We’ve been teased long enough: The 2024 Toyota Tacoma is here, and at a time where automakers are upcycling old platforms more than ever, it really is a brand new truck. I say that not only because of its redesigned looks (called it) and fresh powertrains including a hybrid (called it again) but also because of its new TNGA-F underpinnings that are shared with the full-size Tundra and Sequoia—and the upcoming next-gen 4Runner. America’s hottest-selling midsize truck has transformed from ancient to modern, tired to wired—though it will still offer a manual—and it’s ready to fight to retain its sales crown versus the new Chevy Colorado and the also-new Ford Ranger. And by the way, you can check out how each truck’s specs stack up here.
There’s a ton to go over, so let’s get into it. The 2024 Tacoma is available in eight trims—SR, SR5, TRD PreRunner, TRD Sport, TRD Off Road, Limited, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter. Some of those are familiar, with the PreRunner making a comeback after years away, while the Limited and Trailhunter are new to Tacoma. The rig is available as a crew cab with a five- or six-foot bed, and shockingly for a truck in 2023, a new two-door Xtra cab configuration is offered. It only has two seats and there are no funky half-doors, but the space behind the driver and passenger has been extended to fit your gear or groceries. Call it a single cab or an extended cab—your pick—but it’s refreshing to see an option like this these days.
A Tacoma That Ain’t Slo’ No Mo’
Gone are the Tacoma’s old 2.7-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines. In their place, there’s a pair of more potent powertrains that are both based on a 2.4-liter turbo four. It makes 278 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque on SR5 and above (the base SR engine is detuned to 228 hp and 243 lb-ft). Then, there’s a hybrid variant that incorporates a 1.87-kilowatt-hour battery and a transmission-mounted electric motor to make 326 hp and 465 lb-ft. A six-speed manual is still available on non-electrified models, while the automatic on offer is an eight-speed.
As a quick aside, Toyota specifically mentions that hybrid trucks can climb 8% interstate grades without ever needing to downshift. That’s a big difference from the outgoing pickup, whose automatic hunts around like crazy to keep the engine in its powerband. And when it’s time to stop, you can rely on four-wheel disc brakes for the first time on the Tacoma.
All Tacoma 4×2 models will come with a limited-slip differential at least, and a rear locker is standard on TRD PreRunner. Four-wheel-drive trims such as the TRD Off Road, TRD Pro, and Trailhunter get a standard locking rear diff as well, while the fancy Limited gets full-time 4×4 with a center-locking diff on hybrid models.
Towing caps out at 6,500 pounds on SR5 and TRD PreRunner trims with the gas-only powertrain. As for payload, the top figure is 1,709 pounds, which is more than Chevy’s midsizer but less than the new Ranger. Toyota never chases huge max towing and payload numbers, so this isn’t a surprise.
Choose Your Fighter—I Mean, Toyota Off-Roader
The Tacoma Trailhunter and TRD Pro are the halo off-road trims that feature the iForce Max hybrid, and they serve different purposes. The Trailhunter is more for overlanding with tons of built-in accessories, like a bed rack and onboard air compressor, and the TRD Pro is more about going fast in wide-open spaces with Fox suspension and these crazy seats with their own set of shocks. More on those later.
If you look at the Trailhunter, you’ll notice it’s extremely kitted out from the factory. The steel ARB rear bumper features red tow hooks, there’s a snorkel going up the passenger-side A-pillar, and the 2.5-inch forged monotube shocks were developed in collaboration with Old Man Emu, an Australian off-road outfit. There’s even an electronic sway bar disconnect for better articulation, which isn’t available on the new Ranger Raptor or Colorado ZR2.
Because it’s built to drive over rocks, boulders, and perhaps even mountains, the Trailhunter is fitted with steel skid plates and rock rails. They’re a lot more difficult to dent than aluminum ones, but please, for the love of your truck: don’t test ’em too hard.
Switch over to the TRD Pro and you’ll see an equally aggressive pickup with a slightly different ethos. It sports multi-link coil rear suspension with 2.5-inch Fox internal bypass shocks and Fox internal floating piston bump stops, which make bottoming out a lot less jarring. Then there’s an aluminum front skid plate, rocker protectors, and an ARB steel rear bumper with the same snazzy recovery hooks as what’s on the Trailhunter. Compared to a normal Tacoma SR5, it’s two inches taller up front, an inch and a half taller out back, and three inches wider overall.
The Tacoma TRD Pro is the only trim in the lineup to get Toyota’s IsoDynamic Performance seats, which look crazy. They seem to resemble driver seats in semi-trucks, but instead of air ride, they have a pair of air-over-oil shocks fixed to the back. They’re meant to be more comfortable when running through the desert and also help the driver focus better by stabilizing their head and neck. They’re tunable based on body mass and preference, and if you’d rather not use them at all, they can be bypassed by levers on the seatbacks. How nifty!
The TRD Pro wins out in terms of ground clearance with 11 inches, and it also has angles of 33.8 degrees for approach, 23.5 degrees for breakover, and 25.7 degrees for departure. Both off-road trims ride on 33-inch Goodyear Territory R/T tires, and I bet you can fit a pair of 35s under there with the high-riding suspension. Either way, both off-road trims are much more serious competitors in this space than what Toyota has brought in recent years.
Oh, and they say they’ve finally fixed Crawl Control.
What’s Up With the Tacoma’s Interior
Because trucks are built to be daily drivers these days, all this would still result in a miss if the interior was bad. Fortunately, it’s not, so long as you’re okay with screens. A 7-inch digital gauge cluster is standard on lower trims, while higher spec’d trucks show off with a 12.3-inch unit. An 8-inch infotainment display is the smallest you’ll find on a new Tacoma, and on more luxurious trims, it’s 14 inches diagonally—just like the Tundra’s.
Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 is standard on every Tacoma, meaning they all get the manufacturer’s pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist, full-speed range dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist, road sign assist, automatic high beams, and proactive driving assist. That’s a mouthful, but it’s not all that’s on offer as you can also spec blind-spot monitors—a weird feature to not come standard—and rear cross-traffic alert.
There’s available wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, wireless charging, dual USB-C ports up front, and a digital smart key. We already knew the JBL Flex portable speaker was coming, but now we know it can run for up to six hours, pair with other stereo equipment, and be submerged in up to three feet of water. You can watch it sink from inside the cab thanks to the Tacoma’s onboard camera crew which can provide a 360-degree view of the rig from the outside, or focus on certain areas like each tire.
It’s more practical in some ways, too, as Toyota says the gas-only models have three times more underseat storage than the outgoing truck. That’s where the battery sits in hybrid models, so no luck there. Regardless, the back seat folds flat on crew cab models for more cargo space.
The cab design is fairly intuitive as it retains buttons and dials for the HVAC controls but only one knob for the radio. There are tactile switches, grab handles on the center console and A-pillars, and plenty of cubbies and cupholders. Truck interiors are a lot more up-class than they used to be, even compared to a decade ago, and Toyota hasn’t made an exception with the new Tacoma here.
We don’t know yet how much the 2024 Tacoma will cost, but figure it’ll be higher than before, especially on the top end. Toyota plans to release official pricing figures closer to launch. One thing’s for sure: There’s already a line forming to buy the first ones that hit dealers. Those Toyota people are crazy about trucks.
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