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2020 Toyota Tacoma: What You Need to Know

US News & World Report - Cars logo US News & World Report - Cars 10/29/2020 U.S. News & World Report
a car parked in the desert: 2020 Toyota Tacoma © Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. 2020 Toyota Tacoma

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma sits in the top half of our compact pickup truck rankings. It has a nice interior and an abundance of technology, but it suffers from dull engines and a harsh ride.

Is the Toyota Tacoma a Good Truck?

The Toyota Tacoma is a decent compact pickup truck, and its TRD-branded models are some of the best off-road vehicles in the class. The Tacoma boasts an impressive interior and offers intuitive technology, including newly standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Downsides include a weak base engine and a slow-to-respond transmission. Also, the Tacoma can ride stiffly over broken pavement, and interior space is tight compared to some rivals.

2020 Toyota Tacoma Dimensions

Should I Buy the Toyota Tacoma?

You should buy a Tacoma if you want a well-built and comfortable truck with solid off-road chops. While this Toyota's starting price is about average for the class, the base model is better equipped than the bare-bones base models of many rivals. Every Tacoma comes with a healthy list of driver assistance technology and cool infotainment features.

However, we recommend checking out higher-rated rivals like the Ford Ranger and Honda Ridgeline. The Ranger has better towing and hauling capabilities than the Tacoma, while the Ridgeline has an elegant, roomy cabin and a plush ride.

Should I Buy a New or Used Toyota Tacoma?

The 2020 Tacoma belongs to a generation that began with the 2016 model year. Toyota made several changes to the Tacoma for 2020. Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa are available for the first time and debut as standard equipment. The base model's touch screen has been increased to 7 inches, and all other trims now have 8-inch displays. Most trims also gain a standard 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, which was previously unavailable. The off-road-oriented TRD Pro model receives a standard surround-view monitor and a multiterrain monitor.

You'll likely save thousands of dollars by buying an older Tacoma instead of a newer model, but be aware of changes from year to year. The Toyota Safety Sense suite of driver assistance features was made standard for the 2018 Tacoma, and the TRD Pro model debuted for 2017.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Tacoma and 2019 Tacoma reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts on used vehicles.

We Did the Research for You: 44 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 44 Toyota Tacoma reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 Tacoma is the right new car for you. This 2020 Toyota Tacoma full review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which includes the 2016 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Toyota Tacoma Cost?

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma starts at $26,050, which is above average for a compact pickup truck. The base model comes with rear-wheel drive, a four-cylinder engine, and a four-seat cab. The least expensive model with seating for up to five starts at $26,880. You can get the Tacoma with a V6 engine for $28,310, and you'll spend at least $29,125 for a four-wheel-drive model.

Most configurations of this truck start at more than $30,000. The top-of-the-line Tacoma TRD Pro with an automatic transmission starts at $46,665.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals 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 Ford Ranger?

The Ford Ranger is a better compact pickup truck than the Tacoma. Every Ranger comes with a powerful turbocharged engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission that combine for smooth and seamless acceleration. All Rangers have a 7,500-pound towing capacity, which is better than the Tacoma’s 6,800 pound maximum. You’ll also get a higher payload capacity with the Ranger. While the Ranger has a more comfortable ride, the Tacoma has slightly more responsive steering. The Toyota also wins for interior quality, standard infotainment and driver assistance features, and overall off-road prowess. If any of those positives are a priority for you, go with the Tacoma. If you need more utility and better performance, pick the Ranger.

Which Is Better: Toyota Tacoma or Honda Ridgeline?

The Honda Ridgeline is an unconventional compact pickup truck. It rides and drives more like a car thanks to its unibody construction, and it boasts what’s probably the nicest interior in the class. A roomy, five-person crew cab layout is standard in the Ridgeline, unlike many trucks that come standard with four-person cabs. And while other pickups let you choose from rear- or four-wheel drive, the Ridgeline is available with front- or all-wheel drive. However, this Honda pickup can’t match the rest of the class when it comes to towing and hauling; it has mediocre capacities of 5,000 and 1,465 pounds, respectively. If you want a comfortable, carlike vehicle with the basic qualities of a truck, the Ridgeline is a great choice. If you’re after something more traditional, the Tacoma is a better pick.

Tacoma Performance

Tacoma Engine: Go With the V6

The Toyota Tacoma comes standard with a four-cylinder engine that puts out a measly 159 horsepower. Models with this engine deliver sluggish acceleration and do you no favors if you're carrying several people or a bed full of cargo. This engine is only found in the lower SR and SR5 trims.

