By on January 29, 2019

Despite seeming to be older than the dirt on which it rolls, the Toyota Tacoma is enjoying massive sales growth. In fact, it recently had its best-ever December, quarter, and year since introduction. Seriously. It was up an enormous 24 percent for the year, enjoying thirteen consecutive best-ever months.

For 2020, Toyota is massaging the midsizer’s styling, bringing it slightly more in line with its big brothers. We’ve brightened the image to give you a better look.

What looks to be some LED mascara appears on the headlights of the truck shown in Toyota’s teaser pic, along with turn signals baked into the mirror caps. The hood looks to have slightly deeper scallops along the edges of its power dome, but that could be thanks to studio lighting.

An aggressive lightening-up of the teaser image, shown above, reveals a honeycomb-style pattern to the 2020 Tacoma grille. Expected features like a sliding rear window and safety sensors tucked near the rearview mirror remain.

The Tacoma isn’t exactly cheap. An entry-level Ace of Base model (ok, it’s actually called the 4×2 SR Access Cab with an automatic and long box) lists for $25,700, nearly five grand north of a base Colorado. Adding 4×4 to that trim tacks on just over $4,000. At the spectrum’s opposite end, an automatic TRD Pro 4×4 with the Double Cab and an automatic transmission, costs an eye-watering $45,515.

Despite this, the Tacoma’s sales number continue their northward march. Toyota sold nearly a quarter million of the things – 245,659 to be exact – in the 2018 calendar year. That is a sum greater than the combined might of Avalon and Prius and Sienna and Yaris and … well, you get the picture.

The midsize truck market is currently a crowded space, with Ford’s Ranger (absent a Raptor trim – RAGE) appearing in showrooms as we speak and the tag team of Colorado/Canyon continuing to do well. In fact, Chevy’s off-road prowess keeps being cranked northward, first with the ZR2 and now with the AEV Bison. Perhaps Toyota will have an even more aggro TRD Pro in Chicago, although that doesn’t seem to be the truck shown here.

If you’re keen to see the rest of Toyota’s new Tacoma, check out the livestream from their booth at the Chicago Auto Show at 10:00am CST on February 9th. Our fearless Managing Ed will be our boots on the ground at CAS this year, so stay tuned for his coverage, as well.

[Image: Toyota]

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37 Comments on “Fresh 2020 Toyota Tacoma Bound for Chicago Auto Show...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Ive seen 3 new Rangers now and they are much worse in person than pictures show. The Tacoma may have several glaring issues – plastic imitation bumpers, 3.5L being a downgrade from the 4.0, and several quality issues (orange peel being quickly apparent on dealer lot). But the Tacoma still looks fantastic and does the midsize truck better than anyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The Tacoma is definitely the best looking of the midsizers when you consider any trim level. High zoot Colorados and Sierras are visually attractive, but you need to spend a lot of Cheddar to get those versions.

      I have yet to see a Ford Ranger around here — but that doesn’t mean much in the land of Teslas, Prii, Bolts, Foresters, and RAV4s.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        I haven’t seen a US Ranger yet, but I have seen a couple of Mexican Rangers.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I saw one at a dealer in Mississippi, one in Memphis, and one today in NC, two looked identical cream colored all options, the other was black and I couldn’t make it out how well optioned it looked. Haven’t seen any local.
        Has the exact same 3rd world tall and narrow look. Looks like the bed is 5 feet off the ground while the front looks like a Chinese copy of the hideous GM twins.

        The old Ranger looked good no matter what trim level, maybe a mid cycle refresh will help the Ranger but I personally think it’s horrible.
        With that said I expect it to beat the Tacoma for a couple quarters once they get production wide open. Then, I expect it to drop back below the Tacoma and carry on above GM but below Toyota.
        The only one I can’t predict is the Jeep, obviously I expect it to be the most expensive since it’s likely 4WD only and has a lot more complexity to assemble but I also doubt it will make it into any fleets outside of Border patrol and maybe national forest services. No fleet sales would be the biggest hit to the Wranglers chances against the other midsizers.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I own a 2013 Tacoma with the 4.0, and I’ve drove a friend’s 2016 with the 3.5, when it was new. The 3.5 is definitely a downgrade. If they had just mated the 4.0 to the new six-speed automatic, it would have been much better.

