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2024 Toyota Tacoma First Drive: A Sure Bet Remains So

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD
Photo: D.Rufiange
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Daniel Rufiange
Toyota rolls up its sleeves to maintain its position in a fiercely contested segment

•    Auto123 gets in a first drive of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma.

Toronto, ON – This past May, Toyota unveiled the new generation of its Tacoma pickup truck. That happened in Hawaii, an exotic locale to be sure, but it happens to be where the model has been the best-selling vehicle for the past quarter-century, across all makes and categories.

See: 2024 Toyota Tacoma Makes Official Debut

At the time, we were able to get up close with a few variants of the new truck, so close in fact we could even climb inside to poke around and look for what’s new. No road tests were on the schedule in Hawaii, however.

That came this November, in slightly colder climes. Specifically, last week we drove an off-road TRD variant of the Tacoma. That version sits near the bottom the lineup, just above the SR5.

Specifications sheet of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma

The most attractive Tacoma?
It's always perilous to pronounce on the styling of a model, beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that. However, like in the case of Sophia Loren, say, there are certain designs on which everyone agrees. This new-generation Tacoma is hard not to like, if only because it's so assertive. When the product was last redesigned in 2015, I was critical of the approach. The changes had been timid compared to the prior vintage. Safe to say, the 2024 Tacoma won't be confused with its predecessor.

And expect marked differences between the variants, a deliberate strategy on the part of the designers intended. Toyota is not just selling you a pickup, it’s selling you a pickup with a personality all its own.

Our test version was equipped with a six-foot bed, though some Tacoma models come with a five-footer. Among the images shown in our gallery we also have a double cab configuration with four doors. An XtraCab configuration will be available later; that version features two doors, storage behind the seats and a six-foot bed bringing up the rear.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, profile
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, profile
Photo: D.Rufiange

The structure
Regardless of body style, all 2024 Tacomas are based on a new platform, the TNGA-F (Toyota New Global Architecture), which already serves the Tundra and Sequoia. The main change (still in comparison with the outgoing model) is at the rear, where a new multi-link suspension transforms the driving experience. Basically, it swaps traditional leaf springs for coil springs.

Toyota also promises version-specific settings, so performance will differ a little or a lot from one variant to the next. For example, the off-road version is equipped with Bilstein monotube shock absorbers with external reservoir. These offer greater wheel travel and better heat dissipation. They also feature an end-of-travel control valve (ESCV) that increases damping force as the suspension nears the end of its travel.

The new Tacoma features Four-wheel disc brakes, in contrast with the outgoing model that has drum brakes at the rear.

We could go on and on. The redesign is complete and major.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, front grille, headlights
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, front grille, headlights
Photo: D.Rufiange

The 2024 Tacoma’s new base engine

With this new generation, we say goodbye to the 3.5L V6 engine. In its place we find a 2.4L turbocharged 4-cylinder mill as the base engine. A hybrid version will arrive later that will deliver 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. For now, in standard configuration, output is 278 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque, with the engine working with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

A 6-speed manual transmission can also be combined with this engine, with output slightly lower at 270 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque.

Fun fact: compared to the V6, it's ironic that power output from the new base 4-cylinder is 278 hp – the same as the departed V6. The difference is that the naturally-aspirated engine generated 265 lb-ft of torque, 52 less than the turbocharged 4-cylinder.

All of which to say, few are likely to really miss the V6, if they’re being honest. Especially as maximum towing capacity remains the same at 6,500 lb.

The only unknown in this swap is the reliability and long-term performance of the new 4-cylinder. With the V6, we knew we were getting an indestructible workmate.

In any event, on this day during our test drive, fuel consumption ran to 10.9L/100 km.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, interior
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, interior
Photo: D.Rufiange

Inside
From our first encounter, we won’t draw any conclusions regarding quality, materials and finish inside the cabin - the model we tested was a pre-production edition, with some elements that might not be found in the final versions. We experienced the same situation at the launch of the Tundra, when the supply-chain shortage still raged. Things aren’t raging anymore, but not everything is yet back to full normal.

One thing we can say: the elegant design of the dashboard is fundamentally different from that of the outgoing Tacoma. It's a matter of taste, but it appealed to us. The sections are cut with square corners, adding to the model's robust appearance. Passengers will appreciate the huge handle on the console when they need to hold on during bumpier parts of an off-road excursion.

Many of the controls, from the rotary dials for drive modes and climate control to the gear selector, are large enough to be operated with work gloves.

Happily, functionality played a key role in the design work.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, steering wheel, dashboard
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, steering wheel, dashboard
Photo: D.Rufiange

In front of the driver is a configurable display for all driving-related information. To its right sits the multimedia display, resting in the upper part of the dashboard. At eight inches, it's neither too small nor too big in our opinion, or even intrusive (it will be 14 inches on more upscale versions).

Whatever the size, on it users find the latest generation of Toyota's multimedia system, including wireless connection to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. All went well with the latter, with the exception of an unexpected 10-minute disconnection on the road, for no apparent reason. This kind of blip isn’t exclusive to Toyota; the technology works relatively well, but it’s not yet flawless.

In terms of comfort, there's nothing to fault about the seats offered by our model. The driving position is better than ever. Fatigue lurked with the old Tacoma on long journeys; that shouldn't be the case with the new one.

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, three-quarters rear
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, three-quarters rear
Photo: D.Rufiange

Driving the 2024 Toyota Tacoma

The comfort of the seats is all the more appreciable given that the whole vehicle offers a cozier experience than before. The ruggedness is still there, but a better balance has been achieved. Soundproofing, too, has improved.

As for power, it's more than enough to make you forget about the V6. Delivery is swift as soon as you step on the gas pedal, whether for hot starts or overtaking. The sound is interesting, even intriguing; it will take some getting used to.

Vehicle stability is also taken to the next level. This is still no Supra, and there’s still roll on tight bends taken at pace, but overall this is a pickup truck better planted on the road, and as a result it’s that much more reassuring to drive.

There will subsequent test drives, with other variants, including those equipped with the hybrid engine. Stay tuned.

The final word
All in all, the new Tacoma is an improved vehicle in every respect. Given the model's solid reputation and its appeal to enthusiasts, we can expect sales to be as robust as the truck’s looks. It's a sure bet for Toyota.

Two things to watch out for, however. The first is the hefty price tag, which could cause a stutter step or to among potential buyers. The second is the long-term reliability of the new 4-cylinder engine. Knowing Toyota, it should be fine, but it will be something to keep an eye on it.

Pricing of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma

  • - Tacoma SR5 6-ft bed - $46,950 CAD
  • - Tacoma TRD Off-Road 6-ft bed - $50,650
  • - Tacoma TRD Sport 6-ft bed - $50,050
  • - Tacoma TRD Sport+ 6-ft bed - $54,450
  • - Tacoma Sport Premium 6-ft bed - $58,150
  • - Tacoma TRD Off-Road (manual) 5-ft bed - $48,550
  • - Tacoma Off-Road Premium 5-ft bed - $58,350
  • - Tacoma TRD Sport + (manual) 5-ft bed - $52,350

Strong points

  • - Eye-catching design
  • - Functional, comfort-oriented interior
  • - V6 engine won’t be missed

Weak points

  • - 4-cylinder turbo needs to prove itself
  • - Pricing
  • - Lower towing capacity than GM (7700 lb)

Competitors of the 2024 Toyota Tacoma

2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, rear
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, rear
Photo: D.Rufiange
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, Tacoma badging
2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD, Tacoma badging
Photo: D.Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists