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The pickup segment has been flooded with a number of capable options, so potential customers shouldn’t have an issue finding a truck that fits all of their needs. However, when these prospective customers begin to explore these trucks’ respective price tags, they’ll surely be scared away.
Fortunately, there’s a way to acquire a capable pickup truck without compromising your budget. By pursuing a used vehicle, you can acquire a perfectly capable truck for a considerable discount over their new counterparts. Of course, opting for this route still leads to a number of questions, especially in regards to which used pickup is actually the best option. Fortunately, that decision isn’t all that difficult. A used Toyota Tacoma is a perfect choice for any type of driver, whether they’re seeking a standard commuter or a rugged off-roader.
Of course, it’s important to remember that used third-generation Tacomas (which we’ll be exploring deeper) are generally pretty scarce. This can partly be attributed to the fact that the third generation has only been on the market for a handful of model years, so there aren’t many options to choose from. Furthermore, most Tacoma owners are perfectly happy with their pickup, so it’s unlikely that they’ll sell or trade their pickup anytime soon.
The vehicle’s scarcity shouldn’t be too much of a concern, especially if you’re pursuing a used vehicle from McCluskey Auto. Thanks to the dealership’s vast directory of used cars and trucks, the helpful sales team will be able to find your desired pickup in no time. In other words, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to experience everything these used third-generation Tacomas have to offer.
In 2005, the second gen Tacoma became bigger and bolder, allowing it to stand out in the segment further, even with its small size. Front and rear tracks are wider by four inches, and the wheelbase is longer in general. Translating to more passenger space overall — especially where leg/hip/shoulder room are concerned. The frame was also stiffened and strengthened, increasing the overall durability and reliability of the vehicle. Topping it all off, the Tacoma even got a flush bumper and smoothed-out cab glass, increasing the aerodynamics of the vehicle, giving it better performance overall.
Due to the increased size of the truck, the engines naturally had to get bigger as well. In 2005, the Tacoma received a 2.7-liter DOHC 4-cylinder engine that replaced the previous 2.4-liter, and a 4.0-liter DOHC V6 that replaced the previous 3.4-liter. While the fuel-efficiency undoubtedly dropped in 2005 compared to the end of the first generation, the increase in engine sizes and the truck itself was definitely needed.
In 2006, the Toyota Tacoma hit a huge safety milestone in its life – a big deal, considering the Tacoma is only two-years into the second generation at this point. For the first time ever, advanced front airbags were added in and made standard on models that had bench seats, greatly improving the safety of the Tacoma. A new standard tire-pressure monitor was also added. While that’s not as impactful as upgraded airbags, it’s still a nice addition. Even though the revised SAE testing procedures for 2006 have dropped the horsepower and torque ratings, flexible and refined drivetrains still remain a strong aspect of the 2006 model year.
The standard engine choice for this year was a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine producing 159 horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque. A 4.0-liter V6 engine can be equipped exclusively on the crew-cab model, which produces 236 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. Properly outfitted, this truck can tow 6,500 pounds.
Something that drivers and passengers found lacking from the past two model years was the Tacoma’s front seats. So for 2007, Toyota decided to load the Tacoma with larger front seats. On the Access Cab model, rear seats now fold flat. Even more prominent, a new instrument panel was also added, enhancing the 2007 Tacoma.
Other than that, the Tacoma didn’t receive any other changes this year. It remained a great overall midsize truck, favoring practicality and performance over luxury. But that would change in 2009.
Toyota’s Tacoma received no major changes for the 2008 model year.
It retained the same great engine options, and the upgrades made towards the beginning of the generation still prove fruitful. That extended wheelbase, combined with a Double Cab (crew cab) and a long bed, actually allows the midsize truck to become longer than a full-sized domestic with a short bed. That’s quite impressive. If you don’t want a truck that long, then it’s a good thing the Tacoma is able to stay on the shorter side of the midsize pickup truck segment as well.
In other words, versatility is still the Tacoma’s calling card.
In 2009, there were a lot of additions in the form of safety upgrades. Perhaps the biggest update is the standardization of the Toyota Star Safety System.
