By on January 21, 2020

2020_Tacoma_TRD_Off_Road_01_50A9E609C6722DED1EB517DDEAC1D10E71825716

The perennially popular Toyota Tacoma will move all of its assembly south of the Rio Grande under a recently announced production switch-up.

When the ancient Sequoia full-size SUV enters a new generation, and along with it the Tundra pickup, it won’t stay at its present Princeton, Indiana home. Toyota plans to move Sequoia production southward to Texas, punting Tacoma output to a country that’s no stranger to the midsize pickup.

News of the production switcheroo came as Toyota announced the completion of the Indiana plant’s $1.3 billion modernization effort. There, production has already begun on the redesigned 2020 Highlander and Highlander Hybrid; the plant also handles the Sienna minivan and, until 2022, the body-on-frame Sequoia. Retooling for the next-gen Highlander carried a $700 million price tag.

Apparently, Toyota thought it best to boost efficiency by sending to next Sequoia to live with its platform mate, the Tundra, Automotive News reports. The inclusion of the Tacoma at the San Antonio plant came in 2010, as the automaker scrambled to eliminate excess capacity at its U.S. assembly plants. The economy’s in far better shape these days, and Toyota, while flush with cash, isn’t immune to cost-saving suggestions.

Image: Toyota

Once San Antonio gears up for the revamped Tundra and Sequoia, Tacoma production will move fully to Mexico. Two plants in that country — Guanajuato and Tijuana — already handle the bulk of the automaker’s Tacoma production.

While the Sequoia is an ancient thing, like the Tundra, it manages to sell in steady numbers to U.S. consumers, making its revamp a bottom-of-the-list concern for its parent company. Current-gen Sequoia production kicked off in late 2007, a year after the present Tundra. As for the Tacoma, the addition of the Ford Ranger to the midsize pickup scene in 2019 didn’t take much wind from its sales. Volume rose 1.3 percent for the year.

[Images: Toyota]

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35 Comments on “Toyota Tacoma to Hitch a Ride From the Lone Star State...”


  • avatar
    Dan

    Tacoma wasn’t supposed to be in San Antonio to begin with, it was moved there for MY2011 because Tundra sales were clobbered by the great recession and most of that enormous plant was sitting idle.

    Tacoma leaving shows Toyota’s optimism that they’re about to sell a chit load of new Tundras.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Toyota doesn’t want the business. To sell drastically more Tundras would mean changing the entire way they build and market Tundras, which is basically no different than Camrys and such.

      That means very little fleet sales, limited “options” in terms of trim (levels), engines, packages, configurations, etc, take it or leave it. Same thing with rebates and such.

      • 0 avatar
        Robotdawn

        I don’t know what you mean about fleet sales and Camry’s sir. Every other car I’ve rented the last 3-4 years has been a Camry. It used to be Chevy’s you couldn’t avoid at the rental fleets, now it’s Camry’s.

        I assume Taco’s sell the way they do because anyone who’s owned a Toyota in the last 30 years and wants to buy a pickup would gravitate to what they trust. They would naturally assume it’s reliable and boring, like every Toyota. I wish I was that smart sometimes.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Compared to retail sales, the Camry is way underrepresented at the rental counter.

          Except pickups should be popular, both at the rental counter and job site. That’s one of the main things pickups are for.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          The beauty of status at National…I get to avoid the sea of Altimas and the like. Recent was a BMW 5 and a Challenger V8

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            National is nice. Pick what you want and exit the lot. But they’re not cheap.

            Enterprise is also doing pretty good by trying to give customers what they want. I got an Expedition EL (now MAX) for four weeks at $187 a week. It would have cost me a whole lot more at National for something similar.

            But, yeah, status is everything for frequent renters.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Tundra sales decline in 2019 and at it’s peak in 2006 didn’t even match F-150 sales in just the 4Q.

      Sequoia is not even at 1,000 monthly.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    There are more negatives to a Tacoma than there are positives, yet it remains the sales champ, I cannot explain it.

    One of the biggest positives about my 4Runner is that it was made in Japan, and it has an appropriately sized engine for its size, without those two variables I don’t understand how the Tacoma retains its status, it’s not particularly reliable any longer, quality issues from the factory are readily apparent setting on dealer lots, I just don’t get it. It’s not the MPG, it’s certainly not the price, available options, it’s the badge is the only thing I can figure.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Should read TWO of the biggest positives, the edit button disappears much too quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      bkojote

      The Tacoma isnt exactly modern but its a lot more modern than a 4runner- and it is nicer on the inside. Plus you can get it with a stick. Seriously sit in a 4runner and its a symphony of rat fur and 10 year old inputs. And it’s missing some nice things like radar cruise control that you can get on the Taco.

      But here’s why it sells- its pretty much the only real option in its class if you don’t want a full size pickup.

