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2019 Toyota Tacoma: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 1/30/2019 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked on the side of a road: 2019 Toyota Tacoma © Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 2019 Toyota Tacoma

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma ranks near the top of the compact pickup truck class. It’s one of the best off-roaders in the segment, and it has a high payload capacity. However, a few rivals have nicer cabins and can tow more weight.

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma is ranked:

Is the Toyota Tacoma a Good Truck?

Yes, the Toyota Tacoma is a good compact pickup truck. It’s an adept off-roader, offering a bevy of adventuring gear and up to 9.4 inches of ground clearance. On-road driving is OK. Inside, the Tacoma's seats are supportive, and its technology is intuitive. Additionally, its payload capacity is one of the highest in the class. Still, some rival trucks can tow more and have nicer cabins and better fuel efficiency.

Should I Buy the Toyota Tacoma?

If you’re looking for a small truck with outstanding off-road abilities, the Tacoma is a good choice. It’s a passable daily driver, but there are better choices in that department. Both the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Colorado have comfier, nicer cabins and higher fuel economy estimates.

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Tacoma?

The new Tacoma belongs to a generation that launched for the 2016 model year. The new 2019 Toyota Tacoma sees no major changes, though the TRD Pro trim – already a proficient off-roader – gets slightly more off-roading features. For 2018, Toyota made their suite of safety features standard in every Tacoma. This suite includes goodies such as forward collision warning and pedestrian detection. Rear cross traffic alert also became available. The TRD Pro debuted for the 2017 model year. The 2018 model is nearly identical to the new Tacoma, making it a good option if you're looking for a mostly up-to-date Tacoma but want to save some money.

If you're interested in a used model, be sure to visit our overviews of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Toyota Tacoma. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

We Did the Research for You: 21 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to provide you with the information you need to make car shopping a breeze. You'll find everything you need to know about the Toyota Tacoma in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like fuel economy estimates, safety scores, and cargo space dimensions with professional evaluations from 21 automotive sources. This Toyota Tacoma review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which spans the 2016 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

We’ve been reviewing cars since 2007, and our Best Cars team has more than 75 years of combined automotive experience. We also award the Best Cars for the Money, Best Cars for Families, and Best Vehicle Brands on an annual basis. To ensure our impartiality, a third party handles our advertising, and we don't accept expensive gifts from automakers.

How Much Does the Toyota Tacoma Cost?

The base 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR has an MSRP of $25,550. Among compact pickups, only the Honda Ridgeline has a higher base price. The popular TRD Off-Road trim starts at $33,500, and the top-of-the-line TRD Pro has a window sticker price of $42,660. That’s in line with the high-end trims of most rivals.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

Toyota Tacoma Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Toyota Tacoma or Honda Ridgeline?

The Honda Ridgeline is a great compact pickup truck. It's also a good value, despite its high starting price. Honda only offers the Ridgeline in one body style: a Crew Cab (equivalent to the Tacoma's Double Cab body style). Its only available engine is a V6, but it produces more power and is more fuel-efficient than both Tacoma engine choices. The Ridgeline also has a smoother ride and a nicer, roomier cabin. On the other hand, the Tacoma has a higher towing and payload capacity and is a superior off-roader. In other words, the Tacoma is better at truck things while the Ridgeline is the better daily driver. Choosing between these two is a matter of personal preference.

Which Is Better: Toyota Tacoma or Chevrolet Colorado?

The Chevrolet Colorado ranks neck and neck with the Tacoma, but it has a few advantages. Its base trim is around $5,000 less than the Tacoma's, and the Colorado offers several features – such as a Wi-Fi hot spot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto – that the Tacoma does not. The Chevy also has an optional diesel engine and a slightly more upscale cabin. Unless you’re after the Tacoma’s superior off-road abilities, go with the Colorado.

Tacoma Performance

Tacoma Engine: Choose the V6

Toyota offers two engines for the Tacoma. The base 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine makes 159 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, while the available 3.5-liter V6 produces 278 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission comes standard; a six-speed manual is available.

