The Truth About Cars » Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:57:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Tacoma http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Chicago 2014: Toyota TRD Pro Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-toyota-trd-pro-live-shots/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:20:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=735449 IMG_5645

One nice thing about being the company that builds the Prius: you can get away with stuff like this.

The TRD Pro trucks, discussed earlier today, ring the retro bell hard with the reintroduction of the simple “TOYOTA” script on the grilles. To a generation that remembers unkillable half-tons bouncing across the California dunes with half a million miles showing on the odometer, this is a welcome change.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Less is More…Enlightening? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/vellum-venom-vignette-less-is-more-enlightening/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/vellum-venom-vignette-less-is-more-enlightening/#comments Sat, 09 Mar 2013 11:11:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480559 Mark writes:

Sajeev,

We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern.

In short, Jeep’s design team needs to be raked across the coals for destroying what was Chrysler’s best-looking vehicle on the market, and I think you are the man to do the raking.

Sajeev answers:

I’m honored you think I’m worthy of Raking the Design Muck, especially since your concise assessment is spot on: every element presented here is a big car design FAIL.

It leaves very little for me to prove. So let’s dig deeper. Change for the sake of change to a well-received design (i.e. not the Pontiac Aztek) isn’t normally a good thing: be it as eye-gouging as the Ferrari Testarossa turning into the hideous 512M or as minor as a Headlight Fail on the redesigned Grand Cherokee, this change uses R&D money to make something different at the expense of good taste.  Which is sad.

And inexcusable…but far from uncommon.  For example, the 2013 Toyota Tacoma work truck.

Is anyone fooled into thinking those are real fog lights?  Just make a blank panel for the fleet model instead…please! The previous model was far less offensive, even the goofy grilles of the fleet-spec Ford Ranger are better. While the Ranger is an outdated design, time has been the little Ford’s friend. Remember that “change for the sake of change” thing? It leads to the conclusion.

 And now for the key takeaway:  be it in the world of Automotive Accounting, Engineering or Industrial Design, the concept of “Less is More” is true.  Don’t waste money making parts that fight with a design (Grand Cherokee) or make it look cheaper than necessary (Tacoma). So design it right from the start.  Easier said than done, as I’ve heard (horror?) stories of designers working with engineers to get the proper end result.

So do the right thing because people are watching. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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Review: 2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-toyota-tacoma-trd-tx-baja-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2012-toyota-tacoma-trd-tx-baja-edition/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 18:17:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460053

Toyota trucks have long been the staple of practical truck shoppers, young shoppers looking for a cooler first ride, off-roaders and just about every rebel militia. What’s a company like Toyota do to keep sales of the 8-year-old truck going? Special editions of course. Despite the higher profits, Toyota decided to skip the “freedom fighter” edition with bench seating for 8 in the bed and a .50 caliber machine gun on the roof in favor of an off-the-rack off-roader. Thus the Tacoma TRD T|X Baja Edition was born. In case you are wondering, T|X stands for Tacoma Xtreme. You know, because it is way cooler to spell extreme without an “e.”

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

The Tacoma has been with us for a long time and there’s little disguising that despite the periodic face lifts. Still, in the truck world this isn’t really a problem as styles change slowly and long product cycles are the more the rule than the exception. Despite a 2009 refresh, the most common comment I received from friends during my week with the Tacoma was:  “I didn’t know you had an old truck.” Xtreme? Not so much. While Toyota still offers a regular cab Tacoma for $17,525, the Baja Edition is only offered in with a “Double Cab” or “Access Cab.” Color options are limited to black or red for 2012.

Interior

The last time we looked at the Tacoma’s cabin, a common complaint was the car-like interior. The basics of that interior are still with us, but Toyota swapped in a chunky steering wheel, shiny metal bling and rubber flooring to butch-up our Baja. Compared to the current Nissan Frontier and Chevy Colorado, the Tacoma is a more comfortable place to spend your time and the cabin looks less dated as well. Despite the car-like shapes and Toyota sedan door handles, my forum trolling indicates the interior holds up well to abuse. While the cabin is far from Xtreme, I don’t have a problem with car cabins in trucks.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Infotainment

All Tacoma models (including the base model) come standard with Toyota’s snazzy 6.1-inch “Display Audio” system. The touch-screen head unit is easy to use and allows full control of your USB/iDevice as well as Bluetooth audio streaming and Bluetooth speakerphone integration. The audio quality from the base speaker package is merely average, if you care about your tunes upgrade to the JBL system. Toyota’s Entune software is available as an option and enables smartphone integrated apps like iHeartRadio and Bing. Also available is a $1,930 package that combines Entune, the optional navigation software, JBL speakers, XM/HD radio and a subwoofer.

