After what was the most needlessly drawn out series of teasers in recent memory, Toyota has finally unveiled the long-awaited 2024 Tacoma. The all-new fourth-generation midsize truck is the last of the group to get a much needed redesign, but when you’re selling twice as many units per year as your next closest rival, you can afford to take some extra time. When deliveries commence later this year and into early 2024, it’ll arrive with modern styling borrowed from its bigger sibling, all new powertrains including a segment-first hybrid, and multiple off-road-ready trims including the brand new Trailhunter model.
New looks and the world’s biggest chin
Beginning with the styling first, it’s easy to see where designers got their inspiration. From every angle inside and out, it’s basically a smaller Tundra minus the obnoxiously large grille. But what it lacks in grille size it makes up for with the single largest air dam I’ve ever seen on a passenger vehicle which most certainly won’t impact its ability to negotiate challenging terrain, such as unmowed grass and transitioning onto a slightly steep driveway. Besides the Jay Leno chin, the high mount headlamps, integrated roof and tailgate spoilers, various intakes, and sharply chiseled body lines might as well be a direct carry over. It translates nicely into a smaller truck though, and it also gives us some big clues into what the next-gen 4Runner will look like as well. The upper body panels are all made with aluminum for weight reduction purposes.
And while other trucks are slowly taking away options for cab configurations and bed lengths, the Tacoma keeps some of those options alive. Depending on the trim level, you can opt for an XtraCab (extended cab) and a six-foot bed or a Double Cab with a five-foot bed. The range-topping Trailhunter combines the Double Cab and six-foot bed, and it seems that’s the only one which offers that configuration.
The cabin is also very similar to what’s in the Tundra. It looks far more modern now and is well-equipped with 8″ or 14″ multimedia touchscreen displays, a 7″ or 12.3″ digital gauge cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a wireless charging pad. Gas models have three times more storage space under the rear seat compared to the last-gen truck, and the rear seatback can fold down flat. They even added MOLLE panels on the center console and door panels for more versatile storage, I guess because they figured overlanders would appreciate being able to put them to use for once. Another party trick is an available ten-speaker JBL sound system, including an externally coupled subwoofer and a JBL FLEX portable speaker that docks into the upper dashboard.
A wide variety of trim levels are offered now – SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter.
Strengthened chassis built for off-roading
It’s not just the body that’s new, the chassis is too. Built on Toyota’s TNGA-F global truck platform (same as the Tundra and Sequoia) and featuring high-strength steel with blanking and laser welds, plus strengthened frame crossmembers, it’s much more rigid than the prior generation. That allowed them to push the off-road capabilities with new and improved off-road models and features.
The strengthened body allows for safe mounting of rooftop tents and they’ve made it easier with integrated attachment holes for roof rack rails combined with a roof channel sealer to ensure a watertight seal. They also added an integrated high lift jack pint into the rear frame end. And while rear leaf springs remain standard on most trim levels, the TRD and Trailhunter models upgrade to multi-link rear suspension with coils for off road use. In fact, every trim level has its own suspension tuning to best fit the needs of its expected owners. And upgrade to the Limited trim and you’ll get new Adaptive Variable Suspension which adjusts damping forces as the road conditions change.
Last couple things to mention in the chassis department: it’s been fitted with electronic power steering, an electronic parking brake, radar cruise control, a brake hold function, and a revolutionary, ground-breaking new feature that will forever change the midsize truck segment and the auto industry as a whole. I’m of course talking about the Tacoma’s first-ever four-wheel disc brakes(!!!), which is something that came with my 2002 F-150 with fucked clearcoat and a rear window that won’t stop leaking.
Full towing and payload specs aren’t published yet, but what we know so far is you can expect up to 6,500 pounds of towing and 1,709 lbs of payload. This will depend greatly on powertrain and whether you’ve opted for an off-road model or not.
