Fun, easy-to-drive truck
Outlets did not put out power after about 30K.
Rear tail-light and foglights burnt out around 40K.
Automatic transmission occasionally "slipped" or got stuck in a given gear.
Annoying whistling/wail while cruising at high speed or traveling in heavy winds - dealer could not figure out/duplicate the problem, and was an issue almost from day one.
This was my first and only truck, and overall was a pleasant and fun experience. I appreciated the RWD and 4x4 handling characteristics (my previous car being a FWD 2006 Matrix with the usual torque-steer and horrendous winter traction). The long wheelbase and cushy yet firm suspension made for pleasant highway cruising and "floating" over bumps, but also for jerky, rocking transitions over curbs and speed bumps if tackled at the wrong angle.
Seats offered excellent support for long trips (could easily drive for 2-3 hours straight without feeling uncomfortable). Entry could be a little awkward, especially without running boards, and while the ride height was rather high relative to the road, in the cabin it felt very sports-like with the legs more or less stretched out. The seats also proved to offer more than adequate lateral support when I decided to toss the Tacoma into a curve. While not a sports car by any stretch, the Tacoma did feel agile for a mid-size truck. Visibility was excellent, though the view directly to the rear with the cap installed, was limited to headlights being the only indicator of traffic. The large sideview mirrors more than made up for this however.
Power was adequate at best (233 HP), but the torque was rather impressive at 266 lb/ft. Around town, the Tacoma was surprisingly quick without having to be pushed very hard. However, when pushed hard at highway speeds, this is where the performance lacked - there was just not enough power in reserve to overcome all that drag. Wind noise was always obtrusive at 100 clicks and above, but being a truck, I didn't really mind.
Interior was very tastefully done with high-quality durable plastics, large controls, grippy cloth seats, and more cupholders than were necessary. I had the quad cab version, so interior space was more than adequate, and cargo space was satisfactory with the rear seats folded away, and cargo compartments in the floor and behind the seats. The stereo was loud, powerful and in no deficit of bass response - in fact, it had too much bass power! I would have liked a mid-range control to even out the sound a bit...
Cargo bed was reasonable at 6 feet, and with the cap could carry a full double bass drumkit, including an array of stands, several guitars and amps with plenty of room in the cabin for my bandmates.
I never really took the Tacoma off-road, but the 4x4 definitely came in handy during snowsquall conditions in southwestern Ontario. The substandard all-season Bridgestones did not offer the greatest traction in the snow, but the fat and tall tires nonetheless made the Tacoma feel invincible in low-speed heavy snow conditions while the 4x4 was engaged. I might add that unladen in RWD mode in the snow, the Tacoma was as disoriented as a turtle thrown on its back.
I have to say that the dealer was not helpful in diagnosing and resolving the issues, such as the failed power outlets and whistling sound. As usual they charged an arm and a leg to change the tires (I think they cost around $1200-$1500 to replace). I also broke off one of the front mudflaps, and that cost me about $150 for the piece alone (I chose to install it myself). While not terribly expensive, the running costs for routine maintenance were above average, and the truck did not come cheap - mine retailed around $46K including the aftermarket cap. Fuel economy was reasonable but not spectacular, and premium fuel requirements meant fill-ups didn't come cheap.
All in all, this is/was a fun, easy-to-drive mid-size truck. Maneuvering could be a little intimidating at first, but all corners of the vehicle could be easily spotted - no guesswork here. I found that the transition from car to truck made me a much better driver, since it forced me to become more aware of the spacing around me.
P.S. The ornamental hood-scoop, while bad-ass looking from inside and out, sadly offered no function whatsoever other than to look cool and further aid in aerodynamic drag.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 30th October, 2010