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Hawaii is larger than Rhode Island but smaller than Vermont. The population is a little harder to identify because it’s mostly tourists. We bring that up because Hawaii calls itself the “Capital of the Toyota Tacoma.” Though it’s the best-selling vehicle there, can the Aloha State be the capital?

The reference is not because the Toyota Tacoma sells better in Hawaii than, say, California. It refers to the Tacoma being the best-selling vehicle in Hawaii — like 16-years-in-a-row best-seller. Popular Mechanics reports that the Tacoma sells eight times faster there than the rest of the nation. Also, Hawaii is also the only state where the Tacoma is the top-selling vehicle.

KW Auto Body, which does a brisk business in the Hawaii bump-and-dent trade, thinks it knows why. It posits that 37.64% of residents are American Asians. As a whole, they make up 7% of the U.S. population. And they tend to favor vehicles from Asian automakers, partly because of the Aloha State’s proximity to Asian nations in the Pacific Ocean.

What do Hawaiians say about the Toyota Tacoma?

Blue 2023 Toyota Tacoma pickup
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

Toyota is consistently the world’s largest automobile manufacturer. So why isn’t another Toyota model, such as the popular Corolla or Camry, the best-selling vehicle in Hawaii? 

The folks at KW Auto Body conducted an unscientific study to find out. They asked locals with Tacomas to explain why they like the rugged pickups.

“The Tacoma is a well-built truck with a strong 4×4 pedigree and lots of custom parts,” one commenter said.

“Tacomas have all the functions of a pickup truck and great fuel economy,” another added.

“The truck is sturdy and yet small enough to fit in the small parking spots Hawaii is known for,” yet another user explained. 

Are there better reasons why?

Is Hawaii the Toyota Tacoma Capital of the USA?
Toyota Tacoma and Camry vehicles at Port of Los Angeles | Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

On many of the Hawaiian Islands, access to homes is through dirt roads. A 4×4 is a necessary convenience. Even paved roads can be less than ideal due to wear and tear. Also, many of the islands’ residents are independent workers in construction or otherwise need trucks for their professions. 

This pickup’s popularity also means the Tacoma has a higher resale value. So buyers know they’ll get more money for their Tacomas come trade-in time. Then there are all the reasons any truck buyer considers, including gas mileage, low repair costs, reliability, and an extensive dealer network. In addition, Tacomas are relatively easy to work on.

Toyota doesn’t publically release sales numbers by state. The company’s U.S. Tacoma sales in 2022 were nearly 216,000 units. Though far from the F-150’s 650,000, that’s still a sizeable number of Tacomas. And the Japanese auto giant confirmed its midsize truck’s popularity in Hawaii by unveiling the 2024 Tacoma on the Big Island.

Regardless of the reasons bandied about, it’s quite a feat that of all vehicles, the Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling model in any state.