Toyota has completely remade its benchmark midsize pickup truck, led by an all-new engine lineup and Trailhunter trim.
Bring out your clichés. Long in the tooth, older than dirt, past its prime. They can easily apply to the present Toyota Tacoma on sale now. There are elements of Toyota's ubiquitous midsize truck that date back to its mid-'90s launch in America. That's Stone Age history in the modern automotive era.
The legions of loyal Tacoma owners past and present couldn't care less, though. They've been too busy rocking and rolling over boulder-strewn trails, traversing rugged overland routes, running flat out on desert tracks, and hacking through concrete jungles in all shapes and sizes of the Tacoma pickup for decades now. In fact, it may take a little convincing to make them believe the all-new, American-bred 2024 Tacoma Tacoma is worth trading up for.
Once they understand how much design and engineering force Toyota has applied to the new fourth-generation Tacoma, though, they'll line up to go trail-hunting in the all-new Trailhunter trim and every other four-cylinder turbocharged and hybridized flavor of the feature-rich 2024 Tacoma lineup when it arrives in Toyota showrooms late this year.
Tacoma chief engineer Sheldon Brown helped lead the charge to develop the new truck. He was well aware of how much was and is on the line. "We've been number one in the segment for 19 years now. We needed to be bold and give them choices," he said.
Using the iForce for Good
Pour out a quart of 0W-20 for the 2.7-liter naturally aspirated I-4, which has soldiered on in some form under the hood of every generation Tacoma until now. While you're at it, do the same for the 3.5-liter V-6. Both engines have been retired in favor of a new motivating force, Toyota's new 2.4-liter turbocharged i-Force inline four-cylinder engine lineup. It's headlined by a i-Force Max hybridized version of the engine with 326 horsepower and a big-time 465 lb-ft of torque—so much torque starting at 1,700 rpm that Brown said they had to adjust the throttle mapping to keep things under control. Below are the power and transmission breakdowns. You'll notice a six-speed manual is listed; props to Toyota for keeping it in the mix for the new generation, and you can get it in 4x2 or 4x4 configurations. You'll also notice the six-speed automatic is no more, replaced instead by an eight-speed unit.
- Base 2.4-liter turbo (SR only), 228 hp/243 lb-ft and eight-speed auto
- i-Force 2.4-liter turbo, 270 hp/310 lb-ft and six-speed manual
- i-Force 2.4-liter turbo, 278 hp/317 lb-ft and eight-speed auto
- i-Force Max 2.4-liter turbo hybrid, 326 hp/465 lb-ft and eight-speed auto
The volume powertrain combo should be the 278-horse, eight-speed-auto version. Interestingly, it's the exact same horsepower number as the top-trim model of the outgoing V-6, and it can also tow the most, with a 6,500-pound rating. The base engine is also far more powerful than before, with a substantial 69 more horsepower and 63 more lb-ft than the trusty crusty 2.7-liter four. All versions are also expected to handily outperform the outgoing engines in EPA mpg ratings.
The star of the i-Force show is the Max turbo-four, with power numbers that dwarf anything seen in the Tacoma up to now. It's similar in concept to the twin-turbo V-6 version that powers the Tundra and Sequoia, with an electric motor (rated at 48 horsepower and 184 lb-ft at max capacity) and clutch located within the bellhousing between the engine and transmission that's designed to provide additional oomph when needed. Other key functions (engine stop/start, EV-only power, energy recuperation, etc.) are handled through the accompanying parallel hybrid setup. A 288-volt, 1.9-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery provides the necessary juice.
Trick Trailhunter Tacoma Tops Truck's Trims
SR5. TRD Pro. PreRunner. These monikers are almost as recognizable to Toyota truck aficionados as the trucks themselves. Toyota hopes its new Trailhunter trim, which will make its debut on the new Tacoma, will be similarly revered in the future. Designed to be an out-of-the-box badass off-road overlander, the Trailhunter, which features the i-Force Max powertrain, an electronically controlled two-speed transfer case with high/low range, and an electronically activated rear locking differential, was developed in cooperation with off-road specialty outfit ARB. Like all new Tacomas, the Trailhunter takes advantage of the truck's TNGA-F high-strength boxed, steel-ladder frame global truck platform, which it shares with the Tundra and Sequoia.
