A new TRD Pro package further cements the 2017 Toyota Tacoma's reputation as an off-road leader.
The 2017 Toyota Tacoma is a mid-size pickup that has long been the most versatile in its segment—but the competition is beginning to stack up.
For 2017, Toyota adds a new TRD Pro trim level to its perennially popular truck, which delivers more off road capability than ever before. Six trim levels now compose the model line: SR, SR5, TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro.
Overall, we rate the Tacoma a 6.4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Last year, the Tacoma was treated to a redesign. Although it may not have been a full clean-sheet start from scratch, it delivered exactly what the Tacoma's dedicated enthusiasts wanted. The new Tacoma gained a new cabin structure, new powertrains, a tuned suspension, and an improved feature set—plus cabin improvements that make these trucks significantly quieter inside.
Toyota Tacoma styling and performance
What Toyota didn't change is the Tacoma’s size and configuration; that’s all essentially the same as the 2015, which dated back more than a decade to the 2005 model year. While the Tacoma's exterior styling hasn’t changed much in profile, its hoodline has been propped upward slightly, and the more assertive, hex-pattern grille appears subbed in from the larger Tundra lineup. The truck's tailgate is more industrial with the Tacoma named stamped in—again, much like the Tundra.
Inside, the cabin boasts a more horizontal dashboard layout with far more upscale materials and finishes than before.
The Tacoma comes in Short Bed and Long Bed versions (roughly 5 and 6 feet), with Double Cab and Access Cab styles. Double Cab models pack in a full-size back seat and space for up to five, while Access Cabs have small fold-out seats that are probably more useful as cargo space. The standard cab versions of the Tacoma aren’t coming back.
Under the hood, most Tacomas will make use of a 3.5-liter direct-injection V-6 that makes 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque mated to 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions. There’s still a base 4-cylinder version of the Tacoma, with a 2.7-liter inline-4 making 159 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque paired to automatic or manual 5-speed transmissions.
Toyota Tacoma comfort, features, and fuel economy
Depending on the trim level and options, the Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds or haul up to 1,620 pounds. That’s fully SAE rated according to the latest testing methodology, Toyota notes. That highest tow rating comes with a package that includes a heavy-duty oil and transmission cooler (with the automatic), a 130-amp alternator (manual models), and Trailer Sway Control.
Off-road potential, however, remains the main attraction for a huge subset of Tacoma buyers. A new Multi-Terrain Select system cribbed from the Toyota 4Runner operates like similar systems from Ford and Land Rover. With it, modes for driving conditions from mud to sand to slick rock alter the Tacoma's throttle and braking to aid traction. The new Tacoma also adds an electronic limited-slip and locking rear differential, hill-start assist, and crawl control, which takes over the brakes and throttle from 1 to 5 mph in off-road driving, leaving the driver free to steer around obstacles. Combined with excellent sightlines and outward visibility, it’s a trooper off-road in a wide range of conditions.
For 2017, a new TRD Pro tops the lineup with all-terrain tires, a lift kit, and thick skid plates, plus the existing TRD Off Road model's four-wheeling goodies.
This pandering to such a defined, dedicated crowd might help explain why not much attention has been paid to the actual cabin amenities. There are some key cabin-comfort items missing from these trucks. You won’t find power seats—and the driver’s seat doesn’t even adjust for height or tilt. And there’s not a whole lot of head room with the available moonroof. But ride quality has indeed improved significantly, and this truck handles better than on the road than it has in past iterations.
Touching on the Tacoma's longstanding rep as the go-to truck for outdoor sports, the Tacoma comes standard with a GoPro mount at the rearview mirror. Other features include a locking, damped tailgate; a four-panel folding tonneau cover; Qi wireless charging; leather seats; a moonroof; keyless ignition; and dual-zone automatic climate control. On the infotainment front, all models now get improved touchscreen audio, and most models are compatible with a new Scout smartphone-based navigation system.
Both 4- and 6-cylinder models manage respectable fuel economy figures for its class; the volume V-6, automatic models come in at 17 mpg city, 23 highway, 21 combined.