While systems like MyFord Touch, or even Toyota’s own higher end nav systems use Sirius or XM satellite radio to deliver data content, the Display Audio system pulls the information off the internet using your smartphone and data plan. As a result, there’s no need for an XM or Sirius subscription. The downside? You can’t access these services without a smartphone, so if you haven’t joined the 21st century and are still using a Motorola StarTac, you won’t be able OpenTable.com whileyou roll. Is a well balanced JBL system with smartphone love Xtreme? For this segment it sure is.

Drivetrain & Off-Road Enhancements

The Tacoma’s base engine is a 2.7L four-cylinder engine good for 159HPand 180lb-ft of twist. In order to get the Baja Package you have to step up to the optional 4.0L V6 which produces 236HP at 5,200RPM and 266lb-ft of at 4,000RPM. (And check that 4×4 option box as well.) While the 2.7L is still saddled with Toyota’s old four-speed auto or five-speed manual, the V6 gets a newer five-speed auto or six-speed manual. The Baja uses a traditional two-range transfer case (read: part-time 4WD) and both a “real” locking rear differential and a brake-actuated limited-slip rear differential just like the regular 4X4 Tacoma. The lack of driveline differentiation makes sense as the Baja is built on the San Antonio assembly line, then over to the Toyota Logistical Services building (on-site) where a team disassembles the Tacoma suspension and reassembles it with the Baja bits. By hand.

Compared to the Ford Raptor, Toyota’s changes to the Tacoma donor truck are less “Xtreme” with all the changes working within the stock suspension design as much as possible. For instance, despite going from 8.5 to 9.25 inches, front wheel travel is limited by the the upper A-arm design which is retained from the stock Tacoma. The enormous 60mm Bilstein shocks (originally designed for motor home use) will support more travel should a buyer decide to swap out the A-arm for an aftermarket unit. The Baja receives new springs all the way around for two-inch bump in height and rear suspension travel is increased from 8.5 to 10 inches. To help in cooling and performance, the rear shocks are upgraded to 50mm units that sport a remote reservoir.

The Baja edition also sports a TRD cat-back exhaust, some crazy side graphics and unique 16-inch wheels shod with 265-width BFGoodrich all-terrain tires. As you would expect, all the usual TRD off-road gear is included in the Baja package from skid plates up front to a 400-watt AC power inverter integrated into the truck bed.

Drive

If you’re looking for a head-to-head Baja vs Raptor comparison, you clicked on the wrong review. The Raptor is a different animal entirely and it’s just not a fair comparison to the Baja. The Ford is bigger, heavier, more powerful, faster, more expensive, and plays to a different audience.

On the road the Baja is surprisingly civilized for an off-road tuned vehicle. If you ever needed a reason to select the “factory” off-road truck instead of DIY modding, on-asphalt manners are that reason. Aside from the drone of the TRD cat-back exhaust, the Tacoma’s cabin is quiet, comfortable and a great place to be on a 5 hour road trip. However, it is out on the highway that Toyota’s V6 and 5-speed auto start to show their age. On the gently rolling hills of US-101 in California, the Baja’s lack of low end torque and tall 5th gear meant the transmission shifted frequently. The relatively low fourth gear combined with the cat-back drone spoiled an otherwise well behaved highway cruiser.

Off road, the Baja is a comfortable companion on the trail soaking up bumps without loosing composure. Like all trucks, the Baja is front heavy (56/44 % F/R) and is designed for load carrying in the bed. This combination of a light rear end and suspension designed for a load means that most trucks tend to get “squirrely” out back on washboard dirt roads at moderate speeds. The Baja on the other hand never broke a sweat thanks to the well-tuned Bilstein shocks and springs. The improved articulation of the suspension helped the Baja feel almost as sure-footed as the FJ Cruiser on the deeply rutted trails we encountered.

