Why Is the Toyota Tacoma the Best-Selling Small Pickup?

Almost any truck fan can tell you that the Ford F-150 is the best-selling truck in America. But what about the best-selling small pickup? The Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling small pickup truck again for 2022. What’s helped it keep its crown for 18 years?

The Toyota Tacoma is a perennial sales leader

Front angle view of gray 2023 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

For the calendar year 2022, Toyota sold 237,323 Tacoma trucks. That’s a lot of tacos. The 2022 sales mean that, according to Toyota, the Tacoma has been the best-selling small truck in America for 18 years.

Though the full-sized Tundra has seen its best sales year ever, Toyota only sold 104,246 Tundras. That’s a lot of trucks, but it doesn’t come close to Ford’s F-Series sales numbers for 2022. For the calendar year, Ford sold 726,004 F-Series trucks.

Many are expecting Toyota to come out with a new Tacoma for 2024, and that means that several buyers are likely holding out until the new one arrives. That could be one reason why Toyota sold 15,000 fewer Tacomas last year than in 2021.

Dashboard and front seats in 2023 Toyota Tacoma, highlighting how much a fully loaded one costs
2023 Toyota Tacoma | Toyota

The Tacoma seems to check a lot of boxes for truck buyers. It’s known to be a reliable truck, it can haul and tow plenty, and especially in Trail or TRD packages, they are very capable off-roaders. Tacos seat five, and you can still order one with a manual gearbox if you like to row your own.

And, those attributes contribute to a virtuous cycle for Tacomas. Since they’re popular, people buy them. Since people buy them, their value remains high. Their value remains high, people by them. 

All of that, despite its antiquated and underpowered V6, cramped cabin, and in some trims, rough ride and cheap materials.

What is so good about a Toyota Tacoma?

Let’s start with the bad. The current Tacoma was last all-new in 2016 and other small trucks have certainly moved in, like the new Chevy Colorado and the Ford Ranger. Those brands have, after all, targeted Toyota. But, it’s noisy 278-horsepower V6 comes from the Jurassic era, and its low-butt high-hands driving position takes some getting used to. It’s steering is vague, and its even its brakes could use improvement.

Before you send in lots of hate mail, we know Tacomas are good trucks. They’re known to be generally reliable trucks that keep their value and are a hoot to drive off the pavement. Mostly, though, these trucks are awesome because they allow you to do 90% of the truck stuff you’d do in a full-sized pickup, but they don’t come with the full-sized pickup vibe. Also, you can park these trucks in the narrow spaces at the local Trader Joe’s and not feel like you’re burning down the environment.

Will the 2024 Tacoma be redesigned?

Toyota Tacoma EV concept
Toyota Tacoma EV concept | Toyota

The signs are pointing to Toyota launching if not a wholly-new Tacoma, a significantly updated version of the current truck. The Tacoma was last all-new in 2016 and saw an update for 2021 that added some cool tech like Crawl Control. But many, such as GearPatrol, are expecting to see a new Taco with a hybrid engine, like the Tundra’s, that could add some horsepower, or possibly an electric version.

Regardless of what Toyota does with the Tacoma, the all-new Chevy Colorado, Ford Ranger, and evern Jeep Gladiator Rubicon have more power and similar off-road trims. They are both aiming to dethrone the Tacoma as the best-selling small truck on the market, so the next version of the Tacoma has to be good.