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2012 Toyota Tacoma V6 Double Cab TRD Off-Road Review & Test Drive

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The Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup truck is still the best selling brand in a wide margin and this year offers a restyled exterior, a restyled and upgraded interior for added comfort, usability and Toyota’s new Entune audio/infotainment system.

For 2012 the Tacoma shows a fresh face with a redesigned hood, grille, headlamps and front bumper.  Inside, customers will find a new instrument panel design with a revised gauge cluster, along with a new steering wheel.  A redesigned center stack adds new A/C/heater controls and power point locations.

The 2012 Tacoma interior also gets a new look with a black high-contrast center console, switch plate covers, dash and upper door trim.  The double cab features new heavy-duty all-weather flooring.

This all adds up to more comfort and function with the addition of a larger, higher-resolution display for the optional back-up camera (3.3 X 2.4 inches), a new temperature gauge, optional rearview mirror with compass and Homelink, vanity lamps added to sun visors, an additional overhead storage compartment and two front-deck ‘D’ rings for added versatility.

The double-cab V6 models offer a more advanced display audio system with today’s most in-demand connectivity features.  These include navigation, Toyota’s new Entune services, Sirius XM satellite radio, HD radio with iTunes tagging and text/e-mail-to-voice.  This premium infotainment system plays through a JBL GreenEdge audio system with seven speakers.  GreenEdge technology helps reduce fuel consumption by lowering the electric power demand on the vehicle.

The Toyota Entune system is a collection of popular mobile applications and data services, with three years of complimentary access.  Once a smart phone is connected to the vehicle using Bluetooth wireless technology or a USB cable, Entune features are operated using the vehicle’s controls or, for some services, by voice recognition.  Entune includes ‘Bing’ and Pandora; iHeartRadio, and OpenTable, as well as real-time info including traffic, weather, fuel prices, sports and stocks.

The 2012 Tacoma lines offers two engines: a 2.7 liter DOHC four-cylinder that produces 159hp and 180lb.ft. of torque, and a 4.0 liter DOHC V6 that provides 236hp and 266lb.ft. of torque.  In both engines variable valve timing wit intelligence (VVT-i) provides strong low-end and mid-range torque to successfully carry large loads in the cargo box and to bust through tough trails off-road.

And electronic throttle control system with intelligence helps optimize performance and fuel economy.  The V6 can be teamed with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic transmission.  Four-cylinder models offer a choice between a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic.

The TRD Off-Road package that I had provides a carefully tuned balance of off-road performance and on-road handling.  Chassis modifications include an electronic locking rear differential, progressive-rate front coil springs, specially tuned Bilstein shocks front and back, a 28mm front stabilizer bar, and 265/70R17 inch BF Goodrich Rugged Trail tires wrapped around custom 17X8 inch alloy wheels.  The cargo box features a 400Watt/ 115 Volt power-point.  Inside are sport bucket seats with adjustable lumbar support and unique stain proof/water resistant fabric, an overhead console with compass and outside temperature readout, a back-up monitor, metallic tone instrument panel, leather trimmed/tilt/telescoping steering wheel/shifter, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable speed wipers/washers, auto-dimming reaview mirror, dual map lamps, grab handles at each A-pillar, and thick cut-pile carpeting.  On the outside are foglamps, engine skid plate, chrome grille surround and rear bumper, overfenders and TRD Off-Road graphics.

Slowing the new Tacoma V6 double cab 4X4 TRD down from speed are 12.5 inch vented disc clamped with big dual pistons calipers up front and 10 inch drum brakes in the rear.  Keeping you in control during braking are standard ABS, EBD, BA, TRAC, and VSC.  You guide the new 2012 Tacoma via a power-assisted rack & pinion steering system that gives great feedback from the road and quick response to your inputs.  Ground clearance is an excellent 9.1 inches.

The TRD Off-Road package with the automatic transmission comes standard with both Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and Downhill Assist Control (DAC).  HAC operates by independently controlling the brakes at each wheel as needed to help prevent the vehicle from rolling backward or slipping sideways during a transition from a stopped position to climbing a grade.  An automatic limited-slip differential (auto-LSD), which uses brake intervention to help reduce tire slippage at the rear wheels, is standard on all Tacoma’s.

DAC uses engine braking to regulate downhill speed and independently control the brakes at each wheel to help improve directional control.  DAC automatically de-activates if you depress the brake or throttle pedals, press the DAC button, or shifts into neutral.  TRD Off-Road packages feature a locking rear differential that can be activated by a switch in the cab.

Standard safety features include driver/front passenger airbags, seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags, 3-point safety belts for all seating positions with front pretensioners/load limiters, front/rear crumple zones, steel beam in each door, tire pressure monitor system, and driver/front passenger active head restraints.

Competition is fierce in the mid-size pickup truck segment and with the new look inside and outside, the proven Toyota off-road credentials; the Tacoma should keep ahead of the pack.



  • Price: Base Tacoma Double Cab V6 $26,455  As-Tested $35,105.00 including destination
  • Engine: 4.0-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 236 horsepower @ 5200 rpm / 266 ft-lbs. torque @ 4000 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 127.4in.
  • Total length: 298.1in.
  • Total width: 74.6in.
  • Total height: 70.1in.
  • Track: f/r-63/63.4in.
  • Approach angle: 35
  • Departure angle: 25
  • Breakover angle: 20
  • Fuel tank: 21.1 gallons
  • Turning circle: 40.6ft.
  • Headroom: f/r-40.2/38.4in.
  • Legroom: f/r-41.7/32.7in.
  • Max towing when properly equipped: 6,500lbs.
  • Curb weight: 4,185lbs.
  • EPA mileage: 16mpg/city, 21mpg/highway

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