By on August 17, 2011

A new Toyota Tacoma is scheduled for release this fall, and pickuptrucks.com reckons this is it. And because this appears to be nothing more than a relatively mild facelift, we believe it. What would have been too surprising to be true: a completely redesigned, ground-up new compact truck from any automaker in the US market. Apparently building all-new compact pickups for the US market went out of style towards the end of the Clinton Administration… so we’ll have to make do with another facelifted 5+ year-old product. It’s OK, we’re gettig used to it. Video here

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39 Comments on “2012 Toyota Tacoma: It’s A Facelift (Of Course)...”


  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    I thought the Tacoma was a mid-size pickup, something like the Dakota?

    Besides, if it is a compact p/u, what’s the point of sinking a lot into a full redesign if there is (virtually) no competition in that segment?

    • 0 avatar

      It is definitely larger than a compact truck, but then again there aren’t any true compact trucks left.

      The Chevy Colorado and Ford Ranger are the only compact trucks left and I think they are being discontinued soon. Although, even Chevy refers to its Colorado as mid-size.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        How is it larger than a true compact? Sit in one or put a load in the bed and get back to me. Fat fenders on a Hilux does not make it mid-size like the Dakota.

        Compare this thing to an ’85 Toyota underneath and it is virtually identical.

  • avatar
    Sammy B

    What’s the word on Scion’s A-BAT pickup? Is that smaller pickup supposed to happen still? Please tell me it’s not FWD.

    I’d love a return to the smaller Toyota pickups from the 80s and 90s, but I have a feeling there’s just not enough room for them in toyota’s lineup. a base, stripped Tacoma starts at $16xxx. To truly make a legit smaller/cheaper model, it would have to come in around $13000 or less. For whatever reason(s), that seems basically impossible now.

    As Robert.Walter said above, why dump a lot of development $ into a new model when the segment lacks competition. From a purely business-standpoint, this is, unfortunately, the smart move. The danger becomes they let it rot on the vine too long and somebody decides to enter the segment and then toyota could possibly be behind the curve. On the flipside, I assume a new entrant wouldn’t just pop up overnight. Toyota would have some forewarning

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      The asking price for the basic single cab with an automatic and 4 cylinder is just $26.00 shy of $19K at our local Toyota dealer.

      The truth is I preferred the 96 thru 04 Tacoma. It was better sized, better styled, had a more refined interior and a steel versus the current composite bed.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        What is the advantage (besides recyclability) of the steel bed vs the current composite bed?

      • 0 avatar
        tekdemon

        I like the idea of a composite bed better since I’m not as worried about the paint cracking off from use and rusting out the bed, but to each their own I guess.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        The composite bed, which in this case is an inner bucket between two metal fenders, is mounted to the vehicles frame with four bolts.

        Pick up trucks flex a good bit on bumpy roads. Overtime, especially if the vehicle is used on unpaved roads, the composite material around the mounting holes can wear away. An annoying rattle develops – due to the now loose fit of the bed.

        Although it is doable – mounting a small, lightweight, pop-up camper requires the use of a backing plate under the composite bed for anchoring turnbuckles.

        Below is a newer Tacoma with such a set up:

        http://www.fourwheelcampers.com/ranger2.html

        I still prefer the generation one Taco, shown in the bottom photos of the following web page:

        http://www.fourwheelcampers.com/eaglephotogallery.htm

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Honest, non-snark/snide question – how different would a completely redesigned, ground-up, new compact truck be from what we have right now?

    Besides, it’s not like the Tacoma’s really even a compact truck anymore and redesigns tend to make vehicles girthier.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I like the look, but disappointed that the new 1GR isn’t showing up. While the old 1GR + 6MT drives great, it certainly isn’t the easiest on fuel. I have a ’10 4Runner with the new 1GR and I get 22mpg all day long. My dad’s 6MT, V6 ’11 Tacoma is generally around 20mpg in pretty good driving conditions. The gearing is just so aggressive on the 6MT, V6 Tacomas.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Not a bad facelift, however the Tacoma wasn’t ugly-bugly to begin with. Call me odd, but ever since I was a child cars have had faces to me, and this one looks like a Pug Dog.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    I wonder why they’re even bothering with a facelift. This truck has precisely no competition as it is. GM introduced the epic dud known as the Colorado and Canyon back in 2004, and they can’t be bothered addressing their horrible product decisions after all these years. The Ranger has had nothing but facelifts since 1983, the last and most extensive in 1998. 1998. That leaves Nissan, and maybe Dodge. Mazda? Isuzu? Mitsubishi? Jeep? The Nissan was last tweaked for 2005, and I don’t think anyone considers it more than a potentially easier to acquire Tacoma alternative. The Dodge Dakota is bigger, and I can’t recall seeing one. The only newish small pickups I see are Tacomas. The older ones are Rangers, often modified to suit past fads. You’d think Toyota would be tempted to pull a Ford, and just keep building Tacomas until the buyers are nostalgia hunters.

