Invincible Truck of Doom
You could type virtually any of those into Google and come back with links about this truck. Toyota ran some pretty humorous TV ads describing how tough the truck was. There was the Loch Ness Monster ad, the Meteor ad, and I think even a World of Warcraft ad. Of course that’s just marketing but the truth is the truck is extremely capable and very tough. I purchased one new in 2009 and I currently have roughly 52k miles on the clock. My first auto review will be of my own vehicle to give you guys some perspective on where I’m coming from when I do other reviews.
My experience with this truck as a daily driver has been extremely positive. I tend to fall into buyer’s remorse quite easily yet I can honestly say that I have ZERO regrets about buying this vehicle. My model is a double cab (four doors) equipped with the TRD Sport package, towing package, and 4WD. This means I have color matched bumpers, mirrors, and a hood scoop. The towing package added a separate transmission cooler, larger alternator, and a remote AC outlet in the truck bed. The outlet has proved to be fairly useless because it can only power low wattage devices but in the event you need to charge a laptop or power something at a campsite it’s pretty slick. The truck stickered for $31k and i took it home for $27k.
The truck rides very smooth and reacts well to bumps and objects. Everything feels tight and strong even after 50k miles. I wouldn’t say it handles great by normal car standards but for a truck I think it does very well. I rarely have to do any type of emergency lane change or avoidance manuver but when I do it’s quick to respond. On slick roads there is plenty of traction even with the stock Bridgestone Duellers. In the event you do something totally stupid (or try) the traction control keeps you in check. Standard tires with my model yielded about 20-21mpg average for mixed city and highway driving. I rocked the stock tires for 46k miles and could have gone longer. I opted for some beefier Goodyear Duratracs for some offroad pleasure. The 4 liter 236hp V6 engine is plenty of power for anything you’d ever need. If I’m honest, it’s actually very quick. I’m sure the truck is every bit as fast as my outgoing Lexus IS300 5speed. Sure more power would be nice but don’t assume you need it because you’re wrong. In fact, the GMC Canyon, empty, is slower 0-60 than the Tacoma is loaded to FULL PAYLOAD! True story…
Interior is very functional. Driver and passenger legroom is more than adequate even for tall people. I believe there are 13 cup holders throughout the vehicle in case you’re really thirsty or just a typical American with your 13 Big Gulps. The seats are very well bolstered and the materials still look new after the torture I’ve put them through. The materials used throughout the interior aren’t the pinnacle of luxury but if you’re looking for that you’re clearly not Tacoma material. The good news is that they’re tough and easy to keep clean. The rear seats are adequate but a bit tight for adults. I’ve sat in the back during a 3 hour trip (girlfriend was driving) and it was tight but fairly comfortable. Rear seat storage accessed by a very clever use of folding seats. There is space under the seat bottoms and behind the seat backs. The seats also fold flat and have a hard plastic backing for if you need to throw junk on top of it. Folding the rear seats requires the headrests to be removed which is a bit annoying but not really an issue. Storage access is easy but the amount of actual storage is quite limited since this is not a full size truck.
Now for the good part…Off road performance! I can’t say enough about how impressed I am by this truck’s performance off road. I regularly go to an offroad park in Bridgeport Texas and put the truck through hell and back. I’ve had the truck in mud up to the hubs and it got out on it’s own with no tow. Driving through three feet of water? No problem. Climbing hills so steep you can’t can’t walk up? You bet! Did I mention all of that is with the stock road tires? You may not believe me which is why I’ve included pictures as proof. After all the things I’ve done with the truck I’ve only replaced one part on the entire truck and it was covered under warranty. I got mud in my belt tensionor and didn’t clean it (my bad) before the mud hardened so it got really noisy. It should be noted that it did NOT fail, it was just noisy.
The low range gear box makes getting over anything a cake walk. And remember how I said the V6 was plenty? When you stick it in 4WD LOW you’ll see what I mean. I couldn’t imagine needing close to all the power that it has. My model didn’t come with the electronic rear locking differential (TRD Off Road only) but I wish mine had it. It’s not an option on the TRD Sport unfortunately. It’s rare that I need it but there are times when it would be VERY useful. A buddy of mine had the rear locker on his and when he was fighting for traction he would push the “magic button” as we called it; and the truck would walk right out. There front diff on both models is open unfortunately but the TRD Off Road has a system called ATRAC that uses the brakes to control wheel spin in low traction situations.
Some of you might remember my recent fiasco concerning me putting the truck in about 5 feet of water. This was the ONLY situation the truck was not able to get out of on it’s own. Reason being is that I realized the intake was under water and shut the engine off. No engine = no getting out on your own. The truck took on a LOT of water inside the cab and engine bay. It sat (as pictured below) for about 45 minutes while water seeped into pretty much everywhere.
Oh the humanity!
After I got the truck out I checked to make sure the intake filter was dry (it was since I shut the engine off quickly) and started it right up. Yes, after being submerged for almost an hour it started without issue. Can your Chevy do that? Yeah, didn’t think so. After the incident I could tell the contacts on my starter were starting to go bad because it would take a while to get the starter to engage. However, the truck has never, at any point, not started on it’s own. I removed the starter and cleaned the contacts on it and it’s back to perfection. The only thing I had to replace after the flood was my right turn signal bulb ($3) because the headlights were full of water.
After all of my offroading shenanigans and 52k miles, I have only replaced the tensionor, turn signal bulb, changed the engine and differential oils, flushed the power steering, and changed the spark plugs. Everything else on the vehicle has not been touched and it’s perfection. I’m still on the stock battery too and I have a very large stereo system running on it. After all this time the truck has never failed to start…ever. I’ve never seen a CEL, never needed anything adjusted, and nothing has ever broken even after all of the stupid things I’ve done in it. I still enjoy the truck as much as I did when I bought it. I plan on keeping it for another 50k or more, trading it in, and then getting another one.
- Low Maintenance
- Decent gas mileage
- Fits 5 adults
- Plenty of power
- Toyota Reliability
- Can’t bust it
- Perfect size alternative to a “full size” truck
- Expensive fully loaded
- No front LSD or locker option
- Limited storage space
- Can’t swim
I’d really like to see Toyota offer front and rear lockers as an option in 2013. More power from a revised V6 or even a turbo diesel 4cylinder (hint hint…wink wink) would be outstanding. I will also add that I’m quite jealous of the electric rear window that rolls down in the Tundras. That would be a nice addition as well. I’d also like to be able to fit tires under the truck larger than 265 on the stock ride height but now I’m just getting picky.
I’m giving this vehicle 5 stars and the Cranks Seal of Approval. It wasn’t just good, it was good enough for me to purchase! Below is a picture of Optimus as he sits now….ready for action!
Reporting for duty sir...