The mid-size truck wars are heating up again. The Nissan Frontier has solidified itself as an appealing option in the class, while Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford each have brand-new versions of their own mid-sizers in the Colorado, Canyon, and Ranger. And today, we get our first official look at the 2024 Toyota Tacoma, which reveals its details for the first time after a months-long teasing effort.
This year marks three decades since the first Tacoma arrived in the US, and even as the oldest design in its class, the current Taco is still the most popular. Last year Toyota moved more than 230,000 examples. But the next few years could be even better as the 2024 truck debuts with a number of firsts – including a hybrid powertrain and a rugged new Trailhunter trim level.
Turbo And Hybrid Power
The most interesting details are under the hood; Toyota offers four different outputs for the Tacoma starting with the base SR model. The entry point is a new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that lets out 228 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque when paired with the standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
Buyers can move up from there to the SR5 and get a more powerful version of that same turbocharged engine producing 270 hp and 310 lb-ft. Better yet, that's with a six-speed manual transmission with automatic rev-matching – long live the stick. That same upgraded engine with the eight-speed automatic adds more oomph, bringing the output to 278 hp and 317 lb-ft.
At the top of the range, the Tacoma offers an optional hybrid engine for the first time. Borrowing the I-Force Max branding from the bigger Tundra, a 1.9-kilowatt-hour battery back and 48-hp electric motor join the turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, bringing the total output to a hearty 326 hp and 465 lb-ft. That's nearly double the amount offered on the outgoing V6 model and second only in horsepower to the new 405-horse Ranger Raptor (but the Taco still has more torque).
Rear-wheel drive is still standard on trims like the SR and SR5, but now it comes with a limited-slip differential. Four-wheel-drive models add an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case with high- and low-range gearing as well as an upgraded Active Traction Control system with a limited-slip diff. Opt for the top-of-the-line Limited model with the hybrid I-Force Max engine and that comes with full-time four-wheel drive with a center-locking differential.
|Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro||Turbo 2.4L I4 Hybrid||326 HP / 465 LB-FT|
|Chevrolet Colorado ZR2||Turbo 2.7-liter I4||310 HP / 430 LB-FT|
|Ford Ranger Raptor||Twin-Turbo 3.0L V6||405 HP / 430 LB-FT|
|GMC Canyon AT4X||Turbo 2.7-liter I4||310 HP / 430 LB-FT|
|Nissan Frontier Pro-4X||3.8L V6||310 HP / 281 LB-GT|
A Strong Foundation
The new Tacoma opts for a tougher aesthetic than some of its competitors. Slim headlights adorn the front bumper with running-mascara faux vents that trickle down toward the lower grille. The TRD Sport uses a simple black grille with a central Toyota jellybean badge, while the luxurious Limited model uses the same Toyota badge but now finished in chrome with chrome horizontal slats and matching chrome wheels.
The rugged TRD Pro and the Trailhunter models use the retro "TOYOTA" wordmark across the grille, and they both offer additional rugged visual cues like a front skid plate, horizontal LED running lights, and unique wheel and tire combos designed for off-roading. The TRD Pro has black 18-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear off-road tires while the Trailhunter pairs unique 18-inch bronze wheels with the same rubber.
The Taco's new TNGA-F platform uses high-strength steel throughout the chassis to improve rigidity and aluminum on the upper portion of the body to help reduce weight. An available multi-link rear suspension sheds last year's leaf springs for a new coil setup on the SR5 double cab and on the TRD Sport trim and above, with the suspension tuned uniquely for each model.
The TRD Pro still has the toughest equipment of the bunch with standard Fox shocks, while the TRD Off-Road model uses the same Bilstein shocks as last year, and the TRD Sport has special TRD-tuned shocks for better on-road feel.
One downside is that the Tacoma loses a bit of towing prowess compared to the previous model. Maximum towing is listed at 6,500 pounds on the SR5 I-Force and TRD PreRunner trims, which is about 300 pounds less than last year. The good news is that payload improves to an impressive 1,709 pounds on the TRD Off-Road model compared to last year's maximum rating of 1,685 pounds. And to make towing easier, Toyota gave the new Tacoma advanced trailering features like a trailer brake controller, a trailer backup guide, and a digital rearview mirror.
|Max Towing||Max Payload|
|Toyota Tacoma||6,500 Pounds||1,709 Pounds|
|Chevrolet Colorado||7,700 Pounds||1,684 Pounds|
|Ford Ranger (2023)||7,500 Pounds||1,860 Pounds|
|GMC Canyon||7,700 Pounds||1,640 Pounds|
|Nissan Frontier||6,270 Pounds||1,230 Pounds|
A new 8.0-inch touchscreen comes standard inside the Tacoma while an optional 14.0-inch display is standard on the Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter. That larger screen pairs with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster while a smaller 7.0-inch cluster comes standard. Both displays use the excellent Toyota infotainment interface introduced on the Tundra, which comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility as well as Qi wireless phone charging. And that removable JBL Bluetooth speaker option is available with the 10-speaker JBL audio upgrade.
The Tacoma is also safer than ever, with Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 also standard on all versions of the Tacoma for 2024. That includes things like pre-collision with pedestrian detection, lane-departure alert with steering assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and a new Proactive Driving feature.
Proactive Driving combines the Tacoma’s camera and radar systems to create a more advanced form of adaptive cruise control, providing braking, throttle, and steering inputs even on mildly curvy roads. This system is new for Toyota and making its debut on the Tacoma.
Go Pro Or Hunt A Trail
The Tacoma TRD Pro is still the toughest truck of the group, and it gets even tougher this year with fresh off-road upgrades. Even though approach, departure, and breakover angles are technically a smidge down – 33.8, 23.5, and 25.7 degrees this year versus 36.4, 24.7, and 26.6 degrees last year – a few new options help capability elsewhere. The available front stabilizer bar disconnect improves articulation by 10 percent compared to the previous truck, and additional off-road cameras with a Multi-Terrain Monitor projected atop the 14.0-inch touchscreen provide an even clearer view of the trail ahead.
The Multi-Terrain Select drive mode function now extends to 4WD High as well as 4WD Low, with three modes adjustable on the fly: Mud, Dirt, and Sand. Toyota also says the Crawl Control function – basically cruise control for off-roading – is much quieter than it was last year and comes with five adjustable speeds. And to keep you comfier on the trail, Toyota developed an IsoDynamic Performance Seat that uses embedded shock absorbers to help dampen body movement and stabilize the head and neck of the driver.
But for overlanding enthusiasts, Toyota introduces a new Trailhunter trim for 2024. It sheds the TRD Pro's Fox shocks for 2.5-inch forged monotube Old Man Emu shocks instead, designed by Australian-based ARB specifically for long-range off-road travel. There are new steel bumpers, more-robust rear recovery points, enhanced rigidity for things like rooftop tents, and the choice of a five- or six-foot bed depending on your overlanding needs.
There's a lot to like about the new Tacoma – and we haven't even driven it yet. What we don't know is how much the 2024 Toyota Tacoma will cost. The company says it will release that information closer to an on-sale date. Expect the new Tacoma to go on sale later in 2023.