 278 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, paired with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. With the optional tow package, a V6-equipped Tacoma can trailer up to 6,800 pounds. This engine is also relatively efficient, but some critics say the automatic transmission is a little clunky.
Even with the capable V6, the Toyota Tacoma still doesn’t have the best handling. CR testers report that it wobbles over the steadiest pavement and that the steering lacks feedback. Cabin noise was also very pronounced in past models, but the 2021 Tacoma boasts better insulation.
The Tacoma TRD Off-Road model also has a stiffer suspension, which doesn’t improve its ride quality. However, this trim also comes with the most adventuring add-ons, including a locking rear differential and crawl control. CR recommends getting the TRD Sport instead. It has a gentler sport-tuned suspension and available leather-trimmed seats.
This is probably because the Tacoma’s standard seating arrangements aren’t very accommodating. The seat cushions are too hard for long-term comfort, and legroom is cramped for passengers. Drivers have to deal with a short ceiling and a front seat that rests too low. Additionally, the steep step-in height can become annoying over time.
However, CR’s testers appreciate the many safety features that come on even the standard trim. All the controls are also easy to master, though the buttons are too far from the driver.
Overall, the Toyota Tacoma isn’t the most comfortable truck, but it’s a good basic workhorse.