Both engines produce enough power to get you around town, but the extra punch of the V6 makes towing, passing, and driving uphill much easier.

Tacoma Gas Mileage: Subpar

The Toyota Tacoma gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway with its base engine. The V6 gets 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Many rivals, including the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Colorado, will save you at least $100 per year at the pump compared to the Tacoma.

Tacoma Ride and Handling: Predictably Suitable

While no one would confuse the Tacoma for an agile subcompact SUV like the C-HR, it handles well for its class. The ride is firm but generally smooth on pavement, and this truck remains composed on the highway and twisty roads. This compliant ride makes it a better commuting vehicle than the Toyota 4Runner and Tundra, which tend to feel stiffer. Rear-wheel drive comes standard; four-wheel drive is optional.

Tacoma Off-Road Performance

Few class rivals can handle off-roading as well as this Toyota. The TRD trims are particularly well-equipped for adventuring, featuring active traction control, an electronic locking rear differential (absent in the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport), a TRD-tuned suspension, and other equipment for tackling tough terrain.

Tacoma Towing Capacity

When properly equipped, this Toyota can haul up to 1,620 pounds and tow up to 6,800 pounds. Its payload capacity exceeds most rivals', but trucks such as the Chevrolet Colorado can tow more.

Tacoma Interior

How Many People Does the Tacoma Seat?

Seating capacity in this vehicle varies with body style. The Access Cab body style seats four people while the Double Cab seats five. Cloth upholstery is standard, while heated front seats and leather upholstery are available.

The front seats are roomy and supportive. The rear seats in Access Cabs are small, but most adults can fit fine in the back of Double Cabs.

Tacoma and Car Seats

This truck has two full sets of LATCH connectors for securing child car seats. The tether anchors are hard to find and can be confused with other hardware. Double Cabs add an additional tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this system a Marginal rating (the second lowest) for ease of use. 

Tacoma Interior Quality

This vehicle has a sturdy, durable cabin full of high-quality materials.

Tacoma Cargo Space

Depending on which cab and trim you pick, the Tacoma has a 5-foot or 6-foot-1-inch bed. Tie-down cleats and a locking, removable tailgate are both available, and the inner bed walls are made from a plastic composite material, so you won’t need a bed liner.

Tacoma Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Tacoma comes standard with the Entune infotainment system, which includes a 6.1-inch touch screen, Siri Eyes Free, a six-speaker stereo, three USB ports, and Bluetooth. Several other comfort and technology features are available, such as Scout GPS Link (smartphone-integrated navigation), a built-in navigation system, HD Radio, satellite radio, a JBL sound system, wireless device charging, and an upgraded Entune system with a 7-inch touch screen. Dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, push-button start, and remote and proximity keyless entry are available too.

The Entune interface is user-friendly and responsive, and physical controls are well-placed. This is the only truck to offer a built-in GoPro camera mount for recording off-road adventures. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are unavailable.

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Tacoma Reliability

Is the Toyota Tacoma Reliable?

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma receives a slightly above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Toyota Tacoma Warranty

Toyota backs this pickup with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. That’s typical for the class.

Tacoma Safety

Tacoma Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave each configuration of this Toyota truck four-out-of-five-stars in rollover crash tests. Double Cab models went on to get five stars in side crash tests and four stars in front crash tests for an overall four-star rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Tacoma a rating of Good (the highest rating) in five of six categories. They did not perform the passenger side small overlap front test.

Tacoma Safety Features

Standard safety features in the 2019 Tacoma include a rearview camera and Toyota’s Safety Sense suite, which has automatic high beams, a pre-collision warning and braking system, pedestrian detection, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. Rear parking sensors and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert are available.

Which Toyota Tacoma Model Is Right for Me?

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma is available in six trim levels: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. On top of that, there are two body styles: a four-seat Access Cab and a five-seat Double Cab. Access Cabs are only available with a 6-foot-1-inch bed while Double Cabs can come with a 6-foot-1-inch bed or a shorter 5-foot bed. Depending on trim and configuration, the Tacoma can be equipped with either a four-cylinder or V6 engine and rear- or four-wheel drive.