Your other option is a 278-horsepower V6. It's a little more muscular off the line and at higher speeds than the four-cylinder, but it can still feel uninspiring. Both engines are hampered by a six-speed automatic transmission that's outdated and unrefined. More often than not, it struggles to find the right gear. Some rival trucks have eight-speed or 10-speed gearboxes that work better. You can get certain TRD-branded Tacoma models with a six-speed manual transmission.

Tacoma Gas Mileage: Below Average

The 2020 Tacoma with the base engine and rear-wheel drive gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Those figures aren't great for a compact pickup truck. Models with the optional V6 return up to 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. You'd spend about the same amount of money on gas per year with either engine.

Fuel economy goes as low as 17/20 mpg city/highway for a V6-powered Tacoma with the six-speed manual transmission.

Tacoma Ride and Handling: A Little Sporty, a Little Stiff

The relatively small Tacoma has controlled body motions and surprisingly responsive steering, but critics generally agree that the ride is a bit stiff. Some say that it's compliant enough on smooth pavement and only harsh over bumps, while others find it unpleasant in most driving situations.

Tacoma Interior

How Many People Does the Tacoma Seat?

The 2020 Tacoma seats four people in the standard Access Cab format, and it holds five in the extended Double Cab. New for this model year is an optional 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat that makes it easier to find a comfortable seating position. However, headroom is a little tight for taller folks.

The second row in the Access Cab is cramped and likely won't be hospitable to adults for anything longer than quick trips. The seats are also hard and upright with little extra cushioning or support. Rear legroom in the Double Cab is slightly better but still not great.

Tacoma and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors for the Tacoma’s rear outboard seats, and Double Cab models have an upper tether anchor for the rear middle seat. The lower anchors are mostly user-friendly, but the tether anchors can be hard to distinguish from other hardware.

Tacoma Interior Quality

Despite its rough-and-tumble reputation, the Tacoma boasts a nice interior full of upscale materials. Build quality is excellent.

Tacoma Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The big story for the 2020 Tacoma is the debut of Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Amazon Alexa. Coming in a close second are the upsized infotainment screens. Previously, a 6.1-inch touch screen was standard, and a 7-inch touch screen was optional. Now, a 7-inch touch screen is standard in the base model, and all other trims have 8-inch screens.

Smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto makes the already user-friendly infotainment system even easier to operate. The 8-inch touch screen earns praise for its large, clear buttons and crisp graphics. You can also utilize physical shortcut buttons on the side of the screen for quick access to other multimedia or settings.

Tacoma Reliability

Is the Toyota Tacoma Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Toyota Tacoma a predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five, which is slightly above average.

Toyota Tacoma Warranty

Toyota covers the Tacoma with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Tacoma Safety

Tacoma Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Toyota Tacoma an overall safety rating of four out of five stars. The truck received five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover evaluations.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2020 Tacoma. But the similar 2019 Tacoma earned pretty good ratings. It earned the top rating of Good in five crash tests, and the Crew Cab model received the second-highest rating of Acceptable in the passenger-side small overlap front test. The 2019 Tacoma's standard front crash prevention system earned the top rating of Superior for its effectiveness, but the IIHS gave the truck's headlights the second-lowest rating of Marginal for how well they illuminate the road ahead.

Tacoma Safety Features

The Tacoma comes standard with Toyota's Safety Sense P bundle of driver assistance technology. This package includes lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. A rearview camera is also standard.

Optional active safety features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rear parking sensors.

Where Is the 2020 Toyota Tacoma Built?

Toyota builds the 2020 Tacoma in Texas and Mexico.

Which Toyota Tacoma Model Is Right for Me?

The Tacoma comes in six trim levels: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. You also have the option between two engines, two transmissions, two drivetrains, two cab styles, two bed lengths, and a variety of appearance and performance or work packages. Bed length depends on the cab style you choose.

The base Tacoma SR comes loaded with driver assistance features and a newly upgraded infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. With the SR, you also have your choice of engine and most cab/bed combinations.

Toyota Tacoma Powertrain Options:

Toyota Tacoma Appearance Packages:

Toyota Tacoma Work and Performance Packages/Options:

Toyota Tacoma Trims:

Toyota Tacoma SR

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma SR starts at $26,050. Standard features include cloth upholstery, four-way manually adjustable front seats, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster display, and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, voice recognition, and three USB ports.

Standard driver assistance features include lane departure warning, automatic high-beam headlights, forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, forward automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and a rearview camera.

Keyless entry and in-bed LED lighting are optional.

Toyota Tacoma SR5

The Tacoma SR5 retails for $27,825. Standard features include a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, alloy wheels, an 8-inch touch screen, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry, and fog lights. Navigation and rear parking sensors are available in models with the V6 engine.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

Starting at $32,745, the Tacoma TRD Sport comes with navigation, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, wireless device charging, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a household-style power outlet, and HD Radio. A surround-view monitor is optional.

