With its good looks, reliability, and excellent resale value, it’s understandable why the Toyota Tacoma continues to be the best-selling mid-size truck in the U.S. Despite all of its advantages, the pickup had been trailing rivals such as the Chevrolet Colorado, the Ford Ranger, and the Honda Ridgeline when it came to modern features.
Updates for 2020
Toyota realized that it needed to raise the Taco’s game, so it added plenty of updates for the 2020 model year. As Collin Woodard of MotorTrend points out, nearly all versions of this Tacoma sport new grille designs. All variants above the base model SR have new wheels and updated taillights. Some of the upper trims have LED headlights.
The updates Toyota has made to the Tacoma reach beyond the cosmetic, however. The manufacturer has finally integrated Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa into the truck’s infotainment system. Most importantly, though, Toyota’s extensive safety package is standard, which includes adaptive cruise control among its driver-assist features.
The Tacoma’s ACC sets it apart
Even though Toyota is just catching up with tech and convenience features in the Tacoma that other truck brands have incorporated over the past few years, it has had standard adaptive cruise control as part of its extensive safety package since the 2018 model year.
The system is simple: drivers can adjust driving speed and following distance to decelerate in stop-and-go traffic. They can switch back to basic cruise control if they want. But its advanced technology protects a vehicle’s occupants because the system can slow it down faster than a driver can.
Why does making ACC a standard safety feature on the Tacoma seem like such a giant leap forward for Toyota and for trucks in general? First, this feature isn’t even an option on some luxury passenger cars, such as the Maserati GranTurismo or the Aston Martin Vantage.
So making that safety system standard on one of the best-selling mid-size pickup trucks is groundbreaking. To get it, buyers don’t pay a cent extra for this modestly priced truck. And by providing this feature Toyota acknowledges that safety should be foremost in a vehicle segment that has been plagued with safety issues for years.
A rare feature among pickups
In the down-to-earth domain of pickup trucks, finding one with standard ACC can be a challenge. But more trucks should have it, considering that drivers are often navigating these 5,000+-pound vehicles through heavy traffic.
Trucks such as the Nissan Frontier and its full-size sibling the Titan do not have this feature or, for that matter, any active safety feature. Since Nissan hasn’t changed these stripped-down proto-trucks too much in the past 15 years, it’s doubtful that they will offer ACC or other advanced safety features anytime soon.
Or, say you’re looking at a 2020 Jeep Gladiator. Adaptive cruise control isn’t available at all on the base model Sport, although it is an option on the upper trims. The 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 and its heavy-duty variants the 2500 and the 3500 don’t have it either, although the 2020 version of the 1500 will. Since the GMC Sierra is the Silverado’s twin, none of its 2019 trucks offers ACC. The 2019 Ram 2500/3500 trucks also lack this feature.
On the other hand, the 2019 and the 2020 Ram 1500 do have adaptive cruise control available. The same holds true for the Ford Ranger and the F-150. But you will pay more for this feature because it comes as part of an optional safety package.
There’s no question that having standard adaptive cruise control on the 2020 Toyota Tacoma is a welcome and useful safety feature. And Toyota should be commended for prioritizing safety features over infotainment tech, even if some buyers missed having Apple CarPlay in the Taco over the past few years.
So many truck owners using their vehicles as daily drivers as well as for hauling and towing. If they’re using their trucks like they would passenger cars, then maybe it would be smart to work on making them as safe as cars. Therefore, building safety into these trucks should be their manufacturers’ job one.
In the near term, we’re hoping that the Taco’s competition will follow Toyota’s lead and make ACC standard across all trim levels. If the best-selling automaker in the world can incorporate advanced safety features into its trucks, then how hard can it be for the other manufacturers to do the same?