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2019 Toyota Tacoma

$25,850 - $45,665
Price Range (MSRP)
Toyota Tacoma

2019 Toyota Tacoma Test Drive Review: The Taco Will Never Die

by Jared Rosenholtz

Take a look at the pickup truck sales leaders and you'll see Ford, Chevrolet, and Ram interlocked in a three-way battle within the full-size segment. But sitting at number four, there's the midsize Toyota Tacoma, outselling its nearest rival (the Chevy Colorado) nearly two-to-one. How has Toyota managed to build such a strong selling truck? By keeping it simple. The third generation Tacoma arrived back in 2016, offering slight improvements of the second generation model, and has been improved marginally over its lifespan. Don't expect any drastic changes for the 2019 or the already-announced 2020 Tacoma. The Tacoma remains one of the more old school models in its segment, which makes it appealing to fans of those traditional trucks.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 Tacoma?

For 2019, Toyota has kept the updates to the Tacoma to a minimum. Every model in the Tacoma range receives two USB ports in the center console, while models equipped with built-in navigation lose the compass equipped to the rearview mirror. Privacy glass has been added to the base SR model, while the TRD Pro now receives a skidplate with red TRD inscription, a sunroof, a TRD Pro exhaust with dark chrome tip, and a few new colors, as well as the availability for a TRD Desert air intake snorkel. Automatic-equipped Tacomas receive a standard JBL audio system. An SX package debuts for 2019, featuring blacked out wheels and exterior trim.

Pros and Cons

  • Rugged capability off-road
  • Optional six-speed manual
  • High payload
  • Impressive reliability
  • Handsome styling
  • Automatic transmission is unrefined
  • Cramped compared to rivals
  • Stiff ride quality
  • Aging infotainment
  • Average towing capacity

Tacoma Exterior

The Tacoma offers rugged styling in a segment fast becoming obsessed with refinement instead of aggression. Daytime running lights are equipped on all models, but only become LED starting with the TRD Sport trim. The grille receives color-coding based on the trim, with the base model receiving dark gray, the SR5 a charcoal grille with chrome surround, and higher trims a gray grille with smoked finish and chrome surrounds. The TRD Pro receives further detailing in the form of the heritage-inspired "TOYOTA" front grille, black badging, overfenders, hood scoop, and color-coded mirrors and door handles. Wheel sizes and finishes vary by trim, with SR, SR5, TRD Off-Road, and TRD Pro models boasting 16-inch alloy wheels, while the TRD Sport gets 17-inch items, and the Limited receiving 18-inch alloys. The TRD Pro also receives a bespoke front skid plate and a dark chrome TRD exhaust.

We tested a 2019 Tacoma TRD Sport, which is the most on-road oriented of the TRD model. The Cavalry Blue paint found on our tester is among our favorites and pairs well with the retro-themed 'TRD 4X4 Sport' stickers on the bed.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Front Angle View
2019 Toyota Tacoma Side View
2019 Toyota Tacoma Rear Angle View
See All 2019 Toyota Tacoma Exterior Photos

Dimensions

Toyota sells the Tacoma in a range of combinations, with two varying body styles and two load bed lengths, five and six foot, the shorter of which is only available when paired with certain trims and the double cab body style. In its most compact format, the Tacoma Access Cab and short-bed Double Cab measure 212.3-inches in length, riding on a 127.4-inch wheelbase. In long-bed Double Cab format, these numbers grow to 225.5-inches and 140.6-inches respectively. Standard models measure 74.4-inches wide, while TRD models are broader still at 75.2-inches in width. All models with the exception of the TRD Pro stand 70.6-inches tall, the TRD Pro measuring a full inch taller with raised suspension. The TRD Pro also boasts the best off-road dimensions, with approach/departure/breakover angles of 35/26/39 degrees, with only the departure angle bested by the Access Cab TRD Off-Road's 29-degree effort. Curb weight varies substantially based on trim, body style, bed length, and drivetrain, with the lightest Tacoma tipping the scales at 3,980 lbs, while the heaviest model weighs in at 4,480 lbs.