The Star Safety System is Toyota’s suite of advanced safety features. It landed the Toyota Tacoma an overall five-star safety rating with the NHTSA, which is the highest safety rating a vehicle can get. Key elements of this suite were front seat side-impact airbags, roof curtain airbags, anti-whiplash active front headrests, and VSC stability control/traction control.
Along with safety, the Tacoma also received some new technology features for the 2009 model year. Bluetooth connectivity became a component of the premium audio system, and satellite radio is also optional.
The Tacoma received no updates for 2010, but its strong suits still remain intact, such as the versatility in body style, outstanding safety rating, strong V6 engine, and cavernous interior.
For 2011, the Tacoma’s performance was boosted even further and included an automatic transmission available with the four-cylinder engine. Previously, the automatic transmission could only be paired to the V6 engine. Now, those who want an automatic transmission won’t have to upgrade to the V6 to get one.
The design finally sees a slight refresh, with the grille being redesigned depending on the trim. On top of that, air-conditioning is now standard on every Tacoma model. A nice touch, even if that feature is a little late to the party compared to other trucks. Luxury is finally going up.
2012 marked the year the Tacoma got a updated styling on the inside and out. It still retains its muscular and beefy-looking persona, along with the large interior. However, it now has a updated, modern look. The outside is more shapely than it was beforehand, and the inside lost the outdated silver-painted controls with a sleek black surface. Providing a higher, much needed level of class that was heretofore missing.
The cab configurations also remain the same: Regular, Access (an extended cab with small rear-hinged doors) and Double Cab (crew cab with four full-size front-hinged doors), with either a five or six-foot bed depending on the chosen cab.
With a modern take on Toyota’s classic midsize truck, the Tacoma is ready to roll on to the end of the generation.
In 2013, the Tacoma got a new Limited package. Other than that, it remained unchanged.
This package takes features from the Convenience and SR5 packages and then adds upgraded upholstery, heated front seats, and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Other packages consist of varying availability depending on the drivetrain and body style chosen. An SR-5 package combines exterior and interior enhancements. Details like a chrome grille, rear bumper, foglamps, upgraded seats, keyless entry, rearview camera, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel can be found in this package.
An off-road package is also available on the Tacoma. Called the TRD Off-Road package, it includes 16-inch alloy wheels, a heavy-duty suspension, rear locking differential, skid plates/sport seats and fender flares. An on-road version of the TRD package is available, and adds on 17-inch alloy wheels, a hood scoop, and a sport suspension/sport seats.
There are plenty of stand alone options to choose from as well.
At this point, Toyota decided it was time to update the Tacoma’s technology, which involved enhancing the touchscreen infotainment options. That rearview camera now displays the feed onto the touchscreen on all models – a lot nicer compared to how it used to display: in a small box in the rearview mirror. The standard touchscreen display has iPod/USB and Bluetooth connectivity.
On the inside, build quality is good, but the Tacoma still puts practicality first. Three-dial climate knobs might seem outdated, but not to the person who needs the Tacoma for working – another reason why the cabin is built with primarily hard plastic panels. Easier to clean, and less likely to break.
Speaking of durability, the composite bed-liner helps guard against potential damage that could result from carrying construction supplies. If you want to step up the utility even further, then you can find a Tacoma that is equipped with the optional bed-mounted 115-volt power outlet, allowing you to plug in electrical tools.
Toyota unveiled the third-generation of their iconic Tacoma pickup at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, and the vehicle was officially released later that year as a 2015 model. While the second generation of the truck was certainly highly regarded, engineers still decided to revamp several major aspects of the Tacoma.
For starters, the exterior was altered in favor of the styling cues set forth by the 2012 4Runner SUV and the 2014 Toyota Tundra. This lead to a more muscular, athletic design consisting of an improved, larger grille, and new projector beam headlamps. The back of the pickup was also revised, as engineers redesigned the tailgate and bed while also adding a new infused spoiler.
