$20,681 - $40,684

2017 Toyota Tacoma Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Toyota Tacoma was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 8.4

The 2017 Toyota Tacoma feels quiet and in control on the highway, and it has some of the best off-road capabilities available in a small truck. The suspension does a good job of providing a comfortable, composed ride for a truck and the optional V6 engine is brawny enough to handle a respectable amount of hauling and towing.  

  • "On road, the new Tacoma in any grade is quieter and easier going than previous versions. The ride motions are better controlled, the V-6 significantly more subdued, and the steering better mannered if not particularly communicative. This isn't a sports car and it doesn't pretend to be." -- Car and Driver (2016)
  • "Changes to the suspension plus the tweaks to the frame make the 2016 Tacoma feel more planted and more stable on-road. Handling feels better, and the ride is comfortable and compliant." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Now structurally more rigid and better sealed against the elements and noise, the Tacoma conveys a much greater sense of solidity and refinement on the road." -- Motor Trend (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The base engine for the 2017 Tacoma – which powers the SR and SR5 models – is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder. It is rated at 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque and is matched with either a standard six-speed automatic transmission or an optional five-speed manual transmission. Gas mileage with this engine is as high as 19 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, which is in line with most small trucks using a four-cylinder engine.

A 3.5-liter V6 comes standard in Tacoma TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro models. It is optional in the SR and SR5 models. This engine, delivering 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, is paired with a standard six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is available in select models. Its EPA-rating of 19 mpg city/24 mpg highway is also average for the class.

Out of the two engine choices, the majority of reviewers only had the opportunity to test the V6, and most say it's a good engine for both city driving and highway cruising. The Tacoma's V6 is peppy and smooth, and though you won't get neck-whipping acceleration, this Toyota can hold its own among the competition. The standard six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly in most situations but can labor to find a suitable gear when downshifting under acceleration.

  • The Tacoma's 3.5-liter V6 engine is the way to go if you'll be doing a lot of towing and hauling. Unfortunately, it needs high rpm to do its best work, and the optional automatic transmission seems to favor high gears, which keeps the engine turning at low revs where torque is thin. Also, the automatic transmission tends to hunt between gears on freeway inclines, making it more of a chore than expected to keep up with traffic. Engaging the ECT Power mode for the transmission helps reduce these characteristics considerably." -- Edmunds
  • "… every test truck on hand was V6-powered and hitched to an automatic transmission. The good news? This powertrain is terrific. The old V6 had torque aplenty down low, but would run out of breath as engine speed climbed. The new V6 is smooth, pulls strongly to redline and sounds much sweeter. Move the cool console shifter over to 'sport' and it locks out fifth and sixth gear and really wakes up the trans. We don't have hard acceleration times, but the new Tacoma feels noticeably quicker than the old one." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • The V6 is a smooth operator, but it's not going to bowl you over with raw power. The six-speed auto handles shifting duties just fine, but it also tends to 'hunt' for lower gears when you stab the gas." -- Left Lane News (2016)

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive is standard in the 2017 Toyota Tacoma, and four-wheel drive is available in every model. On the highway, the Tacoma feels refined, with predictable steering and minimal body movement. The suspension is smooth in most situations, but it has typical truck-style firmness (especially on rougher roads) that can feel a little jarring for those accustomed to riding in a car. A few reviewers question Toyota's choice to mount drum brakes in the rear – rivals like the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Colorado come with disc brakes all around. Most said brake performance was still adequate, though the pedal feels a little oversensitive to some.

