The New Toyota Tacoma Makes a Terrible Work Truck

The most popular pickup trucks on the market are offered by the Big Three automakers, but there are some great alternatives. One of them is the Toyota Tacoma. It has an impressive payload capacity, sufficient engine power, and tons of features for off-road adventures.

The Toyota Tacoma may be an impressive vehicle off the track, but how does it stand up to work-related tasks? In a recent comparison test performed by MotorTrend, the Tacoma finished dead last compared to many other compact truck competitors. Here are the reasons why you should probably consider another truck for big towing or hauling jobs.

An uncomfortable ride

The MotorTrend testers found that even daily driving was a hassle in the Tacoma. The suspension was bouncy even while going at slow speeds and the brakes were too touchy. Some may argue that this is because of the available off-roading package, but as MotorTrend points out, this is hardly an excuse since other off-roading cars don’t have this issue.

A big reason for this is because of a mismatched engine and transmission. For the best work function, the optional 3.5-liter V6 engine is a must. It’s paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. The engine gives the truck a big boost of power compared to the standard engine, but only if you’re accelerating at high speeds. This carries over to the transmission: testers found that it was only functional on the highest and lowest gears with no in-between.

Towing disaster

The Tacoma definitely can’t tow as much as its full-size rivals, but it has a decent maximum capacity of 6,800 pounds. This is only with the Tow Prep Package added. This number is still on the low side since other subcompact trucks, like the Ford Ranger, can tow more.

The Tacoma failed to demonstrate its power during MotorTrend’s test. The truck was attached to a tree stump that was deeply rooted in the ground. After being switched into 4Lo, the truck only managed to snap off a part of the stump. Continued attempts just made the truck bury its wheels in the dirt.

Cramped interior

While the Toyota looks very stylish on the outside, its interior isn’t as functional. The model used in this test had a Crew Cab for the maximum seating capacity of five passengers. While the seats were comfortable, taller drivers may find their heads touching the cab’s ceiling. The testers noted that the backseat was cramped as well, probably only suited for younger passengers.

Despite its small dimensions, the testers agreed that the Tacoma had the best interior overall. Cloth seats are standard with the option to upgrade to leather. You can also get a leather steering wheel and heated front seats. 

Standard infotainment offerings include a 6.1-inch touchscreen, a few USB ports, Siri Eyes Free, and Bluetooth connectivity. Additional upgrades are available, such as JBL stereo so you can hear your music even over the loud noise of a worksite. However, only smaller drivers will be able to fully enjoy these features.

Small cargo box

The Tacoma has a higher payload capacity than most of the competition. With the right package, you can load up to 1,620 pounds in its cargo bed. Even the Chevrolet Colorado, which was the winner of MotorTrend’s test, can only haul up to 1,578 pounds.

However, testers found that it was a struggle to neatly fit a few bales of hay in the 5-foot cargo bed. Also, the off-roading model they tested could only haul up to 1,175 pounds. If you can disregard all the other issues and still want the Tacoma as a workhorse, we recommend getting one with the optional 6-foot cargo box.