I test a Toyota Tacoma about once a year. My first chance was in 2016 with this Tacoma Limited. Take a look at the video and you’ll find that I really didn’t like it all that much. I thought that the “Limited” model felt pretty cheap inside and it was a pretty poor daily driver. With just over 5000 views, that video has more negative comments than anything else I’ve produced (maybe…). So I knew from the start that the Tacoma fan base goes deep.
So I took a second bite at the Taco in 2017 with the mighty TRD PRO. I dared to compare it to my new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and found that, if you can afford it, the TRD PRO is pretty great. It just didn’t meet my daily driving needs.
So the Limited was limited and the TRD PRO was cool but expensive. Perhaps this 2019 Tacoma TRD Off-Road Double Cab might finally be just right? Let’s find out.
New 2019 Tacomas come in six trim levels starting with the base SR for $28,850 and ending with the TRD PRO at $42,960. This TRD Off-Road that we have here slots into the middle $35,830 with an as-tested price for this test truck at $42,430.
If you’re following along in this procession, that’s over $2000 more than the Limited model that I lamented wasn’t all that great for the money. Of course, that was three years ago, but so we’re not off to a good start.
So what do you get for north of $42,000? Well it’s the biggest Tacoma, with a Double Cab for people and the larger 6 foot bed for stuff, you end up with seating for 5 and some goodies in the bed like deck rails and a lockable/removable tailgate. The extra cab and bed space add to the price though. I mentioned that the basic TRD Off-Rad starts at $35,830, but that’s for the smaller Access Cab. Choosing the Double Cab option with either a 5-foot or 6-foot bed and you’re at $36,765 and $37,375 respectively.
The biggest price hike for this tester is the “Premium Package with options” for $4,310. You get dual zone climate control, leather heated front seats, a JBL sound system, automatic headlights, and a moonroof. Those other “options” are actually a whole additional package, the Technology Package to be specific, plus a hard-tri-fold tonneau cover. The tech package adds rear parking assist sonar, blind spot monitoring, and rear-cross traffic alert. It should probably be called a “Safety Package”. All that, basically every option short of the “accessories” section, only comes in “Cement” paint color, which I thought looked pretty cool.
Is all that worth $42K plus? Let’s see how it did below.
The Tacoma has always been a pretty handsome truck. It has clearly experienced an evolutionary design phase across it’s three generations. Dating back to 1995 the first generation was considered a compact truck. That changed in 2005 for the second generation, and since then it has moved on up to midsize status.
If you read my last review, you’ll recall that the Tacoma is too small to be considered light and nimble through traffic, but too small to compete with the full size crew from Ford, GM, and Ram. That’s still the case today, it’s neither big, nor small and that’s a bit of a problem.
The interior is better than it used to be, all Toyota interiors seem to be on the a nice upswing. This TRD Off-Road felt nicer inside than the Limited I tested back in 2016. The seats, however, are way too firm, but have a good bolster which I appreciated. Overall on longer drives, my backside started to ache.
I’m not sure what’s going on with that reddish orange thing on the dashboard. It looks like you could snap it off and replace it with one of a different color, but you can’t. On one hand it’s a neat, funky, design element, on the other hand it’s a strange, funky, design element that looks out of place.
From a pure comfort standpoint, I actively dislike this truck at times. Specifically, when I tried to get in I would always hit my knees on the steering wheel. That was with the wheel adjusted all the way up and the seat back in 6-footer driving position. Once I even hit my head on the roof so hard I saw stars while climbing in…while also hitting by knees on the steering well. I also hit my forehead twice on the ceiling in front of me. At 6 foot even, I’m not that tall! Rear seat room isn’t bad, I can sit behind my own driving position, which is nice.
I haven’t quite gotten so pissed off at a vehicle before.
Overall the Tacoma’s standard 3.5L V6 is pretty powerless below a certain RPM, it feels very sluggish in day-to-day driving. Like an old Honda, you really have to rev it up to get it going. With 278 horsepower and 265 lb. ft. of torque, I expected it to feel gruntier. My JK Wrangler’s 3.6L engine has a similar output with a few more horsepower and a few less torques, but feels much stronger in day to dray driving.
The Tacoma’s ride is truck-like, which I’m used to daily driving a Jeep. I’ll swear that over familiar roads, it rides a bit rougher than the Jeep, and while this isn’t a direct comparison, that’s my benchmark for ride quality, or lack thereof.
In the end, I came to the same conclusion that I typically do with the Tacoma. If I want a truck, I can get a similarly equipped Ford F150 XLT for thousands less. I say that having never owned a truck, but I’ve driven quite a few at this point for this press journalist job thing.
If you’re looking for a reliable midsize truck, this is as good as any. I just can’t wrap my mind around actually needing a midsize truck. Until I do, I guess I’m just going to have issues with the Tacoma.