Exterior Colors

A color palette of nine hues is available for the 2019 Tacoma, one fewer than 2018, with Blazing Blue Pearl and Inferno, cut from the palette, while Voodoo Blue has been added. Color availability is limited by trim. Available across the range are Super White and Midnight Black, while items like Barcelona Red and Quicksand are available on all but the TRD Pro. In addition, the TRD Pro gets exclusive availability to Voodoo Blue, one of only three hues available for the range-topping trim. The base SR makes do with only six color options, lacking the availability of Cement, Cavalry Blue, and Voodoo Blue.

  • Super White
  • Silver Sky Metallic
  • Magnetic Gray Metallic
  • Midnight Black Metallic
  • Barcelona Red Metallic
  • Quicksand
  • Cement
  • Cavalry Blue
  • Voodoo Blue

Tacoma Performance

While a pair of engines and drivetrains options are available for the Tacoma range, along with the option of a six-speed manual or automatic transmission, it's naturally the larger displacement 3.5-liter V6 engine that provides the best performance of the range. With outputs of 278 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque, buyers of four-wheel-drive equipped Tacoma's can specify a recommended six-speed manual gearbox to make the most of the V6 motor. 0-60 mph takes 8.1 seconds - slower than the segment leaders like the Colorado and Ridgeline - while the maximum towing capacity of 6,800 lbs, available on rear-wheel-drive Access Cab models only, is below what the best diesel offerings can tow - in excess of 7,000 lbs. If you're looking for the most potent performance trim - outside of what the numbers say - then the TRD Pro equips fancy FOX Internal Bypass shocks and TRD-tuned springs for Baja-like levels of fun off-road.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Engine
2019 Toyota Tacoma Engine
2019 Toyota Tacoma Gauge Cluster

Engine and Transmission

The base engine equipped to SR and SR5 Tacoma derivatives is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder developing 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, mated exclusively to a six-speed automatic gearbox with buyers given the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, the latter with low-range capabilities. However, optionally available on these trims, and standard on all others is a 3.5-liter V6 Atkinson-cycle engine developing 278 hp and 265 lb-ft. The V6 can be paired with rear- or four-wheel-drive in most trims, although TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro trims are exclusively fitted with 4WD. When equipped with the 4WD drivetrain, the V6 can be fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox instead of the default six-speed automatic transmission.

We tested the V6 model with the six-speed automatic and consistently found ourselves yearning for the manual. Acceleration with the automatic takes away, as a kick of the throttle is met with several seconds of wait time before the transmission shifts through the cogs. Power finally comes on long after the gap in traffic has closed and it is safer to stay in your own lane. Having the ability to control the gears manually would help but we think it is time for the Tacoma to receive a more modern drivetrain with fewer cylinders and more gears. There is a button labeled 'ECT Power' to hold gears longer and provide more available acceleration but we didn't notice a massive difference with the button engaged.

  • Engines
    2.7-liter Inline-4 Gas, 3.5-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    6-Speed Automatic, 6-Speed Manual
  • Drivetrains
    4X4, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Don't hop in expecting a car-like driving experience with loads of refinement. The Tacoma, for better or worse, is a truck to its core. Steering is vague and requires constant attention at highway speeds. Lane departure warning alerts you when you've strayed from the lane but there is no lane keep assist to help keep the truck centered. We drove the Tacoma from Orlando to Miami and the highway trip felt tiresome by the end.

Adaptive cruise control made the trip easier but it can't bring the truck down to a stop in traffic. When it is time to come to a stop, we often had to frantically squeeze the brakes because the Tacoma still uses drum units in the rear. Road noise is profound at higher speeds and the stiff suspension of our TRD Sport tester can be uncomfortable over rough pavement. If you value a more comfortable ride, the Honda Ridgeline is the better option.