      The Colorado is a better truck but lets be honest GM reliability makes it a no-go.
      The Ranger is a hack job and half arsed effort with lousy interior. The Gladiator is nice but $15k more and I am suspicious of FCA quality.
      The Ridgeline needs a goddamn volume knob.
      The Frontier actually holds up really well for a 15 year old design, but at this point its ancient.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I have a coworker with a 17 Tacoma and I feel that the material quality is much lower on that truck than my 16 4Runner, the engine is rough and the torque curve is not meant for a truck. Radar cruise at least on the new Camrys is so horribly implemented by Toyota that I wouldn’t want it, and with the new 2020 updates on the 4Runner it’s taking huge leaps over the Tacoma.

        The Colorado is fine in 4 cylinder 6 auto guise, I agree on the V6-8 speed combo.
        Agree on Ranger, Gladiator, Frontier
        The ridge line isn’t even an option for someone that wants an actual truck.
        But in that same vein I would not want to touch the 3.5l V6 with as big of a let down that engine has been particularly coMpared to the 4.0. And to get the 4 cylinder Tacoma with the options you like it’s at least $5k-6k more expensive than a comparable Colorado.

        The entire midsize segment is full of compromises, but they aren’t priced at compromise pricing.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          The manual is a beautiful thing but I also know it means I would get terrible fuel economy with one because I would use the manual to find the torque peak and keep changing gears to keep the engine as close as possible to that peak except for when I was just cruising.

        • 0 avatar
          bkojote

          ” The ridge line isn’t even an option for someone that wants an actual truck.” – I hear this refrain all the time (usually from mall crawlers) yet I see more Ridgelines doing light duty truck stuff than just about anything else and putting in some serious duty service.

          But c’mon, I’ve spent significant time between a 2019 4Runner and Tacoma. I love the 4Runner, but on no planet is its interior nicer, and the 3.5L with the stick is fantastic and better than the 4.0 with the 5 speed. Unless you’re hauling the kids to soccer practice and want that rear seat, you get the same off road / truck gear for 5K less with a better interior and just a slight bit more modernization.

          Also radar cruise on the Tacoma is great.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Not sure about the manual+3.5L Taco, but my rental TRD-OR with the 3.5L+6spd auto truly sucked. Why Toyota thought it was appropriate to downsize the engine even as curb weight got bumped by as much as 400(?)lb from the 2nd gen Tacoma to this one is beyond me. I struggled to get an indicated 19mpg in my rental in all highway driving. Recently returned a Tahoe with the 5.3L that on the exact same drive was giving me an indicated 24.5(!).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Highway fuel economy is more about gearing and aerodynamics than engine, and the GM BOF SUVs in stock form are about as good as brick-shaped vehicles get aerodynamically. The rounded front and very low airdam really help.

            By contrast Toyota doesn’t pay much of any attention to highway FE on any of its off-road products.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            The problem with the Aisin AC60 is that the 2-5 ratios are not stepped appropriately (for any application). There is a large step from 2-3, 3-4 and even 4-5. Gears 2-5 are the most commonly used gears for city driving. Therefore, the trans has to shift a lot in order to maintain the right gear per throttle application and speed.

            These large ratio steps are highlighted even more since the Tundra uses the A760 which has excellent 2-4 gear steps. Other than weight savings, i always wonder why Toyota didnt use this transmission in the Tacoma.

            The Tacoma manual (Aisin MV1) also has excellent gear steps. It just lacks a high ratio OD. So cruising and highway MPG suffer.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            “ It just lacks a high ratio OD. So cruising and highway MPG suffer.”

            This is a problem on a lot of manuals that does not get attention, the TR6060 in my SS is one of the few good ones I’ve driven.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            Bummer,

            There is an intrinsic problem in designing a truck manual transmission that meets the three BASIC requirements for trucks:
            1. Low launch gear.
            2. High(ish) OD.
            3. Low step between towing gears.
            Of course there are other minor (nice to have) requirements such as: a direct drive cruising gear while towing heavy loads to minimize heat generation, or two OD gears to minimize RPM jump when downshifting while towing light loads. It is not super difficult to design a transmission that meets 2/3 of these requirements. It is very difficult to do all three. This is the problem that the trucking industry bypassed by simply stacking transmissions or splitting gears.

            The TR6060 has well spaced ratios for sports car applications (IMO). It is not super difficult to create appropriately spaces ratios for car applications since they do not need to adhere to #1 above.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Here we go again. No, the 4Runner is not a symphony of rat fur and 10 year old inputs. A new 4Runner comes with CarPlay and Android Auto standard, has a real head unit, has 2.1A USB chargers at all seats, and has TSS standard – which includes dynamic cruise control and automated emergency braking. Yes, the interior leaves a bit to be desired, but at least it is up to modern standards for technology. And a 4Runner will last you a lot longer than any of the midsize pickups.

        The Tacoma is a great truck for two people – even in crew cab format. The biggest issue with the Tacoma nowadays is that the cab just isn’t big enough for four people. The back seats are the smallest in class, and the front seats have to be moved almost fully back to accommodate anyone over 5’11”. The throttle mapping issue has been resolved for 2020, and the interior is better than average.