From a laughable powertrain to a segment-first
Now for some of the bigger news we were all eagerly anticipating, the Tacoma is finally using an engine developed this millennium. Every Tacoma will be powered at least in part by a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. Its power output depends on the trim though, as the baseline SR trim is capped at 228 horsepower and 243 lb.-ft. of torque. For all other grades, its output is a good 278 horsepower and 317 lb.-ft. of torque. That puts it pretty much right in the middle of its competition. EPA estimates on fuel mileage are not available yet and Toyota didn’t even try to speculate on those numbers.
But there’s one thing no one else has in their midsize truck right now – a hybrid powertrain. The Toyota i-FORCE MAX hybrid powertrain is the most powerful powertrain ever offered in the Tacoma, which honestly isn’t saying very much, but it’s still a big deal. It’s available on most models and standard on the TRD Pro and Trailhunter. It uses the same 2.4-liter turbo but adds a 48-horsepower electric motor integrated into the transmission and is powered by a 1.87 kWh NiMH battery pack. Total system power is 326 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. Toyota claims that’s enough power for it to ascend an 8% interstate grade without needing to downshift. Considering the gutless V6 and archaic five-speed combination that powered the last-gen Tacoma with the same level of enthusiasm as a teenager taking the trash out, this is quite the glow up.
Another thing no one else has right now is three pedals. The six-speed manual features auto rev-matching and anti-stall technology, but it plays with ever so slightly less power than the automatics do. Manual-equipped Tacomas are restricted to 270 horsepower and 310 lb.-ft. of torque. But for the “no manuelle, no buy” crowd that exists in every forum and Reddit thread, here’s your next truck to buy used in 6 years. If that’s not your thing, an eight-speed automatic is standard equipment on all models.
Ready for adventure – TRD Pro and Trailhunter
If you want some off-road action in your new Tacoma, you’ll probably have to ditch that air dam the second you bring it home from the dealer. The fact that something which hangs so low is standard on all lower trim levels and something called the TRD PreRunner is a real headscratcher. But once you get past that, you’ll be able to enjoy a Tacoma that was made ready for adventure right from the get go.
RWD Tacomas gain an automatic limited-slip differential while 4WD models have an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case with high/low range and an auto LSD as well. An electronic locking rear differential is standard on the three TRD models and Trailhunter. The new and luxurious Limited grade has full-time 4WD with a center locking differential. They also added an available front sway bar disconnect that greatly increases articulation at the push of a button. The more hardcore Ford Broncos have that but I can’t think of any other pickup with that option (I Googled – couldn’t find confirmation). That’s a huge addition for the Tacoma, and it’ll even work with “Toyota-approved” lift kits.
The Tacoma that offers the best ground clearance and maneuverability is the TRD Pro. Ground clearance is 9.5 inches, running ground clearance is 11 inches, approach angle is 33.8 degrees, breakover angle is 23.5 degrees, and departure angle is 25.7 degrees.
More specs on that TRD Pro include red aluminum front TRD upper control arms, Fox internal bypass 2.5″ manual modal Quick Switch 3 shocks, FOX Internal Floating Piston bump stops for tackling the harshest terrain, and 33″ Goodyear Territory R/T tires. And making sure none of those impacts make it to your ass, it’s equipped with IsoDynamic Performance Seats that use an air-over-oil shock absorber system allowing for vertical and lateral seat movement. It can be turned off if desired.
The new halo truck for the Tacoma lineup though is the Trailhunter, an overlanding-ready adventure truck straight from the factory. Toyota worked with Australian-based ARB to co-develop Old Man Emu position-sensitive 2.5″ forged monotube shocks with rear external piggyback style remote reservoirs, a steel rear bumper, robust rear recovery points, and a bed utility bar with removable MOLLE panels. ARB engineers worked with Toyota engineers on-site for this model, so it was far more than just a “hey sell us some accessories” sort of arrangement. The OME shocks along with the 33″ Goodyear Territory R/T tires boost up the Trailhunter an additional 2″. That plus the high-clearance trail exhaust tip and low-profile high-mount Trailhunter Air Intake can be put to good use on the harshest routes. There are of course loads of underbody protection measures, such as rock rails and hot-stamped high strength steel skid plates.
No matter which Tacoma you get, it’ll be ready for just about any adventure you can throw at it.
So far there’s no word on pricing.
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