2011 Toyota Tacoma Review and Prices
Past and Future Reviews
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma is the best truck for you if you want a compact pickup that deserves its cult following.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma gets subtly revised styling, more standard features, and a model line shuffled to add popular configurations and kill unpopular ones. Celebrated for its toughness and off-road tenacity, Tacoma dominates the shrinking compact-pickup segment, commanding a nearly 40 percent market share and outselling the next-most-popular model, the Ford Ranger, by almost 2-1. Tacoma’s role in Toyota’s sudden-acceleration recall was minor. Model-year 2005-2010 Tacomas were recalled to replace the driver’s-side floormat but Tacoma was not among the Toyota models cited for a sticking gas pedal. Toyota nonetheless retrofit automatic-transmission 2010 Tacomas with a brake-override system, and all automatic-transmission Tacomas built for model-year 2011 and beyond will have it.
Should you buy a 2011 Toyota Tacoma or wait for the 2012 Toyota Tacoma? Buy the 2011 Toyota Tacoma. Its freshened styling and equipment upgrades will carry this eighth-generation version through model-year 2013 and the conclusion of this design generation. No major additional changes are expected before the all-new Tacoma bows as a 2014 model.
2011 Toyota Tacoma Changes back to top
Styling: The 2011 Toyota Tacoma’s styling changes involve minor alterations to the grille and are typical of revisions intended to keep a model fresh as it advances in years. In fact, this generation Tacoma has been around so long – since model-year 2005 -- that the 2011 changes constitute the second facelift since its introduction. They build on a model-year 2009 freshening that included an argent-painted grille and some new passenger-compartment trim. None of these changes alter the size or shape of a handsome pickup that counts variety among its strengths.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma again features three cab styles and three wheelbases – most rivals offer just two of each. And the 2011 Tacoma’s crew cab is again available with two cargo-bed lengths – most competing crew cabs have one.
The 2011 Tacoma regular-cab accounts for about 15 percent of Tacoma sales. It rides a 109.4-inch wheelbase, seats up to three, and has a 6.1-foot bed.
Toyota calls the extended-cab the Access Cab and it accounts for 31 percent of Tacoma sales. The 2011 Tacoma Access Cab continues with a 127.4-inch-wheelbase and a 6.1-foot bed. Access Cabs have small, rear-hinged back doors and seat four with help from two forward-facing rear jump seats.
The crew-cab is dubbed the Double Cab and it’s by far the most popular configuration at 54 percent of Tacoma sales. The 2011 Tacoma Double Cab continues on the 127.4-inch-wheelbase with a 5-foot bed or on a 140.6-inch-wheelbase -- longest in the class -- with the 6.1-foot bed. Tacoma Crew Cabs have four conventional doors and a rear bench seat for five-passenger capacity.
All 2011 Tacomas again come in base-level trim and most are available in upmarket SR5 form. And all but the regular-cab are available in off-road-ready TRD livery. (TRD, or Toyota Racing Development, is the automaker’s in-house specialty equipment arm.) Also offered are PreRunner models that mimic the raised-suspension look of the TRD four-wheel-drive (4wd) models but come only with two-wheel drive (2wd).
The tuner-inspired 2011 X-Runner is a 2wd Access Cab with a lowered sport suspension, aero lower-body trim, and 18-inch alloy wheels. Other models use 15- or 16-inch wheels, and the TRD is available with 17s.
The 2011 styling changes give base models a grille with metallic trim surrounding a gray horizontal bar. SR5 and TRD Off-Road models get a grille with chrome trim that surrounds a black horizontal bar. TRD Sport models get a grille with color-keyed trim surrounding a black horizontal bar. And X-Runner models get color-keyed trim surrounding a color-keyed horizontal bar.
For 2011, Toyota adds five new Tacoma configurations, starting with a 4wd regular-cab with automatic transmission. It expands the Access Cab roster to include 2wd and 4wd four-cylinder, automatic transmission models. And it stretches the Double Cab line to include PreRunner and non-PreRunner versions with 2wd, the four-cylinder, and automatic-transmission.
At the same time, the 2011 Tacoma lineup loses three low-selling models: the PreRunner 2wd regular-cab and 2wd Access Cab with the four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual, and the PreRunner 2wd Access Cab with four-cylinder and six-speed manual.
