$22,682 - $39,041

2018 Toyota Tacoma Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.0

The 2018 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 packs enough power 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." -- 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 Tacoma comes standard with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque. This engine has ample power for most driving situations, but it can feel strained when pulling heavy loads or climbing steep hills.

The more capable engine is the available 3.5-liter V6, which produces 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. This engine unlocks the Tacoma’s full potential, and it delivers power smoothly. Still, don't expect it to throw you back in your seat when you hit the gas.

A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard, while a six-speed manual transmission is available.

With the base engine, the Tacoma gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. The V6 gets 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Those aren’t the worst fuel economy ratings in the class, but they’re below average.

  • "In most driving environments and situations, the Tacoma's 159-horsepower 2.7-liter engine is powerful enough, but climbing grades with a full load in the bed will require some planning and probably full throttle. Plus, the 4-cylinder can get a little rowdy when you rev it out. This is also easily fixed by choosing the 3.5-liter V6. This engine … significantly improves the capability of the 2018 Tacoma, and it makes the Toyota a more enjoyable pickup to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • 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." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "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)

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive comes standard in the Tacoma, and four-wheel drive is available. The ride is firm, as is the case with most trucks, but it’s generally smooth as long as the pavement isn’t too rough. The Tacoma handles well in most situations, and it serves just fine as a daily driver.

  • 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 (2017)
  • 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 (2017)
  • 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." -- Autotrader (2016)

Towing and Hauling

When properly equipped, the Tacoma can haul up to 1,620 pounds and tow trailers as heavy as 6,800 pounds. The Tacoma's payload capacity is better than that of most rivals, but other compact pickups can tow more.

  • "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 [the] 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." -- Edmunds (2016)

Off-Roading

Four-wheel drive is available in every Tacoma model, but some trims are better off-roaders than others. 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 Terrain Select (with five modes to align the truck’s settings to the road conditions). In addition to this equipment, the Tacoma TRD Pro comes standard with four-wheel drive and additional off-road-enhancing features. It has 9.4 inches of ground clearance.

  • "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)
  • "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." -- Left Lane News (2016)

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