Trucks & SUVs

Critics and Consumers Disagree About the Toyota Tacoma

When it comes to the Toyota Tacoma, opinions vary. The pickup truck remains a consumer favorite, and fans find it ruggedly capable. But critics cite many problems, like a mediocre cabin, aging powertrains, and weak fuel economy. So, what’s the scoop on the Tacoma?

Why fans love the Toyota Tacoma

Most agree that the 2020 Toyota Tacoma is a worthy entry in the class of mid-size pickup trucks. Read consumer reviews of the Tacoma and you’ll immediately see trends. Fans love its reliability and off-roading capabilities. It’s a basic work truck setup that still offers luxury and well-rounded options.

Called the Taco by fans, the Toyota truck got more standard features and standard driver assists than most of its peers. And you get Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with all models, which is a bonus. The Tacoma’s technology — in what many consider to be an outdated cabin — is easy to use and the interior materials are high-quality. It’s a capable alternative to bigger trucks like Tundra.

It did gain some new features in 2020 including Amazon Alexa integration. There are new surround-view and underbody cameras, which off-roading fans find very helpful. You can also adjust for seat height and adjust for thighs in the power driver seat.

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma earned a three out of five on predicted reliability, which is an average score. While its warranty is on par with the competition, Toyota offers the best-in-class maintenance plan, which many consider a plus.

Why critics don’t like the Toyota Tacoma

Car and Driver ranked the Toyota Tacoma near the bottom of their mid-size truck review. There’s not a lot of headroom, which can make it feel claustrophobic for some. There’s a lot of rubber in the cabin and that’s just one reason why it feels like it needs an upgrade.

The powertrains are outdated and can’t keep up with its peers. The standard model offers a four-cylinder engine with only 159 hp. If you get a Tacoma with this engine, the lower SR and SR5 trim levels, you’ll get a slower-moving acceleration. And it won’t improve with passengers or cargo.

There’s an optional V6 that puts out 278 horsepower. That’s more athletic than the four-cylinder but not by a lot. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t bring anything new to the table. According to Cars, sometimes it has difficulty finding the right gear.

When you consider that many of its peers have more dynamic eight- and 10-speed transmissions, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma is lacking. Some TRD models do offer a six-speed manual transmission. Fuel economy numbers go down as far as 17/20 MPG city/highway with the V6 — not great.

What everyone can agree on

When it comes to off-roading, it’s hard to beat the Toyota Tacoma TRD.

Most fans and critics alike recommend the TRD off-road model of the Tacoma. It’s a standard four-wheel drive with some great features like a new top-mounted, snorkel-looking air intake. While there’s not a lot of space in the crew cab, it offers more space than the access cab. And if you want the longer bed at six feet, you can’t get the manual transmission.

But if you can muscle your way past the clunky automatic transmission, or keep the manual and select the five-feet bed, the off-road adventures await. 

Tacoma TRD can handle most terrains with ease and you can equip it for either a smooth on-road cruise or rough, mud-blogging action. The TRD Pro has a lifted suspension, muscular shock absorbers, and tires that aren’t the most aggressive you can get but quite effective.

TRD Pro feels like it’s in its natural habitat off the pavement. It’s as good of an off-roading truck as you’ll likely to find.