By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.9
The Toyota Tacoma continues to be the best-selling midsize truck in the U.S. by a wide margin, thanks to a decades-long reputation as a capable and reliable truck that's as tough as nails. However, strong competitors like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon have begun to eat into that dominance. Still, the Tacoma's versatility, wide range of styles and prices, and attractive styling are a compelling argument for truck buyers who want something capable, not in a package that has its own Zip code. The 2017 Toyota Tacoma builds on its reputation for off-road ability with the reintroduction of the TRD Pro model, which adds serious off-road gear to the basic package, making it a realistic off-road alternative to the Jeep Wrangler.
Whether you're looking for an inexpensive work truck, or the ultimate in off-road capability, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma is versatile, proven, reliable and easier to park and garage than a full-size truck. Buyers can choose from two engines, two cabs, two bed lengths and 2- or 4-wheel drive.
The Tacoma isn't a fuel-sipper and doesn't offer a diesel like the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Towing capacity isn't best-in-class, either, and interior comfort lags behind the GMC and Chevy as well. And of course, if you have full-size loads or towing, then you need a full-size truck.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 Toyota Tacoma sees the return of the TRD Pro model, an off-road-ready version with extra gear to make the Tacoma even more capable when the going gets extremely tough. Other changes include a standard appearance package on SR5 V6 models.
The V6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission were new additions to the Tacoma when it was redesigned last year, and the combination offers more power, better fuel economy, and strong...
... acceleration. While the Tacoma still uses drum brakes in the rear, the system works well, and we didn't have a problem with performance. The Tacoma is also notably more comfortable around town, thanks to tweaks to the suspension and frame. The interior is notably quieter than past Tacomas, although not quite as serene as you'd find in the Chevy Colorado. In fact, the Colorado holds an edge in a few other areas; for example, power seats aren't available on any Tacoma model, and despite the nicer interior in this newest version, the Colorado and GMC Canyon hold an edge here, too. However, the Tacoma blows them both away when the going gets rough, especially with the new TRD Pro model.
The 2017 Tacoma offers Crawl Control; put the truck in low range, set the system's speed, and it automatically manages acceleration and braking so you can just focus on steering. The Multi-Terrain Select will automatically match the type of surface (snow, ruts, etc.) to the proper transmission, throttle and brake settings.
It's the little things, and we love the hidden spots underneath the back seats, perfect for stowing small items you'd rather keep out of view. The rear seats also fold flat for a handy cargo shelf, and since they're covered in plastic, cleanup is a snap.
The 2017 Tacoma interior uses high-quality materials on the doors, dash, seats and everywhere else, and as is Toyota's tradition, assembly quality is excellent. It gets push-button start and a moonroof, and the handy multi-information display between the main gauges displays fuel economy, outside temperature and even off-road info such as trail mode or angle of the Tacoma on a steep hill. The new Tacoma also comes with a new version of Entune, the connectivity and entertainment control center, and Qi wireless charging. However, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren't available on any model. Neither are power seats.
The 2017 Tacoma is still obviously a midsize Toyota truck, but the styling draws from Toyota's off-road racing history. There are other more modern cues as well, such as LED daytime running lights. The five separate models -- SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Pro and Limited -- each get different front-end styling, making it easy to tell which is which at a glance. The composite-lined bed contains two useful storage bins, and its high walls mean it can carry plenty of cargo. The locking tailgate is damped for easier opening, and a 3-piece hard tonneau cover is a factory option.
For 2017 the Tacoma offers a rearview camera, a basic version of Entune connectivity, an automatic limited-slip differential, eight airbags, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, and lockable tailgate as standard equipment. There are also 16-inch wheels and adjustable tie-down cleats in the bed. The standard engine is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder, powering the rear wheels. Interestingly, the Tacoma is decidedly old-school in some ways. It uses drum brakes in the rear, and discs aren't available on any model. Same with power seats: not available, even in high-end models. On the other hand, the standard GoPro camera mount is as 21st century as it gets.
Options for the 2017 Tacoma roughly divide into features that make it more rugged and tough, and those that bump up technology and refinement. There's the TRD Pro trim level of course, but beyond that on the tough-truck side of the list are Multi-Terrain Select and Crawl Control, and a hard tonneau cover. On the technology side the Tacoma offers rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking assist, and blind-spot monitoring. Making life more comfortable is push-button start with Smart Key, Qi wireless charging, tilt-and-slide moonroof, heated leather seats, Entune with a full App suite, and a JBL sound system.
The base engine in the 2017 Toyota Tacoma is a 2.7-liter 4-cylinder that's been part of the Tacoma lineup pretty much forever. It powers the rear wheels (2WD) or all four wheels (4WD) through a 6-speed automatic; a 5-speed manual is available on 4WD models. But we suggest skipping it for the 3.5-liter V6. The bigger engine offers nearly 120 more horsepower (278 vs. 159) but gets nearly the same fuel economy and doesn't cost much more. It's also available with a 6-speed automatic, and 4WD models can opt for a 6-speed manual, too.
159 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
180 lb-ft of torque @ 3,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/23 mpg (2WD, automatic), 19/22 mpg (4WD, automatic), 19/21 mpg (4WD, manual)
278 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
265 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy (estimated): 19/24 mpg (2WD, automatic), 18/23 mpg (4WD, automatic), 17/21 mpg (4WD, manual) 17/20 mpg (4WD, manual, Double Cab)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2017 Toyota Tacoma is all over the place, thanks to the variety of cab, bed, engine and drivetrain choices. Put simply, the least expensive model is an SR trim 4-cylinder Access Cab, starting about $25,000 when the $940 destination charge is included. On the other end of the scale is the Tacoma 4x4 TRD Pro Double Cab with the automatic transmission, which starts around $43,700. You can mix and match to just about anything in between, but for what it's worth the prices start higher than a Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Colorado or GMC Canyon, but the new Tacoma comes with a lot of standard equipment. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price calculator to see what people are paying in your area for the Tacoma, and note that resale value is just another one of this truck's many strengths.