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The Toyota Tacoma – A Brief History

The Toyota Tacoma is a Japanese mid-sized pickup truck and is one of the best available used trucks nearby. The Tacoma is available and a popular pickup truck purchase around the world. First built and marketed as a compact sized pickup truck during its first generation run, the Tacoma is now only offered strictly as a mid-sized pickup truck.

Manufactured since 1995, the Tacoma is still in production to this day. Toyota gave the Tacoma a front engine layout with either a rear or four-wheel drive propulsion option. As of today, the Tacoma has gone through three different generations and is currently in its third generation which started in 2015 and is still in production today.

The Toyota Tacoma got its name from Coast Salish people who are from the Pacific Northwestern coast. “Tacoma” is their name for Mt. Rainier.

First Generation Tacoma

The first generation of the Toyota Tacoma was produced from 1995, until the year 2004. The Tacoma was the Toyota motors company’s replacement for the Toyota Hilux model, otherwise known as the very generically named “Toyota Pickup.” The Hilux model pickup truck from Toyota was manufactured beginning in 1968 and is still sold around the globe.

The Tacoma was designed from a great desire by Toyota to step-up on the ride quality, vehicle handling, comfort, safety, payload, and towing capacities compared to its predecessor. Toyota wanted to meet and exceed the needs of the Canadian and American auto consumers who bought this style of pickup trucks for personal use vehicles.

The first generation Tacoma started being conceived and engineered in 1989 at Calty Design Research in California. Kevin Hunter designed the Tacoma’s exterior and the Patent was filed in the United States and Japan in 1993. Toyota offered three different powerplants for the original Tacoma.

A 2.4 liter 4-cyclinder capable of 142 horsepower and 160 lb-ft of torque. A 2.7 liter 4-cyclinder capable of 150 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.4 liter 6-cylinder with a rating of 190 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque.

A two-wheel drive version of the Tacoma was available in either automatic or manual transmission with the 2.4L and 3.4L engines offered. A TRD Supercharged Toyota Tacoma was offered with the 3.4L V6 putting out 254Bhp. Extended cab models featured a 6-foot bed while crew cab models received a 5 foot 5-inch long bed.

The year 2000 brought cosmetic upgrades as well as an optional S-Runner trim level, which received the 3.4 L V6 motor. A 5-speed manual transmission, Tokico gas shocks, and 16-inch wheels added to the upgrades of this trim level. By the end of the first generation’s run in the year 2004, the Tacoma was second in sales to only the Ford Ranger in the respected compact truck class.

Toyota recalled about 800,000 first gen Tacomas in the year 2008. Vehicles were from the model years 1995-2000 and Toyota either bought back the truck or replaced the frames due to poor rustproofing, which was causing the frames to corrode. A separate recall included about 150,000 Tacomas from the model year 2001 to 2004 and was issued for reasons involving a spare tire, targeted at cold-climate US states.

Second Gen Tacomas

The second generation of the Toyota Tacoma ran from the model year 2005 until 2015 and was developed starting in the year 2000. Early 2004 brought the introduction of a newer and bigger Tacoma at the Chicago Auto Show in February.

The larger more powerful Tacoma was available in an astonishing 18 different configurations involving three different cab sizes, two engines, four transmissions, and a set of two different bed lengths. Toyota went well out of their way to provide a Tacoma pickup truck option available to just about every consumer who wanted a small to medium-sized pickup truck.

4 or 5-speed automatics and 5 or 6-speed manual transmissions were offered along with a new 4.0L V6 to replace the 3.4L and the daintier brand new 2.7L 4-cylinder for lower priced Tacomas. The new V6b produced 236 horsepower and a 6,500-pound towing capacity, while the new 2.7L 4-cylinder received 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque.

The X-Runner trim was available in place of the low-popularity S-Runner trim level. The new 4.0L V6 was matched up with the six-speed manual transmission with an optional TRD Off-road package. Any TRD trucks got additional Downhill assist control, which adds automatic braking during hill declines while the HAC keeps the vehicle from rolling down a hill backward. All TRDs also have a locking rear differential. The X-Runner has an X-Brace suspension package and 18-inch wheels.

Third Gen Tacoma

Running from 2016 to the present, the latest generation of the Toyota Tacoma has a redesigned exterior, much of which was borrowed from the 2014  4Runner and Tundra. Projector beam headlights, a rear spoiler, and a front air dam were all added to the newer, bigger Tacoma.

The 2.7L 159 horsepower -cylinder was matched to either a 6-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual. The larger 3.5L V6 putting out 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque is paired to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission option.

The additional tow package gives the Tacoma a tow rating up to 6,800 pounds now. Toyota built the body and frame with high strength steel and a new stamping process to reduce weight, yet add strength and rigidness. Six trims are now offered in the present Tacoma ranging from base SR, mid-level SR5, TRD Off-Road, TRD Sport, Limited, and the TRD Pro.

Two different cabs are now offered instead of the previous three, ditching the regular cab model. A completely redesigned interior gives the Tacoma a larger touchscreen display, new instrument readout panel, and a luxury class feel, with leather now offered as an option.

Tacoma Continues to Grow

Sales of the Toyota Tacoma have generally increased year after year with a few exceptions, bringing the current Toyota Tacoma 2016 sales up and over 191,000 units in the United States alone. A Tacoma is absolutely a great option when looking for a used truck near you. They are plenty affordable, and offer a great resale value. The Toyota Tacoma is a great used truck, without a doubt.

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