By on April 8, 2019

2018 Toyota Tundra 1794 Edition, Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

What is it with all of this pickup news today? Where are all the new sedans?

Oh right.

Anyway, in a burst of efficiency-minded thinking, Toyota is reportedly developing a single truck platform to replace those found beneath the midsize Tacoma and ancient, full-size Tundra. Sources at the automaker say it’s close to completion, and will make its debut beneath the larger of the two vehicles. (Read More…)

By on February 12, 2019

Chicago has proven a sleepy show for news for quite some time now.

This year, however, there was a hint of something stirring. While there still wasn’t a wealth of product news, there was more than normal — and most of it didn’t involve minor trim changes (okay, some of it did).

I wandered the halls at massive McCormick Place last week to take in what was a busier show than normal. Starting with Subaru, here’s my “hot takes” about what I saw on the show floor. Just for the hell of it, let’s embrace a grading gimmick.

(Read More…)

By on February 7, 2019

2020_Sequoia_TRD_Pro_12_B2ACF20E83AD4B33C4DF05470FFE6DBB64480908

Thanks to Toyota’s glacier-like design cycle, the full-sized Sequoia SUV looks largely the same as it did when it rolled off the ark in 2008. With seating for seven, the big body-on-frame rig harkens back to the days when SUVs were unapologetically truck-based. For 2020, the Big T is tossing some of its TRD Pro toys at its house-on-wheels, including a set of dandy internal-bypass Fox shock absorbers.

While they were at it, Toyota engineers took the opportunity to breathe on the hot-selling Tacoma. You’ll have to look closely to see those changes but, if past sales performance is any indication, the company didn’t need to spend much money on a refresh, anyways.

(Read More…)

By on December 14, 2018

Image: Toyota

One year ago, the Nissan Altima, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Nissan Sentra, Toyota Highlander, and Ford Fusion were all significantly more popular than the Toyota Tacoma. The Altima, for example, sold 32-percent more often than the Tacoma, which was generating record volume in 2017.

Fast forward one year, however, and the Tacoma is operating at an entirely different level. It now outsells the Altima, Grand Cherokee, Sentra, Highlander, and Fusion, and by large margins in some cases. To say the Tacoma is America’s best-selling midsize pickup truck would be to wildly understate its success. To say the Tacoma is America’s fourth-best-selling pickup truck would be to minimize its playing field.

Through the end of November 2018, the Tacoma now ranks among America’s 15 best-selling vehicles outright. This is not a cult following. Calling it a Taco doesn’t reserve your place in an exclusive club. You now see enough of them in the run of a day to easily spot the differences between a TRD Sport, a TRD Off-Road, and a TRD Pro.

The Toyota Tacoma is now mainstream. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2018

2018 chevrolet colorado red - Image: Chevrolet

Advice time. My friend wants (though she might say “needs”) a truck, and the choice is narrowed down to two prospects, each competing for midsize pickup supremacy.

Can you help her make a decision? (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2018

2019 Ford Ranger at MAP - Image: FordJust ahead of the launch of a new Ford Ranger, production of which began earlier this month, midsize trucks’ share of the overall U.S. pickup truck market is up to a respectable nine-year high.

Thanks to significant year-over-year improvements from the two top sellers in the segment plus meaningful increases from the third and fourth-ranked midsize pickups, category-wide volume has grown by more than 60,000 units during the first nine months of 2018. Compared with the same period in 2017, volume in the much larger full-size pickup truck segment hasn’t even grown by half that much.

If you’re a pickup truck buyer, you remain far more likely to acquire a full-size F-150, Silverado, Ram, Sierra, Tundra, or Titan than a Tacoma, Colorado, Frontier, Canyon, or Ridgeline. But the slice of the pie afforded to the five-strong midsize sector is above 18 percent for the first time since 2009.

Could the new Ford Ranger push midsize trucks over the one-fifth mark for the first time since 2006? (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2018

Toyota/Youtube

If it wasn’t for celebrity ad appearances, I wouldn’t know that Jim Rockford James Garner thinks the Mazda 626 is a great buy, or that Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling chooses the Ford LTD over all other domestic two-door hardtops, simply for the cabin noise level. Meanwhile, red-blooded males across America still can’t shake those recurring thoughts of the Mercury Milan AWD V6.

We owe a great debt to Hollywood.

And Toyota now owes a big, fat check to Chuck Norris, a 78-year-old man famous for driving a Dodge Ram pickup in a show where violent men routinely and inexplicably dropped their guns in order to engage each other with fists. The automaker gets playful in its latest spot for a truck it can’t help but sell boatloads of. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Spend a little time in the gentrified corners of your fair city, and in between all the Audi Q5s and Subaru Outbacks jockeying for spots outside the artisan cupcake shoppe, you’ll spy a right-sized pickup that doesn’t conjure up images of dreaded rural riff-raff. It’s the model that can’t help but post sales increases with each passing month, and it doesn’t come in an opulent western/ranch-themed trim.

Now, aside from a low-range uphill excursion in an old college buddy’s extended cab 4×4 in Nova Scotia, my impression of the Toyota Tacoma was — perhaps unfairly — that it, like the protagonist in the Glenn Frey song, was something that belonged to the city. It’s hard not to notice its popularity with the type of urbanite who probably jogs, but only on weekends. And only with a female companion.