Mechanical: Addition of the brake-override system is the only mechanical change to the 2011 Toyota Tacoma. The 2011 Tacoma is available with a choice of two engines, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or a 4.0-liter V-6. Both are dual-overhead-cam designs with variable valve timing. A majority of Tacoma buyers still choose the V-6, though Toyota says the edge is no longer more than two out of three. It says budget-conscious shoppers are showing increasing interest in four-cylinder models, hence the mode-year 2011 addition of several four-cylinder configurations.
The 2011 Tacoma power ratings carry over from the 2010 model, with the four-cylinder at 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque and the V-6 at 236 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Again available is a dealer-installed TRD supercharger kit that boosts the V-6 to 304 horsepower and 334 pound-feet of torque and carries a 5-year, 60,000-mile factory warranty.
The V-6 is standard on 2011 Tacoma Double Cabs and available on Access Cabs. Toyota hasn’t offered the V-6 in Tacoma regular-cabs and isn’t going to start. Four-cylinder 2wd models continue to offer both transmissions. V-6 Tacomas repeat with a choice of six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, though the 2011 X-Runner continues with manual only.
Both engines again mate with rear-wheel drive or with a part-time 4wd system for use only on slippery surfaces. Tacoma’s 4wd system has low-range gearing suitable for off-road use. Off-road ability is a Tacoma selling point, starting with its pure-truck, body-on-frame construction and a suspension with coil springs in front and a rugged leaf-spring solid-axle in back.
The 4wd models make up about half of 2011 Tacoma sales. Additionally, about 35 percent will have the TRD Off-Road package. Available on 4wd V-6 Access or Double cabs, the TRD package includes a fortified and raised suspension, hill-start and hill-descent control, and a locking rear differential activated by an electronic switch in the cab. Manual-transmission 4wd Tacomas are also among the few modern vehicles that can be started in gear without depressing the clutch – a trick employed by off-roaders on steep inclines.
For 2011, non-TRD Tacomas again come with Toyota’s Automatic Limited-slip Differential. And all 2011 Tacomas again have front-disc/rear-drum brakes but come with antilock, traction-control, and antiskid systems, Equipped with a V-6 Tow Package, 2011 Access and Double cabs retain their 6,500-pound trailer rating. Maximum payload rating is 1,570 pounds.
Features: Additions to 2011 Toyota Tacoma features are highlighted by the addition of standard air conditioning for all regular-cab models. Overall, Tacoma regular-cabs are very basic trucks. They come with a tilt/telescope steering wheel, but are not available with such features as power windows and locks. Besides standard air conditioning, 2011 Tacoma regular-cabs with automatic transmission receive bucket seats with a center console, replacing the bench seats of the previous models.
The 2011 Access and Double cabs have the aforementioned amenities as standard. Double cabs also get standard power mirrors. Toyota offers a plethora of option packages for Tacoma Access and Double cabs. These include cruise control, remote keyless entry, power mirrors, sliding rear window with privacy glass, and steering-wheel audio controls.
As before, the 2011 Tacoma won’t be available with leather upholstery or a navigation system. Standard on the X-Runner and optional on Access and Double cabs is a rearview camera that displays on a portion of the inside mirror; it shows objects behind and is useful when backing to a trailer hitch.
The SR5 Package available on Access and Double cabs bundles styling and comfort features, including color-keyed overfenders and front bumper, chrome grille surround, chrome rear bumper, and intermittent windshield wipers. Inside, 2011 SR5 Tacomas again receive upgraded trim and leather wrapping for the steering wheel and automatic-transmission shifter, though 4wd regular-cab models are no longer available with the SR5 Package.
For 2011, an Extra Value Convenience Package is newly available for double cabs, and it includes cruise control, a sliding rear window, privacy glass, keyless rear entry, and steering wheel audio controls. No regular cabs are available with the SR5 Package.
Audio options for 2011 include a premium JBL system with seven speakers and subwoofer. Access Cabs with the premium system mount a 7.9-inch 65-watt subwoofer on the bulkhead between the rear jump seats. Satellite radio is newly integrated into the audio system of models with the 6-CD changer. Bluetooth cell-phone connectivity is included with the upgraded audio systems, but Toyota has limited Tacoma’s iPod interface to an auxiliary jack; it’s overdue for the more interactive USB linking.
