2023 Toyota Tacoma
Still #1 In The Segment For A Reason
As you’ve probably heard by now, there’s an all-new 4th generation Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup truck heading our way soon. But before we make way for it, let’s take a look back at what made the 3rd-gen Tacoma so outstanding and popular, and how it stacks up to what we already know about what comes for ’24.
While there have been numerous small Toyota pickup truck designs on American
streets since the 1960s, it was the first gen Tacoma’s arrival in the mid-1990s that put Toyota on
the fast track to become today’s midsize truck sales leader.
This 3rd generation Tacoma debuted for 2016 as a much more serious truck than predecessors,
with significant upgrades in ride-and-handling and capability. TRD off-road chops expanded
greatly too, including the most capable TRD Pro yet.
That theme will continue for ’24 with the 4th gen not only offering TRD Sport, TRD Pro, TRD
Off-Road, and TRD PreRunner models, but even turning to the aftermarket for help as well, with
a new Trailhunter rig upgraded with pieces from ARB, Old Man Emu, and Rigid.
3rd gen arrived with a choice of 159-horsepower 2.7-liter I4, or 278-horsepower 3.5-liter V6
with 265 lb-ft. of torque; and no major changes were made to either throughout its 8-year run.
Gen 4 will see a big departure with all 4-cylinders. But not to worry, there’s turbo and even
hybrid assistance. So, the base 2.4-liter i-FORCE turbo will rate the same 278-horsepower as
gen 3’s V6. The i-FORCE MAX will crank it up to 326-horsepower and 465 lb-ft. of torque,
which is 200 more than the V6.
Automatic transmissions will go from 6-speeds to 8, and a 6-speed manual will remain available
too, though only with the base turbo-4.
We felt one last hurrah for the 3rd gen was in order at our Mason Dixon test track. While the V6
Tacoma has always felt plenty torquey off-pavement, at the track it launched very softly for a
lengthy 7.9-second trip to 60. We can’t wait to get that i-FORCE MAX up here to see what it
Even with off-road tires, it was a very smooth, pleasant shifting trip down the rest of the ¼-mile,
albeit a very loud one. We tripped the lights in 16.1-seconds at 89 miles-per-hour.
Those Good Year Wrangler A/Ts are surely designed for gripping wet rocks and cutting through
mud more than providing maximum traction through cones, so our slalom speeds were relatively
low; but steering was light, and overall handling very predictable.
In panic braking runs we could really feel the ABS working overtime, but that just makes sense,
as bringing this truck to a halt in just 115-feet from 60 is hard work indeed.
The majority of Tacomas sold are four-door Double Cabs like this TRD Off-Road and come with
a choice of either a 5 or 6-foot bed. That won’t change for ’24. But, oddly, the current Access
Cab with 2 front and 2 rear hinged doors, will be replaced with a 2-door only XtraCab. Crash
worthiness and declining demand were apparently behind the decision. But, the new XtraCab
will have added space for gear inside as well as a 6-foot bed.
Another major departure for Gen 4 will be its frame. It’s shared with the full-size Tundra. If
there’s one issue that Gen 3 trucks had, it was frame rust. To be fair, Toyota quickly addressed
the situation, and even replaced early run frames under warranty.
Perhaps even more significant is that most trims will have an all-new coil spring suspension
bolted to the back half of that new frame. Leaf springs will still suspend the lowest trims.
Styling is always subjective, but we love the fact that the ’24 appears to build on Gen 3, looking
like a tougher Tacoma and not a baby Tundra.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are sure to improve over the current V6 auto’s 18-City, 22-
Highway, 20-Combined with 4-wheel-drive.
That’s a worse than average Energy Impact Score; 14.9-barrels of oil annually; emitting 7.4-tons
Now, if you’re the kind of truck buyer who prefers to stick with the well-proven and let someone
else work out the kinks, you still have plenty of time to pick up a ’23 Tacoma with prices ranging
from $29,585 to $49,020, with our TRD Off-Road at $37,775. We expect pricing to stay pretty
close to that when ‘24s go on sale this fall.
With smaller trucks sales now hotter than they’ve been in a long time, this 2023 Toyota Tacoma
remains the best seller in the midsize segment, despite it’s lack of change. So, Toyota probably
didn’t have to do as drastic a rethink as they did for ’24. While the Gen 3 is still a great truck, we
think we’ll also love what’s coming next, and Tacoma fans will too.
- Engine: 2.7L I-4 | 3.5L V6
- Horsepower: 159 | 278
- 0-60 mph: 7.9 seconds
- 60-0 Braking: 115-feet (avg.)
- Transmission: 6-speed auto | 6-speed manual
- Torque: 180 lb-ft | 265 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 16.1-seconds at 89 MPH
- EPA: 18 City / 22 Highway / 20 Combined