With these shallow stereotypes in mind, I accepted the keys to what seemed to be the most urban-friendly Tacoma in existence: the 4×4 Double Cab V6 TRD Sport model. What would I become after a week behind the wheel? (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2018

Tacoma TRD Teaser CAS 2018

One country waves the stars and stripes; the other, a big, red maple leaf. One calls those rain catchment thingies gutters, the other (or at least parts of it) insists on calling them eavestroughs. The differences are vast.

Despite their cultural and regulatory peculiarities, both Americans and Canadians seem to agree that the Toyota Tacoma‘s sales should only ever go in an upward direction. So far this year, buyers on both sides of the border provided nearly identical sales growth for the midsize pickup.

It’s a good thing Toyota worked out its production constraints. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2018

2017 Nissan Frontier King Cab - Image: Nissan

With an extra selling day compared to the March that came before it, last month saw U.S. new vehicle buyers continue doing what they’ve done for years. By that, we mean snap up trucks and SUVs like it’s going out of style. (There’s no indication it’s going out of style.)

According to figures from Autodata, truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent in the U.S., year over year, while traditional passenger cars continued to fade from the minds of new vehicle buyers. That segment declined 9.2 percent, year over year.

Monthly sales figures can be fickle, which is apparently the reason for General Motors’ switch to quarterly sales reports starting next month, but we prefer receiving data more often. And last month’s data paints a very different picture than February’s. Leaving SUVs aside, which pickups soared in March? (Read More…)

By on March 1, 2018

Ford F-250 Lariat

As we told you earlier this afternoon, two of the Detroit Three automakers posted significant year-over-year U.S. sales decreases last month. Ford Motor Company and General Motors both saw American sales volume sink by 6.9 percent. While passenger cars both low-end and premium can usually take the blame for any sales decrease, general wisdom says buyers will gravitate in equal numbers towards SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, cancelling out most, if not all, of the sales exodus.

This isn’t always true. In February’s case, Ford can lay some of the blame at the foot of its best-selling crossover, while GM can finger its full-size truck lineup. Ford Escape sales sank 23.9 percent in February, year over year — a loss making up roughly three-quarters of Ford’s missing vehicles. As customers await new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, the aged models brought in fewer buyers than the same month in 2017 — 16.3 and 25.3 percent less, respectively. Like Ford, that’s roughly three-quarters of GM’s missing February volume.

A 15 percent year-over-year decline at the Ram brand — itself awaiting a new half-ton — brings home the importance of pickups in 2018. (Read More…)

By on February 10, 2018

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro - Image: Toyota

January was a boffo sales month for Toyota in the United States, with the automaker posting a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase across both the Toyota and Lexus brands. Toyota brand sales rose 17 percent, to the luxury division’s 15 percent.

Don’t expect that kind of growth to continue, says Jack Hollis, Toyota North America’s general manager, as the industry still expects a slump in 2018. More important to Toyota than last month’s sales, however, is the type of vehicles Toyota buyers actually took home. In this case, brand loyalists added crossovers, SUVs, and trucks to their driveway in greater numbers than ever before.

The record set for Toyota light truck sales in the U.S. last month was exactly what the company was hoping for. Still, keeping that truck-buying momentum going is now job one. (Read More…)

By on February 8, 2018

Image: Toyota

It’s leg day at the Toyota Athletic Center. As the Chicago Auto Show kicks off, Toyota has changes in store for its off-road TRD Pro lineup that should help drivers of the brawniest Tacomas, Tundras, and 4Runners keep their sunglasses perched on their nose while blasting through an arroyo.

For the 2019 model year, the same 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks found on the existing Tacoma TRD Pro make their way into the full-size Tundra and midsize 4Runner SUV, along with other suspension improvements. The net effect is a higher ride height and milder manners both on-road and off.

In the case of the Tacoma, going TRD Pro means you’ll never leave home without your snorkel. (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2017

2018 Ram 1500 Hydro Blue Sport

Barring a blockbuster December, 2017’s light duty vehicle sales stand to dip below 2016’s record 17.55 million units. The National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts 17.1 million sales in the U.S. this calendar year, with 2018 sales falling to 16.7 million vehicles.

Bad news for automakers? Not if profits stay up. And nothing generates profits quite like large volumes of high-margin vehicles — pickup trucks, to be exact. While November 2017 was a relatively flat month for the industry, a closer look at the pickup segment shows America’s love affair with trucks is keeping the money taps flowing. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro - Image: ToyotaAs global markets greet new players such as the Mercedes-Benz X-Class and as the North American market prepares to welcome back (later rather than sooner) the Ford Ranger, midsize pickup trucks are no longer making any headway in the United States of America.

In fact, October 2017 sales of five midsize pickup trucks (Tacoma, Colorado, Frontier, Ridgeline, Canyon) declined 4 percent. Given the rapid growth rate of full-size pickup trucks — six nameplates jumped 10 percent in October, year-over-year — it’s not surprising to see midsize truck market share fall. Through the first ten months of 2017, midsize trucks own 16 percent of America’s pickup truck market, down from 17 percent in 2016.

And in October, the midsize category’s share of America’s truck market slid to 15 percent. Is this what Ranger, Raider, Equator, Dakota, and B-Series dreams are made of? (Read More…)

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