By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
For decades the Toyota Tacoma, this country's by-far most-popular-compact pickup, has built a well-deserved reputation for ruggedness, durability, capability and long-term value, and the 2014 model will continue that tradition. Legions of satisfied owners have used their Tacomas for working hard and playing hard, and its popularity just keeps on growing. Its likely competitors have dwindled. The Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota are gone, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon have aged (although newer versions are on the way), the Nissan Frontier is not offered in as many configurations, the Honda Ridgeline is rather more SUV than truck. For 2014 the Tacoma continues on, still clearly on top of the segment and available in any configuration of cab, powertrain and trim level imaginable.
If you're in the market for a compact truck your search should begin, and will likely end, with the 2014 Toyota Tacoma. Essentially, it will do most of what the larger trucks will do, and without the bulk, fuel consumption or cost. It deservedly tops the entire segment.
The Tacoma is a compact pickup so, reasonably, it won't tow or haul as much as a full-size truck. And if you really don't haul much and want a smoother ride, check out the Honda Ridgeline.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma is offered with four levels of Entune audio, which leverages a smartphone to provide fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services. A new SR appearance package is available for the Tacoma PreRunner and 4x4 Access Cab and Double Cab base models. The X-Runner is discontinued.
Driving Impressions The 2014 Toyota Tacoma's compact dimensions make it more easily maneuverable than a full-size pickup. It's predictable, responsive and easy to drive and park, the ride is acceptable (and is...... helped with a load in the bed), and it gets down the road in a straight line and around the corners with no surprises. When fitted with the off-road suspension the ride is, understandably, on the firmer side. The base 4-cylinder engine is perfectly agreeable for its purpose, but the 236-horsepower V6 is much stronger and a lot smoother without much of a penalty in fuel consumption. The 4-cylinder can be matched with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic, and the V6 has either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic; all transmissions operate smoothly and shift as they should. Some folks feel the seats are somewhat close to the floor, but it's a minor concern.
STRONG V6 ENGINE
The Tacoma's available 4.0-liter V6 engine is powerful, smooth and responsive, and works well with either the 6-speed manual or the 5-speed automatic transmission. And it does all that with only a relatively modest reduction in fuel economy.
All Tacomas feature a composite inner bed with built-in storage compartments and four rail-mounted sliding tie-down cleats. The setup is handy, functional and durable.
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma offers an interior that's clean, functional and well-suited to the needs of truck owners. Instruments and controls are easy to see and use, and there are cup holders and other storage spots throughout. The front seats are supportive and comfortable. The rear seats in the Access Cab model are best for children or adults on short trips, but the rear seats in the Double Cab are much better, with storage both under the seat and in a separate compartment accessed by flipping down the seatback.Exterior
Even though it's a compact, the 2014 Toyota Tacoma looks every inch a truck, with a rugged and muscular attitude, a big grille (chrome on higher-end trim levels), pronounced fender bulges, large bumpers and a generally workman-like feel from front to rear. The base version has black bumpers and grille, the PreRunner has the off-road look, and the option packages, from SR5 Extra Value to TRD Off-Road to Limited, add their own details. As would be expected of Toyota, the quality, fit and finish are as good as it gets.
Standard equipment for the 2014 Toyota Tacoma includes the 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine of 159 horsepower and a 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with single-disc CD system, anti-lock brakes (ABS), front side-impact and side-curtain airbags, traction and stability control, tachometer, two instrument-panel powerpoints and rear mudguards. Regular Cab 4x4 models with the automatic transmission add standard bucket seats. Access Cab and Double Cab models include bucket seats with a center console, power mirrors, power windows and power door locks. All models include Entune Audio, which leverages a smartphone to provide fully integrated access to navigation, entertainment and information services.
Many of the options for the 2014 Toyota Tacoma are grouped into packages, and not all are available on every version of cab size or powertrain. Packages include the SR5 Extra Value Package, four TRD Off-Road Extra Value Packages, and the Limited Package. Among the major selections are the 4.0-liter V6 engine, the choice of a manual or an automatic transmission, and 4-wheel drive. Beyond that, the options are many and are linked with cab configurations, powertrain choices and trim levels.
The base 2014 Toyota Tacoma engine is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder of 159 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. It gets the job done but we prefer the available 4.0-liter V6 of 236 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, as it's much stronger and smoother and its fuel-economy penalty is not unreasonable. Both engines feature Toyota's Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) which helps to reduce the compromise between higher-end horsepower and low-end torque. Depending upon engine and drivetrain, maximum towing capacity is 6,500 pounds and maximum payload is 1,500 pounds. There are four available transmissions, 2- or 4-wheel drive (2WD or 4WD), three cab configurations, two cargo bed lengths and numerous other choices.
159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
180 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/25 mpg (2WD, manual), 19/24 mpg (2WD, automatic),
18/21 mpg (4WD, manual and automatic)
236 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
266 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/21 mpg (2WD, manual), 17/21 mpg (2WD, automatic), 16/19 mpg (4WD, manual), 16/21 mpg (4WD, automatic)
The 2014 Toyota Tacoma compact pickup is available in numerous configurations of cab, powertrain and trim. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts right around $18,000 for a base 2WD Regular Cab. A 4WD Double Cab with V6 and automatic starts at about $29,000 and can top $36,000 with some option packages. Although the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon cost less, neither offers as much power, space or refinement. The Nissan Frontier comes close on power but doesn't offer a regular-cab model. A look at the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase Price will show you the typical transaction price paid for the Tacoma in your area. As for resale, Kelley Blue Book expects the 4-cylinder base models to retain better-than-average residual values, and the V6 Access Cab and Double Cab models to do even better, so the 2014 Tacoma represents a very good long-term investment.