$16,365 - $27,525

2011 Toyota Tacoma Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2011 Toyota Tacoma was new.


Performance: 8.3

An impressive automatic transmission and capable off-road handling help the Tacoma earn good reviews for its performance, but a rough suspension and lackluster on-road handling keep it from being perfect. Most reviewers recommend that buyers with towing or hauling choose the V6 engine and automatic transmission. Off-road enthusiasts should find plenty to like about the Tacoma, while buyers who are new to the truck market may find the Tacoma's on-road ride a little rough.

  • "For better or worse, the 2011 Toyota Tacoma drives like a proper pickup truck. It delivers a reasonably comfortable ride on the streets and, properly equipped, tackles off-road terrain without drama." -- Edmunds
  • "This is plenty of truck for 95 percent of truck buyers, everyone who isn't hauling plywood or pulling 40-foot goosenecks." -- Car and Driver.

Acceleration and Power

In the past, reviewers paid little attention to the Tacoma's 2.7 liter four-cylinder engine, which makes 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. However, if you don’t do a lot of heavy hauling or towing and are looking for a budget-friendly option, reviewers say the four-cylinder will do the trick.

For buyers putting power before fuel economy, reviewers recommend the 4.0 liter V6 engine, which makes 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed manual is available. Most critics, however, recommend the optional four or five-speed automatic transmissions, which are very smooth.

Two-wheel drive Tacomas with the four-cylinder engine and automatic transmission net an EPA-estimated 19/25 mpg city/highway. Tacomas with the V6 engine, two-wheel drive and the automotive transmission get 17/21 mpg city/highway. These figures are fairly good for the class.

  • "Drivers who don't plan on heavy hauling, towing or aggressive accelerating will likely find their needs met by the four-cylinder engine. The beefier V6 is a much more capable choice for more serious work and play, with plenty of low-range pull that continues into the higher revs. The only downside is that it can get a bit noisy at higher rpm." -- Edmunds
  • "V6 versions feel strong in most situations. The manual transmission is surprisingly responsive for a pickup. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and downshifts quickly for passing." -- Consumer Guide 

Handling and Braking

Most reviews say that the Tacoma handles fine on road, but the ride can be rougher than some might like. However, according to test drivers, the same components that make the ride somewhat rough on road make the Tacoma ruggedly capable off-road. Many experts are also pleased with the truck's hauling and towing capacities. When properly equipped, the Tacoma can haul up to 1,510 pounds and tow 6,500 pounds.

  • "The Tacoma can, however, feel rather twitchy if the bed's empty and the truck's fitted with one of the stiffer suspensions. It's also worth noting that while the brakes ably bring things to a halt, the soft pedal doesn't inspire confidence." -- Edmunds
  • "The most carlike of all the compact pickups, the Tacoma drives surprisingly smoothly for its truck guts." -- Car and Driver
  • "Most models are fairly controlled and comfortable for compact pickups, but the optional TRD Off-Road suspension makes the ride bouncy and stiff. X-Runner's sport suspension and low-profile tires annoy less, but try before you buy." -- Consumer Guide

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