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2020 Toyota Tacoma Review

2020 Toyota Tacoma Review Blue Pickup Truck

by Chris Chase

In the last two years, the mid-size pickup segment has expanded to include the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator, the latter’s bold styling providing a dose of attitude in a segment geared toward mainstream truck buyers. This fast-growing class also encompasses the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline, and will soon add the latest generation of Nissan’s Frontier truck.

So it’s no surprise that the Toyota Tacoma, one of the best-known mid-size trucks, has been updated for 2020. That refresh is mostly about new technology: Toyota’s suite of active safety features now comes standard in all trims, the infotainment system supports Apple and Android smartphone integration, and there are new optional multi-terrain view and bird’s-eye view camera systems.

Driving feel and fuel economy2020 Toyota Tacoma Blue Review

Given the scarcity of manual transmissions these days, it’s hard to imagine many Tacoma buyers opting for this one. Particularly confusing is Toyota’s decision to limit stickshift availability to relatively expensive trim levels: my double-cab tester was priced to start at $44,750.

The manual’s tall shifter is well-placed and the clutch easy to use smoothly, as you’d expect in a modern vehicle. However, this gearbox does not like being rushed, especially through the shift from first gear to second. There’s a pleasing mechanical feel to moving the Tacoma’s transmission through its ratios, but the optional automatic feels a lot more modern and fits better with this truck.

The Tacoma’s 3.5L V6 is a strong motor with a good balance between high-end power and low-end torque, despite a high 4,600-rpm torque peak. Toyota’s fuel consumption estimates with the six-speed manual are 13.8/11.7 L/100 km (city/highway); a week of wintry city driving yielded an average of 14.7 L/100 km.

Predictably, a suspension designed to handle a 2,900-kg towing capacity and a 430-kg payload is not terribly compliant on rough pavement. GM’s Colorado and Canyon and Jeep’s Gladiator offer better-unloaded ride quality than either the Tacoma or the Ford Ranger.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Interior

Interior design and comfort

As with most trucks and truck-based SUVs, you have to climb up into the cabin, but the Tacoma’s uncharacteristically low roof also forces you to duck down as you step up and in. Meanwhile, the relationship between the driver’s seat and the steering wheel is such that I had to take care to avoid hitting my knee on either the steering column or the dash to the left of it.

 

Once you’re in, you sit low to the floor with your legs ahead of you, as you would in a car. It’s vastly different from the upright driving position of most trucks. Getting comfortable behind the wheel can also pose a challenge, as the steering column only offers about an inch of reach adjustment.

Getting and out of the Crew Cab’s rear seats is easier, but still hampered by narrow door openings. Back there, you’ll find good headroom and adequate legroom, but the bottom cushions are low and don’t offer much thigh support. There’s also little toe room under the front seats, so forget stretching out, especially if you’re wearing heavy boots.

The Tacoma’s dash is laid out logically, for the most part. An 8.0-inch infotainment screen is bordered by hard buttons for quick access to navigation, phone and radio functions. The climate controls have chunky dials that are easy to use while wearing gloves. However, the climate display is a tiny, low-tech-looking thing sandwiched between the A/C dials and touchscreen. It’s angled down and away from the driver’s sightline, making it hard to read at a glance when you want to adjust settings manually.

2020 Toyota Tacoma BedStandard features and pricing

For its $44,750 price, my test truck’s standard features included niceties like navigation, wireless smartphone charging, a six-speaker stereo, heated front seats, leather upholstery, an eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated side mirrors, and a power-sliding rear window.

Toyota builds in blind-spot monitoring, forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert, and radar cruise control into all Tacoma trims, a nod to the way competition has ramped up in the mid-size truck category. When these smaller trucks started gaining popularity a few years ago, the previous-generation Tacoma was a good truck, but it lacked many creature comforts. To wit, if you have the money to spend, Toyota kits out the Tacoma Limited trim with LED headlights and fog lights and a 360-degree exterior camera system for better visibility.

Conclusion

Driving would be pretty boring if every vehicle was exactly the same. Still, Toyota’s designers would have done well to emulate the best interior aspects of some of the Tacoma’s competitors. If you’re in the market for a mid-size pickup, the Tacoma does a lot of things right, but make sure you can live with its quirks and shortcomings before you commit.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Second Row2020 Toyota Tacoma

Vehicle category: Mid-size pickup truck

Engine: 3.5L V6; 278 hp, 265 lb-ft torque

Transmission: 6-speed manual (optional; 6-speed automatic standard)

Notable standard features (4×4 Access Cab 6A; MSRP: $37,450): 7.0-inch infotainment display, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, heated front seats, 16-inch steel wheels, forward collision detection/avoidance, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, radar cruise control, 6-speaker stereo, air conditioning

Notable options (As tested: 4×4 Double Cab 6M SB; MSRP: $44,750): Sport-tuned shocks, blind-spot monitoring, wireless smartphone charging, navigation, 8.0-inch touchscreen, power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather upholstery, sunroof, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights

Fuel economy, ratings (l/100km, city/highway): 13.8/11.7

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