The Toyota Tacoma has been the best-selling midsize pickup truck for years. With decades of awards and consistent sales in its segment, Toyota has avoided doing anything drastic with the truck and instead has focused on incrementally updating the truck over each generation. But are the 2023 Toyota Tacoma updates enough to maintain its position on the throne as the best-selling midsize pickup in America? Well, a lot of that boils down to whether truck shoppers think what the Tacoma has to offer for the 2023 model year is worth it.
There aren’t any major changes rolled out for the Tacoma for 2023, but Toyota has always been intent on adding to the Tacoma’s value rather than rearranging what it has to offer. It’s now eight years into its third generation and three years since its mid-generation refresh. So even though this generation is getting long in the tooth, have the updates for the model year from Toyota been enough to stave off a feeling of staleness? That’s a question for potential shoppers to decide.
What’s New for 2023?
The 2023 Toyota Tacoma model year update is not a big one, but it may be considered significant depending on what your preferences are for a midsize pickup. The biggest new additions to the Tacoma line-up are two new packages in the form of the Chrome Package and the SX Package, both of which are available for the SR5 trim. Another new addition for the model year is the smart key access made available for the V6-equipped SR5 trim as well.
The Chrome Package is only available for the SR5 in the Double Cab configuration with a V6 attached. It features chrome accents throughout the vehicle’s outer design, including chrome-finished exterior door handles, a chrome-finished exhaust tip, and a Tacoma tailgate insert. The Chrome Package also comes with 18-inch chrome-finished alloy wheels and a leather-wrapped shift knob to round out its offerings.
The SX Package for the SR5 V6-equipped trim can be paired with either the Access Cab or Double Cab. It features lots of black accents and accessories, including black fenders, blacked-out wheels, black lug nuts, black side mirrors, and black badging. If you really want your Tacoma to look menacing, the SX Package is one way to go. The new additions to the line-up are definitely more style over substance, but is it enough?
Still the Midsize King of the Hill
For now, the Toyota Tacoma is still the king of the hill in the midsize segment, and it’s not an insignificant thing. In fact, The Tacoma has been the best-selling midsize truck on the market for 17 years in a row. That’s not just impressive; it’s historic. This is all thanks to Toyota putting a focus on drivability, reliability, and excellent craftsmanship when designing the Tacoma. If Toyota can manage just three more years as the top of the crop in the midsize segment, it will result in the Tacoma being a best-selling truck in its segment for two straight decades. Very few brands, models, or nameplates have the honor of managing such an impressive feat.
In fact, for 2022, the sales of the Tacoma are nothing to scoff at and show just how much of a lead the Tacoma has over the competition. Reports put the Toyota Tacoma at well over 200,000 units being sold throughout the previous year. That number is actually down compared to the year before that, as Toyota managed to move over 250,000 Tacoma units in 2021. However, there is still a measure of recovery happening in the auto industry after supply had been disrupted due to the pandemic, which not only hampered the manufacturing of the vehicles themselves, but also supplementary components such as semiconductors that many vehicles relied on for key features.
With the recovery phase now finally coming to an end and production getting back to a normal schedule, we should start to see how the numbers normalize throughout 2023 and 2024 when it comes to sales. Even still, the minor decrease in sales of the Tacoma in 2022 was not a big hit to Toyota. They were still within the top five sales of the entire truck segment, which included midsize and full-size trucks. It managed to outsell its full-size sibling, the Tundra, by well over 100,000 units, and it was less than 5,000 units behind the GMC Sierra in 2022, which shows just how significant the Tacoma is in its segment when it’s as competitive as some of the top-branded full-size trucks.
The Tacoma isn’t an isolated truck among the herd, though. It’s still facing off against extremely eager competition from various other midsize pickups from other brands. However, there’s still a pretty big gulf in terms of overall sales between the trucks. The nearest competitor to the Tundra in the midsize segment is the Chevy Colorado, which sold just under 90,000 units in 2022. The Colorado is followed closely by the Jeep Gladiator, which moved just over 77,000 units and has already established itself as an up-and-coming midsize truck with strong market appeal after re-debuting as a 2020 model year.
One interesting thing to note about the Chevy Colorado, though, is that it has undergone some major reworks recently. The company has recently been focusing the Colorado more on compact, high-end off-roading. The 2023 Colorado models, in fact, are almost all exclusively themed around off-roading. It’s a wildcard decision that may or may not pay off, and we could definitely see it close in on the Tacoma, but it’s unlikely that it will actually match the Tacoma’s sales in 2023.
Another popular competitor that could pose a threat to the 2023 Toyota Tacoma throughout the year is the Nissan Frontier, which benefited greatly from a new generation overhaul as a 2022 model year. The buffed up midsize pickup from Nissan saw a massive 25.52% year-over-year sales increase from the 2021 model year. If Nissan can maintain that kind of momentum, it could close the gap with the Tacoma in 2023, but it’s likely not going to come close to matching or surpassing the Tacoma based on current sales trends.
The real dark horse of the midsize race, however, would have to be the Ford Maverick. If there was ever a true rival to the Tacoma’s throne, it would have to be the Ford Maverick. The modular, low-cost midsize pickup from Ford is a real breath of fresh air, with a focus on the DIY-minded truckers out there looking for a low-cost, high-customization pickup truck. Throughout 2022 the Maverick saw a massive turnout in sales, and if that trend continues into 2023, the Tacoma’s supreme reign as the midsize truck master could be thoroughly challenged.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race for Toyota
If you look at the history of the Tacoma throughout the years, Toyota’s approach can best be described as small changes, big results. The brand has managed to lure in truck shoppers by keeping the Tacoma a low-cost midsize alternative to the competition, consistently adding new features like Qi-compatible wireless charging and infotainment upgrades like Apple Carplay and Android Auto as standard features in recent years to keep tech enthusiasts and modern truck shoppers engaged. While the 2023 Toyota Tacoma may not have all the bells and whistles of some of its other competitors, it’s still a feature-rich midsize outing that has definitely earned its place at the top of the crop.
Staying there may not be easy, though. Toyota has a significant enough lead on the competition, so it will require a lot of aggressive pacing from its nearest competitors to finally dethrone the Tacoma, and as long as Toyota doesn’t do anything drastic, they will likely maintain the lead, especially with the 2023 Tacoma. Occasional facelifts, new features, and improved safety over the years should be enough to keep the Tacoma a competitive sales monster, but we’ll see if the competition can manage to usurp the throne as they attempt to catch up to Toyota’s midsize pickup.