Again, another update on my Tacoma, because, due to an unfortunate off-roading mistake on my part, I found yet another brilliant part of this Tacoma's design that I hadn't fully realized or appreciated until this week. Here's what happened:
This truck is a five speed stick, and I stalled it in the middle of a steeeep incline, and did NOT want to drift backwards very far trying to get off of the brake and back onto the clutch and gas pedal, for reasons I will not go into. This is where the beauty of the hand operated parking brake became crystal clear to me. I was able to set the parking brake, which held me in place, and rev the clutch and gas, and THEN, without having to move my feet, release the parking brake and go forward with no backward drift.
THANK YOU to the engineers at Toyota, who in 1997, forsaw my stupidity 10 years in advance and brilliantly designed this off road masterpiece to compensate for a situation just like this. Now, my truck is safely in the parking lot at home, covered in mud, but not submerged in a who-knows-how-deep pond/lake.
Here's the point, readers, if you want a good off road truck, there is no substitute for a Toyota. Period.
This is my review; thought I'd update again. I'm just about at 80,000 miles; I drive about 75 miles a day round trip just to the college I attend. The truck is still perfect. Runs as good as day one when I bought it with about 29,000 on the odometer. From the sound of the engine (which still sounds as tight as day one) it'll take a hell of a lot more miles than this to even loosen up, really. This is why I buy Toyota's. The truck feels no different than when it was new.
I'll second your opinion. MY 96' Tacoma just flipped over 200,000 miles. Since I figured that was reason enough to clean it up, I cleaned the inside, outside, engine, frame, and underneath. Needless to say, once all cleaned up I could see that despite having 200,000 miles, all of the suspension, mechanical, and cosmetic components of the truck look essentially unchanged from the day I bought it as a high school graduate in the summer of 1996. I'm a 30 year old many now with a wife and a job 50 miles away. I've practically grown up with this truck and it has been a perfect vehicle.
Secondly, I live near San Francisco. On occasion I drive into the city. The hills there are ridiculous. Some with stop signs at the TOP of the hill! Without the emergency hand brake, you would be sunk. I agree - the hand brake is a life-saver.
Treat these trucks good and they'll last about as long as you want them to.
I wrote the original review. Updating, I now have about 86,000 miles on the truck and it still hasn't cost me a penny in repairs, as is common with any of my former Toyota vehicles. It still runs and drives exactly the same as day one. Everything but the battery and the tires is original; just put a battery in this week.
Driving this truck gives the impression that it'll take at least another 86,000 before it even starts to loosen up anywhere, if it even does that soon.
1998 Toyota Tacoma 4x4, 2.7L engine, 220,000 miles, no major maintenance.
I have driven this Tacoma since receiving it at 169,000 miles vigorously. I cannot imagine owning another, because it's giving me great service thus far. Other than your basic maintenance (oil change, tire pressure check, and anti-freeze change out), I have no complaints. I switched to Pennzoil Platinum 5-W30 synthetic oil, and noticed the difference immediately, and run Shell 89 octane with an occasional shot of 93 octane through the tank. All has been good, so far. Will keep you updated on any changes, good or bad.
10 years ago I purchased a small gas saving work truck... a 1996, 2wd, 4 speed manual. I put about 150k more on the the truck before I wrecked it a little less than a year ago. The truck had 230,000 miles on it and purred like a kitten. I was devastated, as you can imagine, and began looking for a "replacement" immediately. It's taken me 9 months of constant looking, but I finally purchased another truck. It's a 98, 6 cyl, 4x4 excab. I love this truck. Picked it up yesterday with only 80,000 original miles, and it looks like it's never left the pavement or a garage. These are amazing trucks, and I hope to be driving this thing 20 years from now.