|Positives: One of the best stock off-roaders around, handsomely burly exterior styling, excellent TRD Pro package, built like a tank.|
|Negatives: Drives like a tank, noisy engine, rough riding at times, awkward seating position, poor ergonomics.|
|Bottom Line: The Tacoma is one of the best trucks around but not because it's good to drive or fun to sit in. It's rugged, handsome, eminently functional as an off-roader, and well built. But it sells like hotcakes, so Toyota's not motivated to make major changes.|
The Tacoma isn't a pleasure to drive, but we didn't expect too much on road fun or comfort since our last drive. The body-on-frame construction means it's a bona fide truck, but versions from Chevy and GMC prove you can have toughness and comfort. The Tacoma, not so much.
Ride Quality: The Tacoma's ride is on the firm side, for sure. It can handle bumps and gaps, but competitors do a better job. Off-road, it has all the right stuff including internal bypass shocks, a locking differential, skid plates, etc. and the Taco TRD Pro can take a lot when it gets in the rough.
Acceleration: The V6 with 278 horsepower is strong, but it gets hampered by a rather uncooperative automatic transmission that's slow to shift. It'll hit 60 mph in just over 7 seconds. The manual should be a tad faster.
Braking: Braking in the TRD Pro is good, but there's a tiny bit of mushiness at first.
Steering: Steering is good and actually quite responsive, but it could use better precision. There's a solid amount of effort involved, at least. The steering wheel is a little too thick for our liking.
Handling: The Tacoma in TRD Pro trim has some body roll, but it's not terrible. You can feel it in the turns, but as long as you don't go in hot, the Tacoma stays put.
The Tacoma thankfully gets a bump in the touchscreen size, despite the fact that the actual system is still just mediocre.
Infotainment System: Toyota gave the 2020 Tacoma an 8" touchscreen instead of the dinky 6.1" from last year. It's way better, but even the revised Entune 3.0 system is still behind competitors like GM and Ford.
Controls: Overall controls in the Tacoma are fair-to-middling. The preponderance of them are physical knobs and buttons, but they look and feel old.
Toyota made some visual tweaks to the Tacoma's exterior, but they're hardly noticeable compared to the 2019 version. At least in TRD Pro trim with the special content, the Tacoma looks even more badass than its stock self.
Front: The big black grille and the hood scoop match perfectly with the the monster snorkel for water fording. The front end looks properly rugged.
Rear: Not much has changed about the back end of the Tacoma except for the black TRD Pro trim added to the mix. The rounded taillights could use some angularity to match the headlights.
Profile: There's nothing about the side view that stands out aside from black TRD Pro wheels . The bed looks really short compared to the long hood and double cab.
Cabin: The Tacoma's interior is bleak and black, but at least the shapes aren't overly blocky. We like the Tacoma's round vents and the meaty shifter. The steering wheel looks and feels dated, and it could use the red stitching from the seats.
The Tacoma is not a place to spend a lot of time because of its compromised seating position and the lack of a telescoping steering wheel, which we just don't get. It's also hard to see out of over the top of the hood.
Front Seats: The seats have good cushioning and support, but they're situated too low. We also could not find the right seating position due to the tilt-only steering wheel. Very frustrating.
Rear Seats: It's tight back there in double cab configuration, and the seat cushions are flat. Legroom is tight, too.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The knobby tires make noise at highway speeds, and the engine sounds like its being worked hard. The cabin is solidly built, at least.
Visibility: The seating position isn't the best, and visibility is compromised in tight situations. The rear camera is a necessity for backing u.
Climate: The heated seats worked well, as did the climate system thanks to the big circular vents.
The Tacoma jumped in the safety standings for 2020, which is great news. It also comes with a solid set of standard safety features which bring the truck to the front of the pack.
IIHS Rating: The improved headlights bump the Tacoma to a "Top Safety Pick" for 2020. Nothing else changed in terms of scores for crash testing.
NHTSA Rating: It earned four stars from the federal government.
Standard Tech: Toyota Safety Sense P comes with Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, and Automatic High Beams. There's also a Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, as well as parking sonar and a backup camera.
Optional Tech: Our tester's Tech Package came with rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking assist, and a blind spot monitor.
The Tacoma does a pretty good job of providing small items storage and bed storage, as expected in the midsize pickup segment. We're not wowed by the interior storage options, but they're respectable.
Storage Space: The center console has usable space an open compartments in front of the shift knob, sizable cupholders, and a medium-sized armrest. The door pockets are decently sized, too.
Cargo Room: The bed is 60.5 inches long and 41.5 inches wide, and the tailgate can be removed to accomodate longer cargo. The bed capacity is 1,175 lbs, and the Tacoma can tow up to 6,400 pounds.
The Tacoma's larger V6 is decently powered, but it's by no means miserly even though the transmission defers to fuel economy rather than performance.
Observed: 15.9 mpg
Distance Driven: 129 miles
The premium JBL system is now standard on the TRD Pro trim, whereas last year it was an option on the Tech package. This is good for two reasons. You don't have to pay more for a system that's good but not great. It was clear but lacked bass and fullness.