  • There's not much you can do to help the brakes. The brake pedal response is abrupt and annoying in routine driving. Even so, you do get a pretty decent ride quality with the Tacoma. Though the TRD Off-Road's suspension and 16-inch tires are optimized for rough terrain, we like the way it soaks up the bumps on pavement, too. The Limited is noticeably firmer with its 18-inch tires and road-tuned suspension setup, though certainly not uncomfortable. Either way, we applaud the Tacoma's steering, which offers an intuitive buildup of effort and good on-center feel." -- Edmunds
  • The biggest difference we noticed between the standard Tacoma TRD and the TRD Pro model was ride quality. The standard Tacoma TRD we drove last year had fairly choppy ride; the Tacoma TRD Pro, with its upgraded Fox shocks, rides much smoother. So while the Tacoma TRD Pro is ultimately designed for off-road prowess, it might actually be the better option for daily commuting." -- Left Lane News
  • Handling and ride comfort in the Tacoma is predictably good in most situations. If you're going to be driving your Tacoma as a car stand-in, pick a tire/wheel setup that matches your intended use. Riding around on off-road tires all the time won't do much for your daily drive or peace of mind -- though your truck will look cool." -- Autotrader (2016)

Towing and Hauling

The 2017 Toyota Tacoma can haul up to 1,620 pounds and tow trailers as heavy as 6,800 pounds when properly configured and equipped. The Tacoma's payload capacity is better than that of most rivals.

  • "All Tacoma models are rated to tow 3,500 pounds, and with an optional V6 Tow Prep Package installed, some can tow up to 6,800 pounds. Sway control is standard on Tacoma this year, which is a very good thing no matter what size trailer you're towing." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • "Toyota has the Tundra for heavier towing jobs, but a 2016 Tacoma V6 with the Tow package is no slouch. Its maximum SAE-certified towing capacity is up 300 pounds for a total of 6,800 pounds on the Access Cab 4x2. That figure drops to 6,700 pounds for the slightly heavier Double Cab, and you can subtract 300 pounds from each for their respective four-wheel-drive versions." -- Edmunds (2016)

Off-Roading

Four-wheel drive is available in every 2017 Toyota Tacoma model, but a few models also add on extra off-road gear. The Tacoma TRD Off-Road comes standard with crawl control (which uses the throttle and brakes to maintain an even speed, allowing you to concentrate on steering), an electronic locking rear differential, an off-road suspension with Bilstein shocks, skid plates, and multiterrain select (with five modes to match truck settings to road topography). In addition to this equipment, the all-new Tacoma TRD Pro comes standard with four-wheel drive and additional off-road-enhancing features. It has 9.4 inches of ground clearance.

When outfitted with four-wheel drive, test drivers found the Tacoma to be more than capable of tackling an off-pavement course. The uplevel off-road models are truly goatlike, able to conquer hairy off-road trails. Reviewers praise the crawl control and multiterrain select modes, saying they intuitively manage the proper speed, leaving the driver to worry about only the steering.

  • "On Automatic transmission trucks, the package comes with Crawl Control, a five position off-road cruise control system borrowed from the Land Cruiser and 4Runner. We used it on the hardest sections, and because it operates the throttle and brakes for you, it takes all the white-knuckle anxiety out of four-wheeling. Just remember to steer." -- Autoweek (2016)
  • "I'm happy to report that the new off-road-specific tech that's baked into the 2016 Toyota Tacoma is fully up to the challenge of clawing its way up, around, over, and through the toughest obstacles I could throw at it. An experienced off-roader can do just as well, but the Tacoma is now packed with computerized brains to make obstacles disappear for anyone who can at least keep the steering wheel pointed in the proper direction." -- Autoblog (2016)
  • "But the Tacoma really starts to come into its own once it veers off the beaten path. Tacoma 4x4 models are surprising (sic) capable out of the box thanks to 9.4 inches of ground clearance, beefy tires and a rough and rugged suspension. TRD Off-Road models crank things to 11 with Toyota's Crawl Control system. ... During our afternoon with the Tacoma TRD Off-Road we effortlessly climbed up and then came back down a hill raked at more than 40 degrees, plowed through a boulder-covered trail and climbed over everything in-between. But perhaps most impressive, the Tacoma TRD Off-Road is capable of crawling out of a sand pit, even when buried up to its axles. We doubt many other pickups on the market, regardless of size, can make that claim." -- Left Lane News (2016)

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