There are a few things that must be said. First off, pretty much nobody takes their brand-new, bone-stock anything to the off-road park and thrashes it. In our brand-new, bright-red Toyota pickup, all eyes at the SVRA were upon us as we bottomed out on a concrete pipe. They probably went home and told stories about the crazy dude in the new truck. Second, even in Baja trim the Tacoma’s approach/departure/break-over angles take a back seat to the FJ Cruiser and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Third, Toyota does not offer a locking front differential. I didn’t think the diff deficit would be too big of an issue until we were on tight switch-back turns at Hollister Hills where the large 40-foot turning circle (44 in the long bed) meant I was off the trail more than I was on it. If the Baja had a locking or limited slip diff up front, I wouldn’t have had to constantly resort to the hundred-point-turn to navigate some of the trickier descents. Despite these shortcomings, the Baja is “light” at 4,300lbs, some 900lbs lighter than a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a whopping 1,700lbs lighter than the Ford Raptor. Depending on the type of off-roading you plan on tackling, this lighter curb weight has some serious advantages.

Pricing is where the T|X Baja Edition shines. The base Access Cab model with the 6-speed manual transmission starts at $32,990 and our fully loaded four-door model with the automatic transmission and navigation rang in at $39,150. The observant in the crowd will notice two things, the Baja package costs $4,365 more than a truck without it, but more importantly (and quite strangely) it is cheaper than the Tacoma with the less rugged TRD off-road package. Go figure. While this is much cheaper than the Raptor which ranges from $42,975 to $53,000, it is strangely more expensive than the more capable FJ Crusier which rings in at $37,400  with Toyota’s “trail-teams” off-road package. Toyota plans to make only 750 due to the production limitations in 2012 but has promised the Baja will return for the 2013 model year with some tweaked options. If you’re the kind of person that’s willing to take their new car off-road, the Baja is easily the most Xtreme capable new truck for the price. I’m just not sure I’d take my shiny new truck too far off the beaten path.

Toyota provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 7.08 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.5 Seconds @ 87MPH

Average Economy: 17.5MPG over 1020 Miles

 

2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, Wheels, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, front, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Exterior, T/X badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, gauges, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, steering wheel, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, dashboard, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seats, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. DykesTacoma Baja-016 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seat storage, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, rear seat storage, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Engine, 4.0L V6, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2012 Toyota Tacoma Baja, Interior, Infotainment Entune, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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The Truth About Ford’s other Workhorses http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/strategy-vs-abandonment-the-truth-about-ford%e2%80%99s-other-workhorses/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/strategy-vs-abandonment-the-truth-about-ford%e2%80%99s-other-workhorses/#comments Tue, 13 Dec 2011 20:02:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422239

 

Ford makes great full size trucks, but repeat after me: not everyone cares about the F-150. There’s more to being a Ford truck than what Toby Keith and Mike Rowe said. Listen up peeps: this is a story of having a growth and retention strategy for one product line, and an exit strategy for another.

First, the Econoline: slated for replacement by the thoroughly modern Ford Transit vans, there’s good news for everyone. Well, except for every small-time rock band that would sacrifice a groupie for said Econoline with a 7.3L Powerstroke to cheaply haul their crew and a box trailer full of their shit. Full size vans need to take a page from Europe, without the nightmare diagnostic scenarios presented by the Mercedes Sprinter.  And here it is.

 

Well not exactly.  But I can’t resist posting a picture of the Transit Supervan 2, which proves that any love we feel for the Econoline is absolutely trumped by the love the world feels for the Transit.

One of my mates in the UK owns a small auto repair/MOT business, and he loathes working on the Sprinters, for all the reasons seen on a US-Sprinter forum. Ask him about the Ford Transit, ANY Transit, and his face lightens up.  The European workhorse everyone knows and loves deserves to be here, provided Ford makes all the Transit specific parts available, affordable and easy to service by anyone familiar with traditional US-spec vans. That is no small feat, but totally doable. I predict Ford will retain their title in the world of Van Awesomeness, and I look forward to meeting the replacement for TTAC’s first and only custom van review!

Then there’s the Ford Ranger debacle. People say it hasn’t changed much since the early 1990s, which is a load of bull. That said, most people don’t care about what engineers do under the sheet metal. So I get it.