Access Cab models are available with a package that includes dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and automatic high-beam headlights. Double Cab models offer a package with all of those features, along with leather upholstery and a moonroof. Another package includes rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

The TRD Off-Road builds on the TRD Sport with more off-road performance features. For $34,000, you'll get an off-road suspension, Bilstein shocks, and a locking rear differential. Four-wheel-drive models with the automatic transmission have multiterrain select and crawl control, and those with the manual transmission get active traction control. A multiview monitor is optional.

Toyota Tacoma Limited

The Tacoma Limited costs $38,790 and features standard leather upholstery, a moonroof, rear parking sensors, a JBL premium stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic high-beam headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a surround-view monitor.

Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

The Tacoma TRD Pro has a base price of $43,960. Features include a TRD-tuned suspension and exhaust, Fox shocks, a front skid plate, upgraded interior and exterior styling, LED fog lights, a surround-view monitor, and a multiterrain monitor.

Which Tacoma Cab Style Is Right for Me?

The Toyota Tacoma has two available cab styles. The standard Access Cab has a small two-seat second row, while the larger Double Cab has an extended three-person second row.

You should only get an Access Cab if you seldom carry adults in the back seat. There's just 24.6 inches of legroom, and the seats are hard and upright. By comparison, the Tacoma Double Cab serves up 32.6 inches of rear legroom. That's still less than what you'd get with a compact car like the Toyota Corolla (34.8 inches), but it's more adult-friendly than the Access Cab. The Double Cab has full-sized rear doors, while the Access Cab has half-size, rear-hinged doors that can complicate entry and egress.

Which Tacoma Bed Length Is Right for Me?

The Tacoma comes with either a 5-foot standard bed or a 6-foot-1-inch long bed. Access Cab models are only paired with the long bed, while the Double Cab is available with both. The exception to that is the higher-trim Limited and TRD Pro models, which only come with the short bed.

Deciding between the two beds will probably come down to the cab configuration you want and if you’re willing to pay for the long bed’s extra foot of length. All models come with a heavy-duty bed rail system with adjustable tie-downs. A composite bed lining and a removable tailgate are also standard.

Which Tacoma Model Is Best for Towing and Hauling?

The Toyota Tacoma can tow up to 6,800 pounds, which is about average for a compact pickup truck. You get that capacity with the V6 engine and rear-wheel drive, along with the standard Access Cab in SR, SR5, or TRD Sport models. That leads to a starting price of $28,310 for a Tacoma with maximum towing capacity. Other V6-powered Tacomas can tow between 6,400 and 6,700 pounds, while models with the standard four-cylinder engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds.

The Tacoma has a maximum payload of 1,685 pounds, achieved with the four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive. Or, in simpler, terms, the lowest base model possible. Across the rest of the lineup, payload is as low as 1,095 pounds.

For a good combination of both towing and hauling abilities, consider an Access Cab SR model with the V6 engine and rear-wheel drive. You'll get the maximum towing value, as well as 1,525 pounds of payload spread out over the long bed.

Which Tacoma Model Is Best for Off-Roading?

Hands down, the Tacoma TRD Pro is the most capable off-road trim. It has standard four-wheel drive, a TRD-tuned off-road suspension with 2.5-inch Fox shocks, TRD front springs, and a TRD Pro cat-back exhaust. Other enhancements include an aluminum front skid plate, an electronic locking rear differential, multiterrain select, crawl control, aggressive exterior styling, and unique interior trimmings.

New for 2020 is a panoramic view monitor that lets you see around the truck, as well as a multiview monitor that can give you views of the ground underneath and directly in front of you. You can also opt for a Desert Air Intake, which is a snorkel mounted above the roof that pulls cleaner air into the engine for better performance.

While the Tacoma TRD Pro is ready to tackle practically any terrain, it'll set you back a pretty penny. This model starts at $43,960 with the six-speed manual transmission, and it rises to $46,665 with the six-speed automatic.

For decent off-roading abilities with a lower price tag, there's the Tacoma TRD Off-Road. Starting at $34,000, this rear-wheel-drive trim has an off-road suspension, Bilstein shocks, and a locking rear differential. A four-wheel-drive TRD Off-Road model starts at $35,335, which gets you a manual transmission and active traction control. You’ll spend $36,030 for a model with an automatic transmission and multiterrain select and crawl control.

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 2020 Toyota Tacoma does a lot of things well. It’s loaded with modern features, and it serves up a handsome interior. Variants of this truck are also capable off-roaders. However, it lags rivals in overall passenger room, engine power, and general utility.

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 2020 Toyota Tacoma review on U.S. News & World Report for more details, photos, specs and prices.

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