      It’s funny, I was driving to work the other day, thinking that the third-gen is on its fourth model year (time flies!), and wondering when it was going to get a facelift.

      The 4Runner still uses the 4.0, so it’s still available. It would take some engineering to adapt the six-speed auto, as the 4Runner is still on the five-speed.

      Ideally, I’d like to see the Tacoma offer a turbo diesel as well, and an upgrade to four-wheel disc brakes (for some reason, Toyota still doesn’t think that the Tacoma needs them).

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        I believe Toyota’s…argument for the drum brakes is they are better for offroading and less susceptible to binding due to rocks, sand, debris, getting into the binders. I don’t dare enter the fray into if that argument is fact or fantasy.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          There are aftermarket kits available that replace the rear drums with discs. My son had it done to his 2016 Tacoma at a shop in or near Brownsville, TX.

          He takes his Tacoma off-road in 4wd mode often and rocks, sand or debris have not affected the rear discs adversely.

          Besides, the front discs do most of the stopping, not the rear drums or discs.

          But rear drums are useless if they have been submerged in water while discs retain their stopping grip, even when submerged in water.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            I didn’t know that about drums underwater. I’ll have to look that up. I don’t think the difference between rear disks and rear drums is as big as everyone wants to make it out to be. In some applications it can have clear benefits – but the majority of Tacoma buyers? Camry buyers? Every CUV in existence outside SRT? Those buyers will never notice a difference as long as they work.

            I understand that today is certainly does make a vehicle look cheapened when we go back but honestly of the areas that the new Tacoma cheaped out in I would be more upset about the plastic bumpers particularly the rear bumper that appears to be metal but is not. Reflect the savings in the price if we’re going down this road, and the Tacoma did not represent the shoddy engine downgrade, the plastic bumpers, drum brakes, or lower quality in its price.

            All that said I would still put the Tacoma on my #2 spot if I were to buy a midsize truck, only after the Wrangler truck.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Hummer, the next time you launch your boat or Ski-Doo (JetSki) off a ramp into a lake or bay, try it with four-wheel drum brakes all-around, instead of those disc brake calipers.

            Way back when, when there were only drum brakes on vehicles, we did that in Huntington Beach when I was a kid.

            We can laugh about it now, but I remember going up the ramp with a small boat on a trailer behind me and the drum brakes not stopping the truck, until they were thoroughly dried out again.

            Ah, the good old days of drums all-around.

            Never want to go back there.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I will say, last time I had my 4Runner buried up to the axles in muddy water in the winter, I then had issues with my rear drums locking up when I set the parking brake, until I drove around a bit and took a blow dryer and some WD40 to my parking brake mechanisms near the drums. Then again I was having some sticking issues with my A4’s parking brake this winter and that is a rear disk setup.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Edmunds’ long-term wrap-up. See the comments on the brakes.

            https://www.edmunds.com/toyota/tacoma/2016/long-term-road-test/wrap-up.html

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          My 93 Land Cruiser had discs on the back. That should tell you all you need to know.

      • 0 avatar
        Peter Gazis

        dukeisduke

        Late last year, when Toyota cut its ties with Isuzu, they did say “Diesels will not be part of Toyota’s future.”

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I remember when the third-gen Tacoma was launching – Toyota held a live Q&A with the chief engineer responsible for the Tacoma, hosted by a guy from the ToyotaNation forums (which I’m a member of), and they handled questions posted by TN members.

  • avatar
    jatz

    Glaucous-eyed fat face… Cranky Bass, that you?

  • avatar
    R Henry

    I have owned two tacos. Never again. Yes, reliable. But mine were cramped, both were bouncy, slow (2.7L four pots) AND thirsty, at best 23mpg. So many people use these as cars, but I just don’t see the attraction for that application. For light duty commercial work, sure…but NOT as a daily driven car-analog.

    I am now firmly a sedan guy.

