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…)

By on November 12, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Image: Toyota

Despite President Trump giving Toyota significant praise for its continued investment in the United States last week, the success of the automaker’s production plans hinge on the continuation of NAFTA — something the Commander in Chief has been vehemently opposed to since his well-before his inauguration.

Toyota and Mazda’s $1.6 billion factory is anticipated to yield 150,000 Corollas annually and free-up assembly facilities in Mexico that would build the Tacoma pickup. However, if the North American Free Trade Agreement is dissolved, anything produced south-of-the-boarder could be subjected to the chicken tax. Were that to happen, Toyota would be placed into quite a predicament and faced with high import taxes on any trucks it had hoped to ship to the U.S. (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Silverado Centennial Edition

So diverse are the trim levels available in a modern pickup truck, it wouldn’t be shocking to see automakers begin offering a “Scotsman” edition, complete with three-on-the-tree shifter, for buyers accustomed to eating beans out of a can. On the other end of the ladder, surely “Limited,” “Platinum,” and “Tungsten” fall short in the luxury trappings offered within their leather-trimmed cabins. Buyers clearly need a wood-panelled humidor for their stogies.

Suffice it to say that automakers are making the purchase of a pickup truck more appealing than ever, and in October, buyers did their duty. October 2017 was a boffo month for light truck sales, with every full-size truck line recording rising year-over-year sales in the United States. Unfortunately, but not all that unfortunately (according to accountants, anyway), buyers offered a raised middle finger to mid-size pickups sold by those same automakers. (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro - Image: Toyota

The only thing better than two plants producing North America’s hottest-selling midsize pickup is three plants churning them out. That’s a big part of Toyota’s plan to stay ahead of General Motors and future competitors like Ford in the small yet vital segment.

Despite making every effort over the past year to build more Tacomas at its Tijuana, Mexico, and San Antonio, Texas, assembly plants, those facilities are maxed out, leading to Toyota’s August decision to punt Corolla production (initially bound for a planned Guanajuato, Mexico, plant) to a new $1.6 billion U.S. facility in the near future.

On paper, the Guanajuato plant aimed to produce 200,000 Corollas per year. Well, those plans have changed. Toyota now says it will drop its investment in the plant from $1 billion to $700 million, with production capacity dropping by half. That still means 100,000 extra Tacomas for a hungry customer base. (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Image: Stephen Elmer and Anthony Delacruz.

If you have dreams of racing in Baja, but lack a race team’s budget, it’s a good time to be in the market for a pickup truck. That is thanks to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, two midsize off-road focused pickups with a special emphasis on high-speed desert running.

The Ford Raptor, now considered the granddaddy to both of these two young trucks, started this push into credible high-speed off-road packages from the factory, and both Chevy and Toyota have applied the treatment to their midsize pickups, each with something unique to offer would-be racers. (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro lineup - Image: ToyotaThere are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, Image: Garrett Martin

I just had a chance to see the newest version of the Toyota Hilux out on the road. For those of you who don’t waste your time watching Top Gear, the “Hilux” is the newest variant of The Toyota Truck Formerly Known As The Toyota Truck. Once upon a time, Toyota sold the same compact truck all over the world, although there were minor differences like double-walled beds for the American market and so on. With the arrival of the Toyota Tacoma, we Americans got a compact Toyota truck of our very own. But was this a good thing? And should Toyota make the otaku happy by bringing us the global vehicle?

Come to think of it — is there even a difference between the Hilux and the Tacoma?

(Read More…)

By on April 28, 2017

2016/2017 toyota tacoma

Toyota of North America is recalling 228,000 Tacoma midsize pickups from the 2016 and 2017 model years. The affected vehicles may be leaking oil from their rear differentials. If left unchecked, the affected component could eventually seize — opening the driver up to a sudden flurry of new problems, like losing control of the vehicle moments before a horrific crash.

However, these leaks seem to cause only a gradual depletion of lubricant, giving owners plenty of time to enjoy some unpleasant warning noises as their truck’s differential slowly destroys itself.

While public complaints on the issue haven’t been overwhelming, checking in with enthusiast forum TacomaWorld led to a posting where owners reported an unpleasant howling noise coming from the rear of third-generation trucks. Several also admitted to having their differentials replaced prematurely after visiting service centers, with no information from Toyota as to why.   (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro – Image: Toyota

Nearly two and a half years since General Motors increased the number of offerings in the midsize pickup truck sector by two-thirds, and nine months since Honda revitalized its unique Ridgeline offering, we’re once again in need of new midsize pickup truck nameplates.

America’s pickup truck category began 2017 with a bang, growing by more than 7 percent and easily outpacing an industry that declined by more than 1 percent in the first one-sixth of 2017.

Yet virtually all of that growth — fully 90 percent — was fuelled not by midsize pickups but by the stalwarts: full-size trucks.  (Read More…)

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