As with some other companies revising their small pickup product lines, Toyota opted to abandon compact and go straight to midsize when it started redesigning its Tacoma from the ground up. Then it added comfort and style on top of the necessary basic truck grit. As if that wasn't enough to attract attention, it divided the newbie into so many variations, they far surpass counting on two hands. (Closer to four, actually.)
Besides its longtime loyalist, who was Toyota eyeing when it scattered its new small pickup variants in so many different directions? The answer would be standard-issue Toyota – anyone even thinking of a smallish pickup truck, particularly in Texas where the Japanese automaker is staking claim to what has often been deemed "Ford country."
To back up its boast, Toyota put plenty in its new Tacoma design: A more rigid chassis with more maneuverability on the road; two punchier engines; a new integrated hitch and bumper design; interiors sometimes compared with pricier, full-size pickups; composite inner truck bed with two-tier loading capability; and a "sophisticated" body and bolder face. There's nearly four inches more shoulder room thanks to a widened tire stance (called track). And wheelbases have been lengthened as well. Power comes from a new 2.7-liter, 164-HP four, with variable valve timing, and a 4.0-liter VVT-i V6 (245-HP and 282 lb.ft. of torque.) That's a big bump up from '04 models.
The launch of the new Tacoma for 2005 certainly didn't go unnoticed, as the truck pulled down some first-place awards and came close with others. If you feel like counting the 18 Tacoma model configurations, start with Regular Cab. Add in extended Access Cab, PreRunner (raised two-wheel drive that looks like four), Access Cab PreRunner, Double Cab, X-Runner (lower-riding performance version), 4X4, 4X2 and on and on. That's one for just about everyone. And Toyota is making sure no one is left out for economy reasons. Prices start in the lower teens and go up from there. Call that throwing down the gauntlet.