Enter the Toyota Tacoma 4X4 Double Cab, a truck whose reputation as a workhorse precedes itself. How does this pickup handle everything from day-to-day driving to bike hauling? I drove a Tacoma nearly 1,000 miles in one week to find out.
FIRST GLANCE: 208 INCHES AND 4,155 POUNDS OF TRUCK
Our tester was equipped with a $3,030 SR5 Extra Value Package, which boasts a load of options including a JBL XM Satellite Audio and Bluetooth system with six speakers and a subwoofer, a chrome grille surround, a sliding rear window with privacy glass, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and remote keyless entry—among other goodies. A $650 Tow Package adds a class 4 hitch, supplemental transmission oil coolers, a heavy duty battery and 130-amp alternator, and a 7-pin connector, bringing our test car’s grand total to $30,605.
The Double Cab 4X4 measures 208.1 inches from bumper to bumper—that’s a whopping 17 feet, 4.1 inches—and its curb weight tips the scales at 4,155 lbs. The Tacoma Double Cab receives five stars in NHTSA front and side crash testing, and four stars in the rollover test.
THE DRIVER’S SEAT: A CAMRY ON STILTS?
The gauges are clear and no-nonsense, and a rear-view camera insert on the mirror makes it easy to back up with confidence (though the view is strictly pavement when cargo is loaded and the liftgate is flipped down.) The narrowest distance between the wheel wells (41.5 inches) leaves enough room for two dirtbikes to be loaded up side-by-side, and sliding mounting hooks allow tie-downs to be repositioned.
Handy storage compartments include a large center console between the front seats and flip-up rear seats, which lift to reveal nifty cargo nooks. The sliding rear window with privacy glass makes it easy for passengers to reach back into the bed (or for a cool breeze to be diverted into the truck,) and the Tacoma’s large exterior proportions translate to a commanding view of the road from inside, where the cabin’s user-friendly vibe offers a pleasant contrast to the truck’s outward appearance of utility.
ON THE ROAD IN THE 4X4 TACOMA TRUCK
The five-speed transmission shifts smoothly, though the ride isn’t quite as seamless as the gearbox. Though Tacoma handles securely, this truck can get rather jouncy when the pavement is anything but glassy smooth. Try drinking a cup of coffee on LA freeways like I did, and there’s a strong chance you’ll end up wearing your drink on your shirt. In fact, on the most severely uneven road surfaces, the ride is so busy that it’s hard to speak a sentence without sounding like you’re getting a karate chop-style shiatsu massage.
But at higher speeds (like I encountered when driving from LA to dirtbike-friendly Trona Pinnacles, just outside Death Valley), the Tacoma proves hushed and comfortable, and the JBL sound system produces full sound that’s a great antidote to the doldrums of long distance driving. It may feel bulky under most city circumstances, but the Tacoma shines on longer excursions with its well-insulated cabin that offers a commanding view of the road.
Over the course of roughly 1,000 miles, our Tacoma offered equal doses of utility and comfort. We used the Tacoma to haul dirtbikes, lug groceries, and we even used this full size truck to cruise Sunset Boulevard against a background of far more exotic vehicles. If there’s a testimony to its versatility, it’s the fact that this Toyota took care of business without breaking a sweat—a fairly impressive feat that makes the Tacoma Double Cab as effective at transporting motorcycles as it is at commuting across town.