Tacoma Gas Mileage

There is a wide range of gas mileage estimates, with much depending on body style, trim, gearbox, and drivetrain equipped to the Tacoma. The most efficient model is the base SR 2.7 4x2, with EPA estimates of 20/23/21 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles, although the 3.5 V6 in automatic 4x2 guise matches the combines estimate with 19/24/21 mpg claims. Fitting 4WD drops these estimates by a single mile each. The thirstiest models pair the V6 with a six-speed manual gearbox in the double cab body style and 4WD drivetrain to claim estimates of 17/20/18 mpg, found in the TRD Offroad and TRD Pro trim lines. All Tacomas boast a fuel tank measuring 21.1-gallons in capacity, resulting in a maximum range in mixed driving conditions of 443-miles on the most efficient trims. Our V6, automatic, crew bab TRD Sport model was rated at 18/20/22 and we were able to achieve around 22-23 mpg on the highway and around 17 in the city.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    21.1 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 20/23 mpg
* 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR Access Cab 6' Bed I4 AT

Tacoma Interior

While many manufacturers aspire to bring a sense of class and refinement to the interior of their mid-sized pickups, Toyota keeps the Tacoma rugged. That's not to say the Tacoma lacks the sense of quality and design of other pickups, but there's a definite sense that Toyota's designers stuck to convention rather than straying too close to crossover territory. The interior looks appealing and packs a sensible layout, with simple-to-understand, effectively laid out controls. However, the driving position is somewhat awkward, and the step-up into the cabin feels higher than more comfort-orientated rivals. There's also the sense that some materials lack the refined quality of the Ridgeline, although they do feel like they'll stand the test of time. Where the Tacoma suffers most, however, is in the interior accommodation, with the rear seats of the double cab models particularly found lacking.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Dashboard
2019 Toyota Tacoma Driver Seat
2019 Toyota Tacoma Rear Passenger Seats
See All 2019 Toyota Tacoma Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The seating position feels uncomfortable due to the low roofline and lack of adjustability for the steering column but drivers under six feet tall shouldn't have too many complaints. We drove the Tacoma for Orlando to Miami and the stiff leather seats became numbing by the end of the journey. Sitting in the rear isn't much better thanks to an upright seating position and equally stiff leather with just 32.6 inches of legroom. The Tacoma does make up for its lack of comfort with plenty of cup holders and places to store items in the center console.

  • Seating capacity
    4-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The TRD Sport trim comes standard with fabric seats paired with either white or orange stitching. Optionally as part of the $2,890 Premium Package, the seats can be wrapped in black leather with or without orange stitching. The only way to get heated seats is to opt for leather but we would have preferred cloth seats in the heat of Florida. Toyota uses very thick leather for the Tacoma, which will likely stand up to being stepped on by a work boot at the expense of feeling comfortable to sit on.

Tacoma Trunk and Cargo Space

Two load bed lengths are available for the Tacoma range, a shorter five-foot bed on double cab models only, or the available 6.1-foot bed that can be had in both Access Cab and Double Cab body styles. The former measures 60.5-inches long, the latter 73.7, but all Tacoma's boast a bed width of 41.5-inches and a height of 19.1-inches. Maximum payload is 1,620 lbs in the base 2.7 4x2 SR trim, but it drops to 1,120 lbs in Limited 4x4 guise. Towing capacity varies too, with the lowest rated trim being the 3,500 lbs on all 2.7 models, while on V6 derivatives this increases to a maximum of 6,800 on selected 4x2 models.

Internal storage is decent, but not exceptional in class, with the crew cab's folding rear seat a helpful option, while door pockets and storage cubbies are practical but not exceptionally large. Like most in this segment, the bulk of the storage is out back.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Trunk Space
2019 Toyota Tacoma Trunk Space
2019 Toyota Tacoma Rear Passenger Seats

Tacoma Infotainment and Features

Features

The Tacoma is a mixed bag of features, with the levels of specification largely down to chosen trim and body configuration. Items like a power sunroof can only be optioned to Double Cab derivatives, and only from the TRD Sport trim. Likewise for the power sliding rear window, which can only be equipped to V6 Double Cab models. Air conditioning is standard on most trims, while Limited and TRD Pro models receive standard dual-zone climate control. Wireless device charging is available but is limited to the TRD and Limited trims. If you're looking for heated front seats, these are only available on the TRD Pro, while an auto-dimming rearview mirror is standard on all but the SR model. However, standard across all trims is Toyota's Safety Sense, including pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Blind spot monitors are available on higher trims.