The list of Trailhunter goodies reads like a wish list of what a Tacoma freak might want under their Christmas tree, including: Old Man Emu (aka OME) position sensitive, 2.5-inch forged monotube shocks (with rear external piggyback-style remote reservoirs), a bed utility bar with removable MOLLE panels, 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires, Rigid LED foglamps, a steel rear bumper, rear recovery points, rock rails, high-strength steel skidplates, and more. Trailhunter also features specific design elements including a bronze heritage grille and other accents.
Like the rest of the Tacoma lineup, Trailhunter is available in either 5- or 6-foot bed sizes and in Double Cab configuration (SR, SR5, and TRD PreRunner only are also available with the new, two-door XtraCab trim) and can also be optioned with all manner of ARB-specific and other Toyota-approved accessories.
Speaking of options, accessories, and underpinnings, the 2024 Tacoma is absolutely bursting with new stuff to hit the road and trails with depending on model and configuration. One of the biggest changes to the truck's chassis is the addition of a new, multilink, coil-spring rear suspension system that's standard on the majority of models. Fans of the Tacoma's traditional leaf-spring design can still get one outfitted the old-fashioned way (Brown says it has changed slightly to an undermounted setup), but only on SR, SR5 XtraCab, and TRD PreRunner.
Also depending on which Tacoma you choose, there's either a 4x2 setup with an automatic limited-slip differential (with a rear e-locker available), a 4x4 with a two-speed transfer case and traction control (rear e-locker available) like Trailhunter, or full-time 4x4 with a two-speed transfer case and center diff lock. In addition, the Tacoma can be optioned with a new electronic front stabilizer bar disconnect that increases flex by 10 percent over the old truck so you can better get your articulation on when the need arises. Brown said the Tacoma's crawl control system has been revamped (it's reportedly less noisy and more impressive in its operation), and the multi-terrain select has been updated so you can use it on the fly without having to shift the truck into 4-Low.
Aside from Trailhunter, you can choose from seven other Tacoma grades. Here they are with a couple of highlights for each:
- SR (XtraCab, Double Cab) - Base engine standard, available with the i-Force/six-speed manual combination, leaf springs, twin-tube shocks, 17-inch wheels
- SR5 (XtraCab, Double Cab) - i-Force engine, multilink rear on Double Cab, leaf springs on XtraCab, twin-tube shocks, 17-inch wheels
- TRD PreRunner (XtraCab) - i-Force engine, 4x2 with electronically activated rear rocking differential, leaf-springs, front lift, twin-tube shocks, 17-inch wheels
- TRD Sport (Double Cab) - i-Force engine, (i-Force Max or iForce/manual transmission optional), red TRD sport tuned twin-tube shocks, TRD Sport 18-inch wheels
- TRD Off-Road (Double Cab) - i-Force engine (i-Force Max or i-Force/manual transmission optional), Bilstein monotube remote reservoir shocks, multi-terrain select, electronically activated rear locking differential, optional front stabilizer bar disconnect and 33-inch tires, composite skidplates, 17- or 18-inch black TRD wheels
- Limited (Double Cab) - i-Force engine (i-Force Max with full-time 4x4 optional), adaptive variable suspension, 18-inch chrome clad wheels, power running boards and tailgate
- TRD Pro (Double Cab) - i-Force Max standard, 2.5-inch Fox internal-bypass manual modal Quick Switch 3 shocks, red "TRD" forged aluminum upper control arms, IsoDynamic Performance seat, electronically activated rear locking differential, front stabilizer bar disconnect, aluminum front skidplate, Rigid LED foglamps, ARB steel rear bumper with red recovery hooks, 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires, 18-inch black TRD Pro wheels
More Rugged Looking Outside, More Tech Inside
It doesn't take an eagle to eye how much the 2024 Tacoma lineup has changed, style wise, but perhaps the most impressive and aggressive-looking of the new Tacoma lineup save the Trailhunter is the TRD Pro. It's edgy, angular, and flat-out mean-looking, with wildly aggressive fender flares. You can envision it bombing down a Baja 1000 route with a trail of dust billowing behind. The Trailhunter's vibe is more setting up the tent after conquering rutted-out two-tracks and steep grades. And the TRD Sport and Limited strike more of a street truck pose.