    • 0 avatar
      aristurtle

      Dodge is killing off the Dakota, and Ford is ending the Ranger (and with it the rebadged Mazda B-series truck). The only “competition” is the Colorado/Canyon and the Frontier, neither of which sell in any significant volume.

      So, yeah, it’s probably going to be facelifts only until a credible competitor shows up. Facelifts are important because they make a buyer more likely to buy new rather than used, and they don’t cost the manufacturer very much to do.

      I kinda miss the first-gen Tacoma, though; the newer ones got too big.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The competition really amounts to the Frontier, which isn’t saying much. The domestics in this space sell to fleets and/or to people who are buying on price but for some perverse reason, won’t look at used.

      Even the Frontier is a tough sell. Unless you have a really compelling reason to ignore the steep discounts on the Titan, it’s pointless. The Tacoma is at least notionally useful in certain, lower trims, than the Tundra.

      The competition for this truck isn’t the other compacts, it’s fire-sale and off-lease F-150s et al, and there it has no real chance.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        People buy these precisely because they don’t want a full sized truck. Even if the Tacoma has grown, look at how full sized trucks have ballooned. I also see a bunch of small trucks with logos on the doors doing actual work. Apparently there are still some people who don’t want to buy more truck than they will use. Are there fire sale and off lease F-150s? Even before QE2 and the coring of our used car market, pickups have always held their value except in the early days of fuel crunches. Maybe GM trying to dump 2011 trucks will have an impact on pickup prices, but I know it wouldn’t be enough to get me to look at a full sized truck I don’t need over a small truck that I want.

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        Dad had a string of 1st gen Dakotas, he liked the size and lack of gargantuan proportions of the full size trucks. He bought his first brand new vehicle for himself a couple years ago, and bought a GMC Canyon. It’s the perfect size for what his needs are. He despises full size trucks for personal use.

        Full size trucks flat out dwarf any full size trucks made 15 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      The Ranger was last totally re-engineered in 1993, not 1983.

      http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/1993-to-1997-ford-ranger.htm

      Toyota has totally re-engineered their trucks twice since 1993. The Ranger on the other hand got a partial makeover in 1998, that was mainly a redesign of the front suspension to include rack and pinion steering.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Even your link agrees with me that 1993 was only a restyling. The changes for 1998 were bigger, and I mentioned that facelift.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        Old, you are referring to the U/PN105/6. This had major upgrades also in 1998 as the U/PN150/1 program and you are right about the front chassis upgrades, I know cause I worked on several of the new parts that went into that car … it was amazing, for a time, since Ranger and Mazda B-Series, Explorer and Mazda Navajo, were coming off that common platform, that family of parts was about 1 million parts per year and generated a small fortune!

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        The change over in 98 also got rid of the Twin I beam suspension in favor of SLA, a longer cab with bigger doors, and a 2.5l four.

        I worked for an autoparts company and we had a 97 and 98 Rangers as fleet vehicles, and at 6’2″ the 97 standard cabs were an adventure in origami for me, not to mention the performance of the 2.3 and automatic which could be measured with a sundial.

        The 98 was much better, and the little bit of added power from the bigger motor made it much more livable, it also lost the annoying sideways hop when going over joints caused by the jacking action of the twin-i beams.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    looks like a new bumper, grill and headlights and call it a day boys!

