2009 Toyota Tacoma Review

10 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on 2009 Toyota Tacoma Review

2009 Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma tops others as the best compact pickup

The Toyota Tacoma is the best compact pickup truck for just about any need, reviewers say. It not only has the lowest starting price of any pickup, it also offers the best safety, fuel economy, interior quality and resale value, along with the widest variety of configurations and options. Experts say you can choose a Tacoma that’s roomy enough for a family, brawny enough to tow and haul surprisingly heavy loads, or tough enough for serious off-roading.

The Toyota Tacoma’s superior safety ratings and quality scores give it the edge over its closest competitor, the Nissan Frontier (*Est. $17,460 to $29,740), in most reviews. Both pickup trucks get far better reviews than domestic rivals such as the Ford Ranger (*Est. $15,835 to $25,235), Chevrolet Colorado (*Est. $16,705 to $26,940) and Dodge Dakota (*Est. $21,075 to $31,280), all of which suffer from quality, reliability and/or safety drawbacks.

The Tacoma gets the highest possible ratings in all crash tests, and the rear-wheel-drive version is nearly as rollover-resistant as the average sedan (the four-wheel-drive version has a higher rollover risk). The midsize Honda Ridgeline (*Est. $28,200 to $36,530) is the only pickup in any class that can match the Tacoma’s safety ratings, and no other compact pickup even comes close.

Critics do find a few flaws in the Toyota Tacoma, but they usually consider them minor — intrusive road or engine noise, for example, and a structure that doesn’t feel quite as rigid as the Nissan Frontier’s while cornering hard or off-roading. Some testers note that the driver’s seat is too low and can’t be raised, which could be a problem for short drivers.

The Toyota Tacoma‘s ride quality gets mixed reviews. Some testers find it smooth, but others find it bouncy, whether they’re testing the regular suspension or the stiffer off-road package. Rust complaints have emerged recently, as more than 800,000 Tacomas built from 1995 to 2000 lack sufficient corrosion protection, according to reports.

Toyota has offered to buy back many of those trucks, and we found no similar complaints for more recent models. Reliability has been generally good, experts say. The Tacoma is backed by a three-year, 36,000 mile basic warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Engine, cab options for the ’09 Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma buyers have a choice of two engines. The base 159-horsepower, 2.7-liter four-cylinder offers class-leading fuel economy and adequate power, according to experts. Acceleration is stronger with the optional 236-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-6, at the cost of a couple of miles per gallon in fuel efficiency.

Three cab setups are offered on the Toyota Tacoma. The regular cab seats three with a bench seat, and it comes with a 6-foot cargo bed. The Access Cab has a 6-foot bed and seats four with front buckets and forward-facing fold-up seats in the back, although reviews say these back seats aren’t habitable for anything but short trips, and the narrow, rear-hinged back doors can box out your shopping cart if someone’s parked next to you.

The Tacoma Double Cab has four normal doors and either a 5- or 6-foot bed. It seats five, with a 60/40 split rear bench adequately sized for adults. The Tacoma Double Cab is quite roomy for a compact pickup, testers say, but it doesn’t offer real stretch-out backseat comfort the way the midsize Honda Ridgeline or a full-size crew-cab pickup does.

Finally, different drive/suspension choices are available for different needs. Four-wheel drive costs extra with any body style. You can add a Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Sport package (*Est. $3,255 to $4,065), which includes a sport suspension, graphics, special seat fabric, etc. or the TRD Off-Road package (*Est. $3,815 to $4,265) with an off-road suspension, locking rear differential, hill ascent and descent control and more.

Experts say the off-road-spec Toyota Tacoma is quite capable, holding its own against the Nissan Frontier and the Hummer H3T (*Est. $30,750) in one test.

With a rear-wheel-drive Toyota Tacoma, you can opt for the regular trim (*Est. $15,170 to $20,105); the Toyota Tacoma PreRunner (*Est. $19,965 to $24,000), which reviews say looks like a four-wheel-drive truck with a raised suspension, but without the weight or added traction of actual four-wheel drive; or the Tacoma X-Runner (*Est. $25,285), which has a sport suspension and lower body trim. ConsumerGuide.com tests four different Tacoma trucks; testers find the X-Runner handles like a sports car while still offering most of the utility of the other models, although they say the Toyota Tacoma PreRunner and four-wheel-drive models are a better value.

According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, you’ll get the best fuel economy with the rear-wheel-drive Toyota Tacoma‘s four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission (20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined). Fuel economy drops as you add power, down to 14 mpg city, 19 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined with the V-6 engine, six-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive.

Towing capacity is a modest 3,500 pounds, but a special tow prep package for the six-cylinder Toyota Tacoma ups the ante to 6,500 pounds. Edmunds.com editors single out the composite cargo bed lining as an attractive feature, saying it should resist rust and dents.

Review coverage for the Toyota Tacoma

ConsumerGuide.com tests most pickups, including several different Tacoma trims, but write-ups here are brief. ConsumerReports.org is known for its unbiased, scientific testing, but although editors here compare the Tacoma extensively with most of its competitors, off-road testing is slim. Edmunds.com’s write-up covers nearly every aspect of the Tacoma, but it doesn’t rate it against competitors as extensively as the above sources.

Kelley Blue Book’s single-truck reviews include helpful resale value predictions. Write-ups at Car and Driver and Truck Trend are brief, but these sources test a lot of trucks and carry a lot of credibility. PickupTrucks.com includes the Tacoma in an off-road comparison test.

Other sources cover individual aspects of the Tacoma, including safety, fuel economy, ownership costs and the frame rust issue.

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