Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tacoma's a Treat for Your Inner Gearhead

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Tacoma's a Treat for Your Inner Gearhead

Article excerpt

* 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport 4x4 Access Cab: A trip back in time.

* Price: $38,031 as tested (the trim level starts at $32,390). Options included $1,610 for premium and technology package, heating the seats, adding more climate-control touches, and rear parking sonar and cross-traffic alert; $650 for towing package; more options discussed throughout.

* Conventional wisdom: Consumer Reports liked the "high resale value, excellent off-roader, lots of standard safety features" but not that it was "outdated - feels like a 10-year-old design," and had a "sit-on-the-floor driving position, clumsy handling, even for a truck, and stiff ride and noisy cabin."

* Marketer's pitch: "Built for the endless weekend."

* Reality: But I have a job? And a side hustle?

* What's new: The Tacoma goes into the model year mainly unchanged, although it adds standard Toyota Safety Sense, with pedestrian detection pre-collision system, lane departure, automatic high beams and dynamic cruise control.

* Smaller hauler: Midsize trucks, after a few years of being tossed to the clearance rack, are suddenly de rigeur again. Chevrolet brought back the Colorado a few seasons ago, and now the Ford Ranger is coming back for 2019.

But through it all, Toyota has remained faithful to its Tacoma, never wavering from the smaller truck segment.

* Smaller but bigger: But there's a feeling of compromise to these. There's never quite enough space and the fuel economy rarely makes up the difference.But even these smaller trucks aren't all that small. Case in point, the Tacoma.

* On the road: It's worth starting here. Regular followers of my columns know that I put Toyota's trucks and minivans in the hard-to-handle category. As a Sienna owner, I know from unwieldy machines, and the full-size Tundra pickup follows this path to driver fatigue.

The Toyota Tacoma, though, is so much easier to live with; it handles well for its size.

* Shifty: Toyota also sent me the one item I've longed for from trucks for a long time - a stick shift. …

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