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As our domestic industry abandoned the compact/midsize pickup category, Toyota and (to a lesser extent) Nissan held on to the belief that not everyone needs three tons of truck when making the Home Depot run. In our increasingly congested urban and suburban environments, a footprint that’s easy to park, along with a powertrain capable of getting a real 20+ miles per gallon, has become increasingly attractive. And with that, Chevy, Ford and GMC have returned with competitive entries. But again, Toyota never left – and this spring the company has renewed its commitment to the segment with an all-new Tacoma. For millions of Tacoma enthusiasts, it couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The outgoing Tacoma, which essentially dates to a platform introduced for 2005 (George Bush’s second term!), was still selling Taco Bueno, but the need for an update had become obvious to anyone testing and/or tasting the competition. The outgoing Tacoma’s handling felt ponderous, its available engines – a 2.7 liter inline four and larger V6 – were both thirsty and agricultural, and the interior ergonomics were pointedly analog, which this writer finds acceptable – but many buyers found wanting. Moving forward, Toyota’s product team concluded that it was time to move forward, and the all-new 2024 Tacoma is introduced in more variants than this elderly man with short team memory issues can remember. 

In the walk-up you’ll see the new Tacoma – in any of those variants – as more toned and athletic than its predecessor. And if we can still talk football, if the ’23 was Eagles center Jason Kelce the redesign is Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. The new truck’s front fascia may be slightly overdone, and the side creases give it some overt angularity, but all of it looks distinctive, and all of it looks like a Toyota. Our test Tacoma, an almost entry-level SR5 Double Cab with a 6-foot bed, seemed to stretch into tomorrow. But to its credit, behind the wheel it drove smaller than its 226-inch overall length would have suggested.

In 4WD guise, the climb into the cab was a climb up, and while the relatively high step isn’t particularly awkward, that high step in combination with a relatively low roof height requires caution, even for those of ‘average’ height. Once inside you’ll enjoy comfortable ergonomics, a workable combination of both touch and analog controls, and adequate storage between the front buckets. The cloth-covered seats on the SR5 offer 6-way manual adjustment for both driver and passenger, while the driver’s side also provides 2-way adjustable lumbar support. The driving position is great, but I found a 45-minute trip this side of great. And while that (perhaps) says more about my butt than the Tacoma’s seating, you might end up dialing Amazon for some supplemental support when attempting longish drives.

Our test Tacoma was a pre-production example, so I won’t – at this point – judge interior plastics; in this early build some surfaces were obviously unfinished. But based on what I know about other Toyota products currently in production, I’ll give Toyota the benefit of any doubt. Toyota’s interior spec is typically upscale, even at the more downscale price points. 

If enjoying a couple of kids or grandkids, know that the Double Cab includes a backseat; you should also know that you won’t confuse the Tacoma’s rear seating area with that of Ram’s 1500. The space is tight, requiring my wife to move the front passenger seat forward to make comfortable room for our 10-year old grandson. Obviously, this is better than Rhys sitting on his Oma’s lap, but it’s still worth keeping in mind. If your kid’s playing high school basketball, you’ll be buying him or her a second Tacoma.

Under the hood Toyota gives you a choice of either a 2.4 liter turbocharged four offering 228 horses in base (SR) form, 278 with automatic transmission and 270 with the available (still!) manual. Torque output is 243, 317 and 310 respectively. Our test Tacoma – the SR5 – came with the 278 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, and with its 8-speed auto was genuinely responsive, if not exactly addictive. I didn’t have time to calculate real world economy, but Toyota’s EPA estimate for this drivetrain – 19 City/23 Highway/21 Combined – seems attainable.

For those of you anticipating the Big Refund this tax season, Toyota also offers the i-FORCE MAX turbocharged hybrid, which bumps the horsepower to 325 while boosting torque output by some 50%, a claimed 465 lb-ft @ just 1,700 rpm. And despite that prodigious bump in capability, the EPA estimate remains in the high teens/ low 20s. In short, having spent all your refund on the i-FORCE MAX, you’ll not to put a whole lot more on the Shell card.

Despite its stretched footprint with the six-foot bed (and 4,500+ pounds of curb weight), this newest Tacoma is amazingly easy to live with, and represents one of the best arguments – in my view – for getting into a truck. I ‘built’ the SR5 Double Cab online with a five-foot bed and a moderate level of options – the SR5’s Upgrade Package at almost $3700 – and ended up with an out-the-door (minus registration) of $45K. And that figure, again, is with few options on a just-above-base trim level. 

The good news for Tacoma prospects? Regardless of what you pay, you can enjoy it for the next decade, and your young kids can enjoy it reliably into its second decade. It is, as you’d know, a Toyota.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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