    • 0 avatar
      Groovypippin

      While I certainly recognize the reliability, longevity and resale value, both the Tacoma and 4Runner are antiquated, plasticky, bouncy, slow and hard on gas. You can’t sit still in the current automotive marketplace like Toyota has done with these vehicles and not be passed at high speed by the competition.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        “bouncy” that’s what a durable suspension with good articulation will feel like unless you get into some high dollar shocks. A Tacoma TRD Offroad (and Pro even moreso) ride incredibly well for the massive unsprung masses and suspension travel involved.

        Antiquated: the fact that the 4Runner stuck with the “antiquated” 4.0L is a GOOD thing. Just look at what the “modern” direct injected 3.5L in the Tacoma got us! Even with that 5spd the 4Runner scoots to 60 in 7.5 and can easily get 20-21mpg highway, totally in line for the aerodynamic brick that it is and the high clearance without low hanging air dams.

        If you just stay on the road, yes the Toyota 4wds might fall short of more effette road-biased vehicles like the Grand Cherokee and various crossovers. If you do venture offroad, then you don’t need to be reading this diatribe and already understand what’s what.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          Here’s the story on the high-quality shocks that come on the TRD Offroad. From someone who drove one for 40,000 miles and actually took it offroad.

          https://www.edmunds.com/toyota/tacoma/2016/long-term-road-test/2016-toyota-tacoma-bilstein-shock-absorber-upgrade.html

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Fordson it seems that the infamous rear shock failure on both the Tacoma and Titan on that washboard road at full road pressure was more of a demonstration of the effects on unsprung mass in critical scenarios like that rather than an indictment of the quality of what Bilstein made for the Toyota (or Nissan) from the factory. The Ridgeline is all independent with smaller wheels, much less weight to suspend and dampen (although the ridgeline did get its struts replaced due to leakage later as well).

            Do you think a non-Raptor F150 (an FX4 for example) would have done better under the same circumstances?

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Dan Edmunds used to work for Toyota…he was a suspension engineer. He knew back then that the Tacoma used 36mm rear shocks – they are the smallest ones Bilstein, the supplier of these shocks in question, makes

            I read a piece by him, in which he says he was surprised to see that in the warmed-over Tacoma we have now, retained those shocks rather than redesigning the spring perches to allow the use of larger shocks.

            The Titan they had with them on this trip is a 3-ton vehicle and other than 4wd, is not an offroad-specific model truck, as was the Tacoma.

            Notice also that in this piece I linked to, in which they upgraded to a superior shock design, he says:

            “In the intervening months, I’d spoken with people with more miles logged on those Death Valley backroads than me. Few were terribly surprised about the Tacoma’s performance en route to the Racetrack. If anything, the Ridgeline’s comparative, and admittedly partial, victory surprised them more.

            That particular road is notorious in the backcountry “overlanding” community precisely because its unrelenting washboard surface wreaks havoc on shock absorbers. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road is a popular truck among this group, and upgrading the dampers is one of the first upgrades on many owners’ list.

            I can totally see why.

            The dinky 36 mm Bilstein shocks that Toyota fits to its off-road package are the smallest that the shock manufacturer makes. (The measurement refers to the diameter of the piston inside the shock absorber.) Hunt around in Bilstein’s consumer catalog for a replacement shock and you won’t find anything smaller than 46 mm.”

            These OEM shocks are a designed-in point of failure.

            And yes, of course I would expect a Raptor to do much, much better – it comes from the factory with external-reservoir shocks, similar to what this upgrade uses, which almost completely addresses the heat buildup that was the cause of the failure.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Whoops – a non-Raptor? I don’t know. I think an FX4 probably is more heat-resistant because it probably has shocks sized more for the F150 than these are for the Tacoma.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            The Titan on the trip was a Pro-4X, the same level of “offroad-ish” trim as a TRD Offroad (non- TRD Pro) or F150 FX4 package, likewise with Bilstein shocks. It similarly suffered failure. Keeping street pressure on the tires while also maintaining higher speeds is what did these units in. I’ll hazard a guess and say an F150 or Colorado or Frontier etc in similar offroad-ish guise would suffer the same consequences of overheating shocks from suspending a bouncing solid rear axle for a sustained period of time like that. The ridgeline with its IRS had much less force acting on its shocks, and did much better as a result.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’m considering 4Runner and Grand Cherokee. While the GC is less expensive and more comfortable, I buy my cars for a 10-12 year stint at least. I know the Toyota will not only make that mark reliably but will retain a strong amount of value throughout. That’s hard to beat.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny_5.0

        I think you missed the majority of the article that stated they *can* leave this dinosaur alone and it will continue to crush the midsize competition. We’ll see what the Ranger does, but the much newer Colorado/Canyon twins haven’t come close to unseating this thing. Filing cabinet brown was a stroke of genius from someone at Toyota, I see tons of them here.

