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The 2023 Toyota Tacoma is one of the cheapest trucks in the segment but still one of the best for off-roading. Its most powerful engine produces 278 hp and helps this compact pickup tow up to 6,800 pounds when properly equipped. The Toyota Tacoma might be ideal for some drivers, but it’s far from the most well-rounded. Here are three of the 2023 Tacoma’s best qualities and three possible dealbreakers.

Its rugged personality is a plus

2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro compact pickup truck
2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Toyota

Like most pickup trucks, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma has body-on-frame construction. Although that can compromise ride quality, it boosts towing performance. Additionally, body-on-frame trucks and SUVs are better in off-roading situations because they’re highly resistant to twisting forces and impacts.

Even better, Consumer Reports gives the 2023 Tacoma a near-perfect predicted reliability rating. Except for the Ford Maverick, every other compact pickup has a lower reliability score. And despite its more powerful base engine, the Maverick’s available towing capacity is only 4,000 pounds.

The 2023 Toyota Tacoma boasts off-roading chops

For adventures off the beaten path, TrueCar recommends the 2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road and the TRD Pro. The former features a locking rear differential, off-roading suspension, and Bilstein shocks. A multi-terrain selection system paired with crawl control is also standard with the automatic transmission. 

The terrain management has three rock-driving settings and a “Mud/Sand” option for slippery surfaces. The “Mogul” setting allows the truck to go up and down steep hills and ridges confidently.

Upgrading to the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro brings the TRD suspension. It’s equipped with Fox dampers and optimized with approximately 9.4 inches of ground clearance. This trim also adds a TRD exhaust system, a multi-terrain camera monitor, and a large front skid plate. In addition, it has fog lights and 16-inch wheels with all-terrain tires.

The 2023 Tacoma offers numerous options

Despite their rough-and-ready qualities, the TRD trims aren’t as customizable as some of the others. If off-roading isn’t a priority, the Tacoma Limited comes with premium features such as a moonroof and heated leather seats. And the SR and SR5 trims can be optioned with multiple appearance packages that include distinctive wheels and exterior accents.

On most trims, you can option the 2023 Toyota Tacoma with an Access Cab or a Double Cab. The latter has better accommodations for passengers and seats five. Also, opting for the Double Cab brings a choice between a 5-foot or a 6-foot-2 bed.

3 reasons why you might want to skip the 2023 Toyota Tacoma

Consumer Reports says the 2023 Toyota Tacoma’s steering is numb and heavy, plus you’ll likely experience considerable body lean. The suspension does a poor job of absorbing road imperfections on civilized pavement. CR reviewers say the brakes are easy to modulate, but the 203 Tacoma still requires more stopping distance than every other pickup truck they tested.

The base engine, a 159-hp four-cylinder, might not give drivers the best acceleration. It’s also thirsty for gas, getting an estimated 20/23 mpg city/highway.

Even the V6-equipped model CR tested needed over eight seconds to reach 60 mph. And Autoblog reported that the standard six-speed automatic transmission frequently has to hunt for the right gears.

In addition, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma suffers from a low driver’s position, which isn’t helped by the truck’s long hood and tiny windows. Without a doubt, the 2023 Tacoma is a fun pickup to customize and drive off-road. But we’d wait for the 2024 model for better powertrain options and a new suspension.


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