All 2011 Tacomas have torso-protecting front-seat-mounted side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags. The curtain bags are designed to deploy both in side collisions and when sensors detect an impeding rollover. In recognition of tilt angles experienced off-road, the 2011 Tacoma again includes a switch that temporarily disables the rollover sensors. Tacoma's inner cargo bed walls are made from sheet-molded compound for durability and resistance to dents and scratches.
Finally, the 2011 Tacoma gains two new packages inspired by concept trucks first shown at the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association (SEMA) show. They are the TX and TX Pro packages and are available in conjuction with the Off-Road Package on V-6 Access and V-6 Doulbe Cabs in both PreRunner and 4wd form. Basically, the 2011 TX and TX Pro packages add TRD accessories to enhance off-road capability. The TX is mostly a trim package, adding such items as 16-inch black alloy bead-lock wheels, black tube side steps, and other dress-up items. The TX Pro includes those features plus a TRD exhaust system for what Toyota describes as a “throatier sound and a bit more power.”
2011 Toyota Tacoma Prices back to top
Base-price range for the 2011 Toyota Tacoma is $17,175-$28,335. That represents a fairly hefty increase of $1,020 at the entry-level, though price hikes are limited to $275 for most versions. And five of the 20 possible 2011 Tacoma configurations (2wd, 4wd, various cabs, engines, and transmissions) see no price increase at all.
The 2011 Tacoma regular-cabs come only with the four-cylinder and start at $17,175 with 2wd and $21,030 with 4wd; add $900 and $1,130, respectively, for automatic transmission. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee. Toyota’s fee for the 2011 Tacoma is $810. Note that Toyotas sold in some Southeastern and Gulf states are supplied by independent distributors and may carry different destination fees.)
The 2011 Tacoma Access Cabs with the four-cylinder engine are priced from $20,465 with 2wd and from $24,300 with 4wd; add $900 to both for automatic transmission.
Other 2wd Access Cab base prices include $22,125 for the four-cylinder PreRunner with the four-speed automatic, $23,560 for the V-6 PreRunner with the five-speed automatic, and $26,545 for the V-6 X-Runner with the six-speed manual. Base-trim V-6 4wd Access Cabs start at $25,855 with manual transmission and $26,735 with automatic.
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab 2wd models start at $22,675 for the base version and $23,325 for the PreRunner, both with the four-cylinder engine and a four-speed automatic transmission. The Double Cab 2wd PreRunner with the V-6 and five-speed automatic is priced at $24,760 with the regular-length bed and $25,260 with the long-bed.
The single most popular version of theTacoma remains the V-6 4wd Double Cab; this configuration accounts for some 20 percent of the pickup’s sales. Prices for the 2011 Tacoma V-6 4wd Double Cab with the regular-length bed start at $26,995 with the six-speed manual transmission and $27,835 with the five-speed automatic. The long-bed version starts at $28,335 with the five-speed automatic.
The price of popular 2011 Tacoma options packages vary by model and associated equipment. The SR5-trim package adds $990-$2,130, the TRD Off-Road package $2,835-$3,800, and the TRD Sport Package $2,405-$3,435.
2011 Toyota Tacoma Fuel Economy back to top
Fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Toyota Tacoma are unchanged from those of the 2010 Tacoma. Four-wheel-drive Tacomas have EPA ratings of 14/18 mpg city/highway for the V-6 with the six-speed manual transmission and 16/20 mpg city/highway for the V-6 with the five-speed automatic transmission. Four-cylinder 4wd models are listed at 18/20 for the five-speed manual transmission and 18/21 for the four-speed automatic.
Fuel-economy ratings for 2011 Tacomas with 2wd are 15/19 mpg city/highway for the V-6 with the six-speed manual transmission and 17/21 mpg city/highway for the V-6 with the five-speed automatic transmission. Four-cylinder 4wd models are listed at 21/25 for the five-speed manual transmission and 19/25 for the four-speed automatic.
