2012 Toyota Tacoma Expert Review

3.8 Overall Score
Performance 3.5 Comfort 3.6 Styling 3.5 Value 4.0

You'll Like The 2012 Toyota Tacoma If...

If you're looking for a proven pickup that is as capable as it is stylish, the 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup deserves your full attention. Nearly as capable as a full-size pickup, but without the extra bulk or poor fuel economy, the Tacoma offers a wide selection ranging from everyday work truck to rugged off-road adventurer.

You May Not Like The 2012 Toyota Tacoma If...

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup can't tow as much as a full-size V8-powered pickup, and its narrower bed won't hold as much cargo. If you're looking for a smooth, comfortable ride and you don't plan on going off-road, the Honda Ridgeline may be a better choice.

What's New

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck receives new front-end styling, with a new grille and headlight design, some upgraded interior pieces and new audio systems that include USB ports and Bluetooth. Double Cab V6 models receive the most modern audio system that includes Toyota's Entune infotainment, navigation, HD radio, text/email-to-voice and the JBL GreenEdge energy-efficient sound system.

Interior Features

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup's interior has a modern urban feel, with 2-tone gray or beige plastic panels outfitted with metal-look trim appliqués. The Tacoma's front seats are wide and supportive, but the rear seats in the Access Cab are useful only for short trips. Seating improves greatly in the Double Cab model, which has a full bench seat with adjustable head restraints and under-seat storage. Steering-wheel-mounted controls for the audio and available Bluetooth are a welcome touch, as are the many upgraded audio features available through the Entune infotainment system. Entune is Toyota's answer to Ford's SYNC system and includes a number of popular mobile applications. Just connect your smart phone to the Entune system and either through the vehicle's controls or by voice command, the driver can access real-time traffic and weather, fuel prices, sports, stocks and such popular apps as MovieTickets.com and OpenTable.

Exterior Features

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup lifts traditional pickup truck features more commonly attributed to full-size trucks and grafts them onto a compact frame to create one very cool truck. The new grille and front-end treatment help the 2012 Toyota Tacoma to remain fresh, and the look works across the line. Choose the base truck and you get a basic work truck with black bumpers and simple wheels. The Pre-Runner displays the look of a rugged off-roader in a rear-drive pickup that costs thousands less than a comparable 4x4, while the X-Runner takes the pickup to a whole new place, with a lowered suspension and available bolt-on supercharger kit. As with everything Toyota builds, the 2012 Tacoma compact pickup's build quality and finish are above reproach. Some of the Tacoma's more notable features include a roof-rack system on Double Cab models, and integrated bed deck rails that can be used to secure optional accessories, such as the fork-mounted bike rack and diamond-plate storage boxes. And, to help keep your truck looking new, a protective composite molded bed liner is standard.

Driving Impressions

We spent some time behind the wheel of a 2012 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab long-bed with the 4.0-liter V6 matched to a 5-speed automatic transmission. Our test vehicle was also equipped with 4-wheel drive and the cool SR5 package that brought a limited-slip differential. We noticed the Tacoma drove well on smooth-surfaced freeways, but it felt rather bulky and clumsy in the tighter confines of city driving. Get the Tacoma out in the open, however, and the driving experience greatly improves. It takes only the slightest push on the Tacoma's gas pedal to bring the V6 to life. Still, we couldn't escape the feeling that the Tacoma would be happier hauling or towing something or negotiating rocks in a river rather than running errands in suburbia.

Pricing Notes

The 2012 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup is available in 20 distinct model configurations with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) that ranges from a low of about $17,500 for a 2-wheel-drive Regular Cab to more than $33,000 for a nicely equipped 4-wheel-drive long-bed Double Cab model. Although the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon cost less, neither offers as much power or interior room. The Ram Dakota can match the Tacoma's size and even offers the option of a V8 engine, but its resale values don't come close to the Tacoma's. The Nissan Frontier comes closest to resale and power, but doesn't offer a regular-cab model. A look at the Fair Purchase Price will show you the typical transaction price paid for the Tacoma in your area, so be sure to check it out before you begin negotiations. When it comes to resale value, Kelley Blue Book expects the 4-cylinder base models to retain better-than-average residual values, while the V6 Access Cab and Double Cab models should do even better.

Notable Equipment

The 2-wheel-drive 2012 Toyota Tacoma's base 4-cylinder engine displaces 2.7 liters. Other standard equipment includes air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with single-disc CD system, anti-lock brakes (ABS), front side-impact and side-curtain airbags, traction and stability control, tachometer, two instrument panel powerpoints and rear mudguards. Regular Cab 4x4 models with the automatic transmission feature standard bucket seats. Access Cab X-Runner and Double Cab models include bucket seats with center console, power mirrors, power windows and power door locks.