        Colorado has had too many problems – there are even reports of frames failing under load, and GM isn’t covering the cost. Now, some of the reports may be anecdotal, but there are more than enough for it to be considered just an anomaly. Its worth a search.

        The Ranger has the largest cabin in class and is fast as all get-out. Its honestly probably the best real truck of the bunch. But it suffers from a dated interior.

        The Gladiator is an awesome truck, but is also beleaguered by a small interior, especially for rear seat occupants. But I would trust it to tow safely and get where I need to go.

        The Ridgeline and Frontier, while relevant in some aspects, really are not seriously shopped by truck buyers. Both are full of compromises that make them very useful in very limited situations.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          “A new 4Runner comes with CarPlay and Android Auto standard”

          Pretty much the last manufacturer to that party.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          “The Ridgeline and Frontier, while relevant in some aspects, really are not seriously shopped by truck buyers. Both are full of compromises that make them very useful in very limited situations.”

          If you want a great long-distance Interstate ride with a little light-truck utility, and a lot of bling, the Ridge is the way to go, especially the RTL-E (at $43K.)

          The Frontier is a great little truck for very little money, especially the 4dr 4×4 SV, that slots well in a multicar household with an occasional need to do light hauling.

          • 0 avatar
            SSJeep

            Therein lies the issue though. Most buyers would opt for the Pilot as an interstate cruiser instead, because of the enclosed cargo area and all. Not many Ridgeline buyers want to get their luggage wet, and not many buyers go out and get a bed cap after purchasing a Ridgeline. The cab is fairly small too. But I do agree that the Ridgeline is generally a good value.

            No one wants to drive a Frontier on the daily. But it is useful in the situations mentioned. The trouble I see here is that I can go and get a Ram Tradesman 1500 4×4 crew cab for around $35000. It wont be as reliable, but it would be a LOT more functional.

            I suppose that’s true for all of the midsize trucks. Once sticker prices reach the price of a full size half-ton, most buyers will opt for the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      roloboto

      Owning a Tacoma is all about the image. It’s for yuppies that want to show they’re outdoorsy.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Owning a Tacoma is all about the image. It’s for yuppies that want to show they’re outdoorsy.”

        Actually, it sells because it is a pretty decent little truck that can be bought in various versions, depending on the buyer’s wants and needs.

        My #2 son bought another Tacoma in 2016 after putting beaucoup miles on his first Tacoma — which he sold outright to a private party in Brownsville, TX.

  • avatar
    Steve65

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Make Tijuana great again.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    Toyota continues it’s success with selling mediocre designed-ultra reliable vehicles.

    And no…..their market share for the Tundra will always be a dribble compared to the domestics. RAM taking over the number two spot from Chevy-yea Chevy deserved it-based on the awful design of the 2019 Silverado. With that being said Tundra will never break the hold on the top three makers/sellers of pickup trucks.

    Every review I have read for the Tacoma isn’t flattering-at all. But (as stated in another post) the thing continues to sell.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      “Every review I have read for the Tacoma isn’t flattering-at all. But (as stated in another post) the thing continues to sell.”

      One might conclude that the metrics with which that a journalist (non-consumer) reviews a truck are not the same metrics with which a consumer selects a truck to buy. In fact, the paid hotels, meals and long term loaner vehicles that the manufacturer provides for the journalist(s) of large well circulated publications might even have a liiiiiittle influence in the review of the truck.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        The constant nashing of the teeth over Wrangler ride quality, pickup truck fuel economy, and supposedly “good cars that should be best sellers” shows the great divide that separates automotive journalists with real world consumers.

        The metrics that a journalist describe as positives and negatives of a vehicle couldn’t be further from the metrics consumers purchase vehicles. I truly believe most automotive journalists aren’t even automotive enthusiasts. Some truck reviews sound like they’re being compared to the M5 the journalist reviewed before the truck.
        Every “new” iteration of a vehicle is the greatest thing ever and the previous generation they once praised heavily, is now called “crap from the beginning”.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I agree. I tried a new Wrangler out a couple of weeks ago – it’s not for me, but it’s far from being unlivably rough or unrefined, even on the highway. It is what it is. If you’re looking for something that rides like a Lexus, look elsewhere.

          FYI, I’ve seen all kinds of good reviews for the Wrangler and very little “tooth gnashing.”

      • 0 avatar
        CKNSLS Sierra SLT

        JON-
        I assume you mean “GOOD INFLUENCE” with all the perks. I disagree-I have read many negative reviews about different vehicles over the years.

        But yes-I guess the perks could influence some to be more favorable.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    People complain endlessly about the 3.5 as though it’s a sin to rev an engine in a truck. Evidently none of them ever drove anything powered by a two-stroke Detroit Diesel; those were every bit as peaky. The wags always said: “Slam your hand in the window before you drive it so you’ll be pissed off.”

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