The new 2014 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup truck continues to lead the pack in this important pickup truck segment. Even though there are no new important changes to the 2014 model, enthusiasts will be kept happy with all of the packages available. I tested a brand new Tacoma PreRunner V6 in the Access cab configuration and the optional TRD Sport Package for on-road fun. The Tacoma PreRunner has been the best-selling compact pickup truck in the U.S. since 2005 but it is getting a little bit old inside and outside. The real bad news for some enthusiasts is that the Tacoma X-Runner sport truck is discontinued for 2014. The good new though is that I tested the new TRD Extra Value Sport Package. The package includes a sport suspension with Bilstein gas-filled shocks, 17X7.5 inch alloy wheels, Dunlop 265/65R17 inch all-season radial tires, a hood scoop, color-keyed grille surround/bumpers, power outside mirrors with turn signal indicators/door handles/overfenders/sliding rear window with privacy glass/15V400W deck mounted AC power, foglamps, remote keyless entry, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers/washers, overhead console with dual map lamps and two sunglass storage, water resistant sport bucket seats with 4-way adjustments and driver’s-side lumbar support, metallic tone instrument panel with rallye gauge cluster, a beefy/tilt/telescopic/leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls/Bluetooth controls, a great located stick shifter, dual lighted sunvisors with extenders, tailgate handle, integrated backup camera and TRD Sport Graphics. This package is priced at $3,575.00 a bit high but worth it. My truck also came with these options-a tow hitch-$550.00, cargo net-$49.00, carpet floor mats and door sill protector-$195.00, VIP-RS3200 Plus Security System-$359.00 and a bed mat-$119.00. My test Tacoma also came equipped with the Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App Suite that includes the Entune Multimedia Bundle-a 6.1 inch high-resolution touch-screen with Split Screen Display, AM-FM-CD Player with 6-speakers, auxiliary audio jack, USB 2.0 Port with iPod connectivity and control, advanced voice recognition, hands-free phone capability, Phone Book Access and Music Streaming via Bluetooth Wireless technology, HD radio, HD Predictive Traffic and Doppler Weather Overlay, Sirius Satellite radio, GraceNote, AM-FM Cache Radio and Album Cover Art. The base price for my test Tacoma is $23,560.00 and with the Extra Value Discount of $385.00, my test Tacoma was priced at $30,183.00 including delivery, processing and handling. These packages will be a joy for all enthusiasts and tekkes.
The exterior of the Tacoma PreRunner is well known with the bold front grille, hood scoop, flared fenders, mud flaps behind each wheel. Highlights include front halogen headlamps and rear LED tail and brakes lamps. The composite inner bed is made from a sheet-molded composite deck and touch, durable walls that are 10% lighter than steel. The bed deck features two-tier loading and an integrated deck-rail utility with four standard adjustable tie-down cleats. The rails are compatible with Genuine Toyota Accessories including cargo bed cross bars, a fork-mounted bike rack and diamond-plate storage boxes. My PreRunner came with a 115/400W power point that further extends the bed’s utility.
Power to move my PreRunner comes from the 4.0 liter DOHC, EFI, 24-valve, all-aluminum V6 engine with VVT-i for exceptional low-end torque. That torque is rated at 266lb.ft. at 4,000rpm and horsepower is rated at 236 at 5,200rpm. Channeling all of the torque to the rear wheels is a smooth-shifting 5-speed automatic transmission with ECT but I think it is time to load a 6-speed automatic to keep the truck more current and enhance mpg specs. When equipped with the V6 tow package, Access Cab models boast a SAE-certified maximum tow capacity of up to 6,500 pounds. An automatic Limited-slip Differential (Auto LSD) uses brake intervention to help reduce tire slippage at the rear wheels and is standard.
Giving the Tacoma PreRunner great handling and a smooth ride is the front coil-over Bilstein gas-filled shocks double-wishbone suspension with a solid 1.18 inch stabilizer bar. The rear setup features leaf springs and low-mount and staggered Bilstein gas-filled shocks. With the standard hydraulic rack & pinion steering system turn-in is sharp and precise but maybe an electric power-assisted steering system would decrease weight and enhance fuel economy.
Slowing my test Tacoma PreRunner down from speed are power brakes. Up front are 10.82 inch vented rotors clamped with dual-pistons calipers and 10 inch drum brakes in the rear. I think it is time to equip the truck with all disc brakes for extra braking power. This braking system comes standard with ABS, EBD, BA, Vehicle Stability Control and Traction Control to help keep me in control of the truck’s direction when braking hard over wet or slick pavement. The mechanicals work great together but I think it is time to upgrade some of the components mentioned above.
The interior is simple and comfortable once you get inside. With a high step-in height and low exterior height I had to ‘shoe-horn’ myself onto the sport bucket seats. I am 6ft. 3in. and would recommend that consumers looking at the PreRunner be shorter than 6ft. for easy entry and exit. Once I settled into my seat I felt comfortable in the sport bucket seat that is also cut deep to hug me when I enter tight turns. All buttons, dials and switches are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel. I was a little disappointed with all of the hard plastic and would like to see a soft-to-the-touch material on the dashboard face. The center console features a metallic material with gated shifter, 3-cupholders, deep and wide storage box and open storage bins in front and at the left. Standard equipment inside not mentioned above includes storage slots in each door, power windows with driver’s-side express down, rear tow hook, power door locks, dome light, a full-size spare tires, 2-speed wipers/washers, A/C, dual 12V power plugs and a digital clock. The Access Cab came with swing-out doors that extend 80-degrees out for easy access and exit with fold-up jump seats and dual cupholders.
Standard safety features include 4-3-point safety belts , front airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, roll-sensing side curtain airbags including a cut-off switch and standard active headrests for the front seats which move up and forward almost instantly in the event of certain rear-end collisions, side-door impact beams, daytime running lamps, engine immobilizer and a tire pressure monitor.
The Toyota Tacoma PreRunner pickup truck has been the industry leader since 2005 for good reasons. It has bold good looks, a powerful V6 engine, comfortable and simple interior and a versatile cargo box for work or play. With GM coming out with an all-new Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon and Ford ready to introduce an all-new Ranger, Toyota will have to move forward with a total update of the Tacoma to keep its lead in the segment.
COPYRIGHT: 2014: HARVEY SCHWARTZ