Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Review

"...maybe it's time we got back to the basics of trucks...."
---Waylon Jennings, "Luckenbach, Texas" (1976)

Okay, hold the e-mails. I know Waylon sang "love", not "trucks". Sure would make a great TV spot for the Toyota Tacoma, though. Especially one equipped like our tester.

If you're a TireKicker regular, you know I have a soft spot for the basic...and that all too many manufacturers send out press fleet vehicles loaded to the gills with every conceivable option.

Well, Toyota did the unusual: They built, and then sent to automotive journalists, a Toyota Tacoma (their midsize truck) Double Cab 4X4 with a manual transmission, cloth interior and useful options. And in the process, reminded yours truly what a revelation Toyota pickups were back in the day. Rugged, reliable and reasonable...the new 3 "R"s of autodom (circa 1976, which links us back to Waylon).

The Tacoma comes with a 236 horsepower 4-liter V6. Fuel economy's on the grim side, 14 city, 19 highway, but it's not out of line. It aces every one of the government crash tests (five stars for everyone, four out of four for rollover protection), and generally feels like it will last forever.

All at a base price of $25,695...and that's for the Double Cab four-by-four.

Options on the one I drove? An off-road extra value package (suspension upgrades, tougher tires, skid plates, and tow hooks combined with an upgraded audio system, Bluetooth, sport seats and more for $4,690), daytime running lights for $40, the towing package ($650), floor mats ($199) and a VIP security system ($479). With delivery charges, it came to $32,498, but there's a $950 discount for the extra value package, so the real bottom line was $31,548.

Dump the off-road package, the towing package, the daytime running lights and pick up some floormats from the aftermarket and this would come in just over $26,000...which is a terrific deal for a right-size truck that wins you over with its basic goodness, not a bunch of add-ons.

With $45,000 monster Tundras fuzzing up the image the past few years, the Tacoma is a great way to remind yourself just what a Toyota pickup is all about.