2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport new car reviews

[Editor's Note: Photography features a 2020 Tacoma TRD Off Road.]

Did you know that the Tacoma can be configured 33 different ways? Seriously.

Toyota's popular mid-sized truck can be had in six different trims, two cab lengths, two bed lengths, and, depending on the trim, can be configured as a 4x4 or 4x2.

Two engine options are even available as well: a 159 horsepower, 2.7-liter inline-four or a 278-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6. A manual transmission is offered, too, but is restricted to the TRD Sport, Off Road and Pro versions, which are all only available with the V6.

We had a few days with a midrange TRD Sport model, and to learn what it's like to live with, read our driving impressions below.

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Other staff views

J.G. Pasterjak
JG Pasterjak
Production/Art Director

This is all the truck you need if this is all the truck you need. Makes sense, right?

See, my go/no-go equation for pickup truck utility has essentially a single metric: Can this truck tow a car and gear to the track. If the answer is yes, it’s on my list of approved trucks.

But with only 6500 pounds of towing capacity, the 278-horsepower, V6-powered Tacoma is definitely on the very low end of trucks that could fulfill my needs. Yet for the vast majority of the truck-buying populace—folks that will never tow anything more than a jet-ski or motorcycle—a truck like the Tacoma fulfills any truck-based needs that owner might have.

And Toyota continues to kill it with new trucks that feel like throwbacks in the best ways. The current N300 Tacoma chassis has been around since 2010, but its DNA is clearly carved from every Toyota truck since Marty McFly’s Hilux. The floor is high, which brings plenty of ground clearance and provides a remarkably car-like seating position. The ride is purposeful, but not industrial. You know you’re in a truck, but you’re also not punished for it. Materials inside feel durable and dirt-resistant but textures are pleasing and the layout is typical Toyota excellent.

Maybe the biggest strike against the Tacoma is the same thing that plagues all modern pickup trucks: price. Even our mid-range TRD Sport model lists out for nearly $38,000, and top of the line Tacoma trims can add $10,000 on top of our loaner. On one hand, you can say that the Tacoma will likely hold a lot of its value, as Toyota trucks tend to do fairly well, but close to $40k out the door for a mid-range pickup is still a lot of money.

But while the cost may be high, the Tacoma is useful and nice enough where it’s completely suitable for an only vehicle. Half-ton trucks make fine daily drivers for folks who’s commute ends at a construction site, but in the grocery store parking lots and school drop off lines of the real world, modern half-tons are cumbersome objects. On the other hand, the Tacoma’s seating position isn’t the only thing that’s car-like. It drives small, is parkable, and even has a sunroof, which feels a bit odd, even in the nicest of trucks.

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