The Ranger is slated for extinction next week. The truck that gave Ford the commanding presence in the compact workhorse market, the vehicle that still sells disgustingly well by anyone’s metric, is being replaced by…nothing. And unlike Panther Love, where “criminal” platform neglect (get it?) forced retail buyers into the arms of other manufacturers for the past 15-20 years, the Ranger is still good enough for a little truck.

And while my bias to the Ranger is clear, Ford’s rationale for abandoning the market is not. But let’s try anyway, shall we?

I once had a quote showing Ford’s decision to push would-be Ranger buyers into the (upcoming) Focus and Fiesta. Too bad I lost it. Luckily the B&B found it for me. And now the F-150 is thrown into the mix.  Ford thinks the base model F-150 will hoover up Ranger buyers that wouldn’t touch a Fiesta. It’s a similar rationale used when replacing the original Taurus with the Fusion and the Five Hundred. Which was a rather colossal blunder, but that’s not the point.  The Ranger isn’t the Taurus.  And to quote Erich Merkle, Ford’s U.S. sales analyst (via WardsAuto):

“Nobody has infinite resources, and we have to figure out how we can best position those resources to meet the needs of customers today and in the future. (The Ranger) has been pretty popular, but we think more of a baseline F-150 can also meet a good portion of those needs.”

And, in a fitting eulogy for the Ford Ranger, Jeremy Cato retorted, “Corporate-speak, if ever I’ve heard it.”  Read the whole article, it’s worth it.

Because he is right.  The Ranger does it all with a tiny footprint.  And while mere inches separate the Ranger from the Toyota Tacoma, the Taco feels much bigger, sucks down more gas, has poorer visibility and costs significantly more when you spec them out.  Along with freebies like fog lights, Class III receiver hitch, and four wheel disc brakes, my cheap-as-chips Ranger XLT surprised me with something else: a recent trip to San Antonio (tonneau cover equipped, A/C running, driving assertively) netted a robust 33MPG.  Try that in an F-150, or any other truck for that matter. You still think the Ranger hasn’t changed in 15 years, son?

Once more: thirty three MPG.  Tons of visibility and more chassis/suspension/powertrain refinement than you’d expect from an “unchanged since the 1990s” pickup.  But the sheet metal lied to us, and too bad what you see below wasn’t our ”forgive me” present.

 

But to be fair to Ford, I suspect importing/assembling the “other” Ranger in North America shall cost more than abandoning the people who won’t move to a Fiesta or F150. It’s always cheaper to do nothing and narrow your scope. That’s a totally fair business practice.

Profitability via Mutilation much?

So there you have it: two long standing models, two names with a famous-ish history and tens of thousands of fiercely loyal buyers…with two unique outcomes.

Oddly enough, my 33MPG trip to the Home of the Alamo is the silver lining: the nearby Toyota truck factory is standing by.  Just a guess, but expect them to ramp up Tacoma production another 50,000+ units annually to take up the slack left behind by Ford. And expect them to laugh all the way to the bank.

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New or Used: Eliminate Debt, Eliminate Subie? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-eliminate-debt-eliminate-subie/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/new-or-used-eliminate-debt-eliminate-subie/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 16:46:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420809

 

Ryan writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I find myself perplexed by a vehicular conundrum. A year ago I purchased my first new car, a 2010 Subaru WRX STI SE. It is a great car. Previously I daily drove a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser. Another great car. I drive about 20,000 miles a year, mostly on the highway.

My wife and I both work. We contribute heavily to our 401K’s and IRA’s. About a month after I purchased the car my wife decided to go back to school, for an MBA. No problem. She now has a year left. For the year we will be setting aside just shy of $1000 per month to pay for her schooling. This leaves us saving very little over the next year. We have emergency funds to last a few months should the need arise. I want to eliminate debt as soon as possible (currently 2 car loans and a mortgage, nothing more).

My inner cheapskate has become uncomfortable with the nearly $1100 a month operating costs of my beloved STI. My inner car guy misses the Land Cruiser terribly. I’m without a truck. Replacing the STI with another 80 series Land Cruiser or Land Rover Discovery I do not save much money because of the fuel costs.

