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The Toyota Tacoma is legendary beyond compare. While the original Toyota pickup truck isn’t technically a Tacoma, the Tacoma is certainly its spiritual successor. And being the successor to the toughest pickup truck of all time is no small thing. That said, most critics have bashed the 2023 Toyota Tacoma into bits. How could the Tacoma fall so far? 

Rear angle view of orange 2023 Toyota Tacoma, most reliable midsize truck, says J.D. Power, and also best-seller
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

Is the 2023 Toyota Tacoma a good truck?

The 2023 Toyota Tacoma is simply more Tacoma. There are a few significant changes from the 2022 to the 2023 model. U.S. News ranked the new Tacoma dead last in its list of 2023 midsize pickup trucks. When asked if the 2023 Tacoma was a good pickup truck, U.S. News said it was “OK.” They cited the truck’s weak engine and mid-range towing capacity as the reason for its last-place standing. 

The other critique offered by nearly every Toyota Tacoma review is that it rides too rough. On the one hand, the Toyota Tacoma is a proper body-on-frame pickup truck. Roughness comes with the territory. It is this stiffness that gives it its brutal off-road chops. However, on the other hand, pickup trucks are not just working vehicles anymore. These days, pickups are expected to behave like SUVs, which are expected to behave like sedans, but no one wants sedans. See the problem? I digress. 

Is the 2023 Toyota Tacoma worth it? 

The 2023 Toyota Tacoma drives through sand as a midsize truck.
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

While the U.S. News critiques are valid, there is something else going on with the Tacoma. We have fallen into this belief that all vehicles should do all things. This is insane. The Tacoma is allowed to be rough because it’s a pickup truck. For the same reason, people are ok with the Subaru WRX STI being stiffer than boiled leather; we shouldn’t hold pickup trucks to the same standard as other vehicles. 

At the risk of contradicting myself, the Tacoma is expensive. This is one of the few reasons the critiques have legs. Back when in 2000, a brand new Toyota Tacoma base model started at $11,528, according to MotorTrend. Granted, the world has certainly changed since then, but it’s only been 23 years since then, and the cheapest Tacoma today starts at $27,750. It’s hard to argue that that price is awful, but if you want anything cool on your Tacoma you’ll spend a hefty bit more. That’s hard to justify. 

People love Toyota Tacomas

Tacoma Pro
2023 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro | Toyota

The real takeaway here is that, despite all the auto journo blow-hards (myself included), people love their Tacos. The Tacoma is one of the most popular enthusiast pickup trucks on the market. If you Google “Toyota Tacoma aftermarket,” you’ll be inundated with piles and piles of websites ready to be the one who gets to sell you the next part for your Tacoma. These sites are numerous beyond comprehension. 

The Toyota Tacoma has earned this spot in enthusiasts’ hearts because it’s killer off-road. All the roughness that critics fuss about is gone. The power is plenty to climb and pull through the mud. The price is unfortunate but ultimately a non-issue because more money will be spent to make it go further into the wild. The Tacoma has earned its place as a proper off-road pickup truck. While the road reviews might be rough, it’s hard to imagine the 2023 Toyota Tacoma is ranked last in anything.