  • avatar
    Loser

    Back in 1985 we bought a new 5 speed extended cab. That thing was indestructible. Sold it to a friend and he is still driving it. The quality was much better on the ’85 than the 2003 4Runner we now have. I wish they would go back to that size. May as well get a full size because with the current model your not saving much on gas or purchase price.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Does this thing had any in common with the Hilux at all? Seem silly for Toyota to do completely different, roughly similar-sized trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Looking at the Hilux below, I’d have to conclude there is not much in common on the outside.

      http://automotiveroom.com/wp-content/uploads/2012-Toyota-Hilux-Front-angle.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Looking at the old Tacoma door’s contours/charactor lines shows that the Hilux doors will bolt on to the Tacoma cab, meaning it’s just a reskin.

        http://www.zercustoms.com/news/images/Toyota/2011-Toyota-Tacoma-TRD-TX-Pro-3.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        Hiluxes are work trucks, Tacomas are personal vehicles.

        The line started splitting in the 90s, with less and less commonality until 2005, when Toyota really split it. Now they’re two completely different species, based on separate platforms with only a few superficial similarities.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      This guy:
      http://www.brian894x4.com/Hiluxdifferences.html
      Does a really good write up of how the two designs evolved along different paths.

      • 0 avatar
        Bryce

        Except he ignores the Japanese models

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        Thanks for the information. Amazing that Toyota would bite the bullet and design a special platform for Tacoma, given that compact pickup is such a small market these days. Even as others abandoning the market left and right. I guess that only means they’ll sell even more Tacomas now that the competition is few and far between.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    As the owner of an ’82 Toyota 4×4 I can say its small compared to even a Ranger today. Its a great truck but sometimes I wonder if anyone bigger than me (5’11″) could even drive it, I have the seat full back. The cab is so small I can roll the passenger window down without leaning over to it. Too many Big Macs in todays diet to fit the micro-truck of yesteryear.

  • avatar
    jj99

    But, in Southern California, these vehicles are highly sought after by 20 something males. This is the must have truck for them. I don’t see them driving F100 or Silverado. Those are for workers only.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Well, there are certain young men that buy Silverado HDs and F-250s with diesel engines, lift kits, and really big tires. I don’t actually know any of them, but I see them cruising around. They all seem to have plenty of money left over for dramatic hairstyles and jewelry too.

  • avatar
    littlehulkster

    Call me back when someone decides to make a real small truck again. With the death of the Ranger, all we can get is these bloated midsizers that sell for half ton prices and get half ton mileage.

    There’s absolutely no reason to buy this truck anymore now than an F150 is within a grand and maybe 1MPG.

    If someone could make a true, basic small truck again and sell it for bargain prices, it would sell.

    Until then, I’ll stick with my diesel Pup.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      My dad chose a Tacoma over a Tundra because he simply prefers a smaller truck. The full size trucks are way too big these days and it would drive me crazy trying to park one of those monsters. My wife and I stopped for ice cream last night, pulling our 4Runner in beside a Tundra. The girl in the Tundra left, well, tried to leave before we did. After trying to back out several times, she sat in the truck waiting for us to leave. I easily pulled my 4Runner out of the spot and drove away. Only then was she able to pull out of the parking lot.

      And while the full size trucks get pretty similar fuel economy on the highway (where the extra mass isn’t as big of a factor in to the total system drag and the high low-end torque V8s can lug along in the 2nd OD gear), if you do any “city” driving, you will save considerable money and hassle driving the smaller truck.

  • avatar
    SuperACG

    No competitors? Looks like its time for VW to bring over the Amarok! Come on! It’s a GTI with a pickup bed!!!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Compare this thing to an ’85 Toyota underneath and it is virtually identical.”

    BS. I sat my butt in a ’93 Toyota PU for 11 years. The current Tacoma is a lot bigger than that truck was.

    “The full size trucks are way too big these days and it would drive me crazy trying to park one of those monsters”

    Of course the other side of that coin is the curretn full size 1/2 ton V8 trucks, (other than the Tundra as that thing is a pig) return pretty much the same MPG as the V6 Tacoma. Identical or better when towing.

    Imagine my surprise when I took my ’97 Tahoe w/5.7 Vortec on a road trip and found it got almost 19 MPG on the highway running 70-75 MPH. My ’93 Toyota PU w/3.0 V6 and a 5 speed would have given me 20 MPG at best. Both were 4WD vehicles. in town the Toyota still got 19 MPG and the Chevy was down around 14 MPG.


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