- Wide variety of body styles and trims
- Engines offer good balance of power and fuel efficiency
- Excellent off-road ability
- Impressive build quality
- Well-appointed interior
- Low seating position
- Spongy brake pedal
- V6 can get noisy
In terms of sheer utility and load-carrying capabilities, a full-size pickup still reigns supreme. But not everybody needs that kind of potential, and given the sacrifices in fuel economy and maneuverability, a full-sizer would seem like a waste for some. For those drivers, plenty of cargo-hauling and off-road ability can be found in the midsize pickup segment.
Among this group, you can't do much better than the 2010 Toyota Tacoma. The Tacoma's wide-ranging appeal is due in no small part to its variety of trim levels and body styles. From the base Regular Cab as a work truck to the X-Runner for boulevard cruising and onwards to the trail-taming off-road variants, there is likely a Tacoma to fit your needs. Sturdy construction, a reputation for reliability, a well-appointed cabin and a long list of available features serve to further the Tacoma's attraction.
The Toyota Tacoma remains relatively unchanged from last year's model, debunking rumors that 2010 would see an all-new model. Returning in the same fine form is the robust 4.0-liter V6 engine, which is our recommended pick for those who plan on using their Tacomas for towing and heavy hauling duties. For those with less demanding requirements, the smaller, more fuel-efficient four-cylinder will probably suffice.
As compact-to-midsize pickups go, we like the 2010 Toyota Tacoma better than other choices like the Chevy Colorado, Dodge Dakota and Ford Ranger. Only the Nissan Frontier and its related twin, the Suzuki Equator, generally match up as equals to the Tacoma in terms of versatility, robustness and all-around performance. As such, you'll want to check out all three trucks. But a Tacoma purchase will certainly get you a well-rounded and highly capable midsize pickup that can take on just about anything you throw at it.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2010
The 2010 Toyota Tacoma is essentially unchanged from last year.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2010 Toyota Tacoma is a midsize pickup that is offered as a regular cab, Access Cab (an extended cab featuring small rearward-opening doors) and a Double Cab (crew cab with four full-size doors). Both Regular and Access Cabs are joined to a 6-foot cargo bed. The Double Cab has a shortened 5-foot bed in the interest of maneuverability, but a 6-foot bed is available as an option.
As the base model, the Tacoma Regular Cabs are lightly equipped, making them ideal as work trucks. Standard features include 15-inch steel wheels, a limited-slip differential, a composite bedliner, a bed utility-rail system, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a cloth front bench seat and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Tacoma Access Cab adds air-conditioning, power locks and windows, upgraded cloth upholstery, front bucket seats, a rear bench (includes under-seat storage) and two more speakers. The Tacoma Double Cab adds 16-inch steel wheels, a front skid plate and driver lumbar adjustment.
Most options (which can vary by region) are grouped into packages with varying availability depending on body styles and drivetrain choices. The SR-5 package typically combines exterior and interior enhancements that include a chrome grille and rear bumper, foglamps, upgraded seats, keyless entry, a rearview camera, cruise control and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls. The TRD Off-Road package includes 16-inch alloy wheels, fender flares, a heavy-duty suspension, a locking rear differential, skid plates and sport seats. The on-road oriented TRD Sport package includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a hood scoop, a sport suspension and sport seats. Separate options include alloy wheels, cruise control, a towing package, rear park assist, Bluetooth (Double Cab only) and an upgraded stereo with six-CD changer and satellite radio.
All Tacoma body styles are available in either two- or four-wheel-drive form. Rear-wheel-drive PreRunner versions adopt the rugged look and suspension of their off-road-focused stablemates, but without the added weight, fuel appetite and traction of actual 4WD. The rear-drive-only X-Runner version is more street performance-oriented, with a body kit, 18-inch alloy wheels, a lowered and sport-tuned suspension, a hood scoop, foglamps and an upgraded stereo.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The Tacoma doesn't break any new ground in terms of interior design, but it is well-built with quality materials and offers plenty of practicality. The attractive metallic interior trim found in higher trim levels adds a bit more refinement, especially when compared to more industrial rivals like the Dodge Dakota. Furthermore, the gimmick-free cockpit benefits from easy-to-read gauges and intuitive controls.
Adult passengers will find the Double Cab's rear seats roomy and comfortable, while only smaller folk are likely to find the Access Cab's rear accommodations passable. Some have noted their displeasure with the Tacoma's driving position, feeling that the seat is mounted too low to the floor for a pickup. Behind the cab, a substantial composite inner cargo bed does a good job of defending the surface from dents and rust, and an optional bed-mounted 115-volt/400-watt electrical outlet should be a big hit with campers and tailgaters alike.
Standard safety equipment on all 2010 Tacomas includes stability and traction control, antilock brakes (disc front, drum rear) with brake assist, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front active headrests. Hill-start assist control (HAC) and downhill assist control (DAC) are available on 4WD models equipped with the automatic transmission.
In government crash testing, the 2010 Toyota Tacoma received a top five-star rating for its protection of occupants in frontal and side-impact crashes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tacoma its top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset and side crash tests. The Tacoma is the only compact/midsize to receive high marks in both tests, earning it the distinction of being an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The standard engine for 2010 Toyota Tacoma Regular and Access Cabs is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel-drive models come with the choice of a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission, while four-wheel-drive models are restricted to the manual. Fuel economy for a rear-drive four-cylinder Tacoma with the automatic registers an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined, with manual-equipped models gaining 1 mpg across the board. Four-wheel-drive models drop to 17/22/19 mpg.
Double Cab and select Access Cab models receive a 4.0-liter V6 that ups output to 236 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on most V6 Tacomas, and a five-speed automatic is optional (standard on PreRunner Double Cabs). In testing, a Tacoma Double Cab V6 turned-in a 0-60-mph time of 7.8 seconds, which is suitably quick for a midsize truck. Fuel economy for the 4x4 Double Cab with the auto is 16 mpg city/20 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined, while manual-equipped versions make 2 mpg less overall. Access Cab and 4x2 models achieve slightly better mileage. When properly equipped, the Tacoma can tow 6,500 pounds.
For drivers who don't plan on heavy hauling, towing or accelerating with any authority, the four-cylinder engine will likely fulfill their needs -- especially as a work truck. The beefier V6 is a much more capable choice for more serious work and play, with plenty of low-range pull that continues into the higher revs. The only downside is that it can get a bit noisy at higher rpm.
For better or worse, the 2010 Toyota Tacoma drives like a proper pickup truck. It delivers a reasonably comfortable ride on the streets and, properly equipped, tackles off-road terrain without drama. The Tacoma can, however, feel rather twitchy if the bed's empty and the truck's fitted with one of the stiffer suspensions. It's also worth noting that the brakes ably bring things to a halt, but the soft pedal does not inspire confidence.
The 2010 Toyota Tacoma is a top choice in the midsize pickup segment thanks to a highly capable nature and wide array of configurations.