I am contemplating selling the STI, and picking up a truck and a commuter. The commuter would need to be somewhere around $10,000 or less. Cash for one vehicle, maybe a loan for the other. The ideal commuter would be more comfortable than the STI, get around 30 MPG, have four doors and possibly be all wheel drive (for ski trips). Cadillac CTS? Lexus something? Nothing soulless, please. I can turn a wrench and can maintain both vehicles no problem.

What say you? Do I keep the STI and buy a truck when I can? Sell the STI, buy the truck and commuter? If so, what kind do you suggest?

See the attached spreadsheet. (Ryan’s Car choices)

Steve Answers:

My assumption is that you can cash out the STI. Because if you can’t there is no need to read beyond this sentence.

Well now… you apparently want a Euro car in an American market. Before we cross the bridge of dread known as ’10 year old European car’ I have to ask you three questions (cue Monty Python bridge scene).

  1. Have you ever spent more than five hours performing a major maintenance or repair… and succeeded?
  2. Are you one of those people who enjoys reading up on enthusiast forums at odd hours?
  3. When someone tells you about ‘electrical issues’ with their ride, is your first gut reaction to flee and/or throw up?

If you have the courage to brave a parts network that arguably lead to the fall of the EU, then by all means have at it. Audi sells the A3, A4 and A6. BMW has the 3-Series and 5-Series. Mercedes has… well, let’s not go there.

If saving money and having a fling is your thing, then ask Sajeev. Or get a Lexus IS300 SportCross.

Sajeev Answers:

Don’t ask me about having flings, but I am a damn good tightwad…maybe that’s the problem?

So what does the lady in your life drive?  I hope it’s a Panther, as that would make my job much easier.  But I still might give the same answer: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Odds are your wife’s ride doesn’t suck down money like the gas/insurance/monthly payment of an STI.  Even if it isn’t a “commuter” car.

Definitely sell the STI. You like trucks, so get one. Take it from me, people are actually excited to go for a ride my stupid little 4cyl/5-spd Ford Ranger. I really don’t get it. For some reason being inside a truck with a stick shift is exciting and different to most folk. Which is a sad (but true) statement about our overweight, over-leveraged, conspicuous consumption society. You can both appreciate a cheap little truck’s charm AND enjoy it, considering your love affair with the Land Cruiser. Not to mention you need the money. So be a tightwad like me, at 33MPG highway in my case you won’t regret it. At least not initially.(cough)

You are in Tacoma land, or Ranger land**.  Neither are soulless, as my experiences have shown. Drive them both and see if the Taco is worth the price premium…buy it with cash and get one loan payment out of the way. Worry about the wife’s car later, that is a separate problem.

**If you are upside down on your loan for the STI, you might very well be in $8000 Ford Ranger territory.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Yee-Haw! Toyota Shows Truck With Texas-Sized Name At Texas State Fair http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/yee-haw-toyota-shows-truck-with-texas-sized-name-at-texas-state-fair/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/yee-haw-toyota-shows-truck-with-texas-sized-name-at-texas-state-fair/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2011 18:44:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412983 In case you are at the Texas State Fair in Dallas at this moment, stop staring at million dollar steers and heifers and go over to Toyota. They will show you a truck with the longest name in recorded Texas history. It’s the “pre-production Tacoma Toyota Racing Development (TRD) T|X (Tacoma Extreme) limited edition pickup truck.”

We did not make that up, it says so right here in the press release. If “pre-production Tacoma Toyota Racing Development (TRD) T|X (Tacoma Extreme) limited edition pickup truck”  is too long, you can call it “Baja Series.”

The production version is scheduled for launch in late spring 2012. It will come with a 4.0-liter V6 engine with either six-speed manual and five-speed automatic transmissions, along with  “bead-lock style off-road wheels with an exclusive Gun-Metal Gray finish.” More data in the factory blurb.

2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_016. Picture courtesy Toyota 2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_008. Picture courtesy Toyota 2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_020. Picture courtesy Toyota 2012_Toyota_Tacoma_Baja_018. Picture courtesy Toyota Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Piston Slap: The budget is Tight, the Ranger is Right? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/piston-slap-the-budget-is-tight-the-ranger-is-right/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/piston-slap-the-budget-is-tight-the-ranger-is-right/#comments Tue, 13 Sep 2011 08:04:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=410908  

Ryan writes:

I have a friend who just got her PhD and is moving to Texas for her post-doc. She has never owned a car, but now needs to get one so she can go out in the field to do research. I’ve agreed to help her find something used, probably a small manual-transmission pickup truck. Needless to say she’s not a car person at all, just wants something inexpensive (under 5k), that she won’t have to worry about too much. I’m recommending something after 96 or so, to get the R134A A/C and maybe a few more airbags and safety features.

