Is the 2018 Toyota Tacoma the Worst Model Year?

While the Toyota Tacoma is a mainstay in the trucking industry, it seems this tried-and-true off-roading legend can do some wrong. This compact pickup got off to a rocky start after its 2016 redesign, but the 2018 Toyota Tacoma might just be the worst of the generation.

The 2018 Tacoma suffers in many vital categories buyers hold in high esteem when figuring out their next great bargain buy. Shoppers would be better off leaving the 2018 Toyota Tacoma on the lot due to its inherent failings.

How is it that such a stalwart in the industry fell from grace? Rather than a single smoking gun, there are several components at fault for the shortcomings of the 2018 Toyota Tacoma. 

The 2018 Toyota Tacoma inherited mistakes of previous models and had individual failings of its own. This ultimately culminated in one of the worst iterations of the nameplate to date.  

Pump the brakes on the 2018 Toyota Tacoma

The 2018 Toyota Tacoma driving down a dirt road
The off-road capable 2018 Toyota Tacoma | Photo via Toyota

Problems often carry over from year to year throughout a generation of a model. But you’d expect the manufacturer to remedy significant issues over time. However, the Toyota Tacoma has had no such luck.

Consumer Reports’ review of the 2018 Toyota Tacoma calls attention to the truck’s low brake rating. The braking system’s importance shouldn’t be understated. It affects everything from safety to performance, and minor errors could cause catastrophic results.

Most drivers will immediately notice the long stopping distances needed to bring the 2018 Tacoma to a halt. This isn’t what you want to hear when you may be faced with quick-reaction situations, especially if your hauling heavy-duty equipment.

Meanwhile, long-term reliability is a significant factor as well. Brakes are one of the 2018 Tacoma’s biggest trouble spots, earning a 2/5 rating on Consumer Reports.

These issues were highlighted by a recall on the truck’s master cylinder – a part that converts force into hydraulic pressure. This 2018 recall noted possible internal damage to one of the seals in the system, which could lead to reduced braking performance. This in turn could lead to an increased risk of a crash.

Toyota issued another recall in 2020 for the 2018 Toyota Tacoma for its fuel pump delivery system. It noted that a failed fuel pump could cause the engine to stall, and this could lead to a crash risk if it were to occur while driving. Notably, the 2019 Tacoma received the same recall, so make sure this issue is fixed if you’re buying a used Tacoma from either model year.

A perennial fan favorite leaves a bitter taste in buyers mouths

The Toyota Tacompa is an affordable pickup which offers trim levels that are excellent for off-roading exhilarating. However, the 2018 Toyota Tacoma seemed to give drivers more trouble in their daily lives than thrills during weekend adventures. 

On owner left a comment on Consumer Reports stating, “The transmission timing is poor. It seems to be slow to accelerate and shift. Surely Toyota could have done a better job on this basic function.”

The entire third-generation Tacoma has received poor scores in ride, noise, comfort, fuel economy, and emergency handling. However, none of this was more prevalent than in the 2018 Toyota Tacoma – and drivers certainly noticed.

On Consumer Reports, the 2018 Tacoma scored just 1/5 in vehicle reliability and 2/5 in ownership satisfaction. Combined, those numbers are by far the worst among the third-generation Tacoma. 

Only the 2016 Tacoma – the first model of the generation – even came close with a similar ownership satisfaction rating. Car shoppers would be better off with a used 2019 Toyota Tacoma, which earned a 4/5 rating in both of those crucial categories.

Is the 2018 Toyota Tacoma worth consideration on the used market?


The 2016 Toyota Tacoma Has Insanely Expensive Issues

The third-generation Toyota Tacoma brought with it a host of welcome upgrades. More driver-assistance systems became standard in the 2018 model. Plus, it gained standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa in 2020. Also, the 2021 Tacoma seems promising. However, drivers will likely want to skip out on the problematic 2018 Toyota Tacoma and opt for another edition of the truck.

Narrowing down which model year is best for you will come down to which features you desire. The best options are the 2017, 2019, and 2020 model years. The newer models have more next-gen tech and safety features, while the 2017 edition is the most affordable. Based on owner feedback, long-term reliability, and starting price, the 2019 Toyota Tacoma might be the best value for the money.