Toyota Tacoma models have a fiercely loyal, almost cult-like following. Often affectionately referred to as “Tacos,” the trucks aren’t full-sized, but they perform just as well as their larger counterparts — particularly off-road. The Toyota Tacoma also has a long history of being reliable and safe, plus they’re affordable. It’s easy to see why drivers love them.
If you’re shopping around for a midsize truck, you’ve almost certainly honed in on the Toyota Tacoma. You’re also likely weighing whether you should buy new or used. While any Tacoma is a solid choice, there are certain model years that are stronger choices than others.
The Tacoma: The next generation of Toyota trucks
Toyota introduced the Tacoma in 1995, though the company certainly wasn’t a new player in the truck segment. It was launched as a compact pickup to replace the Toyota Hilux in the United States, and it was vastly different than any of the automaker’s previous trucks. The Toyota Tacoma had an all-new steel frame, redesigned front suspension, and a powerful but quiet transmission.
What started as a small but mighty workhorse quickly earned itself a reputation for having impressive off-road abilities and being exceptionally durable. It continued to get new updates each year, adding new models like the PreRunner and still-wildly-popular SR5. In 2005, MotorTrend named the Toyota Tacoma its Truck of the Year, and since then, it’s won dozens of other awards.
While Tacomas have never been the most luxurious trucks, they’re incredibly reliable, capable on any terrain, and notoriously low-maintenance. No one’s buying a Tacoma hoping for a posh interior anyway.
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma
By 2014, the Toyota Tacoma had been refined to near perfection. Consumer Reports awarded it a five out of five in reliability, and it won several awards that year, including U.S. News’ Best Compact Truck for the Money, Truck Trend’s 2014 Best-in-Class for midsize pickups, and Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value.
After a 2012 redesign, the 2014 Tacoma came with two engine choices: a 159-hp 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 236-hp 4.0-liter V6. Drivers could choose from a manual or automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive was available on the larger engine. The 2014 Tacoma has a payload capacity of 1,300 pounds and can tow up to 6,500 pounds when properly equipped. 2014 was one of the last years a regular cab was available, and it was offered alongside access and double cabs.
Toyota introduced the SR trim for 2014, which added Baja-style wheels and other sporty features. The Toyota Entune infotainment system was also launched that year. Other notable features are a standard backup camera and a durable plastic-lined inner bed with integrated storage and adjustable tie-downs. With the additions of these creature comforts, the Toyota Tacoma cemented its status as being the top truck for daily driving as well as off-road adventuring.
The Tacoma goes high-tech for 2020
The Toyota Tacoma got a major facelift for 2020, particularly with regard to technology. In addition to some exterior styling refreshers, it got a power-adjustable driver’s seat and a larger touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration – features that were long-awaited by consumers.
An available system of advanced cameras provides drivers 360-degree views of their Tacoma, including what’s underneath it — a highlight aimed directly at the ever-growing segment of off-road enthusiasts. Along the same lines, the TRD Pro trim level received lighter wheels and shocks tuned optimally for rock crawling.
Consumers who buy the 2020 Toyota Tacoma get the same level of safety they’ve come to expect from the automaker. In fact, this year the truck boasts more standard driver-assist features than any other midsize truck and won an IIHS Top Safety Pick award. Highlights include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency brake assist, and lane-departure warning.
Whether you’re leaning toward a new or pre-owned Toyota Tacoma, you really can’t go wrong. Though the 2020 model comes with more bells and whistles, the 2014 model year offers an incredible value. Plus, the Tacoma has proven time and time again that older models are just as capable as new ones.