      • 0 avatar
        jh26036

        The buyers of these trucks/SUVs accepts the slight shortcomings for predictable ownership cost. They are also lifestyle type vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler. Gas is a small consideration when a vehicle only requires the most basic of maintenance even after many miles. Time is money, a vehicle in the shop is time wasted. People put a lot of value into dependability as well. New and fancy doesn’t sell to everyone. I am glad someone still offers an older recipe like the T4R.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that this refresh still doesn’t include a height adjustable driver’s seat at any price, and continues to cheap out on details like passive entry that doesn’t work on the passenger side of the truck.

    For as much as they charge for this thing, for as old as all the tooling is, and for as much competition is entering the segment, you’d think Toyota could be a little less stingy and stubborn about stuff like this. You know, for once. But no, it was more important to waste a bunch of time on a second sports car joint-venture that repeated every single mistake the first one made.

    • 0 avatar
      nwfmike

      It’s head-scratching until you realize how many Tacomas they sell. They couldn’t care less about folks like me who would like one but find them extremely uncomfortable. Ford is getting my business. I drove the ROW Ranger overseas and it’s a great truck. Very comfortable and handles well (for a truck). If they didn’t stray too far from the formula (and it seems they haven’t based on all the criticism), then I’ll be very happy.

      Don’t know wtf they were thinking with that Supra. Not a BMW fan, but they definitely did not improve on it…The thing is hideous.

  • avatar

    Looks wonderful. It was my dream car since I was a teenager with manual transmission of course and V8 or twin-turbo V6. And lot of utility compared with sports cars like Supra.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Oh and since were on the topic of midsize trucks, can someone explain the appeal of the ZR2? I took my SS to the dealer for an oil change and they had a row of them. My low expectations were too high. Compared to an H3, the standard size tire for the ZR2 is smaller than the base tire on the H3, not to mention adventure size tires on the H3. The tires looked freakishly small, looking them up they are only 30.6 inches tall, 31s won’t make it down a dry trail in most of the trails around me. The minimum I run is a 35 and I have to be careful to watch ruts with that. Tiny off-road tires, a flimsy unpainted bumper and lots of badges does not make an off-road vehicle. It does have lockers so I give them props for not cheapening out there.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I think the regular ZR2 is more for Raptor-style hill jumping versus trail driving or rock crawling. Of course the engines offered on the ZR2 aren’t exactly thrilling, so that kind of kills the CORR fantasy. The “Bison” version seems to have more trail accessories (like the steel bumpers) although the tires are still the same size

      FWIW, I think (could be wrong) the Wrangler comes with 31-33 inch tires from the factory and the Power Wagon has 33s. So if you need a 35, it appears you’ll need to upgrade no matter what you buy.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        No the ZR2 is most definitely more towards the tighter trail/crawling side of the spectrum than high speed desert running stuff, see the inclusion of a front locker. I think they’re neat rigs, I just can’t stomach the price tag. Also, the EPA mandated weird long fat tailpipe on the diesels is hazardously low hanging, not tucked up at all.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I’ll walk back a bit: I think the ZR2 is supposed to be a “do it all” middle ground between the big crawler Power Wagon and the high speed whoop-jumping Raptor.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    A front-clip restyle and the headline calls it a “fresh” 2020 Tacoma – ?

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Taco is selling well because people are sick of the new stuff and all the ‘tech toys’ They don’t trust the new stuff to last, so go with a proven, durable product. I’ll bet a lot of Taco buyers are middle-age and seeing it as their last vehicle purchase.

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