Home Reviews The new Tacoma – ready for new challengers?

The new Tacoma – ready for new challengers?

2019 TRD Off-Road well featured and well-priced to take on new challengers

Toyota refers to their segment leading Tacoma mid-size pickup truck as an ‘endless summer’ vehicle.  For the last several years, they certainly have been that, creating a dynasty with the most comprehensive around town and off-road capable mid-size pickup truck line in the market. 

Consumers are solidly in agreement as Tacoma – year ending 2018 – commands a 46.8 percent share of the fast-growing (up 15.9 percent) mid-size segment.  With the arrival of the 2019 Ford Ranger early in the new year and the new Jeep Gladiator later, the question everyone is asking is how Tacoma – now a few years old – is going to stand against these new entries?

We think pretty well, at least for 2019.

2019 Toyota Tacoma

At this time, we do not have any wheel time experience with Gladiator to measure but think – being a Jeep Wrangler up front with a truck bed at the rear – it will appeal to a narrower “Jeep-type” audience limiting its demand in the segment.

Ford Ranger is another story – presenting a more potent challenge to the Tacoma dynasty from several perspectives.  Designed from the ground up to compete (against Tacoma) in the US market, Ranger is more of a traditional mid-size truck and offers – albeit more limited than Tacoma – a well-executed range of models and capability that will resonate with mid-size buyers in general and Ford enthusiasts for sure.   

Following our launch drive of the new 2019 Ford Ranger just before Christmas (see link following), we revisited Tacoma over the holiday for more perspective.

Based on these two test drives, we think the 2019 mid-size competition is going to be a real ‘scrap’ between Tacoma and Ranger.  Gladiator could be a player at some point, but the rest will just be along for the ride.

2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road As Tested

Toyota loaned us a TRD Off-Road double cab 4×4 with long bed for the long weekend period over Christmas and New Year.  The MSRP for our TRD Off-Road was $37,075.  Adding TRD Premium Off-Road and Technology packages – the delivered price was $41,780.

Of all of the Tacoma’s we have driven over the past 2-3 years, this was the first long bed. Measuring 13.2-inches longer than the short bed, it offers more cargo carry capacity with only minor (turn radius) impact on handling performance.  

Our test TRD Off-Road came in Toyota’s striking Calvary Blue with a Black interior package featuring sport seating with 4-way manual adjustment driver and passenger.

2019 Toyota Tacoma

Refreshed a bit from 2018, the exterior on TRD features a more chiseled face with bold hexagonal gray grille in a smoked finish, high muscular hood, projector beam headlights with LED daytime running lights and integrated wide-angle fog lights.  Other exterior features included color-keyed heated and powered outside mirrors, black overfenders, chrome rear bumper and distinctive 16-inch machined contrast alloy wheels mounted with P265/65R17 tires.

2019 Toyota Tacoma
Running Gear

The TRD Off-Road runs solidly on a high-strength steel boxed frame fitted with coil-spring, double wishbone front suspension and stabilizer bar up front and, in the rear, a leaf spring suspension with staggered outboard-mounted gas shocks and stabilizer bar.

The TRD Off-Road suspension is uniquely tuned for its Bilstein Shocks, has a ground clearance of 9.4-inches and skid plates under the engine and front suspension.  Well able to handle the rough in the outback, the 4×4 long bed Approach/Departure and Breakover Angles are 32/23.1 and 21 degrees respectively.

Its Variable Assist Power Rack and Pinion Steering and Power Assisted Ventilated Front Disc and Rear Drum Brakes are more than adequate to the task.

2019 Toyota Tacoma

Both on and off-road performance and stability are additionally enhanced by its Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control, Anti-lock Brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist and Smart Stop Technology.

The TRD Off-Road tows up to 6,400 pounds when equipped with the tow package that includes a Class-IV hitch receiver, transmission, power steering and engine oil cooler, 130-amp alternator and Trailer Sway Control.  If your gear does not fit in the bed, needs to trailered or you are bringing along a camp trailer, this TRD Off-Road will get you there.


2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Toyota Tacoma
Cargo Bed

We like the Tacoma cargo bed, short or long, with its sturdy and durable Sheet-Molded Composite inner lining, steel outer panels, storage compartments, caps and the easy-lower, lockable and removable tailgate.  Its Deck Rail cargo management system features both adjustable and fixed tie downs. For lighting or power, work or play, it is also fitted with a 120V/400W power outlet.


2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Toyota Tacoma

The Tacoma TRD Off-Road interior is pleasant to the eye with its utilitarian mix of function and form nicely integrated with and accented by – premium-looking soft-wrapped trim and metallic accents. 

Our test TRD featured a 4.2-inch color Multi-Information Display that included an Inclinometer with roll-pitch display feature for use when off-roading.  Other elements of note were Dual Zone Climate Control, leather-trimmed heated front seats, Automatic Headlights, Power Sliding Rear Window and Power Tilt/Slide Moonroof.

Front seat head and leg room are very good at 39.7/42.9-inches respectively. The double cab rear seating headroom is sufficient but the leg room (32.6-inches) will be limiting for many. For utility purposes, the 60/40 rear seats fold up revealing under seat storage bins.


2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Toyota Tacoma

Our TRD Off-Road was loaded with the stuff an adventuring owner will need and use including a Qi compatible wireless smartphone charging pad on the console, a USB media and two USB charge ports. Convenience items include a Smart Key System with remote keyless entry and Push Button start.

For audiophiles and connectivity, our TRD Off-Road was equipped with an Entune Premium JBL Audio featuring six speakers, subwoofer amplifier and Integrated Navigation plus Entune App Suite. Included also were a 7-inch high resolution touchscreen with split display, voice recognition, Bluetooth hands-free phone and music streaming, Siri Eyes Free, SiriusXM, HD predictive traffic and Doppler Weather overlay.


2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Toyota Tacoma

The standard Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) system on the TRD Off-Road includes Pre-Collision with Pedestrian Alert, Lane Departure Alert with Sway Warning System, Automatic High Beam Control and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Our TRD Off-Rd was also equipped with Rear Parking Assist Sonar and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Integrated Back-up Camera and Tire Pressure Monitoring with individual tire alert.

2019 Toyota Tacoma
2019 Tacoma Lineup

Toyota offers their segment leading 2019 Tacoma in six model grade levels – MSRP $25,550 to $42,660 – each having a distinct purpose with unique appearance features.  They include the base level SR work truck, value with style SR5, athletic TRD Sport, rugged adventure TRD off-Road, top-of-the-line Limited and the ultimate rock crawling TRD Pro.

Toyota calculates there are 32 versions of Tacoma that a buyer can build from the two cab types, two bed lengths, two engine choices, automatic or manual transmission, 4×2 and 4×4 configurations and up to eight personalization packages plus a host of optional accessories.

2019 Toyota Tacoma

Facing those new challengers in 2019, Tacoma appears to still have enough of everything for everyone to fend off new and old challengers – at least in the year to come.

Go to https://www.toyota.com/tacoma/  to build your own ‘endless weekend’ Tacoma mid-size pickup truck.

Link to Ford Ranger story:  https://ticket-1994427.inwheeltime.com/2019-ford-ranger-boldly-steps-into-the-mid-size-truck-segment/

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