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2024 Toyota Tacoma aims to remain king

Toyota knows the Tacoma withered on the vine while the competition took aim at the king.

Despite all that, the Toyota Tacoma remained the bestselling midsize pickup truck in America, and the automaker intends to retain the crown.

For the first time in nearly 20 years the Tacoma is new. The 2024 Toyota Tacoma rides on a new frame, features a new powertrain, and evolves the icon’s design while expanding the lineup to include a dizzying array of trims.

After spending a day on- and off-road in pre-production trucks it was clear to me the 2024 Toyota Tacoma isn’t in real danger of being dethroned thanks to a comprehensive overhaul.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma gets turbocharged

The tried-and-true naturally aspirated V-6 Tacoma is dead.

Every 2024 Toyota Tacoma will feature a 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-4, but in three different ways mostly different from how Toyota uses the same turbo-4 elsewhere in its lineup. Tacoma’s chief engineer, Sheldon Brown, said only 54% of the turbo-4 is carryover from other Toyota products as the engine was bolstered for truck duty. Most Tacomas will have 278 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Trucks equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission get detuned to 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, but it’s not a noticeable difference.

The most powerful Tacoma is the hybrid rated at 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. It wasn’t available to drive and it won’t arrive until the first half of 2024.

Tacomas can be had with 2WD or part-time 4WD. The only Tacoma that will be available with full-time four-wheel drive is the Limited with the hybrid powertrain.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

The all three variants of the turbo-4 pull strong with full torque coming online at 1,700 rpm and remaining flat through the rev range. The more powerful tune found in every trim except the base SR has noticeably more thrust. A distinct whistle from the turbo spooling can be heard from just under 2,000 rpm and then trails off as the revs approach 4,000 rpm. The 8-speed automatic cracks off quick, smooth shifts without hanging the 1-2 or 2-3 shifts. The throttle and brakes are progressive unlike in the GMC Canyon, so it’s easy to drive without feeling like you’re jamming on the brakes. The steering is nicely weighted, but asking for feedback might be a stretch.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

Tacoma remains the only midsize pickup to offer a manual transmission. While purists will be satisfied it’s probably not the best option for most people. The throws are long and ropey while the light clutch engagement point is unexpectedly high. Surprisingly, there’s little slop in the gearbox. Tacomas with a manual transmission have a clutch start cancel feature that will automatically engage the clutch for the driver upon a hill start at the push of a console-mounted button. This is an especially useful feature while off-roading as the driver will need to feather the throttle and brake from a start, and most people only have two feet.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

The new TNGA-F-based frame is a derivative of the one used on the full-size Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV. It’s beefy and much stiffer than the outgoing Tacoma, and enables a higher payload rating of 1,709 pounds (up from most outgoing Tacomas having a measly 1,155-pound rating), though max towing capacity drops 300 pounds to 6,500 pounds. While overall length stands pat, the wheelbase grows by 4.5 inches because Toyota moved back the rear axle. The Tacoma now feels solid going down the road with less flex while going around tight, twisting corners in the hills of Malibu. While lower trim SR and SR5 still ride on leaf springs in the rear, upper trims all feature coil springs in the rear. This makes the TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, and Limited models all more confident in a corner and provide a more settled ride with a distinct lack of bed hop.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma features buttons and knobs

Inside, the Tacoma will feel familiar to anyone having spent time in a recent Toyota product. There are large buttons and knobs for a user-friendly environment even with gloves on. An 8.0-inch touchscreen is standard while upper trim trucks feature a massive 14.0-inch touchscreen but it still can’t split screen. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android are standard, and the available upright wireless smartphone charger seemed to work during our brief testing. A chunky gear selector, 4WD controls, and large grab handle on the center console for the passenger define the interior as a utility-driven environment.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

The outgoing Tacoma’s awkward seating position has been banished thanks to seats that aren’t mounted low to the floor. The Tacoma’s now a comfortable place to sit up front with supportive front seats. Four-door crew cab models feature a more comfortable rear seat than before thanks to a sloped backrest and headrest that no longer hits at the base of my neck. At 5-foot-10 I could sit behind myself, but tmy knees kissed the back of the front seat. The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon feature a larger cab and more comfortable rear seats.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

New Xtracab models feature a regular cab with only two doors and two front seats. Behind the front seats is a storage area large enough to hold two carry-on bags or some toolboxes.

A 5- or 6-foot bed is available depending on configuration. It’s still made out of composite material and features a low lift-over height. The bed sides are also lower than the competition, making loading and unloading easier. The available power tailgate is smooth and the motor doesn’t sound strained, unlike the Ford F-150.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma evolves iconic design

At a quick glance it’s not apparent the 2024 Tacoma is new. It looks similar to the outgoing truck. The bulging fenders, beefy stance, and cab shape are all similar. But details separate the new truck from the old with muscular sheet metal, huge (removable) front air dams on street-oriented trucks for better aerodynamics and efficiency, and modern LED lighting. Upper trim trucks feature the Tundra’s trick tailgate release hidden next to the taillight that can be bumped with an elbow when carrying heavy loads. Toyota took it a step further and added a second hidden release on the passenger side taillight housing. It’s a genius feature.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma gets serious about going off-road

Toyota clearly put effort into making the Tacoma both more capable and pleasant off road. In brief off-pavement testing the TRD Off-Road’s available disconnecting sway bar enabled more wheel travel to keep the tires in contact with the dirt. The stiffer structure exhibited less flex, instilling more confidence. Perhaps most impressive was how refined the hill descent control has become. The electronic off-road cruise control-like system is as smooth as the systems found in a Chevy or Ford, finally.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

The TRD Off-Road model tested had approach, departure, and breakover angles of 32.5, 22.5, and 24.7 degrees respectively. Combined with 11.0 inches of ground clearance the truck tested had zero issue clambering over some boulders and rutted trails. But another journalist didn’t take the right line and dragged parts of the Tacoms’s rear end over some boulders. Lines matter, and while 33-inch tires will fit, the TRD Off-Road truck rides on 32-inch inch 265/70R17 BFGoodrich Trail-Terrain A/T tires.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma safety

Every Tacoma comes standard with Toyota’s safety suite of active safety tech including automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts will be available.

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota aims for everyone

Arriving late this year, the 2024 Toyota Tacoma will cost $32,995 in base SR trim with steel wheels. That essentially matches the Chevrolet Colorado, which comes with a larger touchscreen, if you’re into that sort of thing.

But with the middle trims costing about $40,000 depending how they are optioned, the Tacoma’s not a cheap truck anymore. The outgoing Limited model cost what a TRD Off-Road and TRD Sport models now cost at $42,900 as tested.

With eight trims, three powertrains, two four-wheel-drive systems, two cab sizes, and two bed lengths, there’s a 2024 Toyota Tacoma for everyone.

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