2013 Toyota Tacoma Review and Prices

Last Updated: May 13, 2012

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2013 Toyota Tacoma Buying Advice

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma is the best compact pickup for you if you want to experience a survivor. 

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma should be virtually unchanged, carrying over the mild facelift and features alterations that came on line with the 2012 Toyota Tacoma. Those changes should sustain Tacoma until its next full redesign, which isn’t likely before model-year 2014. Toyota probably feels little pressure to rush the next-generation Tacoma, even though this design dates to model-year 2005. Tacoma remains by far the best selling truck in the severely contracted small-pickup field.   

Should you wait for the 2013 Toyota Tacoma or buy a 2012 Toyota Tacoma? Little reason to wait. The two should be identical in looks and engineering. And the 2012 Tacoma has enough variety in features and options that any change isn’t apt to be worth cooling your heels over – especially given the near-inevitability of annual price increases.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Toyota Tacoma styling will be a repeat of the 2012 Tacoma’s. This pickup is too deep into its sunset years to change again, especially since Toyota freshened the 2012 model. That nip and tuck involved subtle revisions to the grille, hood, headlights and front bumper, with some minor dashboard alterations thrown in to accommodate Toyota’s Entune infotainment system.

The 2013 Tacoma’s basic shape and dimensions will continue as they have since this eighth-generation version debuted as a 2005 model. The regular-cab body style represents only about 15 percent of Tacoma sales but it’s almost certain to return for 2013. Also back will be Access Cab extended-cab; it makes up about 30 percent of Tacoma sales. The 2013 Double Cab crew cab will again account for some 55 percent of Tacoma sales.

Offering three cab styles gives this Toyota an edge over much of the compact-pickup competition, where regular cabs are rare. Tacoma also stands apart by offering three wheelbases, the longest a 140.6-inch span for the Double Cab long-bed that’s unmatched by any pickup outside the full-size class. Three available bed lengths, including long- and short-beds for the Double Cab, also are an asset.

The 2013 Tacoma regular-cabs will again seat up to three. Access Cabs add small, rear-hinged back doors and seat four courtesy of two forward-facing rear jump seats. The 2013 Tacoma Double Cabs will again have four conventional side doors and a rear bench seat for five-passenger capacity.

An almost bewildering variety of trim and appearance packages will sustain the 2013 Tacoma’s lineup as the most diverse in the class. Among numerous permutations are the unadorned regular-cab base model, the aero-body-kit street-rod X-Runner, and the high-riding junior-monster-truck TRD Off-Road T|X Pro version.   

Mechanical: Don’t expect major mechanical alterations to the 2013 Toyota Tacoma. Buyers will again be able to choose a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine or a 4.0-liter V-6. The four should return with 159 horsepower and again be mandatory for the Tacoma regular-cab and standard on the Access Cab. Expect the V-6 to retain 236 horsepower and be standard on the four-wheel-drive Double Cab and available on other Access and Double Cabs. A factory-developed supercharger kit available through Toyota dealers should again be available to boosts the V-6 to 304 horsepower.

Both engines will again pair with manual or automatic transmission. Toyota may continue to expand availability of the automatic to a greater variety of four-cylinder Tacoma models. It could also continue to expand the cab-style and trim-level combinations that are available with the four-cylinder engine and four-wheel drive (4wd).

An alternative to the standard rear-wheel drive, Tacoma’s 4wd system is not for use on dry pavement but includes low-range gearing for off-road use. Off-roading is one of this pickup’s strengths and about half of Tacoma buyers choose a 4wd model. A rugged frame, high ground clearance, and availability of the popular TRD Off-Road package contribute to plenty of credibility. Available on 4wd V-6 Access or Double cabs, the TRD package includes a fortified and raised suspension, a locking rear differential, and hill-start and hill-descent control. Manual-transmission 4wd Tacomas are among the few modern vehicles that can be started in gear without depressing the clutch – an advantage on radical inclines.

The 2013 Tacoma’s trailer ratings should again max out at 6,500 pounds, its payload capacity at around 1,570.

Features: The 2013 Toyota Tacoma isn’t likely to add features as much as liberalize availability of some of the more popular ones. The 2013 Tacoma lineup will again build around two main trim levels, base and the SR5 upgrade. In addition to TRD trim for 4wd Access and Double Cabs, 2wd Tacomas will again offer PreRunner editions, which mimic the high-suspension look of 4wd models. They’ll also return as X-Runner versions with a urban-style lowered suspension.

Air conditioning, power windows and locks, and bucket seats will remain among the available features; Toyota could even offer leather upholstery. A USB iPod interface finally became available on the 2012 Tacoma, along with Toyota’s Display Audio with Entune and navigation system. The latter included this truck’s first factory navigation system and delivered a variety of Internet apps to the truck via an enabled onboard smartphone. Toyota would do well to expand availability of the Entune option for 2013; it was exclusive to 4wd Double Cabs for model-year 2012.  

