Manufactured by Toyota in 2005, the Tacoma was originally built as a compact pickup until it was redesigned into a mid-size in 2005. As Motor Trend Magazine’s Truck of the Year for 2005, the Tacoma boasts superb road performance and quality interior and exterior, its name promising reliability and durability. Tracing its beginnings, looking back at remodels it underwent, and cataloging the innovations it has acquired through the years would be a hoot.
First generation (1995-2004)
Introduced in the United States in 1995 as a replacement for the Hilux, the Tacoma was first marketed under the name Pickup. It had three engines: a 2.4 L four-cylinder rated at 142 hp and 160 lb·ft of torque, 2.7 L four-cylinder at 150 hp and 177 lb·ft of torque, and 3.4 L V6 rated at 190 hp (142 kW) and 220 lb·ft of torque.
1998 marked the start of prerunner models. They had the option of the Toyota Racing Development off-road package, which gives the driver off-road shocks, skid plates, higher suspension (ground clearance), limited slip rear differential, and tow hooks.
Minor headlight upgrades—from recessed to flush—came the Tacoma’s way in 1998 and 2000. It also underwent facelifts which included grilles, tailgate badging, and emblems. A passenger-side airbag was also added.
In 2001 a new crew cab model (four-door) was added to the lineup, featuring a 5.5-inch bed. Extended cabs, which still opened at two doors, featured a 6-foot bed.
An S-Runner trim package which included the 3.4-liter V6 engine was also unveiled, coming with 16-inch alloy wheels and a five-speed manual transmission with Tokico gas shocks.
Second generation (2005-present)
The second generation Tacoma, introduced at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show, came out with 18 configurations which included three cab configurations (regular, access, and crew); four transmissions (four-speed automatic, five-speed automatic, five-speed manual, and six-speed manual); two engines (4.0-liter 1GR-FE V6 and 3.4-liter 5VZ-FE V6); and two bed lengths (6-foot and 5-foot).
Toyota also introduced the X-Runner trim, replacing the S-runner trim from the first generation Tacomas. It had the 1GR-FE paired to a six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, and included an X-brace suspension package to stiffen up the rear end. Downhill-Assist Control (DAC), which automatically applies braking during downhill descents and Hill-Start Assist Control (HAC) which prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards on hills, were included in models equipped with the TRD Off-Road package.
In 2009, a minor facelift came for Tacoma including a slightly revised grille on some models and new light-emitting diode (LED) taillights; on the X-Runner, a smoked head light trim was introduced. More revisions on the headlights, grille, and bumper were done to the Tacoma in 2012.
Multiple Tacoma models such as Double Cab models with TRD packages were used by special forces units of the United States Army during war exercises in Iraq in the 2000s. Front headlights have been modified to work with night vision and the vehicles have been fitted with brush guards, Warn winches, and a roll bar with a machine gun mount.