All of them have been styled by Toyota's North American CALTY design centers in California and Michigan to deliver what the company calls, and we're not making this up, "Tacoma-ness." It's defined as having "a high lift, big tires, slim body, and a powerful athletic stance." For the most part, they've largely succeeded. Among the notable design elements are high-mounted LED headlights, several takes on the latest hexagonal grille, hood scoops, side functional air intakes, integrated roof and tailgate spoilers, and more depending on model.
Dimensionally, according to Brown, present Tacoma owners were adamant the truck maintain its garageability, so engineers took that to heart. Despite a wheelbase roughly 4 inches longer than before, Brown told us the length of the new truck is essentially unchanged. Toyota has achieved an impressive maximum ground clearance of 9.5 inches, maximum running ground clearance of 11 inches, and maximum 33.8-degree approach, 23.5-degree breakover, and 25.7-degree departure angles. And although the width is up to 4 inches greater due in part to the beefer front and rear quarter panels and fender flares, it's only marginally taller, and the actual with between the doors is also roughly the same in order to help keep the same slim appearance and aid ingress and egress.
When you step into the new 2024 Tacoma, plenty of new tech is available depending on model, with one of the unquestioned highlights being what Toyota is calling its IsoDynamic Performance seat, which is debuting on TRD Pro. The segment-first seat utilizes what's essentially an adjustable shock absorber system to help keep drivers from excessive head toss and body sway when attacking undulating terrain at high speeds.
Other than the fancy-pants seat, there are several other updates and upgrades inside depending on trim, including an 8.0-inch or available 14.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display (Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capable); a base 7.0-inch gauge cluster or 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with four different styles; standard smart key with push-button start and phone-based digital or smart card keys; additional underseat rear storage space on non i-Force Max models; MOLLE storage panels on the center console and door panels; B-pillar grab handles; accommodations for 3D-printed accessories; a 10-speaker JBL sound system; and a removable JBL bluetooth speaker. Toyota's latest Safety Sense 3.0 impressive suite of driver assist tech is also standard across the line, with other optional features available, as well.
Given everything we've seen thus far, there's more than a little brashness to how Toyota has revamped and reshaped its signature truck, especially with the TRD Pro and Trailhunter. But at the same time, it's also gotten more sophisticated and mature in its powertrain and dynamic approaches, and there's more breadth and depth to the lineup than ever. It's a mix that should help keep the Tacoma firmly in its place at the top of the midsize truck segment—no matter how old it gets.
|2024 Toyota Tacoma Specifications|
|BASE PRICE||$30,000-$50,000 (est)|
|LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD/4WD, 2 or 5-pass, 4-door truck|
|ENGINES||2.4L/228-278-hp/243-317-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4; 2.4L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4, plus 48-hp/148-lb-ft front electric motor; 326 hp/465 lb-ft comb|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual; 8-speed auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||4,300-4,700 lb (est)|
|WHEELBASE||133.5 in (est)|
|L x W x H||213.3 x 75.0 x 73.5 in (est)|
|0-60 MPH||5.0-7.6 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||20-22/24-26/22-24 mpg (MT est)|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||380-450 miles (MT est)|
|ON SALE||Late 2023 (early 2024 for iForce Max models)|
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