Infotainment

Toyota's Entune infotainment has only seen minor improvements over the last few years but the Tacoma soldiers on with an older version of the system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both lacking for 2019 but are set to arrive for the 2020 model year. The system is easy to understand but lags behind the competition in terms of graphics, processing speed, and connectivity.

Tacoma Problems and Reliability

While early on in the current Tacoma's lifecycle there were a number of problems, particularly with the powertrain, in the last couple of model years these problems seem to have been rectified, with only a few isolated incidents now reported. There have also been no major recalls for the latest year model Tacomas, with minor issues relating to load capacity labels that may wear prematurely, and a potentially damaged seal on the master brake cylinder. J.D. Power rates the Tacoma as one of the most reliable mid-size trucks, while Toyota backs their pickups with a base 36-month/36,000-mile warranty and a 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Tacoma Safety

Government safety rating agencies awarded the Tacoma largely positive crash test scores, with the NHTSA giving the Tacoma four stars out of five overall, while the IIHS awarded best available scores of Good in most metrics, while front crash prevention was scored as superior.

Key Safety Features

Key to the high safety scores achieved is the abundance of safety features fitted as standard to all Tacoma models. At the core of these safety systems is Toyota Safety Sense, comprising pre-collision systems with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert, sway warning system, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Additionally available on higher trims are rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Eight airbags are standard across the range, including dual front airbags, front-side airbags, side curtain airbags, and driver and front passenger knee airbags

Verdict: Is the 2019 Toyota Tacoma a good truck?

Even though the Tacoma doesn't feel very modern by 2019 standards, it isn't completely outclassed by its rivals in the midsize truck segment, though it still lacks a tangible selling point like its rivals. The GM twins offers better drivability, the Ford Ranger has a more modern drivetrain, the Jeep Gladiator offers a removable roof, and the Honda Ridgeline is more more comfortable. But the Tacoma still offers rugged looks, strong off-road ability, and legendary Toyota reliability. Truck buyers are remarkably loyal and some won't even consider one of the American competitors because the Tacoma will last well past the apocalypse and still hold its value well after we have all turned to dust.

What's the Price of the 2019 Toyota Tacoma?

Pricing for the Tacoma spans a broad range, with the SR Access Cab 4x2 carrying a base MSRP of $25,850 before tax, registration, licensing, and a $1,095 destination fee. The SR5 starts off at $27,625 while upgrading to the TRD Sport sees you spend at least $32,545 in base Access Cab format. The TRD Off-Road is priced from $36,765 in the USA, while the Limited - available exclusively as a Double Cab, starts at $37,790. The range-topping TRD Pro derivative is priced from $42,960, representing an almost $20,000 range from the bottom to the top of the Tacoma line-up. Upgrading from Access Cab to Double Cab on the SR costs you $830, but higher up the trim levels this difference increases, while engine and drivetrain options also add to the price.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Models

The Toyota Tacoma range comprises six models, with 33 available configurations: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro.

The SR starts the range off with either the Access Cab or Double Cab body styles, two choices of bed length, and two- or four-wheel drive. It features a 2.7-liter four-cylinder as standard but can be upgraded to the 3.5-liter V6. Standard features include 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, cloth upholstery, a basic Entune infotainment system, and Toyota Safety Sense as standard.

The SR5 adds chrome trimmings, remote keyless entry, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an upgraded infotainment system with satellite radio and smartphone-enabled navigation.

Upgrading to the TRD Sport equips the 278 hp V6 as standard, and gives 4WD-equipped models the option of a six-speed manual gearbox. It features 17-inch alloy wheels, body-colored fender flares, a hood scoop, bed-mounted 120-volt power outlet, push-button start, wireless smartphone charging, and a seven-inch infotainment system with navigation.

The TRD Off-Road is similar, but with black fender flares, a chrome rear bumpers, and lacking the Sport's hood scoop. It receives extra skid plates, a lockable rear differential, and Bilstein shocks, as well as an advanced off-road traction control system.