I have owned a couple Nissans (Frontier and Rogue), and a Toyota Tacoma, and my brother owned a Nissan Frontier, all were mostly problem free. I also had a 91 Ford Explorer before that, which also gave me few problems up to 200k miles.

Given my experiences, I’ve been thinking Tacoma or Frontier for my friend, I think they will be more reliable at the high mileages she can afford. But looking in the local (Phoenix, AZ) Craigslist – By Owner section, I see that Tacomas are relatively more expensive, older Frontiers are cheaper but less common (many are also heavily modified), and there seem to be lots of less expensive Ford Rangers available.

Do you agree with the 96 or later idea? Or do you think something older could work? What about the Ranger’s reliability as opposed to the imports? Also, are there any other models with a proven track record she should consider? And finally, given that a 10+ year old truck with over 100k miles is going to need maintenance no matter what, what about parts availability and ease-of-maintenance between the brands?

Sajeev answers:

1996 and newer is definitely the way to go: any modern mechanic can diagnose and repair an OBD-II vehicle, and you do get the benefit of better equipment…usually.  Now there was an all-new Tacoma for 1995, and rumor has it that they received OBD-II like their 1996 brothers somewhere in the middle of the production year. From a Piston Slap standpoint, the Tacoma had the nicest motors and are generally regarded as the best in their class in design and fit and finish.  From a “New or Used” standpoint, they are ridiculously overpriced and the Ranger is good enough.

I’d recommend all three: Ranger, Tacoma and Frontier. In that order. Rangers are stupid cheap, unquestionably reliable (especially the 2.3L and 3.0L models) and there will be plenty of cheap spares for decades to come. The Tacoma is great, except for the asking price.  I never liked the Frontier as much as the other two, especially when the Ranger received all the interior and suspension upgrades from the 2nd Generation Ford Explorer.

But honestly, how far off-road will she travel?  I think the original Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4 with AWD and slightly knobby tires will be more than adequate, and might be a better all-around vehicle for her.

Then again, the original RAV4 wasn’t especially refined in my book…so maybe a truly honest pickup is right on the money. The budget is tight, so the Ranger is right.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2012 Toyota Tacoma: It’s A Facelift (Of Course) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2012-toyota-tacoma-its-a-facelift-of-course/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2012-toyota-tacoma-its-a-facelift-of-course/#comments Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:57:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407667

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

2012tacoma 2012tacoma1 Here it is... again 2012tacoma3 2012tacoma4 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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And In Other Toyota News … http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/and-in-other-toyota-news-%e2%80%a6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/and-in-other-toyota-news-%e2%80%a6/#comments Sat, 13 Feb 2010 18:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=345257

Don’t bogart that joint: Toyota will recall about 8,000 model-year 2010 Tacoma pickup trucks in the US. Not for unintended acceleration, or brake gremlins, but for good old cracks in the joint portion of the drive shaft, says Reuters. The front drive shafts are manufactured by Dana Holding Corp, and the affected vehicles were produced from mid-December 2009 to early February.

Don’t ruin more jobs: Toyota has dispatched two dozen workers from plants around the U.S. to visit Capitol Hill. According to a Reuters report, the company is also using other means, such as a $5.2m lobbying budget, to remind lawmakers that Toyota employs 33,400 people. Indirect employment, including dealers, accounts for another 160,700 jobs, says Toyota.

Don’t think GM profits from Toyota’s weakness: GM’s vice chairman Bob Lutz said GM will gain market share regardless of safety problems, Reuters reports. “If the competitor’s weakness at some point results in lower sales for them and better sales for everybody else, that’s something that obviously we’ll accept,” Lutz said. “But as far as we are concerned, it is not a factor. We’re not planning on that. We were going to gain share anyway.” GM’s U.S. sales jumped 14 percent in January from a year ago and its market share rose to 21 percent, while Toyota’s sales fell 16 percent to the lowest level in more than a decade. Some industry observers are seeing weakness in February sales and blame Toyota for it.

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