Engineers also redesigned the pickup truck’s body to provide better safety in the event of a collision. The decision to include more high-strength steel positively impacted both the Tacoma’s weight and rigidity, which plays a significant role in fuel economy and handling. The brand also included a new suspension system, rear differentials, and a rear axle, allowing the vehicle to be driven both on-road and off. In other words, this revamped Tacoma provided a brand-new driving experience.
Potential buyers had the opportunity to “customize” the exterior of their new ride thanks to Toyota’s array of offerings. For instance, customers could choose between five different trims, including the base SR, SR5, TRD Off Road, TRD Sport, and the Limited. Drivers could also choose between the Access Cab or Double Cab (which ultimately influenced the length of the bed).
Under the hood, owners would likely find the impressive 4.0-liter V6 (alternatively, there was a rarer 2.7-liter engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that could pump out 160 horsepower). The V6 was capable of producing a whole lot of muscle, as drivers could expect 236 horsepower. This was the only third-generation Tacoma to feature this engine.
Thanks to technologies like direct injection and the Atkinson cycle (which relies heavily on VVT-iW variable valve timing), drivers could also expect a 21 combined mile per gallon fuel efficiency via the 4×2 model (the mpg was reduced to 20 when the vehicle was equipped with the 4×4 system).
It’ll probably be relatively tough to come across, but Toyota Racing Development also offered customers the opportunity to choose the TRD supercharger for the Tacoma. The accompanying 4.0-liter V6 engine deliver 304 horsepower and 334 pounds-feet of torque. This unit was available through the 2015 model.
Of course, the interior also saw some slight revisions. By relying on a handle-bar theme, the inside of the truck was transformed into a more luxurious vehicle. The soft-touch upholstery materials were a nice upgrade over the previous plastics and leathers, while the upgraded touchscreen display added some much-needed liveliness to the cabin. One of the most underrated additions was the inclusion of insulated doors, weather stripping, and an acoustic windshield. This helped reduce the interior noise, allowing drivers to enjoy their ride without having to deal with the whistle of the wind.
Per usual, engineers also designed special versions of the pickup to cater to those off-roading enthusiasts. For instance, the TRD Off Road trim added a number of amenities to the Tacoma, including an innovative terrain select mode that lets drivers choose between a number of different road conditions (whether it be rock, sand, or mud). Meanwhile, the brand’s CRAWL technology allows drivers to easily steer the truck in the worse condition, and the vehicle will automatically adjust for braking or acceleration. Therefore, if you’re seeking a pickup that can accommodate standard commuting and off-roading, there’s clearly no better option than the Tacoma.
When it came to the 2016 model, the biggest change came under the hood, as Toyota added a new 3.5-liter V6 engine. The unit delivered boosted power specs at 278 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque.The six-speed manual transmission stuck around, but drivers could also opt for the brand’s six-speed automatic transmission (which replaced the previous five-speed option).
Predictably, fuel economy numbers were also improved. Drivers can expect the V6 option to deliver a 19 mile per gallon efficiency in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway, which was a considerable upgrade over the previous year’s specs. While you’ll presumably be saving plenty of money by opting for a used vehicle, you’ll likely find additional savings at the gas pump.
Aesthetically, the 2016 Tacoma saw few changes from its predecessor. Engineers included a new grille, wheel arches, and headlights, although these revisions probably wouldn’t be noticed by casual customers. The interior’s changes were just as understated, with the brand revising the climate control vents while also adding a new shift lever.
Technology-wise, drivers surely appreciated the inclusion of the updated Entune infotainment system, as well as the super convenient wireless charging pad. The optional power sunroof was a significant addition, especially for those who prefer to flood their truck’s cabin with fresh air. Engineers even included a GoPro mount on the windshield, allowing the driver to record any of their off-roading excursions.
Perhaps most importantly, engineers also included a number of safety technologies in the truck. The Blind Spot Monitoring System proves especially helpful, as the technology provides a second set of eyes. The new Rear Cross-Traffic Alert is handy when you’re attempting to back out of a parking spot, as the system will alert you of any object about to cross your path. The backup camera remained optional, while many of the standard features (like anti-lock brakes, side-curtain airbags, and stability control) remained mostly intact.
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