Notable Options

Options for the 2012 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup include a 4.0-liter V6, 4-wheel drive, JBL GreenEdge audio with Bluetooth connectivity, Entune infotainment system, and the SR5 Package, that adds color-keyed over-fenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround and a chrome rear bumper. Double and Access Cabs can be fitted with a rearview camera while transmission upgrades from the base 5-speed manual include a 4-speed automatic, 5-speed automatic and 5-speed manual. Optional body configurations include Access Cab and Double Cab models, plus a long bed. Hill-start Assist (HAC) is available on V6 models with automatic transmissions. There are also myriad TRD parts available including the Big Brake Package and a supercharger. In addition, a limited run of T|X and T|X Pro Package features can be added to TRD-equipped trucks. The T|X trim adds 16-inch black bead-lock alloy wheels, black tube side steps and unique exterior graphics. The Pro Package takes it a step further, adding a cat-back custom exhaust.

Favorite Features

Supercharger Kit

The optional Eaton-Roots-type supercharger kit increases the V6's output to 304 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque, and carries a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty (or the remainder of the powertrain warranty at the time of installation) when installed by a Toyota dealer.

Functional Bed

All Tacomas feature a composite inner bed with built-in storage compartments and four rail-mounted sliding tie-down cleats.

Under the Hood

Both the 4-cylinder and the V6 Tacoma engines feature Toyota's VVT-i technology (Variable Valve Timing with intelligence) that minimizes the compromise between low-end torque and peak horsepower. Combined with a choice of four available transmissions, 2- or 4-wheel drive, three cab styles and more, Toyota makes it easy to get exactly the pickup you want. Maximum towing and payload capacities are 6,500 pounds and 1,535 pounds, respectively.

2.7-liter in-line 4

159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm

180 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/25 (2WD, manual), 19/24 (2WD, automatic),

18/20 (4WD, manual), 18/21 (4WD, automatic)

4.0-liter V6

236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm

266 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 (2WD, manual), 17/21 (2WD, automatic), 15/19 (4WD, manual), 16/21 (4WD, automatic)

Editors' Notes

America's best-selling compact pickup just keeps getting better, which is bad news for the competition, but great news for lovers of the 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup. With the Ford Ranger no longer offered, the Tacoma's biggest competitor has been removed from the race, leaving a lot of room for potential new customers. Those who do migrate toward the 2012 Toyota Tacoma pickup will find a robust near-mid-size pickup truck with a wide range of trims, engines, cabin configurations and packages. Larger than either the GMC Canyon or the Chevy Colorado, the 2012 Tacoma is more in line with the mid-size Ram Dakota and Nissan Frontier when it comes to dimensions, but there is no comparing the resale and reliability ratings of the three, because the 2012 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck runs away with the honors.

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2012 Toyota Tacoma Owner Reviews

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Toyota Tacoma: the most reliable brand.

2012 Toyota Tacoma

The Toyota Tacoma is the most reliable vehicle I have ever had the privilege of owning. There have been zero performance issues and the simplicity of maintenance for the truck is unbeatable. There will be no need for me to ever purchase another brand of vehicle because Toyota has figured out the dependability, style, and durability. You can cruise around traffic packed cities and not suffer any loss of gas mileage. You can take it off-road in the desert and never worry about hurting the suspension or brakes. You can take it into the mountains and never worry about not making it. Speed is probably the only thing lacking in the Tacoma. It is a very conservative 4-wheel drive. However, you could alter the Tacoma and add a better exhaust system to improve its performance regarding speed and uphill power. It is truly the best vehicle I have ever owned and will only purchase Toyota from now on.

- Kristen A

Absolute best truck I have ever owned.

2012 Toyota Tacoma

Extremely comfortable. After being sickened by the terrible trade in value of my 2008 f150, I traded it for a 2012 Tacoma trd 4x4. My Tacoma has been a fantastic truck. I never had so many compliments on a vehicle before and never had so much fun driving a truck. Dealer put on a 3" lift kit, tires & wheels - looks sweet, I love it. Very reliable, zero problems. Handles like a sports car, better gas mileage, amazing acceleration and just an all-around great vehicle. I notice the negative comments come from non-owners, the positive from people who actually own them and know what they are talking about.

- Des J

Great six speed manual transmission. Great all around truck.

2012 Toyota Tacoma X-Runner

I love the 4 wheel drive but the back seats are small and uncomfortable. The gas mileage is decent for a 4x4. I have a camper shell and love going camping with my husband. I love the look and style of my truck. I am only five feet tall and have no problem reaching the pedals with the seat all the way up. I love that it is a six speed manual although I live at the top of a steep hill it has no problems getting up the hill. I also had to go to training which was a six hour drive and had to go up the grapevine in California. I had no issues of lagging going up the mountain.

- Renee K

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