Otherwise, the 2013 Tacoma should continue to cover the essentials, offering cruise control, remote keyless entry, power mirrors, sliding rear window, and steering-wheel audio controls as standard or optional, depending on model. Same goes for 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. Again included with the uplevel audio systems will be Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone connectivity. And all 2013 Tacomas will return with inner cargo bed walls made from sheet-molded compound for durability and resistance to dents and scratches.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Prices back to top

Prices for the 2013 Toyota Tacoma were not announced in time for this review. This pickup’s pricing history, however, suggests a 2013 base-price range of roughly $18,500-$29,500. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandated destination fee. Toyota’s fee for the 2012 Tacoma was $810. Note that Toyotas sold in some Southeastern and Gulf states are supplied by independent distributors and may carry different destination fees.)

Estimated base-price range for the 2013 Toyota Tacoma regular-cab models is $18,500-$23,500. Expect the 2013 Toyota Tacoma Access Cabs to have a base-price range of around $21,300-$27,500.

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab should start around $24,000 with the four-cylinder engine and 2wd. The 4wd Double Cab is the single most popular version of this truck and the 2013 versions should start around $29,500, including the V-6.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Fuel Economy back to top

Fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 Toyota Tacoma had not been released in time for this review. But with no major powertrain changes in store, 2013 Toyota Tacoma fuel-economy ratings should reflect those of recent years.

That suggests the 2013 Toyota Tacoma with the four-cylinder engine and 2wd should rate 21/25/22 mpg city/highway/combined with manual transmission and 19/24/21 with automatic. Expect the 2013 Tacoma with the four-cylinder and 4wd to rate 18/20/19 mpg with manual transmission and 18/21/19 with automatic.

Fuel-economy ratings for 2013 Tacomas with the V-6 and 2wd should remain around 16/21/18 mpg city/highway/combined with manual transmission and 17/21/19 with automatic. Expect the 2013 Tacoma with the V-6 4wd to repeat at around 15/19/17 mpg with manual transmission, 16/21/18 with automatic.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Release Date back to top

The 2013 Toyota Tacoma should arrive at dealerships by autumn 2013.

What's next for the 2013 Toyota Tacoma back to top

The compact-pickup class was once a fertile market with nearly a dozen manufacturers – even Volkswagen --represented at one time or another. Today, the category has shriveled to the Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier, with the unibody midsize Honda Ridgeline holding down the fringes. The future of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon is hazy, and Chrysler may or may not field a replacement for the discontinued Dakota.  

With a loyal Tacoma following and a bundle of equity in the nameplate, Toyota is the least likely automaker to abandon the small-pickup category. And while predictions are difficult, given the unusual dynamics of this market, we suspect the ninth-generation Tacoma won’t arrive until model-year 2014, at the earliest.

If the evolution of the body-on-frame Toyota 4Runner SUV offers a clue to the character of the next Tacoma, the pickup won’t get significantly larger but its body contours will be puffed out to suggest a more macho bearing. The interior will be redone to include a roomier rear seat, more storage space, and most the latest connectivity features. And array of ever-more sophisticated off-road hardware would increase its go-anywhere appeal.

Underhood, Toyota might go so far as to eliminate the V-6 engine, opting instead for a fortified four-cylinder with an efficient six-speed automatic transmission. About two of three Tacomas sold today are V-6 models, however, so Toyota would need to be confident an all-four-cylinder lineup would satisfy the power demands of the majority of its audience.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Competition back to top

Nissan Frontier: Nissan is the only automaker other than Toyota with a strong commitment to small body-on-frame truck platforms, but even that could be changing in the wake of the  model-year 2013 transformation of its Pathfinder midsize SUV into a unibody crossover. What this holds for the future of the Frontier and the related body-on-frame Nissan Xterra SUV is hazy. But Frontier is your baby if you want a compact pickup that challenges Tacoma for rugged looks and has the power, solidity, and off-road ability to back them up. The lineup includes only the King Cab extended-cab and a Crew Cab, though the crew offers both long- and short-bed boxes.

Honda Ridgeline: If you’re a boulder basher or mud slinger, you’re apt to scoff at the notion of a unibody crew cab with milquetoast styling and middling off-road credentials. If you’re looking for a highly refined pickup with compact-class dimensions and full-size roominess, Ridgeline is your ride. It comes only with a V-6, but teams it with standard all-wheel drive and an all-independent suspension for sterling on-road performance. Starting prices are in line with those of well-equipped V-6 Tacoma and Frontier crew cabs. Honda freshened Ridgeline’s front-end look for model-year 2012, at the same time denying press reports that it was planning to discontinue this slow-selling, one-of-a-kind pickup.

2013 Toyota Tacoma Next Steps