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Motoring: Tacoma no Tundra, but affordable

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | January 12th, 2009

The economy is hurting, property prices are dropping and people are finding it harder and harder to get loans. Fuel prices reached record highs in 2008 (even though they are much lower now), and analysts say that in 2009 they can go higher still.

What this is doing to the market is a change in buying patterns. People who can or could afford bigger more expensive cars are opting to buy smaller more fuelefficient cars. It is the same with pick-up trucks. Those who need trucks are buying smaller trucks in the quest to save money.

The absolute best pick-up truck I had ever driven was the Toyota Tundra, but if you can no longer afford the Tundra and opt for the Tacoma, are you losing out anything or is everything still the same?

Sadly no. The Tacoma lacks not only the ability of its bigger brother, but also its driving feel, after all, the Tundra feels like a Lexus, only bigger.

But don't think the Tacoma is bad, it just takes a little getting used to.

When you first jump in and start driving it feels heavy and slow. You also feel it requires much more effort than expected, despite it having a rather muscular engine. Under the hood is a four-litre, V6 engine that produces 236hp and 266 lb/ft of torque.

That motor can be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, or a five-speed auto as fitted to my tester.

Acceleration is pretty strong in stop and go traffic, but loses out at highway speeds, but speed doesn't matter to trucks like these, they aren't designed to win races. If you decide to race, I'd opt for the twowheel drive version over the 4x4, but that's not in keeping with the purpose of this vehicle.

What this Tacoma is designed to do is to carry loads and pull trailers, which it does very well. This truck can haul 1150 lbs in its bed, and can tow a further 5,000 lbs. That is very impressive and that means it can work like most big trucks.

It can accommodate like big trucks too, my Double-Cab tester was easily big enough for at least four very big people. It is well made too, with quality materials that would shame some cars.

On top of everything it was comfortable too. Pick-up trucks used to be harsh and hard to drive, but the Tacoma is not bad at all, I could use it everyday, but it just isn't as good as the Tundra.

It is cheaper with prices starting at $20,215, although for that money you get a lazy 2.7-litre engine. Prices for the four-litre version start at $27,240, and a very well loaded SR5 version like my test vehicle was about $35,000. So for the money it isn't a bad truck, but if you wanted a Tundra and could only afford a Tacoma, you still get a good truck, just not the best in the business.
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