The penultimate Tacoma model, the Limited, is luxury-focused, available exclusively with the V6 in the short-bed Double Cab guise. Body flares are color-matched, while the Limited rides on 18-inch alloys. As standard, it features parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated leather seats, and a JBL speaker system.

Last up is the Baja-styled TRD Pro, standard with 4WD, a V6 engine, and Fox internal bypass shocks. Additionally, it boasts all-terrain tires, a thicker front skid plate, an extra inch of ride height, and a range of exterior styling upgrades.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SR
2.7-liter Inline-4 Gas
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$25,850
SR5
2.7-liter Inline-4 Gas
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$27,625
TRD Sport
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$32,545
TRD Off Road
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
6-Speed Manual
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$33,800
Limited
3.5-liter V6 Gas
6-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
$37,790
See All 2019 Toyota Tacoma Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

In addition to the six comprehensive trims and their various configurations, Toyota offers a range of optional accessories, extras, and options packages for further customization. TRD accessories give visual enhancement for a rugged aesthetic, while style accessories include running boards and chrome detailing.

Package-wise, the SR can be equipped with a $230 Convenience Package adding keyless entry. Meanwhile, V6-equipped SR5 derivatives can be optioned with a $775 package equipping park sensors, black alloy wheels, and premium audio with navigation.

Only from the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road does the package offering become substantial, with both availing themselves to four packages. The $770 Technology Package adds park sensors, blind spot assist, and rear cross-traffic alert, while the $1,420 Technology Pack with options adds to this a tri-fold tonneau cover. The $3,660 Premium Package equips dual-zone climate control, leather-trimmed seats with heated front seats, a premium Entune and JBl infotainment system, automatic headlights, and a moonroof, as well as all the Technology features. At $4310, the Premium Package with options adds the tonneau cover as well. All of this equipment, with the exception of the tonneau cover, is standard on the Limited trim. The tonneau is, however, available for $650.

Available exclusively on the TRD Pro is a Desert Air Intake Package at $725, which equips a TRD snorkel air intake.

What Toyota Tacoma Model Should I Buy?

We generally liked the look of our 2019 Tacoma TRD Sport but it is thetop TRD Pro trim that caught our eye. The as-test price of our TRD Sport was $42,430, putting it dangerously close to the starting price of the TRD Pro. Toyota is having trouble keeping the TRD Pro models in stock and just looking at them, it's not hard to see why. Some dealers have even resorted to marking them up, proving Toyota left some value on the table.

2019 Toyota Tacoma Comparisons

2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Toyota Tacoma

2019 Toyota Tacoma vs Nissan Frontier

Once upon a time, the Frontier may have been a viable alternative to the Tacoma, but in 2019, the Frontier is now more than a decade old and is suffering against more contemporary rivals. While the Frontier may be cheap and boast some of the best reliability in the long run, the Tacoma offers newer powertrains, higher levels of specification, greater safety ratings, and a more refined drive. Its composite truck bed is more durable and spacious, and the interior is vastly more comfortable. The Frontier is in dire need of an upgrade, and until such time as that happens, you're better off buying a Tacoma.

See Nissan Frontier Review

2019 Toyota Tacoma vs Chevrolet Colorado

The Chevy Colorado is one of the most likable options in the midsize truck segment. Not only is it a class-leader when it comes to towing capacity when equipped with the available diesel engine, but it's also more economical with that motor too, and still offers two gasoline derivatives to match those available in the Tacoma. The base model also substantially cheaper than the Tacoma, while still offering high levels of specification, like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality not available on any Tacoma trim. Chevrolet offers the Colorado with its own hardcore off-road variant - the ZR2 - to rival the TRD Pro, but the Tacoma is the better off-road vehicle. However, if off-roading isn't high on your priority list, the Colorado offers a more spacious interior, better driving dynamics, and a wider range of equipment, which along with the available diesel engine, makes it our pick of the two.

See Chevrolet Colorado Review

Toyota Tacoma Popular Comparisons

2019 Toyota Tacoma Video Reviews

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