The base Toyota Tacoma SR costs more than the base trims of many rivals, but it’s also better equipped and comes with several safety features. Toyota offers few, if any, packages or options for each trim, so you’ll have to move to higher trims to get more features.

For some shoppers, the 2019 Toyota Tacoma SR5 is the best bet. It comes with a few more convenience features than the base SR but doesn't cost much more. Compare that to the Limited trim, which adds several comfort amenities but costs around $10,000 more than the SR5.

If you’re looking for off-road performance, you’ll want to consider the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road or TRD Pro trims. They're pricier but worth it if you want off-road goodies such as a locking rear differential, skid plates, more resilient shocks, and a retuned suspension.

Toyota Tacoma SR

The Toyota Tacoma SR has a base MSRP of $25,550. For that money, you’ll get cloth seats, power windows and door locks, a 4.2-inch multi-information digital instrument display, and the Entune infotainment system with a 6.1-inch touch screen, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port (plus two more charging ports), and Siri Eyes Free. The Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assistance features comes standard too.

Toyota offers four-wheel drive for a little less than $3,100 and the V6 engine for around $2,250. The only notable package is the SR Convenience package ($230), which adds remote keyless entry.

Toyota Tacoma SR5

The Toyota Tacoma SR5 (MSRP: $27,325) adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, fog lights, remote keyless entry, satellite radio, and smartphone navigation integration via Scout GPS Link. Double Cab models with the V6 engine also have a sliding rear power window.

Alloy wheels are available for no extra charge. You can add the SR5 Parking Sonar & Navigation package, which adds rear parking sensors, a navigation system, and a 7-inch touch screen, to models with the V6 engine.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport / Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

The TRD Sport (MSRP: $32,245) comes standard with the V6 engine and features push-button start, proximity keyless entry, qi-compatible wireless device charging, and a larger 7-inch touch screen with navigation.

The TRD Off-Road trim has a base price of $33,500. It has the same interior features as the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, but its mechanical upgrades make it a more suitable off-roader. The TRD Off-Road also has the V6 engine, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, wireless device charging, HD Radio, and the upgraded Entune system with a 7-inch touch screen. Off-roading gear includes skid plates, a multi-terrain select system with crawl control, active traction control, an electronic locking rear differential, all-terrain tires on alloy wheels, and an off-road TRD-tuned suspension with Bilstein shock absorbers.

Both the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport and TRD Pro offer some notable packages. The Technology package adds blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and rear parking sensors. Double Cab models also feature a Premium package, which adds the contents of the Technology package as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, leather seats, heated front seats, a moonroof, automatic headlights, a six-speaker premium JBL stereo, and a built-in navigation system. The Premium package costs a little less than $3,700.

A manual transmission is available in some models.

Toyota Tacoma Limited

The Toyota Tacoma Limited has an MSRP of $37,490. All features in the packages above come standard in this trim. However, the Limited is only available with the Double Cab and short bed.

No notable options or packages are available with this trim.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The high-end Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro rounds out the lineup. With a starting price of $42,260, this trim is a fusion of the Limited’s luxury and the TRD Off-Road’s adventure-ready status. Like the Limited, it is only available as a Double Cab with the short bed. It has just about everything you can get in a Tacoma, including Fox bypass shocks and unique exhaust and skid plates for greater off-road capability.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Toyota dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Toyota deals page.

The Final Call

The 2019 Toyota Tacoma is an exceptional off-roader. It also has a high payload capacity rivaled only by the all-new Ford Ranger, and it features an easy-to-use infotainment system. The Tacoma is a passable daily driver, though rivals perform a little better on the pavement, and some of them have nicer cabins too. If adventuring is your priority, this truck belongs near the top of your list. Otherwise, you may want to consider classmates like the Honda Ridgeline or Chevy Colorado.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

Read the full 2019 Toyota Tacoma review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.


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