2011 Toyota Tacoma Release Date back to top
The 2011 Toyota Tacoma went on sale in June 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Toyota Tacoma back to top
The compact-pickup class has fallen on hard times. The first blow came during the prosperous, truck-crazy 1990s. Buyers discovered that stiff competition in the full-size category triggered deep incentives and enabled them to purchase a big pickup at compact-pickup prices.
The second hit was the economic downturn of the late 2000s. It gutted the entire truck market of casual-use buyers and froze spending by commercial buyers. Compact-pickup design stagnated, and the decline in compact-pickup sales as a category outpaced that of full-size pickups.
Compact pickup sales stabilized during 2010, mostly on gains by the Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, and Honda Ridgeline. Tacoma sales through the first part of 2010 were slightly behind 2009’s pace. Some pickup buyers evidently shifted to the full-size Toyota Tundra, which benefited from more generous factory incentives than its compact cousin. Nonetheless, Tacoma remains by far the most popular vehicle in its class. Credit a loyal owner base and Tacoma’s hard-earned status as an aspirational purchase that doesn’t say, “I can’t afford a full-size pickup.”
Still, compact-pickup development has slowed dramatically as automakers put their resources into other vehicle categories. Crossovers that use car-type chassis are rapidly replacing pickup-based, body-on-frame SUVs, reducing the extra profit carmakers used to squeeze out of their small-truck platforms.
For its part, Toyota released a redesigned or re-engineered compact pickup every 5 years on average between 1975 and 1995. It’s introduced just two generations since then: the all-new Tacoma that replaced the Hi-Lux pickup in model-year 1995, and today’s Tacoma, which was launched as a 2005 model.
But slow development is better than none, and while other automakers dither about staying in the compact-pickup game, Toyota shows no signs of abandoning the field. Still, don’t expect Tacoma to receive significant mechanical or styling changes until the next step in its evolution. Some industry observers peg the ninth-generation Tacoma for a model-year 2012 introduction; we say look for it in early 2013 as a 2014 model.
2011 Toyota Tacoma Competition back to top
2011 Ford Ranger: Talk about old, Ranger’s basic design dates to model-year 1998, and it doesn’t even offer a crew cab body style. Yet cut-rate pricing and periodic updates have kept it No. 2 – albeit a distant No. 2 -- to Tacoma in compact-pickup sales. Ranger is a good-looking truck, and owners are happy with its reliability. In fact, this Ford actually rates ahead of Tacoma in customer satisfaction surveys of initial quality and long-term dependability. Tow rating is 6,000 pounds, payload 1,260. The current Ranger design is apparently not long for this world, with the 2011 or 2012 model likely to be the last. Some reports say Ford is considering replacing it with a model based on its global compact-pickup platform.
2011 Nissan Frontier: Redesigned for model-year 2005, Frontier is Tacoma’s chief rival for tough-dude attitude and credibility as a factory-ready off-roader. Frontier doesn’t offer a regular-cab body style, featuring instead an extended-cab King Cab and a Crew Cab; the crew offers both long- and short-bed boxes. A stout chassis, robust V-6 power, sharp steering, and available amenities such as leather upholstery and a sunroof help offset the demerits of a rear seat that’s cramped even by compact-pickup standards. Towing maximum is 6,500 pounds, payload 1,484. If you want to probe the Frontier, however, you’ll need to act with relative haste. Our sources say Frontier will go out of production at the end of 2012, meaning its final model year will be 2012 or 2013, and that no replacement is planned.
2011 Honda Ridgeline: Real truckers sneer at this crew-cab-only interloper because of its crossover-type unibody construction. All-independent suspension and standard all-wheel-drive instead of time-honored rear- and four-wheel-drive also stigmatize it. But no pickup this side of a full-size model matches Ridgeline for interior room and comfort. And few of any size equal its on-road refinement. This U.S.-built Honda comes only with a V-6 that surprises with its performance. Its cargo bed is short but boasts a pickup-exclusive in-floor lockable “trunk.” Towing is an acceptable 5,000 pounds, payload a competitive 1,546. Base prices start near $30,000, but a comparably equipped competitor isn’t much less and Ridgeline excels in owner-satisfaction surveys. Now if Honda can only do something about the wonky styling; maybe the redesign set for model-year 2013 will help.
UPDATED BY TIM HEALEY